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I Left My Baby in San Francisco | dooce® dooce® » I'm Heather B. Armstrong. This is my website. » I Left My Baby in San Francisco
  • amylee

    The best advice I read about travelling with babies came out of a book someone got me: If the baby freaks out and howls for the entire flight, do what you can to *look* like you are trying to calm her and keep reminding yourself that you will *never* see these people again.

    I had the same sort of thoughts going through my head before I got on a plane (by myself – a 2-hour flight) with my 4-month-old daughter. She cooed to everyone in the airport, fell asleep promptly upon takeoff and woke up cooing again at landing. I don’t know who swapped *my* baby for that peaceful, quiet creature (and swapped them back as soon as we were in the airport) but I was grateful.

    She’s been on 4 flights since and has acted the same way each time. A couple of times she woke up fussy, but I stuck my boob in her mouth and she went back to sleep.

    The added benefit was that if there was ANY open seats on the airplane, both passengers and airline staff worked out a way for me to have a row all to myself. *That* was cool.

    Good luck.

  • http://www.francesmcpantses.com Stephanie

    Serial commenting:

    I don’t work for Westin. I just recommend staying there.

    Signed,
    Stephanie, who loves traveling with her child

  • lorrie

    Baby Benadryl. Get the clear stuff in case she is allergic to the red dye. Try it in advance to make sure that it doesn’t make her more hyper, seems to do so in about 1 out of 20 kids. Dose liberally. It won’t hurt her a bit.

  • http://soul-glimpse.diaryland.com britney spears

    dooce: forget your blog. i am going back in time to read all the comments you get! holy crap, this stuff is great.

    and of course i could never forget your blog. your bandwidth problems? i have to check for updates AT LEAST three times a day.

  • Kate

    As someone with no baby, I am, of course, an expert. I don’t know whether you bottle feed her yet (your milk) but that is often better than breast feeding on a plane. Also bring lots of entertaining things to do…books and toys (none that beep). For an hour and a half you should be fine. Even if she screams like a MF it’s not for that long. It’s a good practice run for the future.

    In future I would buy a seet for the baby and strap her into the car seat.

    As a childless person I never mind the screaming 5-6 month old, I mind the whiney 2 year olds. A 2 year-old knows the score and you can bring things for them to do. They’re eating solids and cookies and you can bring them lots of snacks. There is no excuse for them to whine. A 6 month old, well, we all know there’s very little the parents can do. Don’t sweat it.

  • http://bytchinny.typepad.com BytchInNY

    Wow! A brave move but I really think you will get through it as with everything else!

    I’m going to have to agree and say you might consider buying another seat for Leta. Even if she is in your lap the entire time it’ll give you the whole row and more room to move around and park appeasement toys.

    I also recommend you take some valium or alcohol in large quantites or some such as I’m sure you’re going to be extremely stressed out about the situation which will prob wind up being a non-event anyway :)

  • http://www.flummel.com/ee Karan

    If you plan to rent a car, ask for a baby seat…if you don’t rent one, go to Toys R Us and buy one, then either leave it with the folks you visit or donate it. Don’t give Leta a bottle or a boob (so she’s hungry) until the plane is taking off…that way her ears will pop as she sucks saving lots of grief on the plane. Travel light…but interesting….new chewies/toys for Leta. She’ll like looking at the people around her, so hoist her up to look…but make sure she’s not too full because she’ll hurl on the neighboring passengers. If you think you’ll need two diapers on the plane, take four. Record her favorite songs and play them for her…quietly. Get a blow horn to blast at all the nasty comments and looks you’ll get on the plane. Have fun. It’s really not so bad…really.

  • http://www.kckck.com/hisnherblog.php cee

    If you need a stroller in SF, I’d also take it right up to the plane door to check there. They always have people with people with small children board first, which is helpful, but also means you’ll be sitting in your seats for longer…
    I’d nurse on takeoff and landing, if she is not in the mood for that… eating or sipping water from a bottle works to unplug the ears… anything to make them swallow.
    Pack lightly as far as gear goes. You can also rent an approved carseat with your rental car!
    Lastly, lots of books, toys, diapers and change of clothes in the carry-on bag! I was surprised how my very fussy, high maintenance 2 mos. old son travelled on planes! The white noise lulled him to sleep everytime!
    Good luck! Oh, and I was going to say, I think the majority of people on the plane have all had to deal with their own fussy kids at one time or another on flights…. mostly they feel for ya because, they’ve been there too. You’ll be fine! Enjoy!

  • Elisa

    Okay, every natural wholesome mother, please close your eyes now.

    The tip: babies will not nurse when you want them to or you’ll nurse them to keep her quiet as everyone is boarding the plane and hating you for having brought a baby, so she’s too stuffed to eat at the appropriate time (for ear popping). So, bring a lollipop and give her a couple of tastes at landing and take off. She’ll love the flavor and will swallow, hungry or not, all the sweet drool that she produces.

    Go to a dollar store and stock up on throwaway stuff. Think mini-flashlights, every plastic toy you can score i.e. dinasour, shark, whatever, that you can buy 2 minutes of occupied time with. And in the future, make those red-eye flights since she’ll be more apt to sleep then.

    Do NOT give her benadryl to make her sleepy without firsthand knowledge that she reacts like that. In some infants, it wires them and you hate to find that out on the plane.

    And relax yourself. Babies pick up on your feelings – so she’ll pick up your stress. Its okay if you have a drink (read – one or have a designated parent!)if you can’t get over the stress of this first time adventure.

    It’ll be fine! I’ve traveled many times with my 3 and have never been banned or chased by a mob yet.

  • http://www.secret-agent-josephine.com Secret Agent Josephine

    Oh my goodness, how can you possibly read 280 comments? I’m only commenting because I assume you’ll never get to mine. This is truely amazing. A true celebritiblog.

  • http://www.laughingbeagle.com/owensdiary Jen

    I’ve found that traveling with my son is NEVER as bad as I expected. The first time we flew with him he was 7 months old – we flew from CA to Florida — WITH layovers. All told, two takeoffs, two landings, about 6 hours total travel time. I fully expected to have to be “that mom” — the one with the screaming infant that the other passengers throw evil darts at with their eyes. But we were so pleasantly surprised. He slept almost the entire way — took a bottle on the way up and the way down and in general totally surprised the hell out of us. And Heather, I think you and Jon know a helluva lot more than you give yourselves credit for. You’re gonna be fine. Best of luck!

  • http://bellabelly.typepad.com bellabelly

    Traveling mercies to all of you…. But who is keeping the dog?

  • Amber

    I’ve found that the things I dreaded the most with my daughter, such as travelling, always turned out just fine and if she screams oh well. Chalk it up to one more day as being a parent. Just be thankful you do breastfeed…no having to warm bottles up on the plane!

  • http://liminalmusings.blogspot.com Deirdre

    Bwahahahahahaha. Sorry. I took my child to SF when he was five weeks old and to Hawaii when he was nine months old so I guess I am experienced (and have the mental scars to prove it).

    1)Do bring a package of diapers. You’ll use them up and have “extra” room for whatever you acquire.

    2)Bring crib sheets and maybe a stuffed animal from home. (Hotels usually have cribs, but if you’re lucky like us your child will choose the first night of vacation to learn how to stand up in the crib and not know how to get back down.)

    3)Accept that you will be exhausted. Don’t try to do too much.

    4)Remember a baby thermometer and tylenol or motrin.

    5)You’ll survive and the pictures will make it all worth it. (Extra points for baby pictures on the GG Bridge).

  • http://lawver.net Kevin

    It sounds horrible, but it doesn’t hurt the kid… give her some baby benadryl about 20 minutes before you board and she should sleep through the flight. She should have something spongy she can chew on during takeoff and landing (for the ear-popping). Also, bring lots of little snacks like cheerios and pretzels. And when all else fails, just remember that the flight from SLC to SF isn’t that long, and screaming is good exercise.

  • http://www.commuterchaos.com Kieran

    #284 YES! So i better give some good advice or have something whitty to say.

    Dont get married! But if you do, do it in Jamacia!

  • elyse

    i have absolutely no baby experience (yay, college!), but since i adore you and your family i thought i’d try a suggestion: maybe organize some pretend trips over the weekend? i know a car’s no airplane, but it’s kind of got the motion and lack of space for maneuvering. if she can sit in your lap for a good hour and half and be good, or bad (oh teh nos!), maybe you’ll get a better feel for the trip. it’s like training for a marathon, haha.
    best of luck!
    all my wellwishing is to you guys.
    <- elyse

  • http://battybeyond.blogspot.com Tammy

    Have f-u-n on the trip!! Make sure you have family members at the gate (or in most airports at the other side of security) that you can dump child, baby seat, excess luggage, diaper bag, squeek toy, kitchen sick and cobwebbed pacifier. The key to visiting family you don’t see regularly: use and abuse, dude. Use and abuse. crap, it doesn’t even have to be a relative. You can just lure (cough, persuade) one of your readers to meet you under the guise of “getting together for drinks.” It works every time. I mean, good luck with that ;)

    And once again, Have the F word!!! F-U-N

  • http://traveldreams.blogspot.com Abbey

    YOU ROCK as a mom. With all the other things you have figured out, I know this will just come to you. Best advice this motherless girl has ever heard? A baby senses it’s mother’s emotions. As long as you stay calm, Leta should follow suit. If you are anxious, she will feel that anxiety and start screaming her little heart out. And if you get drunk…well, back to strengthening her liver – go lady friend go

  • tami

    OK, I successfully flew alone from L.A. to Iowa with my 3 month old and later at 8 months of age when we fled the insanity and returned to the midwest(or is it Midwest?). At any rate, there were no technological advances like the Bjorn or D-70-I haven’t a clue what those things are, but then I’m nearly beyond the child-bearing period in my life.

    Breastfeeding is the best-how could one not feel comfortable nursing on a plane? Just take Leta’s blanket, which surely already smells of your milk, and throw it over Leta and your boob.

    All the advice about take-off and landing is so right on target. I held my son the whole way, but that was made a bit easier as I did call the airline in advance to request a bulkhead seat (explaining that I would be traveling with a baby, which by the way is not rude-this is America after all) as you’ll have more room leg room and no one in front of you to annoy or annoy you back. You’ll also have a lot more floor room to change Leta should the need arise. For me, this was the one unexpected event. My son had a huge breast-fed baby poop blowout, which ran out of the diaper and soaked through his cute little travel outfit. I had to change him in front of this very manly and huge cowboy (hat included) who had the good fortune to be seated next to me. I used up my entire wipe supply with this one poop trying to keep it off the plane carpet, myself, and the cowboy.
    So:
    1. Request a bulkhead seat
    2. Breastfeed (and don’t eat chocolate the night before you travel)
    3. Take a change of clothing and a few more wipes than you think you’ll need
    4. Ditto on getting the crib arranged on the SF end, and you already know my experience with traveling and Binkies-don’t even go there-you’ve already done the right thing!!
    5. The boarding early thing can be a dual-edged sword. You will get the evil eye from those who believe you are being rude by traveling with a baby either as they come in and pass you by, or when you come in and pass them by. If Leta does better by being bounced and walked, boarding early significantly impedes meeting that need.

    Good luck!

  • http://www.flummel.com/ee Karan

    Don’t medicate your baby unless she’s sick…that’s abuse. There’s this stuff I used with my daughter…Lavender Massage Oil…you gently massage it into the baby’s feet and it has natural calming properties for both you and Leta. I don’t know if it’s the oil or massage that does the trick but it works, smells nice and is legal.

  • http://romanholiday.net/jblog/ Julia

    Baby Benadryl BUT, test it on her first, some babies, well, they have an opposite reaction. You’re breast-feeding, right? You don’t need anything else. People will understand more than you think. They may even help. Relax. Sorry, I’m not very clever. Have a good trip.

  • Andrea

    I took my daughter to *China* (once with husband when she was 9 months, once alone when she was 3), so if I can survive that, you can survive this. We took the carseat and lucked out an an empty seat on every leg of the flight, but your trip will not be quite so long, so you might be able to survive without (but remember you will at least need to borrow or rent a carseat when you arrive). Pack a couple of new toys that she’s never seen to play with on the plane. Or even something ordinary like scotch tape. Best to supervise, but babies will play with scotch tape forever :) A baby carrier (Baby Bjorn, sling, etc.) is good for going through the airport so you have another hand free. Don’t try to carry her in the carseat through the airport, too inconvenient. Check the stroller, but put it on the luggage cart, because again, if you can just use a carrier, you’ll have more hands for other things. If you nurse her or give her a bottle at takeoff and landing, it will help her ears not to hurt. This is probably the most likely reason she might scream on an airplane. You will be fine!!!

  • Carolyn F.

    Do you have nursing shirts? I always ended up with some random man next to me. It was a lot less stressful to have a shirt designed to cover.

    I just travelled BY MYSELF with a 5 year old and a 3.5 month old — my baby is close in age to Leta. My older son was easy, just a few new workbooks and toys. The baby slept most of the time, did need a poopy diaper changed (the lavatory had a changing table space!) and was happy looking around at everyone. It really won’t be that bad. If she screams the whole time, just remember that the flight will eventually end.

  • anna

    children’s gravol is the way to go. it will knock her on her ass safely – unlike medicating her with benedryl and tylenol. are those other people fucking nuts? also, make sure she is toasty warm. planes tend to be freezers which makes it really uncomfortable for an underdressed baby. you too – it really bites nursing a baby when your nipples are icicles.

    children are perfect little travellers – especially babies – they are portable and don’t give a shit if they have clean clothes or a crib to sleep in. it is the parents that will make the trip enjoyable – not the baby that will ruin it. just chill and leta will chill. all will be fine.

    oh, and a shot of bourbon never hurt anyone – or two or three for that matter!

  • joe

    relax, ‘cos by the time you finish reading all 290+ comments, you will have missed your flight.

    i’d invite you guys over if you make it to sf, but i don’t like kids. maybe just bring the dog instead? i like dogs.

  • baby

    we took our 2.5 mnth old on a 10 day road trip from seattle to monterey then over to las vegas. the pac n play is what saved us. ask for one at your hotel or borrow one. bring your own baby sheets. we got to know our baby much better on the trip since we were always playing with her instead of always doing laundry, cleaning or cooking. unfortunately the baby did discover tv while on the trip… and it wasn’t just normal tv, it was cable tv – a definite luxury for the whole family.

  • nikki

    Travel light – just with the diaper bag if possible. Take toys she likes. Nurse her at take-off and landing. It’s best to travel during nap times, as she’ll sleep a lot of it. I actually like to travel with the boppy because it gives her somewhere to sit. Take a change of clothes for her AND you. She might spill/poop/spit-up all over you.

    While you’re in SF, try to keep to her schedule as much as possible. Let her nap when it’s naptime, and go to sleep when it’s her bedtime. The more you stick to that, the happier she’ll be!

  • Kimarino con Bambino

    Don’t give her Benadryl. Even if every damn person in your family swears “Benadryl works wonders on flying babies! It unclogs their ears! It knocks them out!”. Don’t do it- sometimes Benadryl has the opposite effect and makes the kid wired and crabby. My son smacked the flight attendant. Seriously. But, I learned if your baby smacks a flight attendant and she is a bitch about it-you can write the company and will be granted 20,000 free frequent flier miles. Score!

  • http://www.beverlyrevelry.com Beverly

    I’m sure it’s all been said by now, but I’ll add my two cents anyway.

    In my experience, traveling with kids always sounds much harder than it actually turns out to be. Plus, Leta is at a great age to travel with — past the tiny, fussy baby stage but still little enough to be (mostly) easily entertained. I’m sure your trip will be great, and I can’t wait to read all about it!

  • anna jr.

    one thing i can think of is to make sure you book the side of the plane w/ only 2 seats.

    that way it’s just you 3 in the row and is she decides to flail about you won’t have some guy siting next to you that is trying to play solitaire on his laptop (for godsakes – and what is WRONG with that baby????).

    also – dress her up in the cutest outfit you have so that if she’s freaking out she will at least look good doing it.

    oh – and make sure you announce LOUDLY to everyone in earshot that it is HER FIRST TIME ON A PLANE AND THE POOR THING IS SCARED OF ALL THE PEOPLE AND LOUD NOISES AND DOES ANYONE HAVE SOME BOURBON????!!!!

    you can do this on the way back too, actually, as long as you are not on the plane with the same people.

    and i don’t even have kids.
    man, i’m gonna be such a good mom……

  • Emily

    Call the airline and ask them to assign you a window and an aisle seat. That way, you’re more likely to have a spare seat in your row. Buy Leta some new toys and bring them out when you think she’ll lose it. And don’t stress. It’s only a 2 1/2 hour flight :)

  • http://getreal.com lavenderoil

    I’m all for natural, but using lavender oil on a small plane with limited air ventilation? Are you serious? That stuff is STRONG, not to mention very oily. What a nightmare waiting to happen. Yeah, use lavender oil and then you’ll have a screaming baby, a messy lap, AND a plane full of people with migranes.

    If the pediatrician-approved Benadryl solution scares you and you want to try something more granola, try massaging her feet with some baby lotion with lavender in it.

  • http://www.onegirlslife.com Rori

    Cripes. I got as far as #6 and I want to shove paper towels down that person’s throat and light them on fire.

    Okay, back to reading.

  • rob

    my parents would pin a twenty to my collar, put me on a plane and wish me the best of luck.

    i’m going to use duct tape.

  • Michelle

    I was on a plane with a screaming kid once, but he was about a year old. The poor parents tried everything to get him to quiet down without much success. Once we got off of the plane, his dad told me I could punch him if I wanted to. (The kid, not the dad.) Humor goes a long way. Have a great time!

  • beth

    From a Fragmented Mom; I should tell you this in person, but its a mouthful and when do you have time for a mouthful… We are watching PBS kids (Reading rainbow with Lavarre Burton. You may know him as Jordy from Star Trek), and well you know Eli wants to watch something else and they are both screaming and Ok, we will put The Little Bear Movie On…

    Back on Topic: When Kyle was thirteen months old we counted and realized that he had flown twenty-three times. Are we crazy? Yes.

    His first flight was pure hell (if you read my father’s day post, you will see why. I was misinformed on giving the little guy drugs. HE WAS TOO YOUNG for cold medicine!) Note, Kyle was only three months old on his first flight. As you know, that is a big difference between five or six months old. (A six month old can handle the other drugs better than just having Tylenol.) I always went fort he Benydryl. Also we always arrived at the airport a little early and went and talked to the gate attendant in our most friendly voice to see if we could have an aisle and a window seat. If you can finagle this seating arrangement then Leta can come on board in her car seat where you can strap it into the window seat (All airlines will only let you strap car seats into the window seat.) Sure you can pick her up, but if there is turbulence, well, you know… When we thought enough ahead of time we would just reserve an aisle and a window seat.

    We still had to worry about someone taking the middle seat and that is why we still arrived early. We could usually talk the gate attendant into kicking the person out of the middle seat by saying something like, “Boy you look great in that Blue Delta Uniform. You are the nicest Delta Employee ever.”

    On board I always had a Manic/Neurotic amount of items to occupy the kid. On flights when Kyle would not cooperate we made sure to look at everyone around us and assure them with our words and knowing glances that we were just firs-time parent and we sure did appreciate their understanding. It’s all about P.R.

    Finally, best tip ever given to me. Nurse Leta on the way up and the way down. It helps pressurize her ears. There is nothing, I mean nothing worse than a baby with a bad Earache.

    You guys will do great. Thank God San Francisco is a short flight. You can borrow our port-a-crib if you need too. Most hotels have them, but as a Neurotic parent we always took ours along.

    I am sure there is more, but I should leave space for the others and pay attention to my own children.

  • brighamvicious

    the whiskey sounds like a good idea…maybe one of those portable pet carriers too…

  • http://www.imthezoot.com Zoot

    Hopefully – you’ll be suprised as I was that my son LOVES traveling, in any form. But just in case…

    I would say – bring many things she’s familiar with and try, getting her used to sleeping other places (couch, floor, etc) before yo leave, but you sleep NEXT to her, for comfort.

    I wish you luck though. Hang in there. And expect the worse, so if its NOT the worst? You’ll be able to pat yourself on the back.

  • Sieue

    Definately take just one more daiper than you think you’ll need in your carry-on luggage. Don’t put a leaky drink in there with them! Also a spare change of clothes (doesn’t have to look cute and a onesie take sup very little space). You can buy absolutely everything you forget once you get there so don’t get stressed about the things you have forgotten. Don’t forget to enjoy yourself.

    Best of luck.

  • Kate

    be careful with the baby drugs; my sister took her son on a trip to florida last summer and decided to try the baby benedryl. instead of having the calming, drowsy effect, my nephew was wide awake and moody the whole miserable flight. maybe baby valium or xanax would work better. oh and don’t forget the duct tape!

    have a great time!

  • http://www.quirkychick.blogspot.com susie

    I don’t have time to read all of the advice you’ve been given here so forgive me if I’m repeating bits you’ve heard. All the baby stuff is covered so what I’m saying is you and the mister should remember to wear no metal and shoes that go on and off easily. It’s gotten to where I just about travel in my pajamas after being asked to practically strip at security. Get there plenty early to go through the long security lines and remember no pointy stuff in the carry ons – they’ll take it away from you. Have a blast in San Fran – one of the best cities in the world.

  • http://verymom.com Jae

    OMG, I forgot – WHATEVER YOU DO, DO NOT BOARD EARLY. You know, they let anyone with kids or anyone missing limbs or whatever, board the plane early. While this seems like a nice idea, don’t do it. Send Jon in first to get your seats and take all of your gear. Then wait with Leta in the airport. Delay the whole plane scene for as long as you can, then board last. If you get on first, you’ll end up sitting there in the plane, in that confined place while you wait for all of the slow people to HURRY UP AND SIT DOWN ALREADY!

  • http://islandArtist.tblog.com Jen of the Island

    It doesn’t matter what you pack- you will have forgotten the one thing you will need the most.
    Benadryl didn’t work for sleeping until my child was 18 months. I used to use a few drops of infant Gravol… if you have that in the states… its a form of dramamine. She was down for the entire flight and everyone thought I had the **Sweetest** child.
    Good luck!

  • http://www.woowoolife.blogspot.com Frilly

    I have no advice that hasn’t been covered already. I do remember travelling with my Mum at a young age – as long as I got enough sleep, life was good, even a little exciting! Best of luck to you both.

  • bigbigtruck

    As a frequent traveler, I usually encounter screaming babies on planes. Eh, they’re babies, they can’t help it. The screaming doesn’t bother me – that’s what earplugs are for.

    HOWEVER – I beg you: please please please do diaper changes in the airplane bathroom. Breathing recycled poop-air is just… ugh.
    Good luck.

  • http://www.theworldofani.blogspot.com ani

    Ask the hotel if they have any travel cribs for babies. Most due. Try to bring a few items you can carry on to keep her occupied on the plane. Maybe bring a small stroller so you don’t carry her all the time off the plane. Consult your doctor about what to do with the ear popping thing.Good luck.

  • bigbigtruck

    also: nice Tribe Called Quest ref.

  • http://atomicclock.blogspot.com ac

    i say just check the baby and let the baggage people worry about all this. what are we paying these people for, anyway?

  • stella

    all I can say is 300 posts.