Traveling with Baby – What Worked for Us
Apologies for such a delay on this post. I received an overwhelming amount of questions and messages about traveling to California with Harper. We’re no experts in traveling with a baby – we’ve only done a short trip to the Bay Area and a road trip to Black Butte – but I will say this, once you do it, you can do anything, lol. Traveling with a baby is no easy feat. Especially at 7 months (when we flew to California). Let’s just say, it’s not a vacation.
From what I’ve heard and experienced, if you travel when baby is young, it’s fairly easy (lots of nursing and sleeping). And if you travel when baby is a little older, you have food and media to help ease the plane ride. But, at around 6-9 months, things can get interesting. They’re more alert and aware of what’s going on, they’re awake-time is a lot longer, and if you miss that window to get them to nap, they get cranky. Luckily, Harper did well on both our flights there and back. We did get an entire row to ourselves both ways, which was awesome!
By the time we got to the airport to fly to California, Harper was already overtired. She fussed while we waited to board and when we got onto the plane. I ended up giving her expressed milk in a bottle with takeoff. She ended up falling asleep the entire plane ride (1 hr 30 mins) in my arms and then woke up crying/screaming when we started our descent. I couldn’t tell if was the air pressure in her ears or if she was just startled when she woke up. I tried to nurse her, but she was too upset. I ended up giving her more expressed milk in a bottle, which worked like magic. The only downside, she ended up having all the milk I brought with us. We give her a bottle of expressed milk after she nurses when she goes to bed. Our way of filling her up. I no longer had that for the night, so I did my best to pump once we got back to the hotel (although my supply isn’t that full later in the day).
Our flight home took a little more work. We waited as long as we could to give her milk in a bottle. Takeoff didn’t seem to bother her as much, so I wanted to save the milk I had. She eventually became overtired, so I gave her a bottle, but she wasn’t able to fall asleep right away. Lots of rocking, singing, Mike walking around with her, and she finally fell asleep in my arms. She slept through descent, which was a relief. In general, our flights were fine. We got the entire row both flights, which is kind of everything when you have kids. Definitely a game changer. Milk saved us on several occasions. We also had a puff snack to keep her busy. It’s A LOT of work, but I’m so glad we got our first flight out of the way. It can be scary and daunting, but once you do it, you can do anything. The experience is EVERYTHING.
What We Packed
- Baby Jogger stroller
- Nuna Pipa car seat without the base
- Nuna SENA Air Travel Crib
- Herschel Diaper Bag
- Small Cooler for baby food and milk
- Eating bib
- Baby bowl
- Baby spoon
- Puffs and finger foods
- Outfits for each day (with a few backup options)
- Extra bibs and burp cloths
- 1 Pack of wipes and diapers – ended up buying another pack of wipes when we got to California
- Sound machine
- Medela Swing Pump
- 2 Sleep sacks
- 2 Blankets
- 1 Sweater
- 1 Pair of Mocs
- Toys and Books
- Sun Hat
*I’m sure I’m forgetting stuff… I packed all her stuff in Calpak cubes. This helped organize everything. Also, we check-in two bags. The larger one consisted of Harper and I’s stuff and the carryon size consisted of Mike’s stuff and toiletries.
We had to look it up, but airport security allows you to bring a separate bag (from your own personal carry on) for baby as well as their milk, and food.
When we arrived, we checked in the car seat (we didn’t buy a cover or anything), the crib, and both suitcases. We used the stroller through security and checked it at our gate once we boarded our flight. We opted to use our stroller to help with extra bags and if Harper wanted to nap while we waited for our flight. I would recommend taking a smaller/travel stroller and know that everything checked will get a little scuffed up. I’m actually super surprise our stuff didn’t get more scuffed up (obviously, happy about that).
Naps and Bedtime
Going into our trip, the plan was to take her morning nap at the hotel and do the rest on-the-go. We ended up having more opportunities to have her nap at the hotel, but she didn’t end up napping well there. There was maybe 1 really good nap at the hotel – I guess that’s what I get for being so accommodating to my baby, right lol. Anyway, Harper napped on-the-go way better than I thought. Honestly, I was so proud of her on this trip. It actually changed the way we did things once we got home. Not so strict about her schedule and keeping her out and about longer.
She slept really well at night for us on this trip. She’s a good sleeper, so I kind of figured this would happen. She normally goes to bed at 6pm at home and we stuck to that for the most part. Maybe 1 night she went to bed at 7pm and one night she went to bed at 8pm. We brought her bunny, which she sleeps with at home, so I know that probably gave her comfort. We also do the same bedtime routine every night, so she’s used to it.
What do you do when baby goes to sleep or naps and you’re all staying in the same hotel room? Well, let’s just say a lot was done in the bathroom, haha. We had several meals in the bathroom and ended up napping with her and going to bed at the same time as her. It was actually really nice to sleep so early.
This was probably the thing I stressed out about the most on this trip. The only time of day I pump is in the morning. This is the best time because my breasts are full. This milk is saved for the night feeding. But, when you’re traveling and you want to be out and about for your feedings, it’s best to take milk in a bottle. I could have nursed out, but I was around family and friends and we were usually eating, so I felt a bottle would work better. She was also eating solids/purees at the time and that was pretty hard to manage on-the-go. I packed a few things in my small cooler – some purees and frozen sweet potatoes and fritters. I stored them in the fridge in our hotel room. We picked up avocados and bread and brought her oatmeal, but I was stressed she wasn’t eating enough. I think this definitely had to do with her age. Now that she’s eating more things, eating while traveling would be easier.
Phew, this is a long post. To sum it up, it was a great first experience traveling with Harper. I’m super proud of how she adapted. Keep in mind, she was teething at the time, too! She did so much better out of her routine than I thought. She actually loved being on-the-go and getting out and exploring. As for her parents, it was exhausting! So much to pack and lug around and just go, go, go. It was non-stop. But, the experience was everything. It really gives you so much more confidence. It was also awesome watching Harper explore and experience new things and people. Memories we won’t forget!
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