Tips for Flying with a baby

So I discovered a few things about flying with a baby and thought I’d share them with you!

I flew from Norfolk International Airport, connected at Philadelphia to London Heathrow on American Airlines and returned connecting at JFK New York on British Airways; so my experiences are somewhat limited to these airports and airlines!  I also travelled on my own when I flew back from the UK, so I experienced solo travel with a 3 month old (Yikes).  Please do share any of your tips and experiences below too 🙂

Before Flying.

Reserve the right seat.  Not paying for a child seat and carrying an infant on your lap?  Try and book a bulk head seat or phone up the airline and ask for one because you have an infant on your lap and want to use the bassinet.  This only applies to larger aircraft, so if you are traveling on a smaller plane you will have to have baby on your lap. Ughh.

Generally infants flying on your lap are free if you are traveling within the US or if you are traveling internationally it depends on the airline, but it will cost about 10-20% of your ticket price.  And you don’t get any extra baggage allowance so you have to fit all your baby’s stuff in your bag!  Luckily they are tiny!

Packing Carry On Bags.  Pack a diaper bag as your personal item and pack a BACK PACK/RUCKSACK (or vice versa if your diaper bag is a back pack already).  I was going to take my small roll on and thought it would be easy to carry….but actually pushing a buggy and rolling a bag is not a good idea.  If you have paid for a seat then you can take a diaper bag and two carry ons – one for you and one for baby.

Pack diapers/nappies, wipes and change mat in a smaller bag within the diaper bag.  Why?  Because you will be going to the toilet lots when on the plane and it is easier to carry that down the aisle than the whole diaper bag and knocking people’s heads as you juggle baby and bag on a bumpy plane!

If you are traveling for more than a few hours, don’t think you will only need one change of clothes.  Believe you me it will typically be the only time you get TWO blow outs.  Yup, speaking from experience here! Just pack sleepwear to save space.

Pack a comfort toy and one other non noisy toy.  I didn’t want to be the person with an all singing dancing toy…baby is loud enough as she is!

If you are breastfeeding then you are lucky you don’t need to pack lots of formula and bottles! Sorry I don’t have tips for you formula feeding parents.  But I did pack an empty bottle and two portions of formula powder just in case for any reason something happened.  I think I was over thinking things and really didn’t need this.

Baby carrier/sling/wrap.  BEST THING EVER.  This gave me so much flexibility and I needed it when my buggy didn’t arrive at the gate and I had to walk about a mile from the gate to passport control/baggage claim in London Heathrow.  Hands free baby carrying for the win.  I use the baby hawk Mei Tai which rolls up nice and small into the diaper bag.

Checking in buggies and car seats.  I spent aaaages researching this. I bought gate check bags to put my buggy and car seat in when I get to the gate.  These little bags fold up nice and small, so I could put them under the buggy.  If there are two of you traveling, definitely buy these two items so the carseat/buggy don’t get scratched or wet.  Remove cup holders and any other items hanging off the buggy, they will get broken because honestly, the baggage handlers really do throw these things around.  But if you are on your own? Don’t bother…honestly just leave them at the gate without a bag, it is way too difficult to carrying baby and trying to put these into the big bags. Just make sure any infant inserts are secured tightly into the car seat. Yeh lesson learned there!

Incomplete….

Micro blog: The copy cat

We quickly discovered that Aviana learns fast if she has someone to copy.  For example…we visited our local botanical gardens that has a giant sand play pit, the previous night it rained heavily so there was a lot of wet sand and big puddles.  Aviana freaked out about the texture of the wet sand (sticky, wet and dirty!), so she just stood there, not playing, just watching the world for quite sometime.  As soon as our friends joined us with their almost 2 year old daughter who has no such fears, Aviana immediately followed suit, she even sat in one of the sandy puddles, digging the dirt! It was quite an amazing transformation.

We had tried on many occasions to get Aviana to wear her helmet when she rode on the back of my bike, but we failed and she was miserable if we forced her to wear it.  But as soon as she saw her friend wearing the exact same helmet, that was all it took, and Aviana has been happy to wear hers from since then. In fact she asks for it.

This all good, really it is adorable to watch her learn in this way, but there is going to be the time when she copies others and we DON’T want her to follow suit!!!

Micro blog: The poop monster

Here’s another interesting development….Aviana wanted to sit on the toilet to poop.  She didn’t actually poop, but she sat there for a little while.  She also sat on the step stool and pretended to sit on the toilet to poop (in her diaper).  We have been asking her to tell us when she has pooped so she doesn’t sit in it for too long, and she decides to also tell us on occasion when she has peed.  Sometimes she gives us warning she’s pooping, and sometimes she has actually just farted, so we are some way off potty training!  But it made us think perhaps we should smarten up on potty training and get a potty for those moments when she asks to sit on the toilet.  I’m not in a hurry to potty train her, she’s got a way to go physically I believe. Apparently their bladders aren’t really big enough until around 2. But I literally have no clue on this subject, we should be prepared-time for some reading up!

Speaking of poop, Aviana’s poop was blue on the 4th July.  It was so blue it stained her bottom blue.  We discovered she ate a muffin at daycare the day before that had a lot of blue food dye in it!! hahahahaha….so gross.

Micro Blog: The wee bean pole

As for recognizing Aviana as an IUGR baby, you really can’t tell anymore.  Yes she has skinny arms and legs, but she is definitely one of the taller kids in her class, but not the oldest.  On Monday she had her 18 month wellness check up.  She was 21lbs 6oz (31st percentile, up from the 25th!) and 32.5″ tall (69th percentile, up from 60th).  But she has been wearing 18-24mth old clothes for a while and has outgrown many of her 12-18mth clothes in length.  She can still wear 6-9 mth trousers, they are short, but still fit her waist!  In my IUGR support group i is believed that many IUGR babies catch up in size by the time they are 2 years old.  However, that is not necessarily the case for all types of IUGR (symmetric and micro premie babes), and sometimes it is very easy to spot the IUGR baby in the class.  Aviana is one of those who has caught up physically!!! Good growing little Miss A.

Micro blog: The Hungry Caterpillar

We are making a little bit of progress with Aviana’s food habits.  She actually ate a chicken nugget the other week! SHE ATE MEAT!!!! OK, so this type of chicken nugget is the kind which you can barely tell it’s actually chicken…but hey, it’s a win in my books! She eats any kind of fruit thankfully, but vegetables we are down to frozen peas and occasionally broccoli, but that’s it.  She still hates tomatoes, and gags on tomato sauce, but she has been willing to try new stuff, even if she has spat it out before.  So we just keep offering her whatever is the plate du jour in the Fenning house hold, praising her for trying new foods, and keeping it as relaxed as possible.  We know that she eats better when she is around other kids at daycare…sometimes, I wish I could be a fly on the wall whilst they eat their lunch!  On occasion we are sent videos of the class eating their lunch or snack.  I’m amazed at how quiet they actually are when they sit down for food together!  It’s the complete opposite of what you would imagine a toddler lunchtime to be like.  I reckon that must change as they get to the older classes because at the moment conversation isn’t exactly flowing at this age.  My lesson with food so far is not to stress over how much or what exactly she is eating and she seems to do ok, but honestly it’s really hard not to worry after IUGR.

Micro blog: Little Miss Shy

There was a moment in time when I thought Aviana was struggling with her shyness and wasn’t enjoying participating in group activities.  I wondered whether we should change daycare to some where more like a Montessori school.  Every photo or video we were sent from daycare, Aviana was either sat in the lap of the teacher, upset or on the otherside of the room by herself.  She had been in this class permanently for over 2 months, it wasn’t like it was so new.  But the daycare staff never thought much of it, Aviana just had her own way of having fun.  Aviana is very affectionate and loves her teacher cuddles.  I am very appreciative that the teacher’s reciprocate, although I was beginning to wonder if they spent too much time holding her or even spoiling her.

I even wondered whether we should stop going to the little gym parent-child classes at the weekends.  Aviana would cling to us throughout the warm up and would scream, cry or refuse to do any of the skills or activities.  She was happiest playing away from other kids (and noisiness).  And then just as we were going to make an appointment to see the Montessori school…we suddenly got videos of Aviana integrating, participating, and smiling.  We went to the little gym for a birthday party one weekend and she came right of out of her shell.  She was showing off all the skills she had observed other kids doing.  Just yesterday Aviana not only participated in every single activity in the class, she joined in with the other kids (in her own way still!) and suddenly was happy to do all the daredevil stuff she had spent the past 6 months avoiding, and she wanted to do it over and over again!  An incredible change. I doubt she will be the attention seeking kind of kid, but this little step in self-confidence has been wonderful to see.

Micro blog: The walking dictionary (for beginners)

Aviana is coming along nicely with learning new words.  I have lost count of the number of words she knows but it is well over 50, may be even 100, and the other day she actually put two words together that she came up with herself, in context of the situation….”Daddy gone?”.  I was taken aback at her new found skill.   Her other new skill is knowing the names of colours – she hasn’t quite got the difference between pink and purple yet, but to be fair, I know a few guys who can’t tell the difference :-0 There is one word in particular she has trouble saying, but is the sweetest – Lizard – she basically says ‘Li-la-d’ and sticks out her tongue like a lizard as she says it.  Too cute.  She occasionally also says words backwards…like ‘Cup’ is ‘Puc’.  I find all this language development truly fascinating.  Every day it’s something new!!!

Micro Blog: Child’s Brain

Aviana seems to be growing into her skin a lot more.  Now that she is walking, running and galloping (her new skill this week!), she seems pretty content with her new found skills.  She spent a lot of her growing life constantly frustrated that she can’t physically do stuff she mentally wanted to do.  It felt like her brain was always two steps ahead of her body developmentally.  We have also ran out of ‘wonder weeks’.  Her final leap was actually earlier than expected, a couple of weeks early than the book suggested, but this was becoming the trend with the last few leaps.  Now that we have run out of leaps, it doesn’t mean she doesn’t ‘leap’ in her brain development anymore, it’s just that it’s less predictable.  The wonder weeks app has been a wonderful resource and comfort.  I highly recommend it to new parents.

I am now reading a new book called ‘Welcome to your child’s brain’ which is sort of an advance on the wonder weeks, and explains a child’s brain development in a whole lot more detail.  Like the wonder weeks, it provides guidance on when and how a kid’s brain develops, but towards teenage college years.  Everything from sight, smell, reading, mathematics, art, behavior, motor skills and emotions.  It’s thoroughly fascinating to learn about how, when and why children do certain things and its normalcy.  Read it.  You won’t regret learning about why your child does certain things and how to deal with them.

Where’s Dani?

I haven’t blogged in a while.  Mostly because I have been focusing on other things in my spare time, like learning how to use my sewing machine!!!  Work was a little crazy too and I have often come home feeling like the last thing I want to do is sit down in front of a computer to write.  It is also a sign that I haven’t felt the need to blog, my therapeutic tool.  And that’s kind of a good thing.

I’m feeling more comfortable in my parenting rhythm.  It goes something like this…

….Figure stuff out (books, facebook, family, friends and google – thank you) Two weeks later forget that and figure something else out.  Eat. Sleep. Repeat.

I have learned to be cool with the routine of the routine always changing.  That’s not to say we don’t have a routine, because we do and it’s a pretty good one Chris and I have figured out.  Rather, I mean, that Aviana is constantly changing and her needs are always changing.  Now I’ve gotten used to that reality.  Expect the unexpected is my new motto.

With that in mind, I haven’t felt like I have needed to blog!  Which is a shame because I love to capture the interesting things I have learned as a parent.

In any case, I thought I’d do a series of micro blog posts to catch up!!! No one wants to read my 3 months worth of an essay in one hit!

Aviana at 15 months

I should have written this a month ago because Aviana is now 16 months.  But I had a bit of a break from blogging and it’s been in draft whilst I focused my attention on National Infertility Awareness Week!  Whoops! Anyway, enough of the excuses…what do I have to say about 15 months?

I was led to believe tantrums were a 2-3 year old issue, but when Aviana turned 14 months they kind of came out of no where!  Aviana entered her 9th leap with an entrance.  Wow, she was touchy over seemingly small things.  Part of it I think was because she was still learning to walk, she knows what she wants and couldn’t physically quite do it all.  She was also starting to be ‘naughty’.  I say ‘naughty’ because actually she is just experimenting, it’s natural.  But it was definitely time to introduce some limits and apply diversion tactics.  Chris and I have spent several months reading up on discipline, agreeing our approaches in advance, discussing potential scenarios and planning how we might tackle toddler life with Aviana.  This has proven to be helpful because we are beginning to start to recognise situations where Aviana needs some help through the challenging times – ummm and of course ourselves dealing with those challenges!

Aviana also became extremely picky over eating, perhaps its because her molars and her bottom fangs were coming through all at once!  Planning food was becoming a little bit stressful, making sure that there was at least one thing in her meal we knew she would eat.  Even then there were times she simply refused her favourites.  Teething molars? I say eughhhhh, hurry up and be done with it!

Along with the downsides there are equally the upsides to be a parent of a toddler.  Can I just say one word to sum up the upsides – ADORABLE!  I love seeing Aviana learn new things literally everyday, and it is adorable.  Her personality is wicked, she loves laughing, she is brave (on her own, not so much in groups of people).  She is super SMART and is quick to learn. Aviana LOVES the playground, and loves all push along toys.  She loves going to the free zoo and watching the fishes and meeting the cats.

aviana15mths

Aviana is learning a few handy trades.  Obviously doing the plumbing herself will save her a fortune later in life.

She can communicate really well through sign language and gesturing.  By the time she went for her 15mth wellness visit she could say more than ten words when the doctor only expects one or two. She was saying mummy, daddy, dog, cat, Diesel, Sush (our cats), tree, more, bath, mouse, cheese, porridge, snack, cheese and probably more I can’t remember.  The funniest word she has learned is lizard – which sounds more like “li-lar”.  Too cute. She also knows what comes after one. Clearly she doesn’t know what that really means, but the fact that she assumes two always comes after one is cute.

potato

You probably wouldn’t be able to guess what she is eating – it was a red new RAW potato.  She seemed to be enjoying it with her new found molars!!

Watching Aviana play pretend is awesome.  She makes a cup of tea, shows empathy towards cuddly toys, and plays with her smart go-go animals. She will happily sit and colour-in with crayons (although we are having fun trying to teach her to sit at her little table when she has crayons in her hand so she doesn’t draw all over the furniture and walls!).

tea and cake

It’s always best to match your tea and hat!!

I am so excited for the next few months as she gets more confidence in her gross motor skills.  I can see it will get a bit more frustrating for her as she can’t say everything she wants to communicate to us, so we need to keep up our skills in baby sign, but as her needs and desires become more complex I feel there will be some times where we have no clue what she is asking for! Yeyy!