Guest Blog: miniJetsetter
As a designer turned stay-at-home mom, Carla Palmer launched Cheekie Charlie: a collection of onesies with 100% organic interchangeable snap-on bibs inspired by her daughter. Cheekie Charlie was born from a mom’s mission to design a product that would lessen wardrobe changes, laundry, and—ultimately—the chaos of life with a baby. And she’s become an expert on how to travel with a baby.
Our daughter Charlie is 22 months old, and she’s already racking up frequent flier miles and passport stamps. By six months, she had flown to Turks & Caicos, Texas, and England. With both sides of the family a flight away, we had to face that we’d be traveling quite a bit with her, and as new parents, we were packing up everything but our bathtub.
After a lot of delays, long security lines, and unhappy passengers in the row behind us, I’ve learned that—no matter the age—there are three must-haves: a birth certificate (or passport, if flying internationally), a stroller, and a good attitude. Here’s what else we’ve figured out.
If you’re flying with a baby under six months
Whether you’re nursing or bottle-feeding, breastfeeding or giving baby a bottle as the plane takes off and lands help ease any ear pressure or pain. You’ve packed two cute outfits for baby to change into if there’s an oopsie, but make sure you’ve packed yourself a spare change too. If there’s no easing the crying peanut, put her in your baby carrier and bounce up & down the aisle. 95% of the passengers will empathize, and the other 5% are the ones actually sitting next to you! Lastly (and perhaps most importantly), if your schedule permits, try to book flights along their sleep schedule. You don’t want to be going through security 10 minutes after you baby has fallen asleep for her nap.
From six to 12 months
We took Charlie to Mexico and flew with good friends who had a little boy six weeks younger. Halfway through the flight, we did a toy swap—fresh toys to play with! Charlie was a bit mobile, so we brought a blanket to put on the floor so she could lay, sit, and play. At this age, the best toys to bring are textured or song books, light-up handheld toys, and teethers (wear a Chewbeads necklace!) Bring a bag of sanitizing wipes; everything goes in their mouth, and everything falls on the floor. Eek!!! We packed loads of squeezable snacks, puffs, and baby mum-mums. When traveling abroad, make sure you pack enough formula. Thankfully, we found a store that supplied loads of American products, but in England the formulas were all different.
12 to 18 months
Well, you think, we should fly as much as we can because heck… the baby flies free! Yes, unless that’s a trip from JFK to Manila via Tokyo. After one year, it might be time to think about buying your baby her own seat on longer flights. We did, and it was the best decision we could have made To prepare her for that flight, we actually started talking about the airport and airplane with her. We bought the book Airplane and read it to her everyday. We packed her favorite stuffed bunny (plus a stunt double), stickers, and new never-before-seen toys, mainly from the dollar store. We also purchased a set of toddler headphones that we introduced to her at home, so she was accustomed to them. After more than 30 hours of travel, I’d say nothing could faze her or us.
18 to 24 months
Well, like with every stage, you realize that life was a relative piece of cake when they were littler. Traveling is no different. Now at 22 months, Charlie can’t sit still. She wants a snack. She wants a drink. She wants a snack. She wants to open the tray table, and did I mention… she wants a snack?! I flew to Dallas last month on my first ever solo mission. I packed a backpack that had three compartments: diapers and clothes, snacks and drink, and toys. I didn’t buy her a seat, as it was a direct four hour flight, and I packed like a Marine. I planned out my strategy: car service to curbside check-in, and I got lucky: I was given a boarding pass with no issues. Eased my way through security and was at the gate an hour before boarding. Too bad it started to snow, and we were delayed. To survive delays, pick up some extra snacks and let your child exert her energy and run around. Save your toys, books, and favorite snacks for the plane. Some parents want to be on the plane the shortest possible time, so they board last. But I personally like to organize myself, my daughter, and our bag well before take-off. Charlie also likes to chat up the flight attendants. It works to her advantage: extra cookies, pretzels, and a set of wings on every flight to date.
Whoever said “it’s not about the destination, it’s the journey” must have been flying alone!
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