April 16, 2018

Traveling with a Baby - Part 1

At the end of March, just before Easter, I flew solo to Nigeria with Baby Cocoa. I don't know if I mentioned that I traveled to Detroit with her at the beginning of March and I was nervous about flying with an infant. Traveling to Detroit was short - less than 2 hours - and I did a little research about traveling with a baby beforehand. I knew that since she's under 2 years old, I would not need to buy a ticket for her, as she would travel in my lap. I did need to call the airline ahead of time, to ensure that they had her information (especially for international travel). I also found out that it would be best to bottle feed a baby just before take-off and landing to prevent air pressure in their ears. Our trip to Detroit was a breeze - Baby Cocoa is a light-hearted and cheerful baby, and I got a lot of compliments on my happy baby!

First things first, no matter whether the flight is local or international, I recommend arriving at the airport at least 3 hours before your flight. Traveling with a baby is not very easy. You typically would travel with a car seat, stroller, diaper bag, your purse and maybe a personal carry-on bag. Inside your diaper bag, you would most likely have food and/or water that must go through security checks. If you're traveling alone with the baby, you might be lucky and find someone to help you out. Imagine me carrying Baby Cocoa in one hand, and with the other hand, trying to unhook the car seat, fold up the stroller, put them and all our bags on the conveyor belt. If you're one of those parents that don't like people touching your children, your eyes will clear very quickly! Or you can buy a baby carrier like this one that allows you keep your child on your back. 
Traveling to Nigeria was a bit more daunting. Baby Cocoa was 9.5 months at the date of our travel, and since she started crawling, she's been quite squirmy and doesn't really like to sit still. I chose to fly direct to Lagos from Atlanta on Delta Airlines, because I thought it would be easier on both of us. I wanted to know that once we got on the plane, by the time we got off, it would be at our final destination. I did not want to deal with an 8-hour flight to Europe, with a 4-hour layover, and then another 6-hour flight to Nigeria. Flying direct from the US to Nigeria was just a 12 to 13 hour journey and seemed to be easier to handle. Additionally, baby travel tips all say that traveling around bedtime makes the flight easier. The Delta flight from Atlanta leaves around 10pm, which ties into Baby Cocoa's bedtime, so I hoped she would sleep for the majority of the flight.

I made sure to reserve a bulk-head seat when I booked my flight on Delta, so that I could make use of the bassinet they provide for babies. Bonus tip - traveling in the bulkhead row means more leg room for you! Delta Airlines bassinet has a weight limit of 25 pounds, just FYI. While it was Baby Cocoa's bedtime, flying was not the most comfortable for her. She probably spent less than 4 hours total in the bassinet, as it was pretty tight and constricting. My baby sleeps like she's practicing for the Olympics gymnastics! I spent the rest of the time holding her, which means that I didn't get that much sleep either.
*side note* On the return trip, she spent even less time in the bassinet! She REALLY did not like it. I think smaller or younger babies would be fine traveling in it.
It's advisable to have a baby carrier, so that you can have your hands free while traveling. I have a Baby K'Tan that my sister gave me, and allows me to carry Baby Cocoa in several different positions. While flying with a baby, I think the general rule is that you can't hold your baby in whatever carrier you have DURING takeoff and landing, but at other times during the flight, you're fine. Since she didn't like sleeping in the bassinet, I strapped her to my body and she was able to add in a couple more hours of sleep (and I was able to sleep too). The baby carrier also came in handy when I landed in Lagos, because Baby Cocoa's car seat and stroller were not available upon disembarking from the plane as originally expected. I had to walk with her, her diaper bag, my handbag, and a few miscellaneous items all the way to baggage claim. There is no way I would have been able to do it without having my hands free.

When traveling with a young child, you should make sure to pack enough food to last them from the time spent in the airport to a few hours after you arrive at your destination. I have 2 formula dispensers, and filled them both up with her formula and her set of Medela feeding bottles, which I pre-filled with nursery water. I also had 6 bottles of liquid formula on hand as an extra measure. FYI, the liquid formula I traveled with was new for Baby Cocoa, so I wasn't even sure if she'd really like it. But if you have the option of traveling with baby liquid formula, you don't have to worry about using water you may not be comfortable with and it's a bit more convenient.
In my next post, I'll tell you what I packed in Baby Cocoa's diaper bag for the flights. In the third post of this series, I'll share what I packed for the entirety of our 9-day trip. And in a final post, I'll share our experience with jet lag and things I was not prepared for.

I hope you enjoyed this post. Please share it with those who are traveling with infants and babies, so they can pick up a tip or two.

*P.S. Please note that this post contains affiliate links*

1 comment:

  1. Wow! Atalanta to Lagos is a loong flight !!!
    Ps: baby Cocoa is sooo adorable!
    I once forgot my baby ‘s diapers in the bag I checked in!! My carryon was too big so it was checked in at the gate. Luckily the air hostesses had some diapers.



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