Thursday, September 8, 2011

Flying to Orlando with a Baby

I first took my son on holiday when he was 3 1/2 months old.  Like many parents, I was nervous taking our son on his first plane trip, particularly because my laid-back husband wasn’t coming with us.  My parents have a house in Orlando Florida, and being a less-than-3-hour flight from Toronto, this made the perfect starter trip.

A million questions swirled through my mind… What do I pack? How will I manage getting everything through security? Should I gate-check a stroller or use a baby carrier? Should I bring his car seat?  Here is what worked, and what didn’t work:

Carrying baby at the airport

I chose to carry B around the airport in a mei tai which proved to be a good choice.  It ensured I had both my hands free, and because it has no metal parts, I was able to keep it on when going through the metal detector.  On other trips, I have been asked to take him out while going through the metal detector, so be aware this can happen.

Going through security

Since the restrictions frequently change, be sure to visit the TSA's website to find out what the latest requirements are regarding carrying pre-mixed baby formula, breast milk, juice and other liquids.  The website also includes information and videos to help you know what to expect when going through security with a child.

Baby gear

We used a rear-facing Graco car seat which clicked into the frame of our Bugaboo stroller.  I checked in the car seat and stroller so I’d have them to use in Florida.  If this seems cumbersome, Orlando has no shortage of services which rent baby gear for the duration of your trip including Traveling Baby) and Kids Gear Here.  I have never used a baby gear rental service, so I can’t comment on their quality or service.  Many hotels will provide high chairs and cribs – be sure to ask.

Choosing seats on the plane

On check-in I requested bulkhead seats, thinking this would give us extra room.  Bulk head seats allow for much more leg room, however they had a disadvantage I hadn’t anticipated – every time the ‘fasten seatbelt’ light came on, we had to stow all our carry on bags in the overhead bins, which made it difficult to access baby stuff when I needed it.  In order to help B’s ears adjust to the pressure changes, I nursed him during take-off and landing.  Unfortunately, while we were landing, he had a huge spit-up all over my shirt and all my baby wipes and tissues were completely inaccessible in the overhead bin.  (Now I think twice before requesting bulk head seats, and I now make sure to keep necessities tucked in beside me when everything else is stowed  – see Are Bulkhead Seats Worth It?)

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