We flew out with the grandparents, EG and I on a totally sold Southwest flight. I had booked EG as a lap child, both because I didn't want to pay the money, and because I thought it would be easier. Needless to say, it was not.
G-d love both of my parents, and trust me, I certainly do, but on this plane they were not helpful. Both of my parents are older, larger people. Both are tall, and due to this both wanted to sit in the asile seat, which I totally understand. On the other hand, I wanted to be on the window seat, thinking that EG could look out, I could use it for support, and I would only have to worry about annoying one person, not two.
So there we are, EG and me at the window. A perfect stranger in the middle and my mom at the aisle. Needless to say it was not possible to let EG sit with my mother. There was no 'passing her back and forth.' She initially refused to nap. We've worked very hard to teach her to sleep on her own. (no, we don't do cry it out, but we do help her stay in her own bed...) All this meant was that sleeping in my arms on the plane was completely out of the question.
Thank G-d for my friends D&C- they had given us an amazing new toy for her birthday- a little elephant full of surprises. This kept her gleefully entertained. I also admit that I let her watch her first television on my kindle. It wasn't possible to get her to sleep any other way- and this totally did the trick.
The flight home was much better with Working Dad will us, but I'm aiming high this flight. Here's what we've done differently:
- Buy a Seat on the Plane. This is the single most important difference between the flight out and the flight there. On the way home, EG could sit all comfy in her carseat. She sleeps there regularly, so it wasn't a big deal. I could also just strap her in, and ensure that she wasn't going to get into trouble or hurt anything. This time around, we are doing the same. WE're still debating about a new carseat vs her carseat, but either way, we're psyched.
- Flying with my husband. Is this essential, no. But if you aren't going with Dad, I would say to go with someone who reads your child very well. I definitely expected my parents to be better with her, but the reality is that they don't know her like we do. We respond before she's even figured out that we need to... They just don't have that. Working Dad does- and I'm so glad we'll all be together.
- Have a designated parent. This is still key. There's carry-on's and luggage, and tickets to take care of. Having one of you designated at all times to be the EG person, in addition to monitoring who has the diaper materials can make all the difference. For us, it's easiest to have me carry the diaper stuff, but whatever works for you.
- Strategic New Toys. Lots of people talk about this, and though we haven't tried it yet, I think it's going to help just like it did last time. We've gotten her a number of new books (flip flap, or touch and feel ones) as well as a 'reusable sticker book' which has rave reviews. She's very into drawing and writing, so we've gotten her some new triangle crayons (they can't roll away!).
- Moderate use of the TV. We don't let EG watch TV yet, but I am pre-loading the kindle with some materials for her to take a look at. I know it's not good for her, but I also know that there wasn't anything else that would have worked on the last trip. We have Amazon prime so you can download a few things, then have them for 48hours once you start watching. We've also gotten her a pair of headphones so she can have some lullaby music if that will help.
- Snack Food, plus meal food. I hate that planes don't feed you anything anymore. It's critical to think in advance about what type of meal you will need to have and whether you need to bring it into the airport yourself. I advocate for both snacks and a meal, since you never know what the baby will be okay with. Don't forget about items for you and Dad too!
- Consider how you are getting through the airport. It seems strange, but deciding how to travel through the airport is huge. Soft carriers are very popular, but we don't own one for EG's size. There's the stroller- always a good option, but only want to bring that if you can use it on the other side. We are probably going to opt for our large framed Kelty kids carrier. Typically these can be gate checked just like a stroller, and they seem to make a big impact- leaving you hands free, but still allow the kid space. No matter what, think about the luggage, the carry on's, the car seat and the restrictions of the airline.
I'll report back when we return home. I'll also let you know how the cruise went, so here's hoping all the pre-planning does us some good!