Surviving early morning flights with a baby or toddler
I was definitely dreading it, our first flight with baby. It took away the shine from our first family vacation. Not only had I read horror story after horror story about how she was going to be screaming all the time and everyone was shooting daggers at us, but I also had to get my sleeping baby out of her crib FIVE hours earlier than usual! I also loved the early morning flights!
Why book an early flight?
Booking a flight for 7:30 a.m. made sense at the time. We were still up then anyway. It was only after paying everything that came to mind that we had to be at the airport THREE hours before that. So we would leave the house 45 minutes before that! What time were we supposed to get up? Was it even worth going to bed?
It turns out that with this flight and our subsequent early morning dawn flights, these were our easiest travel days. Now we have a system in place and if given the choice of an early or mid-afternoon flight, I will catch early every time…
Tips for early morning flights with babies and toddlers:
#1) Pajamas vs clothes
Put them to bed in their travel clothes. Some just bring their kids on board in pajamas, but I leave that to Paris Hilton (is she still around?). I choose travel clothes for my children that are comfortable, but still look like real clothes.
#2) Rise and Shine
Get up earlier than everyone else, get dressed and finish packing. Charge the car and warm it up if necessary.
#3) Make the transfer
About five minutes before leaving, take the child out of bed and place him directly in his coat and in the car. Make sure they have their stuffed animal, woobie or blanket in hand. If they have a pacifier in bed, let them keep it.
The airport and beyond…
Some kids might actually fall back asleep for the ride to the airport (mine didn’t). But, I found they were so stunned to be on their feet that they just sat there in shock. Once at the airport, stow them in your stroller or baby carrier and have a drink (for them) handy. Yours can come later!
Don’t I need to change their diaper?
Usually you don’t have to worry about a diaper change or breakfast until you’re out the door, as they should normally still be asleep at that time anyway.
By the time you are in the air, your baby may or may not doze off. But, depending on your destination, you’re pretty much guaranteed to get a healthy nap after lunch AND an early bedtime. On the second day of your trip, you should all be eager to leave.
One of my fondest memories of our first trip is since the morning we first arrived. We had landed and we were all installed in our complex of Cuba at lunch time, so we went to the grill by the pool for a bite to eat. Megan was sitting on my husband’s lap, eating soldiers’ toast. She fell asleep in his arms, in the middle of a bite. I was able to change her from her bathing suit and swim diaper to a regular diaper and onesie, wrap her in a blanket, and put her on a lounge chair, all without waking her up. She slept there for two hours, while we enjoyed cafe con leche by the pool.
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