by: Emma Aguirre

My daughter turned six months old while we were in California, and I feel like she is a whole new baby! She’s still sweet-natured and easygoing, but she’s become a real little person as opposed to a “baby,” one who “talks”, one who “demands” and one who now eats three meals a day! She learned to sit by herself on this trip and began to squeak and gurgle more, like she’s really talking to herself. She listens to conversations and she laughs when we do silly things. Where has my newborn gone that was oh-so-dependent on me?

I think this new shining personality made traveling with her easier, as she can also entertain herself some and spent most of the time watching others, ultimately exhausting herself. My pediatrician said six months is a great age to fly as their ears aren’t quite as developed so the pain will be minimal. One of the flight attendants said that’s true, and once they get to between a year and three years old, it becomes much more difficult, for everyone involved! Traveling with an infant was simply no big deal and any nerves I had were completely unfounded. The staff at the airport was so accommodating – there was a special line at security for strollers and children – as was all the airline staff. I was the very first person on the plane for our return flight, even skipping ahead of all the business class passengers! I felt so cool, despite the dirty looks! I think a few other things made this trip easier than I imagined…

I had my daughter in a Baby Bjorn while roaming through the airport. I did not take a stroller as my mom had one waiting for me there. This made a huge difference. I returned with a jogging stroller I picked up there, and I felt like I was just carrying more “stuff.” It was more difficult to maneuver around, to get in and out of bathrooms, not to mention folding it up on my own with a baby at the gate…it was just more of a pain than convenience.

Not only did my mom have a stroller, but she had a car seat, a pack and play, blankets, sheets, bibs, diapers, bottles, spoons, formula, food…there was no stone left unturned, so I traveled light, which helped tremendously. I had one carry on bag (a giant laptop case, which was cute and doubled as a purse and diaper bag because of its handy size) and one checked bag on wheels. I took two bottles for a four-hour flight and some extra nipples ready for individually packaged formula and bottled water, as well as a change of outfit, extra bibs, more diapers than usual and toys. Technically, I could carry my daughter, my carryon and my checked back if I needed to. I didn’t want to have to rely on others, nor did I want to scramble to pack luggage in the overhead bins. As a result we were on and off the plane really quickly.

I followed the other rules; we had an aisle seat and I fed her during takeoff, although my daughter guzzled her bottle down pretty quickly and I wasn’t sure we were going to make it up before the bottle ran out (start when you hear the engines roar, but they might roar a few times as they did with ours!)! We left during her regular naptime so I was able to swaddle her up and she knocked out before we had reached cruising altitude. She dozed for about an hour and from there we just played. I also fed her when we landed and had the same moment of panic when I thought she might finish before we landed. Thankfully, we made it just fine. No tears, no screaming, which means no pain in her ears (so I didn’t need the Tylenol I had carried on, just in case!).

Above all, I think she fed off of my attitude and vibe. I had planned for every possible catastrophe, including an unexpected layover, a blow out, a bad nipple, popping ears…I realized that there was no need to worry when the airport staff helped me get through the process as easily and as quickly as possible. I calmed down even more when I saw how receptive other passengers were to my daughter. She was calm, I was calm, so they were calm. Being as nosy as she is, I also know she picked up on their smiles and sweet gestures. It really comes down to something I’ve said before; babies can smell fear and you have to stay calm and in control! I tried to keep this attitude throughout my trip and not panic about her routine. There’s a two-hour time difference between here and California, and I was concerned she would get out of whack and we’d have to start from scratch. Again, it was just not the case! I kept an eye on the clock and was able to feed her at the same time we would have in Houston, she seemed hungry at those same times, and she went down to sleep at the same time she would have here and napped like a champ. I couldn’t have asked for a better, more relaxing trip!