Best way to roast the broomstick. Must try. Five Stars.

I Left My Baby in San Francisco

I think I’ve already established that I’m not so good at this Mother thing, what with not picking up my baby or loving her enough and all the times I’ve wrapped her up like a mummy in dangerous paper towels and left her to scream in the middle of the street.

In the weeks leading up to Leta’s birth I received several gifts from friends, including infant clothing and receiving blankets, breast pads and tiny nail clippers. I remember looking at all the stuff and wondering, “What the hell do you do with a breast pad? Can you eat these things?” because I had NO EARTHLY IDEA what I was getting myself into. I honestly thought that the baby would come with all the clothes she needed. After giving birth to the baby and the placenta, I thought a whole package of cotton onesies would shoot out the birth canal, followed closely by several nightgowns and a six-pack of tiny pink socks. I had gained so much weight that I was certain Leta would arrive with luggage.

I’ve learned a lot in the last five months. I’ve learned that babies don’t necessarily like to be dangled by their toes from the rooftop or to have their mouths clamped shut with clothespins. Duct tape works better at silencing the screaming than swings or strollers or diaper changes. I’m now an expert when it comes to breast pads (no, you cannot eat these things), and I can shoot breast milk at a target thirty feet away.

Jon and I are totally neurotic first-time parents, and we’re learning how to do this whole thing day by day. I will admit that he is a little less neurotic than I am, and he doesn’t throw things or growl or serve as a host body for Satanic demons. But every night we take inventory of what we’ve learned and add it to our notebook of parenting: Leta likes to be outside; Leta does not like the vacuum cleaner or other obnoxiously violent noises; Leta likes the book about the ladybug, does not like the book about the rocking horse; Leta will stop screaming if you sing her that new Morrissey song about forgiving Jesus for all the desire he placed in me when there’s nothing I can do with this desire, and please don’t sing it in your normal voice, you must sing it in your Morrissey voice, because SHE KNOWS THE DIFFERENCE, you stupid parent people.

Last week we were feeling a bit over-confident in our baby skills and made the monumentally insane decision to click the “Book Now” button on two plane tickets to San Francisco (Leta will be traveling for free, on my lap). We made this decision after two screamless days and after a shot or two of whiskey — bourbon is good for the baby as it gives her liver practice for the hard life ahead. In that frame of mind we were thinking that not only could we travel with this baby, but also that she should have eight or nine brothers and sisters! There are actual days when babies don’t scream! How cute is that! Let’s have MORE non-screaming babies! Pour me another shot!

After the screamlessness wore off we were sort of confronted with the fact that shit, we’re going to travel with this baby? What idiot made that decision? [points finger firmly in the direction of She who serves as host body for Satanic demons] HOW THE HELL DO YOU TRAVEL WITH A BABY?

No seriously, I’m asking you, how the hell do you travel with a baby? We have no idea what we’re doing. Keep in mind that Leta rarely sleeps anywhere but in her crib, and she never falls asleep on our shoulder or in the stroller. How the hell will she fall asleep in San Francisco? Are there cribs in San Francisco?

Do you have any tips, other than to shoot myself?

(comments now closed)

  • erika

    You guys are awesome parents!
    Don’t forget to have at least one spare outfit for Leta and a spare shirt for you in your carry-on, for that precious moment when Lena grabs your bourbon off that tiny tray and flings it. Bring teething rings and frozen bagels, chewy things are helpful. My kids were always so worn out just from the airport experience that they’d fall asleep on the boob once we boarded and stay that way for hours, provided I didn’t move an inch. Change her right before boarding, some planes have no changing table in the bathroom and forbid you from changing her in the cabin- seriously! Pack very light, and have a wonderful time. Babies at this age are as portable as it gets, travel as much as you can now before the whiny years begin.

  • Amy S

    If the flights only about 2 hours and you factor in an hour or so at each airport you only really need a small diaper bag With 3/4 diapers, butt wipes, a bib/burp cloth, recieving blanket and a few toys. OK throw in a few nursing pads. Also I found these neat little Gerber treats that melt in babies mouths. Maybe trying to give her new treats will help keep her occupied and it should be amusing (as it always is) to watch our children try new things. Looks like you are getting some good advice from all types (parents and non parents). Good Luck. Oh, for good measure, throw some paper towels in the diaper bag too….hehe

  • If she were older I’d recommend a DVD player so she could zone out on Disney movies, but since she’s not…. I agree with the lollipop thing. And make sure to take extra clothes on board for you, not just her. If she urps, it’s likely to be on you as well. Not that she will, but better safe than sorry.

    And books — take lots of books. Good luck!

  • we’re faced with the same thing – thinking about this weekend’s trip to new jersey (new jersey!) is like staring into the gaping maw of a sleepless, cranky hell.
    i will say, however, that at leta’s age, travel is far easier…owen would routinely snooze through 5-hour car trips with nary a peep (or poop). feed her a ton before you get on the plane, and hope the dull roar of the engines put her right out.

    then break out the bourbon.

  • shubka

    Travelling with a nursing baby is great, the 24-hour diner is always open. Most importantly, set your expectations – this is not going to be the same as travel in your childless days. You might not see all the places you would have without a kid, and the trip will have a whole different rhythm, but all three of you will have a great time. If you plan for nap breaks and early nights, you won’t feel like you’re missing out. Also, PLEASE don’t give your 5 month old a lollipop, just bring a bottle filled with water (not juice), and give to her if she doesn’t want to nurse. The novelty alone should keep her occupied and even a few drops will help her ears. Safe travels to you!

  • ajd

    I once flew from Toulouse to Detroit with two screaming and unhappy children (not mine) sitting right next to me. How I wished I had brought ear plugs. So, first, don`t waste a precious second worrying about the other people on the flight. It is a free country and babies have a right to scream all they want. Second, bring complimentary ear plugs. That should wipe the dirty looks right off all their faces. And try to have some fun!

  • emily

    Frankly, I’m of the opinion that it’s just plain rude to fly with a screaming baby. The baby is miserable, you’re miserable, and the other hundred people on the plane are miserable. Why should the rest of the plane have to suffer just because you chose to subject yourself to a baby? But on the other hand, you may convince several young folk on the plane that they really don’t need to procreate like they thought they might want to. And flying out of the baby capitol of the world, that can be counted as your good deed of the day.

  • Yes on nursing at take-off & landing, hesitant about drugs, yes on bring a little along as you can bear to.

    Best wishes!

  • UPS all of your non-essentials (stuff like: teddy bears, blankies, cribs, car-seats, bottles, sofas, rocking chairs, the dog, clothes, refrigerators, trees, roofing shingles, etc.) first. You don’t want to be holding up the security checkpoint explaining the use of a breast pump to the guard while Leta is going bonkers.

    Benadryl cocktails are great. They got us through many a roadtrip. There’s nothing better than a happy baby gorked-out on OTC meds.

    Good luck.

  • Jen

    Try, as hard as you can, to remember that one and a half hours, compared to the amount of hours in your life, is nothing. The absolute worst thing that can happen is that Leta will scream the whole time, and some people will quietly hate you. In case this happens, bring a voodoo doll to curse them with children within a week of their flight with you.
    There is nothing illegal about using Benadryl or Tylenol (ignore the hippies), just test it out first. Remember that there will be other parents and understanding people on the plane who will symphthize. Also, I’ve been on planes with screaming babies, but never has there been a baby that screamed continuously. Best of luck, and I’m sure you’ll do fine.

  • Beth

    Great comments, except for the one about how giving your kids benadryl is abuse. I think alarmist and exaggerated claims of abuse simply serve to discredit real abuse that does go on. If you give your child a loving home and a drop of benadryl before a plane flight, you are not an abusive parent. I don’t have a child, but that claim just left me flabbergasted.

  • Kim

    We just flew for the first time (to Seattle) with our 5 mo old. I was TERRIFIED for NO REASON. She nursed and slept, slept and nursed (and she is NOT a napper…I’m thinking of buying an airplane). Our one strategy on the plane was to sit in the vicinity of the other pre-board baby people…that way if she was crying or screaming, it would fall on sympathetic ears.

    I have a friend with a now 2 year old who always brings candy and passes it out to the passengers around them before the flight. Kissing ass seems to work for her!

    You’ll do GREAT. I got SO OFF on “introducing” our little girl to a new city…all the sights and sounds. She’ll love the stimulation. And cooler weather (I’m in SLC). Have fun…can’t wait to hear!

  • I didn’t read through the entire five volumes of comments you have already received…but having flown way too many times with two small infants and no adult help, I can tell you this:

    Make sure she is eating or has something in her mouth when that plane takes off and lands. That and dealing with poopy diapers are the only two things you need worry about.

    Really. Make sure she has something in her mouth. An infant + plugged ears = travel hell.

    Also – the little plastic drink cups provide neverending amusement to babies. They even provide evil napkins.

  • manda

    I’m a new mommy of a 4 month old and I just flew from Orlando to Chicago BY MYSELF!!! (Hubby sat home with some much needed X Box time) I brought her car seat along in hopes that there were empty seats, but, alas, there were none. I have one of those “Travel systems” (baby talk for a whole lot of gear disguised as one) and I was able to take to the gate. Since there were no available seats, they checked it at the gate, which was nice, because it was waiting for me right when I got off the plane. I nursed during take off and landing (much to the dismay of the 2 gentlemen sitting next to me, but oh well, like they’ve never seen a boob before) My baby was great, the “white noise” of the plane lulled her to sleep for most of the trip. I put one of those airline pillows on my knees, and laid her on my lap with her head on the pillow, and she slept.

    I second the pack light advice. There is nothing you need that you can’t buy in San Fran.

    Take a picture of her first plane ride.

    Call the airline and ask if the plane has a changing table (some smaller planes do not have one) and plan accordingly.

    Oh, and while going through the security checkpoint, you’ll need to take her out of her carrier (if you brought it) and carry her through yourself. (Much easier with two people–by myself it was crazy. And my carrier got stuck going through the x-ray machine)

    All in all, it was not as nearly as bad as I thought. Don’t stress about it. Remember, your baby can smell fear…

    Good luck!

  • Sarah

    You’re coming to San Francisco? Wanna have drinks? Have you read “Why Girls Are Weird”???

    Everyone I’ve talked to says drug ’em. It won’t hurt. Benedryl or Tylenol or a bit of that bourbon on the gums and nite nite Leta!

  • We flew on a short flight (1 hour) with our 4 month old recently. She nursed on take off and landing and napped a little during the flight. It really wasn’t all that hard. I think the best thing I brought was my boobs, not all the toys and blankets and crap. We boarded the plane early and it was no problem – Lily just sat and watched all the new faces pass by. And I don’t know how comfortable I would be using a rental car company child seat. We just brought ours with us and they stowed it during the flight. We brought it to the gate with us and they had it ready when we landed, and much faster than I thought possible. The airlines know how to deal with all of that stuff.

    As far as what to bring, I always pack too many clothes. But my theory is you never know when you are going to have poop-up-the-back or puke-down-the-front.

    Don’t let everyone scare you. It will either be easy, hard, or somewhere in between. Even if it sucks try and make the best of it! I hope you guys can enjoy your trip.

  • Shannon

    If you are not comfortable with breastfeeding in the plane, her doctor may perscribe an eardrum numbing drop. They give it to kids when the have an ear infection.

    I have learned that children are the worst when you interrupt their routine. Try to stay on the same routine, take naps at the same time, eat at the same time. Don’t take her out of the daiy routine.

    Good Luck and remember to just have a ton of fun!

  • Shannon

    If you are not comfortable with breastfeeding in the plane, her doctor may perscribe an eardrum numbing drop. They give it to kids when the have an ear infection.

    I have learned that children are the worst when you interrupt their routine. Try to stay on the same routine, take naps at the same time, eat at the same time. Don’t take her out of the daiy routine.

    Good Luck and remember to just have a ton of fun!

  • odysseus

    Our son was a crabby infant but he handled long flights fine. Babies like adventures.

    I second the comments about breast feeding and ears, packing light and your own mood. Do bring toys and books that she likes. Don’t bother with “solids”.

    Our son liked walking up and down the aisles and standing in the galleys.

    Schedule your days around her naps and routines (remember she’ll be on Utah time). Napped & fed baby = happy baby. If she’s an early riser, get out of the hotel for early breakfast.

    Get a sitter if you can so you two can have a night out. If so, get a suite to sleep her in one room with the sitter in the next.

    Have fun!

  • Drop her off at my house when you get here!

  • You’ve got some great advice here. I will disagree on only one thing I’ve seen. I’ve changed my daughter (now 22 months) in the airplane bathroom before and it’s actually pretty well designed. Convenient even. So, don’t worry about it. If you have to, you have to. I’m much more dubious about changing Betsy in the airport bathroom (which is sometimes disgusting) than I’ve ever been about the airplane bathroom.

    Other advice since I’ve gotten this far… I always go on the plane with betsy, a moderately sized backpack that serves as both purse and diaper bag, a cheap umbrella stroller, and otherwise completely empty hands.

    You can and should check everything you don’t absolutely HAVE to have on you. The stroller rolls right up to the plane, and then you hand it to the attendant who will bring it right back to you when you land. You use the cheap umbrella because you never know what condition it’s going to come back in and then you don’t have to care.

    Anyhow, you’ve got lots of good advice on what to bring as far as food/meds/etc go. Just – try to plan for free hands.

    Good luck!

  • Tracy

    I just want to say that, contrary to all these people who are shocked – SHOCKED! – at some of the things you say in regard to Leta, I think it’s great that you haven’t succumbed to the notion that you aren’t allowed to have a sense of humor or irony or sarcasm now that you’re a mom. Your honesty and wry humor in relating the frustration and mistakes and fears you encounter as new parents are, I think, so much more helpful and reassuring for other new (or potential) parents to read than some rose-tinted, Stepford-wife litany of bliss. Keep on rockin’, Dooce and DJ Blurb, and good luck on that trip!

  • Abby

    Our pack and play was great-it went all over w/us. They may have one at the hotel.I agree w/nursing during take off and landing, but if she’s FAST asleep, and WON’T wake up, don’t freak out (from personal experience!) By the time she was 14 mo my daughter had made 3 round trips to Europe, and we were all still (mostly) sane, and had never been chucked off of a plane. I actually found it harder later, when she wanted to walk. Have fun!

  • T

    My son is 2 now, i agree with a previous post that you should travel now because once they can talk all bets are off. I have only 2 things to add.
    1. Stop at the dollar store and pick up anything that might amuse her. A set of plastic measuring spoons and cups were the shiz-nit to my son at that age. The best part is since these things are only a dollar, you can use them during the flight and not worry about toting them around for the rest of the trip. Just hand them off to any parent waiting for their flight on your way out of the airport.
    2. I am far from a new age type attachment parent, but when we went on trips, the family bed always worked great. There is just as much research saying it is the best thing for the child as there is to the contrary, so it’s a personal decision, but the extra closeness always helped my son fall asleep far from home. One warning though, if you do need a couple shots of whiskey after the flight, do not try this option.

  • Tim

    * Pack light.
    * Bring one carry on with a few diapers and minimal other junk.
    * Nurse on takeoff and landing. You will have a peaceful baby.
    * Check your stoller planeside – then use it as a luggage cart when you get your checked bags.
    * Buy diapers at your destination. Pack only as many as you’ll need before you can get get to the store.
    * Once you get to the rental car, everything will be fine.

  • Julia

    Well, this seems superfluous considering all the other comments — and I admit I haven’t read them all, so I may be repeating stuff.

    WE TRAVEL WITH OUR 7 MO. OLD on an airplane EVERY WEEK. Yep, you read it right. We commute between Austin and Madison, and that kid is a pro flyer/traveler now. So am I.

    1. Get to the airport early — going through security with a baby takes a few more minutes.

    2. Definitely bring the carrier part of the car seat. Like someone said, you can usually ask at check-in that they block a seat, then you’ll be able to put Leta in it. If not, they will check it at the gate.
    DO NOT RELY ON THE RENTAL CAR baby seat. They’re usually nasty, and you don’t know whether it’s been in an accident. Well, that’s my little paranoia. Do what you like, of course.

    2a. If you go to Burlington Coat Factory, you can buy, for $35, a hideous Kolcraft carseat carrier “frame” — it turns the carrier into a stroller. They rock. You don’t care when it gets checked at the gate if they mess it up (they won’t, but ya know), and IT IS VERY IMPORTANT THAT YOU DO NOT TRY TO CARRY THE CARRIER THROUGH THE AIRPORT. It also has a GIANT basket underneath that is totally key when walking around a city all day. Ours holds our diaper bag, two full grocery bags, etc. etc. — but it folds down VERY easily and is very light (since it’s just a frame). Also good cuz a lightweight stroller (umbrella) would not work with a baby as young as Leta (not sitting up well).

    3. MOST AIRLINES DO NOT ALLOW PRE-BOARDING ANYMORE. But it’s not that big a deal. Ask, though — it is always nice.

    4. It is not bad practice to give the baby Tylenol before the flight — in fact you’re supposed to. It doesn’t drug them or make them tired, but it protects their ears a bit. Don’t know if you bottle feed, but giving a bottle at take-off and landing protects their ears, too. That being said, my baby has never complained from ear pain, not once in over 20 flights.

    Benadryl would be an excellent idea if Leta were 12 months — before that is not good, from what I understand. When we get to that age we might do it (WILL BE GOING TO SYDNEY WHEN MAX IS 12 Mo. …. HELP ME GOD), but not without a practice run at home to make sure the effect on him.

    5. Bring the Bjorn, for sure. You’ll regret it if you don’t.

    6. As for “stuff”, just bring baby tylenol, a thermometer, lotion, baby spf, a sun hat, and nail clippers. I’ve never “needed” anything else I couldn’t get at a corner pharmacy.

    7. For the airplane, be sure to bring more diapers than usual and TWO extra outfits in the diaper bag. That way if your luggage is lost, you aren’t.

    8. Good luck with the sleeping arrangements: the playyards they give you in hotels as “cribs” suck — I personally can’t drop my baby 4 feet down to the bottom. We always make a pallet on the floor with the big ass quilt we never use from the hotel bed, surrounded by rolled up towels/pillows/whatever.

    I think it is great Leta only sleeps in her crib. Some people have babies who will only sleep in swings n shit. That sucks.

    Well, that’s all — and remember, I do this professionally (would that I got paid for it). You’ll find out you just don’t need to stress. I know, you won’t know that til afterward, but it’s true.

    Think of it in a good way: Leta will never be more portable than she is now.

  • Jenn

    #1 Since medicating your children to save your sanity is a sin or abuse- If it is I’m guilty and so is my pediatrician who suggested it.

    #2 You might wanna skip the pretzels and cherrios since she is only 5 months old- do these people who post read your blog at all?

    #3 While a practice trip would be nice traveling around town in a car with a baby on your lap might not be such a good idea- hello child abuse

    #4 Relax- If your stressed she might sense it, it’le fine *even* if she screams! You could always say excuse me I guess the poisnous benedryl didnt react with her stomach so well when I was trying to abuse her so she would be comfortable and sleep on the plane

    Does anyone out there have a sense of humor?

  • Carolyn

    Our experiences traveling with the kids while they were about Leta’s age:

    1) Do not rely on renting a car seat. Our experience has been that they are grody (dirty, old, nasty) and only ever Toddler-sized. We explained very clearly when reserving our rental car(s) w/ car seat that we needed an INFANT, rear facing 5 point harness seat. The reservation person said: “Uh huh, yeah, no problem”. The people at the car rental place laughed in our face when we pointed out that the seat wasn’t an “infant” seat. Plus, it is nice if you have one to strap into the window seat in the event of turbulence. (Or fear/guilt of chance of turbulence.)

    2) Expect that your stroller, which you gate check as you enter the airplane, will be damaged. The airlines will do JACK CRAP about this. Even if you write a really good letter with before & after photographic evidence of the damage. Fuhgeddaboutit. They don’t care. Remove anything attachable on the stroller (the cup holder, any attached toys, etc.) if you ever want to see them in one piece again.

    3) If you have the good fortune to be traveling together with your partner in addition to the bambino..send one parent ahead at “pre-board” time to load all the baby gear you aren’t checking and to get situated in your seats (i.e. install the car seat, stow the baby gear) ..while YOU stay holding the baby, off the plane until the last possible moment before take off. The waiting area/terminal is WAY more entertaining to baby (and you can move around) and the less time you’re stuck sitting still, the better.

    4) Most passengers will be FAR nicer to you than the flight attendants. (With a few magical exceptions.. most flight attendants are pre-disposed to thinking you’re going to be a pain in their butt–asking for extra this and that –generally expecting parents w/ small children to be “high maintenance”.)

    5) Be sure to get the policy on car seats in the airplane printed out and maybe stuff ’em in the diaper bag/your purse.. Seems like the flight attendants don’t nec. know all the exact policies–and may disagree with each other about what is permitted/not permitted. We thought two flight attendants were going to come to blows right in front of us when one freaked over our having a car seat with us on the plane, and the other said it was OK, as long as it was in the window seat. Then a third, more senior attendant happened along and said it could be in ANY seat as long as it wasn’t blocking an exit row. She shut the other two up, and the flight went on..but we were persona non grata for the rest of the flight and were intentionally “skipped” when beverages were passed out later by flight attendent #1 (who didn’t think we were allowed to have our infant car seat with us).

    6) Bring your own baby bedding. The Hotel Pack-n-Play or crib will prob. be OK (if Leta will even go for that..) but most hotels don’t have baby bedding for their cribs and just fold up a regular bed sheet. Bringing a familiar smelling set of blankies and crib sheets from home will be a big help and worth the minimal space in your luggage.

  • Best wishes for your trip – I’m sure Leta will be great. We have some nice weather coming in SF, so enjoy your stay. And take photos!

  • Cassie

    Having just endured a flight from Des Moines to Denver (about 2 hours) with my 6 month old…yes, nurse on take off & landing. the other thing that Zoey did a lot of on the flight was eat biter biscuts. they are those rock hard teething cookie things. She gummed those things most of the flight. good luck!

  • Laurel825

    I traveled via plane with my son at 5 months. I’d go back and do it at that age rather than now, almost 16. (They scream at this age, too…only looking down at you from their beanpole height.) The motion of the plane might soothe her. If not, you won’t go the Hell for slipping her a tiny schniky of Benadryl. You might go to Hell for the paper towels, though. (^-^) PS Procure a playpen or port-a-crib once in SF. Great journal and pics, btw.

  • “…how the hell do you travel with a baby?..”

    Very carefully. All 3 of you will be fine.

    P.S. If I turn out to be half as good of mother as you are, I will be the luckiest girl in the land…oh, and so will our baby.

  • Watch out if you bring breast milk on the plane. In Michael Moore’s new movie, he interviews a woman who was made to chug it to prove that it wasn’t poison, or a bomb, or a knife. Beware and have a great vacation.

  • e

    When we travelled to San Fran with an 8 week old we were insanely cocky about the whole damn thing. I had my breasts and some dipes and figured that would be all she’d need. Until of course she reacted very neagtively to all of the GARLIC in my BREAST MILK from having eaten at the Stinking Rose. Then she screamed hysterically whenever she tried to nurse, waking up everyone in the Hilton which left me crying in the bathroom trying to express breastmilk and worried that M was going to starve herself and or get us kicked out onto the street. So we hopped in the rental car and drove around all night until she finally slept. Then we went back to the hotel and broke into the minibar which resulted in the single most expense hangover I’ve ever had. Good luck 😉

  • I love reading you & will love reading about this new travel adventure. Good luck.

  • dawnkeyotie

    uh. in opposition to one of your posters who said it was rude to bring a baby on a plane (yeah, hi. mothers are not allowed to travel. certainly not WITH their kids!)

    if she screams on the plane, screw it. how many times have you had to sit through a flight with a screaming baby on board? that’s travel. the truly screaming-baby averse folks can take a bus. ha!

    i don’t have kids therefore i have no advice whatsoever. when i fly, i don’t even think about the screaming babies, i think about how i don’t want to die.

    she’ll prolly surprise you, though. kids do that.

  • i don’t know anything about travelling with babies except that you’re very brave. but i do know that i love that miss leta likes the morrissey song! what great taste that kid has!

  • megchem

    Whatever you do DON’T BRING THE CAR SEAT ON THE PLANE!!! Send it through luggage…it’s obnoxious and no fun to lock your kid in it, and it won’t save her life if you crash. If you crash…you die…carseat or not. I’ve flown from la to ri many many many times with my son (he’s 7 now) trust me on this one. Oh and pack an extra outfit in case of blow outs.

  • Jo

    Don’t forget to bring along your sense of humor. Other than that, not much else is important. Except diapers. I suppose you’ll need those too. Have fun and good for you. I hear that traveling with a baby changes parents for the better. We’re off to CO in a few weeks ourselves. The sense of humor is already packed.

  • Hi. I’ve traveled with my daughter 3 times so far: 1 mo. old, 13 mos. old, and 2 yrs. old. The first and last trips were traveled with just the two of us since I’m a single mom, and it’s worked out fine. I do have to admit, my daughter’s not a crier so my advice may be exempt. But-here’s what’s helped.

    1) Travel at bed time in hopes that she’ll sleep-I bought a ticket and used her carseat since my daughter has NEVER fallen asleep in my arms.

    2) Bring treats. This may go against your better judegement, but an eating/drinking baby is a quiet baby. The nursing is excellent for ear popping.

    3) Be goofy and tickly and see if you can make her laugh. Public humiliation may be the only way out.

    4) Be super nice and let people see how adorable your baby is so when she starts crying they’ll think, “oh that adorable little angel is crying, poor thing;” instead of, “shut that brat up!”

    5) Also, don’t do carry-on. Take you, your baby, a backpack of necessities and that’s it. You won’t have time to read, look out the window, or do anything that you used to enjoy on the plane unless you use your bourbon trick.

    Sorry to ramble on, I just love talking babies.Good luck!!

  • catherine

    Bring lots of earplugs to hand out to the other passengers should Leta be true to form, it’ll be easier to say GFY to an angry fellow passenger when you hand them earplugs. Really though, annoyances in life are everywhere and uncomfortable, unhappy babies on airplanes are no exception, people should lighten up. If Leta screams the entire way think of it as enlightenment practice for the rest of the plane, you’re doing everyone a favor!

  • Nurse on take off and landing.
    they will stick you near the back of the plane, so if you’re lucky the roar of the engines might keep her asleep.
    I also suggest a snugli or foldy stoller. Leta will get mighty heavy racing from one end of the airport to the other.

  • Mari

    Keep in mind that you will be flying out of SLC. At least 25% of the passengers will be families with children under age 5. So although Leta may scream the entire flight, at least you will be in good company. There’s strength in numbers. Good luck and have fun!
    p.s. – I didn’t escape SLC until I was in my mid-twenties so I enjoy reading your blog.

  • Vix

    A friend sent me a link to your journal after reading yet another of my teary LJ/blog journals in which I denounced ever wanting to be a mother and praying to the Lord above for one – yes, just ONE! – full night of sleep. I’ve gone 10 bliss-full months with my wonderful always-sleeping, always-eating, always-smiling son – only to find now that he’s been replaced by some extra-teresterial nightmare that WON’T STOP CRYING.

    You make me feel sane. Can we be best friends?! 😛

    *links journal*

    V xx

  • Spike

    Those animal carriers seem to work well. How much checked luggage are you allowed?

    Good luck.

  • Carny Asada

    Erika (No. 51) and Julia (No. 76) have a lot of good suggestions.

    I’ll just repeat briefly:

    Gate-check stroller and car seat (if they don’t have a separate seat available for Leta).

    Bring extra clothes for you *and* her on the plane. We flew with our daughter something like eight times before she was 2, and she had a diaper blow-out on EVERY flight. Only about half the planes we used had changing tables in the restrooms, but the others let us diaper her on the floor in the galley area.(yum!)

    At Leta’s age, you don’t need a lot of toys and junk in the plane. Either she’ll sleep or she’ll scream. Cheap plastic measuring cups *are* a great travel toy, though — you can use them in the bathtub OR the sandbox.

    If you’re lucky, you’re staying with friends who live in Noe Valley, and every child-related thing you need will be about a half a block away from you (including a really cool second-hand store for anything essential you forgot to bring). If you’re at a hotel, ask at the desk where the nearest playground is. There’s a pretty cool one across the street from Grace Cathedral in downtown SF; there’s another one in Chinatown, but I think it’s got more stuff for older kids than babies.

    Here’s my worst baby travel story ever: She’s about 2-1/2, she’s toddling up the aisle of the plane ahead of me, and the tape on one side of her diaper comes undone and a GIANT POOP BALL rolls down the leg of her pants and out onto the floor. Fortunately, I had the napkin from my drink in my hand. I scooped that sucker up without changing the expression on my face and no one even noticed!

  • its a scenario thats been played out for us time & time again. perhaps you’ve been on the business-end of it, or simply chuckled along with Bill Cosby’s stand-up bit of the same. but it seems that without fail, there is an extremely disgruntled infant on almost every air flight i’ve ever taken. be it the friday afternoon departure, or the sunday afternoon hung-over return-trip. some poor parent or pair thereof dealing with an infant wailing & screaming & bitching. this was the genre i subscribed to the scene prior to fatherhood. fatherhood changes everything. unfortuneately, no one can be TOLD what fatherhood is; they have to be SHOWN. and as such, having our lil dood come with us on everything anna & i do is not unlike experiencing everything for the first time, all over again.

    as with most pre-parents, a screaming baby is simply an audible nuisance. a thing most likely caused by, and thus to be dealt with & stopped by the parent. not once did i don the hat of compassion & think about just what it was causing the kids discomfort. and now square on the other side of the fence, i have such a massive wealth of overpouring respect for the parents i scorned prior to Jude.

    babies beget baggage. think of what you alone take onto a flight, not including the bags you lug to the ticketing agent where you (hopefully) check them. so you got your carry-on, great. now, add to that the stroller, the diaper bag, and the general baby-gear bag. oh yea, and the lil dood himself. you’ve just negotiated the gauntlet of getting in & out of the car that got you to the curb. you’ve dealt with the queue at the ticketing counter. now you’re progressing en masse thru the metal detectors with gear & baby, all the while racking up points for patience in an arizona airport in august. Jude was a ‘beeping baby’ so the 2 of us are directed to the second-stage station where both our asses are wanded up & down. then like effluent from a drain, we 3 re-group & re-dress & re-pack out entourage & progress the rest of the 3/4 mile to the gate.

    but ooooh, here’s where things get better for a spell. we’re now in the elusive PRE-BOARD group, temproarily spared from the filth & bile & competitive peasants on the open-seating groups A, B, & C. but this blithe ends soon thereafter as we’re hearded down the gangplank where we’ve got to split duties, and fast. i take Jude + diaper bag + single carry-on into the airbus & quickly locate a clutch of 3 seats together. meanwhile, anna collapses the stroller & deals with the ever-effervescent SouthWest flightcrew in their attempts to hand-check the stroller for the duration of the flight. she then re-joins the herd round about, oh, i’d say the 3rd boarding group to file in-turn onto the plane & find Jude & I fiercely guarding our 3 seats from the godless heathons of a full-flight. of course, we cannot be allowed to hold this 3rd seat for the lil dood, so he’ll spend the entire jaunt on my lap.


    here is where physics & presure & eustachian tubes come into play. as they pressurise that tube, the wee little eardrums of our hero get pummeled. each atmospheric incline the bus reaches, the level of pressurisation jumps accordingly. this is why we adults have to equalise our own eardrums multiple times per ascent & descent. but Jude cannot do this. he can barely even coo on cue let alone plug a nose. herein lies what must be the root cause of most if not all grumpy babies on an airflight. their wee ears are getting the works, and they’re just reacting to this. and those with even simple nasal gunk may be dealing with the dreaded sinus squeeze. so the long & short here is that any parent of any stage of development will have by now surely offered the best advice to combat this: have the lil dood eating/drinking during take-off & landing. We all know swallowing has a direct effect on our eustachian tubes.

    Keep in-mind that the entire ordeal only outlined above is greuling enough, as is, under the best of conditions. those conditions being the low-grade hangovers of Mr & Mrs Parent. But thats another story for another time. But the whole thing would be made worse by lugging around a fussy baby. our first experience with flying the lil dood was just the opposite. like almost everything else with the kid, he just observes things. no peaks. no valleys.

    once again, we go into an experience that is wrought with cliches & hazards for the parent of an infant. high on the list of gruesome would surely be for hungover parents to fly with an 8-week old. but we instead dealt with smiles, a hearty appetite, and an overwelming sense of curiosity as Jude was Bjorned thru the dozens of hoops that represent air-travel in the heat of arizona august.

  • I feel for you. Tomorrow I take my three kids, ages 6,3,and 1 on a flight to AZ by myself, and I make the trip with much trepidation. (What was I thinking?)

    If you’re going to bring a Pack and Play start letting her sleep in it. For survival on the plane bring ladybug book, Morrisey CD, money for drinks. Have a drink before you take off, and ditto on the breastfeeding and ditto on what Jae said about boarding last. Give the benadryl a test run(medicating babies when they are not sick is not abuse).

    96 comments on how to travel with a 5 month old? If she only knew.

  • Do they sell earplugs by the gross? That should keep everyone on the plane smiling. 😉

  • Laurel

    I also travelled to San Francisco with my daughter when she was about the same age. Here’s my advice, for all it is worth: 1. Bring a cooler (w/icepacks) with bottled breastmilk/formula, ready to drink. 2. The flight attendants can refrigerate things if you need it. 3. Fly Jet Blue and let your daughter watch TV. 4. United and Jet Blue have good changing tables in the bathrooms. 5. Look for a place in SF that rents baby things. On a trip to FLA we rented everything – bouncy seat, crib, toys. 6. Buy a new toy for the flight. 7. Remember you can call your doctor for advice if needed. 8. Bring infant tylenol for teething. 9. Bring spare set of clothing for baby on plane. 10. Don’t worry about other passengers. Hard to hear baby over white noise. My baby fell asleep for entire flight thanks to the motion and white noise. Have a great time!

Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

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