First flight is in the books! And believe it or not, we survived...
Flying with a baby is definitely one of the least desirable things I can think of when traveling. Airports and flights can be stressful enough, but when we add an unpredictable infant into the mix, it just feels like a recipe for disaster.
Since Kailah and I share a passion to continue exploring our world, we knew we would need to raise Selima with this is mind, in order to keep doing what we love. If we didn't take a long term approach, we would risk building habits and expectations (for both her and us) that would not be conducive to the unpredictability of travel. This is not to say that we already have a bulletproof strategy, but we are happy to share what worked for us (and what didn't) the first time around and hope that it will help others develop their own.
Our flight didn't exactly get off to a "roaring" start. As soon as we parked our car at Logan airport (Boston), we received an alert from Delta that our flight had been delayed by five hours. And just like that, our planning for Selima's feeding and napping schedules immediately went out the window. We had to start ad-libbing before the journey had even begun.
Getting through baggage and security was a breeze. We generally do not travel with checked bags, but since we were traveling with a three month old and staying in a rental, we needed to pack her bassinet. So we checked one very large suitcase (stuffed to the zippers with a bassinet, clothes, wipes, diapers, bottles, blankets - on and on) and our two backpacks containing our clothes for the weekend. We figured checking everything was easier, so we could focus on the diaper bag, stroller and car seat (car seat and stroller checked at the gate)...oh! and the baby...
Once through security, it was time to get some food. Selima was still acting like a true road warrior because she had napped on the way to airport and it wasn't time to eat again. We were traveling with friends (thanks for your patience Elijah and Kristen!) so we made a reservation for five at Legal Test Kitchen in terminal A. Selima didn't want anything to do with sitting still, while we waited for dinner. There was too much to see. So we took turns walking her around the terminal, holding her upright, so she could see everyone. This was something we had done dozens of times in public since she was a few days old. The constant stimulus was enough to keep her mind busy, especially because she got plenty of smiles and attention.
When our names were finally called for dinner, it was time to eat for everyone, including the baby. We had prepared to feed her a bottle at this time, but originally, we thought we'd already be on the plane. Our plan was: a bottle during ascent - resulting in a sleeping baby until touch down in Austin. With many hours worth of delays, we "audibled" and planned on feeding her one more time before lift off. After dinner (we would definitely recommend Legal Test Kitchen in Terminal A by the way) and a few beverages, we had to find a way to waste a few more hours.
This was by far the most difficult stretch. Selima started to get tired, but since she was over stimulated, she refused to close her eyes. I'm pretty sure I did 300 laps around an empty gate area that night, bouncing, juggling and begging her for slumber. But even then, she had no intention of settling down. We played the last card in our deck, by plopping her in the stroller and continuing to cruise her around the terminal. No dice.
We planned on bringing Selima aboard as a lap infant. Meaning we only purchased two seats and since she is under the age of two, she could sit on our laps during the flight. We were five hours delayed, so we were now dreading entertaining an awake baby for four in-flight hours.
We were lined up to board the plane, when a flight attendant came over to me and gave me the best news of our fledgling, baby-toting, travel lives. She said that they had held the seat between Kailah and I and we could bring Selima's car seat on board. It was at that moment that I looked over to see Kailah rocking back and forth with a FINALLY exhausted and sleeping baby. I literally could have cried. When it was time for families to board, we rolled down the jet bridge, checked our stroller and let that beautiful, sleeping infant dream for four hours at 40,000 feet.
I have to be honest. I thought flying with a baby would have been worse. We had ups and downs, including a giant wrench thrown at us in the form of a five hour delay. But it really wasn't THAT bad. Which is probably a good thing, since we have three more flights booked for Selima in 2018. I'm sure they will all be just as unpredictable, but we'll keep learning and adjusting, so we can continue to pursue our travels.