Before you buy your tickets
Try to pick longish layovers like at least an hour to give you time to freshen up, feed or change the baby, and eat. I had one hour layovers and I thought it was the perfect time. Bring filling snacks with you in case you don't have time to buy food and they don't have meals on the plane. I had to buy a meal on one flight because I didn't have time. The cheapskate in me cringed... So I ate everything including the packaging.
Plan your outfit! Make sure it's comfortable and wear shoes that you can slip on and off easily when you go through security. I wore leggings, an over-sized t-shirt, a nursing cami underneath for extra coverage when I'd be nursing Grey on the plane, and comfy flat shoes.
What to pack in your carry-on
Have one carry-on like a backpack and pack your cute diaper bag in your suitcase (BIG one! You're going to come home with more stuff than you went there with.. Promise.) It was easier to have both my hands free instead of using our usual messenger diaper bag.
Pack a little more in your bag than you usually do...like double - you just never know!
- Diapers - 6 regular-size diapers + 4 one-size-bigger diapers
I just brought enough diapers for the way there and then bought a small pack when I got to my parents'. And the one-size-bigger diapers? Use them over your baby's regular diapers to prevent blow-outs on the plane. It didn't work one time.. But it was still an extra precaution..
I packed some toys for Grey to "play" with but he doesn't really play with them - just puts them in his mouth and then forgets 'em two seconds later..
- Bibs and burp cloths
He goes through them FAST.
- Small blanket
It gets chilly on the plane!
- Travel changing pad
We have this one and love it.
- Full pack of wipes
So you don't have to buy any at your destination for a little while!
- Extra baby clothes - 2 onesies, pants, socks, hoodie
It gets cold on the plane so make sure to bring extra layers!
- Nursing cover
Unless you're the kind to stick it to the man. Mad props..
- Plastic baggies
For the disposal of stinky diapers on the plane and dirty clothes.
For you, mama! You may not have time in between flights to grab food!
- Extra shirt
Tip: NOT WHITE.
Whether to bring the carseat and/or stroller
It depends on the airline you choose but usually they let you check carseats and strollers at the gate for free. Do your research online first before checking anything at the gate!! I checked both with Delta and it worked fine for me (e.g., no visible dents, nothing broken that I'm aware of...)
If you don't have a small, lightweight stroller, they are SO cheap! Consider buying one at your destination. I was thinking about that because at Target they're like $20! And then you can leave it at your parents' house. We might do that next time..
Carrying your baby through the airport
I repeat.... CARRY YOUR BABY IN THE AIRPORT!! Moby, Ergo, whatever's comfortable!
Once you get through security, you can continue to carry your baby or place him/her in the stroller. I decided to carry Grey and walk him around to try to wear him out from the new surroundings. The stroller is helpful when you have to change their diapers! Bathroom floors are gross..
When you get to your gate, get a pink tag at the desk for your carseat and/or stroller. Once they start calling your flight, you can take them to the gate for them to check. When you get off the plane, they should already be there waiting for you!
I've read different accounts of whether you should get on first when they call families or to get on last to not have to wait in a stuffy plane for longer than you need to. I chose the former. That way I'd have time to get settled and ask the flight attendants for an extra seat (see below..) and give the stinkeye back to anyone who gave me one. WHAT.
An extra seat for the baby
Takeoff and landing
I didn't nurse Grey when we went up or down. A few times he slept; the other times, it didn't seem to phase him. I think it depends on the baby. I did read that if you do plan on nursing during takeoff, wait until the plane starts to accelerate and not when you're at the tarmac because you could be waiting for up to a half an hour and then when the babe's done, you'll be lifting off. And then what??
I did try to distract him when I noticed him noticing the air pressure was changing like with toys, lifting him up above the seats for him to get a different view, positioning him towards a window..
Being one of THOSE people..
I downloaded some baby apps on my [Android] phone for Grey like a baby rattle, balloon game, firework game, and an aquarium. I'm sure there are similar for iOS. He loved the baby rattle the best because the objects move and there are bright colors. Also, the camera app is great! He liked to look at himself. Selfies galore!!
In the end, you can't worry about what other people think because it stresses you out and then the baby feeds off that energy and is stressed out too. Ah, the circle of life..
When you meet your seatmates, it doesn't hurt to talk and be friendly!! I apologized in advance for his crying and they all understood. I'm not usually a talker with strangers but I made myself be friendly with people and they seemed to tolerate Grey pretty well. Some even played with and talked to him!
And......that's all I've got. I hope this helped a little bit, Monica!! If you guys have any tips of your own, please share them in the comments!