(Read my top tips for traveling moms at National Geographic Traveler.)
Here’s a bonus batch:
#1 Bring large Ziploc bags for soiled items.
Our very first trip taught me that flying with a baby is all about poop management. I was wholly unprepared for this phenomenon where the air pressure on takeoff forces everything out of the baby. After experiencing this on three out of four legs of our trip and then talking to other moms, I found out it’s a thing. Don’t be caught off guard as I was. The first time it happened, I thought I smelled something and stuck my hand down the side of my son’s car seat to see if I felt anything wet, feeling pretty confident that he’d prove to be dry. Cue Janice from friends – Oh My God. When I pulled my hand back out it was completely smeared with poop. And my son was wearing a diaper (obviously) and a onesie and pants! When I brought him into the bathroom, I found that not only did he soak through three layers, he was soiled from shoulders to toes. Sadly, with no resealable bag and a completely unsuccessful effort to rinse his clothes in the lavatory sink, I had to throw his clothes away.
• Consider Southwest. It may mean more connections, but they offer infant discounts of around 50% depending on the flight, and probably more important, your seatmates choose to sit by you and your baby.
With credit on American Airlines that was about to expire, we didn’t test this tip. We did, however, happen into another great baby-friendly seating option – the back of an MD-80. One side of the plane has two seats instead of three, so he got the window and I got the aisle. No one got stuck in the middle and no one got stuck next to us, the least popular passengers on the plane. Plus, being at the back of the bus meant easy access to bathrooms and trashcans, and the sound of the rear-mounted engines drowned out his crying and my off-key rendition of Hush, Little Baby.
#3 Consider bringing an inflatable tub. I didn’t have one of these, but I was able to use my sister’s when we visited, and it made things much easier. Obviously this isn’t necessary, but if you have room, why not? I’m not buying one for our next trip, however, because at six months, my son is sitting up now and should be fine in the full bath soon.
#4 Look for a baby gear rental store in the city you’re visiting. Did you even know this kind of thing exists? I didn’t. My mother-in-law found out about one and is going to borrow a crib and high chair when we visit. I’ll let you know how it goes.
#5 Get the White Noise app by TM Soft for your phone. If you’re dealing with time changes or noisy hotels, you’ll thank me for this come naptime and bedtime.
#6 Prep with an airport book.This is actually something my mom got me when I was a baby, and believe it or not, I loved it so much that I still remember it. My son is too young to appreciate this just yet, but I sent Airport to my sister and best friend and they were a hit before those momentous first trips.
#7 As cute as the National Geographic photo is, don’t let your baby play with germ-covered safety cards!