Flying with a Baby
Nearly everyone had an opinion. "Oh, she's much too young!" "Do you think it's healthy for her?" "How will you cope alone on the flight back?" “Is it safe for her to travel in a plane?” “Won’t she cry terribly?” “Maybe 4 months old is too young, wouldn’t it be easier to wait until she’s older?” Yet since I'd gotten married I'd experienced bouts of homesickness, and since Baby was born, her only experience with my side of the family was the summer visit of my Dad and oldest niece. To America we must go, the only question was when.
I wanted to travel when she was still young enough to be frequently sleeping and not yet crawling. Secondly, I wanted my husband to see the Midwest in the summer. So September was chosen. Baby girl would be four months old when we left and five months old when we returned. The three of us would take the same flights to the USA, but Baby and I would remain two weeks longer than my husband.
This age was perfect for packing. Baby had just started to be interested in toys so I took a couple. Summer meant light clothing for all. Her young age meant I packed my supermama uniform of breastfeeding shirts and some skirts/bottoms. My only mistake was packing some items I wear rarely and others that I rarely dress Baby in. Travelling didn't change our basic dressing habits. No carseat, no stroller, just enough disposable nappies to get us to America and we were good. I went to the airport with her in the wrap, a diaper bag, a backpack and a wheeled suitcase in which to bring English children's books and any gifts back in.
The wrap was ideal for all aspects of travel. She's used to it and could feel secure and fall asleep in nearly any environment. In taxis, there are car seat exceptions so I wore her securely tied to me. In security, I went through just with an extra pat down and swab test. Only once did I have to remove her for security screening. In the plane it varied as to whether I had to remove her from the wrap during take-off and landing. I found the seatbelt extension they gave me for her to be a bit of a joke--as she's much more secure in the wrap--but a flight attendant friend of mine informed me that they do this so that in case something happened, they could easily remove a baby without the mother's necessary assistance. It may be morose, but I'd say that if something happened, the seatbelt extension would probably cause a higher chance that the baby would be flung away from the mother or whiplashed.
En route to America we had normal seats in economy with the normal lack of leg room. From Baby's back (while worn in the wrap) to the seat in front of us was only a couple of inches. Still, she was able to fall asleep and stay asleep while I was seated. On the long flight, I even managed to put her in the wrap while I was buckled in (there was turbulence happening at the time) and was then able to rock her to sleep, while seated. This gave me freedom to finish reading Midnight Riot on my phone and to noncommittally watch bits and pieces of films.
On all our flights she was complimented for her behaviour (keep in mind that she was heavily teething as well!). On our way to the USA, our last leg had us travelling from Chicago to Iowa. She fell asleep in the Chicago airport and woke up only after we'd claimed our bags.
Naturally, having my husband present was a big help. I could hand off the baby and go to the toilet or adjust my wrap. Yet we still managed the return flights without him. I'd planned carry-on items that could be navigated while babywearing, and there was a bassinet for her long flight. That meant I could leave her sleeping there and actually go to the bathroom by myself on the plane. I couldn't sleep, however, because another infant was crying. With the comfort of dimmed lights and an evening flight, Baby girl slept on through it. There was a single moment when I needed some extra arms as I travelled back to the CZ: Frankfurt airport security. On the way home, they wanted me to go through the scanner without her. So I handed her over to a security guard and put my wrap through the x-ray. Once through, a kind German man offered help and I handed him my baby while I prepared the wrap.
Seriously, travellers, buy a wrap. It was a life-saver. Baby girl is so used to being in the wrap that it gave some normalcy and security to unfamiliar environments. Though she was mostly worn, we were able to find times during longer layovers to lay her down so she could kick around a bit before the last flight. For all of the warnings and worries of our well-meaning friends and acquaintances, and though travelling was tiring for me, I think Baby girl barely felt any different than a normal day.