Teddy is not yet 1, but he’s already flown 17,000 miles—too bad we can’t claim them! We flew to Las Vegas when he was 2 months old, Seattle at 3 months, and Seattle and Nebraska at 11 months. Recently my friend blogged at Ink Lemonade her tips for traveling with a baby (her little guy has traveled even more than Teddy!), so I’m inspired to write my own post about traveling with a child under 1.
Flying with Teddy at 2 and 3 months old was drastically different than our most recent excursions. For starters, last year, he was small enough to fit on the seat-back table. And we put him there to sleep for part of the flight. On our August/September flights, he was entertained by the seat-back table—for a good 30 minutes! (Pushing it up and down repeatedly and then earnestly maneuvering the locking mechanism = highly entertaining.)
Because Teddy has been known to shriek—quite loudly, often freaking out his friends, but usually in excitement and not distress—I was concerned about five hours enclosed in such a small space. If my boy can move around at will, he can entertain himself quite well. Confined to one square foot? I had no idea how he’d do. I was also wary because for the flight to Seattle, I’d be traveling alone—Mike wasn’t joining me until a few days later. Five hours on my own with a very active toddler—yikes. But I knew other friends had already successfully managed, so armed with a bag full of new-to-him toys, snacks, books, and formula (including one bottle with a dose of baby Benadryl, just in case), we set off.
A wonderful Alaska Airlines baggage check attendant arranged for Mike to be on standby, which allowed him to accompany me all the way to the gate…and, we later found out, kept the middle seat next to me open! Wonder of wonders! Miracle of miracles! Both were hugely helpful.
Friends advised me to introduce toys and other items for distraction one at a time, which was a great idea. Although, between the aforementioned seat-back chair and the foil wrapper from my snack fruit bar, we didn’t even get to the toys until nearly an hour into the flight. Who knew a crinkly piece of aluminum could cause such delight?
The first half of the flight passed quickly and pleasantly, with only a couple shrieks from Teddy. Fortunately, I was mostly surrounded by young families (by definition understanding), and the single guy next to me had Boze earphones, so he slept for most of the flight, unbothered by the exclamations of an excited toddler. I thought about walking the aisle with Teddy to work off some energy, but quickly realized that would be uncomfortable for everyone: It was far too narrow; I would be elbow to elbow with every aisle-seat passenger. But standing in front of our unoccupied middle seat seemed sufficient for Teddy to stretch his legs a bit.
The second half of the flight, Teddy was due for a nap, so I strapped him into his Ergo baby carrier and began bouncing him in the aisle. We were at the back of the bus, so I spent my time sidestepping the flight attendants as they went about their work and fellow passengers visiting the restrooms. Now, on a normal day, if Teddy is tired, he’ll be asleep in the Ergo within 30 minutes. But at 30,000 feet, there’s far too much going on. I bounced with him for an hour and a half. The flight attendants were friendly and let me crash their space when the restroom area was too crowded. And Teddy bounced quite happily without any complaints. He finally fell asleep just before we began our descent.
On the flight back to DC from Seattle, it was even easier to keep Teddy entertained: Mike and I could pass him back and forth. In our bag of new-to-him toys, my friend had included the “nuclear option”: a toy with internal wires that turn into spinning neon lights when a button is pressed. We didn’t need it the entire flight. In fact, we didn’t bust it out until the last 20 minutes of our flight home from Nebraska. But we definitely needed it then and were grateful to have it.
All told, Teddy is an excellent little traveler. I’m not worried about Thanksgiving and Christmas at all. In fact, I think I’ll leave the Benadryl at home.