The first time I flew with Lia she was 2 months old. Marcos was still working in San Francisco and taking a 6 hour road trip alone with her still frightened me, so we decided what the heck flying should be easier.
Well guess what-it was NOT! Let me share with you my semi-disaster of a first flight with the baby! Maybe you can learn what to do and not to do =)
Lia’s First Flight:
What to pack
First of all how do you know what you need to pack? Of course with a newborn I felt like I had to carry everything with me! I think I packed an average of 3-4 outfits per day!
If you’ve never been-San Francisco is not a warm city, so I packed an endless amount of clothes, beanies, and many sweaters as well. I pretty much overpacked and she didn’t wear half of it.
Not to mention 2 blankets and I imagine 10 bur clothes for 3 days. I have no idea how I was able to fit all that PLUS my own clothes into a carry on suitcase.
Getting To The Airport
I had such a hard time figuring out how to get to the airport because my flight was mid-day during the week. WHY did I think that was a good idea? I had to ask my mother in law for a ride and she was kind enough to take ½ day off work to get us there.
I recommend asking a friend or family member to drive you if possible. If not, you can call Uber or Lyft as well and bring your own car seat.
A diaper bag backpack is a must! I remember having Lia’s diaper bag backpack so it kept my hands free and my pump bag as my carry on items.
At the time I was pumping once a day in order to give her a bottle at night so I was traveling with my pump bag as well. TSA allows you to carry more breast milk than the 3oz liquid limits they give you.
I had no issue transporting it. All I had to do was put it in its own tray when it went through the x-ray machine.
I was advised early on to baby wear to make TSA go much smoother, you see they don’t make you remove your wrap or carrier and let you wear baby through the whole time. Thankfully at LAX I was able to go through a shorter TSA line made for families with small children.
My TSA experience was very interesting to say the least. Right as I was going through TSA Lia decided that she wanted to nurse. So I had been nursing her in our baby wrap for a while and felt pretty pro, that is until I went through that line.
Right as I was going to put my belongings on the tray to go through x-rays she wanted to switch sides. I wasn’t able to do it since I was trying to take off my boots and she started to cry and scream. I was trying to swap her sides but she was not latching on and I was squirting milk all inside my shirt. This whole time my main concern was trying not to flash anyone.
When you baby wear you don’t go through the high tech scanners, they pat you down and bring one of those handheld scanners to you. So as you can imagine I had to somehow maneuver her onto my breast rapidly before they checked and me pray she didn’t unlatch.
The moment I was checked I grabbed my stuff and threw it onto the stroller and moved to the side. There I was able to readjust myself and put my shoes on calmly.
At the time of the trip she was a newborn and even though I had my stroller frame with the capability of attaching the car seat I took the whole stroller. I bought gate check bags for both my stroller and the car seat.
I definitely recommend getting these bags in order to prevent your stroller or car seat form getting dirty or scratched. The nice thing about gate checking these was that I was able to walk right up to the plane with them and then they were waiting for me right when I got off.
Wish you would have seen me as I got on the plane-boy did I struggle. I had to take off the car seat and bag it, fold the stroller frame and bag it, grab the pump bag and diaper bags and hop on the plane…all while carrying Lia.
Luckily for me I was surrounded by a bunch of kind strangers who grabbed things for me and helped the mess of a person I was that day.
Picking a Seat
When choosing a seat I went with whatever was closest to the front to get out earliest. The first flight I had a window seat and it ended up being beneficial to nurse.
I sat next to a nice couple and they were not weird about me nursing so that kept me more relaxed. It was my fear to sit next to someone that was going to be weird about it.
Lia slept from the time we took off to the time we landed. Of course the flight from Los Angeles to San Francisco is only 50 minutes so we had a short flight. The flight back I had a middle seat and it was much more difficult to nurse.
Airplane seats don’t have much room to sit comfortably let alone try to nurse. This time around Lia slept a short time and was awake the rest of the time.
Mid flight she needed a diaper change and got really fussy. Have you ever tried diaper changing in an airplane rest room? Luckily she was small and not very mobile, the changing table in there is TINY!
We finally landed and some nice strangers helped bring down my bags for me. Overall it was quite the learning experience.
Overall my first experience was a little hectic. I took full advantage of all the extras that airports & airlines offer for parents with small children. I visited the nursing rooms in both airports and found that there are some pretty cool accommodations out there.When the kind strangers asked if I needed help loading my carry on above I said yes please and thank you.