A few weeks ago we went on Harper's first big trip away from home and on her first plane ride. I spent hours before we left looking up different pins on Pinterest and reading other blogs in an effort to try to be the most prepared I could be for the things that may or may not happen. To my surprise, Harper did amazing. And while I'd love to give myself all the credit, I really think it may have been some of the preparation and way we handled things that really helped make the whole process go smoothly.
We decided not to bring Harper's carseat with us. This is something we went back and forth on, and eventually decided to leave it home. After doing some research and making a few phone calls, we were able to rent a car seat through our car rental company at our final destination. Not having an extra item to worry about checking or having to haul through the airport was so nice. Once we arrived at our destination, we were able to choose from several car seats and installed it ourselves in our rental car. If you decide to do this, I would call and double check with the rental company at the location you're traveling to just to confirm they will have the size seat you need before you leave.
We decided to bring our stroller with us in the airport. This allowed us somewhere to put our bags if we didn't want to carry them, or have a place for Harper to sit and ride through the airport. They checked the stroller at each gate so we were able to keep it with us up until we boarded the plane and we picked it up at the gate as soon as we landed. This not only made our walks through multiple airports easier, it also gave everyone's arms a break from holding Harper.
I will be the first to admit I probably packed too much food in our carry ons, but I didn't want to run out. We brought all of Harper's favorite snacks in our carry on bag so that we had something extra to keep her entertained on the flight, and no one wants to be around a hungry baby. I tried to time her bottles around our take off and landing time to help with any pressure problems in her ears, and it worked great. Even if she had eaten recently, I still made a small bottle each time we took off, just to make that transition easier (it also helped her calm down and fall asleep).
This really depends on the child. I have friends who have tried taking redeye flights with the hope that their little one will sleep on the flight and they end up staying awake the whole time, and I have had friends with the opposite experience. Thankfully, our travel time wasn't too long of a stretch so we decided to take midday flights with our first one taking off at 10am and getting to our destination around 3pm. Harper ended up napping on me during the first leg of our flight during her normal morning nap time which was great.
Before our trip, I picked up a couple new small toys and a couple books, one especially that I didn't mind if she folded, chewed on or basically destroyed while on the plan. We honestly used the books more than anything else and it definitely helped keep her entertained, for a few short minutes. We also downloaded a few cartoons on our iPads in case she was interested in watching that. She actually sat for a good 20 minutes (which is an eternity in our world) watching an episode we downloaded, so I'd say it was a win. When it comes to packing things to keep your little one entertained, I'd say limit it to a few small items. The book that she could grab and fold worked great because she liked it and it didn't take up too much room.
Since we planned our flights in the middle of the day, our time in the air actually landed during her morning nap. I purposely choose the window seat so I could be a little more closed in. While we took off, we fed Harper a bottle and I snuggled her with a blanket up next to the window. Thankfully she snuggled right in and fell asleep. It really helped to be by the window so there were less distractions and we were able to curl up right against the wall of the plane.