A Flight to Ferndale. Baby’s first flight.

That’s her. The little sweet pea that made me a mom and made John a dad. Have you even seen a cuter cupcake?! It is so funny looking back on a picture like this…she really isn’t the only one who looks like a baby! I have to laugh when I think about this trip, we thought we really had our hands full! If only we knew then what we knew now we might relax a little!

Kathryn was about 3 months old when we took her on her first journey in the sky. We boarded an airplane to go to Canada for a Christmas vacation to spend time with John’s family. Oh wait, incorrect. Fun fact: We did not end up going to Canada. Instead, John’s entire family drove across the border to spend the entire Christmas holiday with us in a little no-name town in Washington instead. Why? Two words: green. card.

I have never experienced a more tedious, stressful and life-controlling situation than that of applying for a Green Card for my totally normal Canadian husband. I won’t get into it, but let’s just say when your application is still in review (several months after you planned for it to be), you cannot leave the country. So we didn’t. We flew from NYC to Seattle, settled down in a house that was a friend of a friend of someone’s friend that was away and needed someone to watch their cat, and had a wonderful family reunion. There were only 2 (very new) grandchild at this Christmas, and most of my memories involve someone rocking a child to sleep or tiptoeing around so as to not wake one of the babies up. K and her cousin (born 10 days after her) were such troopers as I think back to this trip.

That flight. My first thought this evening is “wow, how did we think flying with one child was so challenging? You do it with three now!” Whether it is one tag-a-long, three, five, however many, traveling with kids has it’s challenges! Embrace them! Every trip you take your precious cargo on is a learning experience for them AND for you. We have things figured out now, systems in place, bribes at hand (all to be disclosed at another time!) With our first, we just kind of got on a plane and didn’t know what to expect. I was obsessed with sterilizing bottles, keeping her on a schedule, and washing everyone’s hands. How often I laugh thinking about how my mom has always told me that each child really has a different set of parents. It is so true. The way we handle the flying, the crying, the bottles….it is all so different now. But that comes with time, with, dare I say, experience. We are by no means experts over here, but a little practice with these things goes a long way!

If I have three tips for first-time parents traveling with a tag-a-long under 6 months it would be these:

1)Do NOT take the pram. We loved our stroller, and I mean love. I would write a raving review for Bugaboo any day, HOWEVER, the style we had was not made for traveling. It was made for the walks through the city we took everyday. Of course it was damaged in the cargo of the airplane and I was devastated. Either invest in a stroller that is good for everyday use AND for travelling, or have a special one just for travelling. Of course, the kind you may need will depend on what kind of trip you are going on as well. Regardless of where you are going, one that folds easily is key (I will recommend/review some of these for you another day!)

2)Bottles. If your baby is bottle-fed, take extra. Prefill them with water and use one of those nifty little portioned-off formula holders so you aren’t measuring scoops mid-flight. Baby might be more fussy than usual in the sky. The less juggling you have to do, the better!

3) Relax. Babies cry. But babies are also really cute and make people really happy when they smile. People may roll their eyes or sigh incredibly loud when they see they are sitting near you. They were babies once too. They probably cried or screamed or made someone really annoyed at one point in their life. You can hold your breath and pray that your little one doesn’t make a peep the whole flight, or, you can embrace what comes. Take whatever help you can get! Flight attendants have made toys for our kids (literally taped together cups with pretzels inside to act as a shaker), fellow passengers have played peek-a-boo for what seemed like hours, and other moms have helped me juggle all of the paraphernalia needed for a diaper change. Most people are very understanding, and would rather give you a helping hand then turn up their nose.

Christmas 2013 in good old Ferndale, WA is one I will always remember. And, of course, our first baby’s first flight was also one I will always remember. As our number of kids increase, so do their ages and their abilities. Every flight we have taken since then has been totally different, filled with different challenges, but also with unexpected perks. I hope I don’t regret saying this, but…ever since our first time flying with an infant the flying has only gotten easier!

Do you have a good story to share about your first time flying with your tag-a-long? I would love to hear about it!