First Flight with Baby

It's crazy to think that I didn't get on an airplane until I was in middle school for a band trip to Disneyland (nerd alert) and these days, it's not uncommon to have flown several times before the age of one. Ah, modern conveniences.

A few months ago, I threw the idea out to my college friend Laura (who also lives in Eugene and has a 2-year-old) that we should go visit our friend Audrey in California together with the kiddos. All of a sudden, the trip was here, the minivan was booked and we were off!

Some of my preparation was the same as it was pre-baby: I still packed too many clothes, was overanalyzing the weather and ran on the day of our flight.

And some things were different: I had to pack diapers and baby clothes as well as books, toys and snacks that would hopefully keep him entertained on the flight. And I didn't pack a single thing to entertain myself (i.e. books or magazines).

[Being the parent of a small human means you never have enough hands.]

Henry did pretty well on his first flight considering he had barely napped all day and our flight left at 4:00 p.m. He was awake and active the first 45 min of the flight looking out the window, peaking at other passengers and grabbing the in-flight magazine, and then he finally nursed and fell asleep for the second half.

We picked up our baggage and sweet minivan with no trouble and grabbed a quick dinner at Chipotle before heading on to Audrey's house.

[Life with a busy baby means cleaning up approx. 20 black beans from the floor of the restaurant and nearly having your drink and food dumped on the floor multiple times.]

During our visit we stayed both in Santa Cruz and in Monterey. The key to sleeping success for us was bringing the sound machine from home (familiar sound, small, easy to just plug in), a few books he likes and as his cuddly chick blankie.

One morning, he woke up at 6:00 a.m. so I kept him entertained in our room waiting for everyone else to wake up. By 7:30 he was rubbing his eyes, so I just asked him if he wanted to cuddle and all of a sudden, he laid his head down on my arm and conked out. 

[These are the moments you just feel your heart exploding again and again. It really can't get much better than taking a nap with your little one, especially now that this type of thing is so rare.]

I tried to take it in stride when he didn't get his usual naps. Some of his naps were shorter car naps, but he stayed surprisingly happy even when he was tired.

The highlights of the trip for both Henry and I were beach time and the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

My favorite memory of the weekend was walking on the Monterey beach and seeing Henry digging in the sand. Then when he really noticed the ocean, he put his head down and crawled his little heart out toward it.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium is amazing and great for kids of all ages as well as adults. My favorite parts were seeing the penguins swim and toddle around and the huge fish tanks with all kinds of crazy fish in them.

I decided not to bring our stroller on this trip, so I carried Henry everywhere in the Ergo. Being that he's now over 23 lb., my shoulders were a bit sore by the end of the weekend.

When we weren't on the go, Henry loved exploring the house. Seriously, 9 times out of 10, kids will pick the most mundane thing to play with over some exciting toy. For example, he played with this drawer and an empty oatmeal box for at least 20 minutes straight.

The Santa Cruz boardwalk and beach is much busier than Monterey, but also fun. Henry was determined to shove handfuls of sand, sticks and other junk in his mouth while we were there, so I had to be on my game! 

I'm bummed we didn't get a group photo of all of us together, but I guess we were too busy having fun and keeping track of the kids. 

Who needs toys when you have sand and a measuring cup?

Our flight home left San Jose around 7:30 p.m. and security was a nightmare. Thank goodness we arrived a few hours early because it would have been awful to be rushing or have missed our flight with kids. Henry and I shared a Jamba Juice green & ginger smoothie for dinner and then he had about five minutes to crawl around before we had to board the plane. 

The flight itself was less than ideal and resulted in me basically wrestling Henry for 1.5 hrs because he wanted to crawl all over the plane and make a mess of everything. By the time we arrived in Eugene, Laura and I were both a bit delirious and I was relieved to hand Henry over to Pete. 

Would I do anything different? Next time I would bring a small travel stroller (we don't have one yet) as well as smaller luggage and fewer clothes. 

What are your keys to smooth travel with a baby/small child? 


Sounds like a wonderful getaway! I am glad that it mostly went pretty well for you. I am sure you were so happy to have the flight home over with, though! How fun to watch Henry discover the sand and ocean and to go to an aquarium with him! The beach photos are so beautiful. There's nothing like being by the ocean!!
Elizabeth said…
Sorry the return flight was rougher but so glad you guys were able to make the trip! Sounds like overall it was a great time together :) and so fun to get all the kiddos together!
It sounds like you had a great time! I love the Monterey/Santa Cruz area; it's always so fun to go down there and hang out at the beaches. I know that I always wonder how those Moms can juggle all of the things -- the car seat, two bags, a baby etc and still not look like they are going to shoot someone! It must take a lot of patience as well as superhuman strength (both physical and mental). I am sure your biceps are pretty buff. Good that you did not let traveling with a baby deter you from going and having a good time!!
Leigh said…
Flying with a baby/toddler is always an experience! I've flown with Amelia three times and there have been good flights and there have been bad ones. We are going to Ontario in June and I dread it only because she is so busy! Glad you were able to get away for a little bit with friends though :)
Amber said…
Looks like a fun trip! Love the beach photos!! Glad that your first trip with Henry went relatively smoothly with the exception of him trying to wrestle his way out of your arms on the way home!
Anonymous said…
Another flight or two and you'll be a flying with a kid pro! My general outlooks going into a long flight with a little kid is: expect the worst and hope for the best. And don't worry what the people sitting around you are thinking too much. Nobody wants your kid to be quiet on the flight as much as you. The crawling age is tricky because they still haven't discovered the joys of watching a movie and sitting still in their seat. Sounds like you had a great trip overall! Xoxo, Siri Mom

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