I don't really have any tips on surviving the family. I have, however, flown cross country with E three times in the 11 months since he was born. Kid needs a frequent flier card. Here are my tips for traveling while nursing.
Babies on a Plane... cuddlier than Snakes on a Plane
- Tips for traveling with a nursling:
- Stick to your routine. Even if baby isn't on a schedule, do what you would normally do. Nurse on demand as you would at home. If you happen to be in a car, then pull over if or when you can. With the craziness of traveling, it's easy to miss hunger cues from baby until it's too late.
- Bring along a "new" toy. A friend with a two year old daughter said that she brings her daughter a small new toy and gives it to her on the plane. It helps keep her distracted and happy throughout the flight. We have done something similar with E, except we have brought out a toy he hasn't seen in a while. It's like it's new to him. It kept him busy and distracted throughout the flight.
- Be prepared to improvise. E is a very distracted nurser when we're at home. On the road (or in the air), he's even worse. I no longer use a coverup when NIP because it turns into a huge game of peekaboo, except when we fly. It helps E ignore all the noise around him and focus on the task at hand. He's even fallen asleep under there. I keep one in my diaper bag at all times, even if rarely used.
- Window or Aisle? If you're flying and lucky enough to be in a row consisting of only two seats, take the window seat and have your partner sit in the aisle. You will not have as much leg room, but you will have more privacy. It's also a good excuse for your partner to be on diaper duty! If you're in a row of three seats, try and snag the window. This is a lot easier to do if you've been assigned middle and aisle. Give up your aisle for the window.
- Pack backup. If you pump, bring your pump and a few bottles along with you. You never know when you will need to give baby a bottle, especially on a long drive. When your relatives ask to feed the baby, you can hand him or her a bottle.
I own a Medela Pump In Style Advanced in a tote bag and rather than bring the whole tote bag, we remove the pump from the bag. The pump itself is about 5 inches by 5 inches. I pack it in my carry on along with the hoses and power supply. The horns, membranes, and bottles get checked. If I lose those, they're easy enough to replace. I do not want to lose my expensive pump!
- Dress to nurse. Make sure you're wearing layers. I like to wear nursing bra with a cami or Undercover Mama under a t-shirt. I also bring a sweatshirt or hoodie in case it gets cold. I make sure that I'm really comfortable and familiar with my outfit so that I can nurse at a moment's notice.
- Nurse at takeoff and touchdown. Yeah, it really works. It helps alleviate the pressure in baby's ears. If baby won't nurse, give them a pacifier or make sure they're sucking on something. Sometimes E falls asleep before takeoff and stops sucking on his paci. I pull on it a little bit to get him going again.
- Pre-board if possible. Some airlines call for families traveling with small children to board before the rest of the plane, others don't. I've found that if I ask a representative before boarding begins they will allow us to board a little early. Sometimes we board with Group 1. Most are nice and understanding, but be warned because some are real dicks about it.
- Wear your baby. As we've been traveling with E, we have noticed one thing: we don't ever seem to have enough hands. Between wheeling suitcases, carrying a diaper bag, remembering where we put the boarding passes, and handling the car seat, we don't have any extra hands to hold the baby. Thankfully, we put E in a baby carrier and act like sherpas. He's comfortable in our Boba carrier and takes in the sites while we hustle to the gate (since we're perpetually late) and then baggage claim. I've gotten a lot of questions and strange looks, but I've also gotten a lot of, "Hey! That's a great idea!"
Do you have any tips of your own? Be sure to leave them in a comment!