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Mom flying solo with baby and preschool aged kids: Could really use tips on making the flight sane!!

Mom flying solo with baby and preschool aged kids: Could really use tips on making the flight sane!!

Old Feb 3rd, 2009, 07:05 AM
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Mom flying solo with baby and preschool aged kids: Could really use tips on making the flight sane!!

(I originally posted this under Family Travel, but was encouraged to post it under this topic, as well. Thanks in advance to anyone willing to give their two cents!)

Since I've started posting here, I've gotten married and now have two little ones. I traveled with my first child a lot, both solo and with my husband. But it has been a while, and I've not flown with both kiddos. I need some advice from veteran parent travelers. . .

I'm flying from Cleveland to Ft. Myers/Naples with my son (3 years old) and my daughter (1 year old) by myself in March. I have purchased a seat for each child. We have the bulkhead row on our flight.

I plan to bring our stroller and our infant carrier (the baby is still in her carrier rear-facing b/c she is small for her age).

Here are my questions:
1) Do I need the carrier base to use the carrier on the plane?
2) Is my son old enough to sit in the seat without a carseat (I'm planning to rent one for him to use while in Florida)?
3) Thoughts on how to do a diaper change for the baby on the plane without the assistance of another adult -- do I leave son in seat unattended to take baby to bathroom on the plane for changing the diaper?

I'm nervous about handling all the gear and the kiddos alone. Any advice or tips to make this process go smoothly would be greatly appreciated. I'll have help getting into the airport and I'm being picked up. . . it is just manuevering through the airport and on the flight that I'm a bit stressed about logistics.

Thanks in advance!


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Old Feb 3rd, 2009, 07:40 AM
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For what it is worth here are my responses and comments to your questions.

First, take a deep breath and relax. You are not the first person to travel with two small children and you won't be the last.

Second, you've made a wise choice getting individual seats for you and your children.

I'm not too familiar with what you describe as an "infant carrier" and suggest you look at the owner's manual and perhaps it will give you information. I can tell you that in all probability if you need the "carrier base" to secure the carrier to the seat in your car than it's a good bet you will need it to secure it to the seat in the airplane.

Whether or not you son needs a car seat on the airplane is not based on his age but rather his size and ypour comfort level with his safety. Remember the plane is travelling at 300+ MPH and if it hits turbulance he may not be secure just using the standard seat belts. Practically speaking, however, he probably can sit in the seat without a "car seat".

When it come times to change your baby's diaper do it at a time when your son seems calm. You'll have to leave him in his seat while you go to the lavatory. Tell him it's important he stay seating and remain quiet while you are gone. You should let the flight attendant know you'll be away from you seat for a few moments. Even if your son does get up there's not many places he can go.

Lastly, give yourself plenty of time at the airport to get your boarding passes, clear security and get to your gate. Ask the gate agent if they will allow you extra time to board (perhaps early boarding) so you can get settled without interferring too much with other passengers.

Im sure other responses will give you more hints.

Good luck.
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Old Feb 3rd, 2009, 07:46 AM
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Thanks. It is good to remember that there will be other parents at the airport that will see me and take pity on me. I just like to have a plan in place -- even though I know with kids, planning can be futile!

My son is nearly 4 and weighs about 35 pounds. I think he'll do fine without a carseat on the plane. I'm not clear as to what the regulations are with kids his age. I'm assuming he is not allowed to be out of his seat and on my lap at any point (although the baby can technically be on my lap since she is under the age of 2).

I think I'll definitely qualify for the pre-boarding/needs assistance category of passenger!
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Old Feb 3rd, 2009, 10:26 AM
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With regard changing diapers. Since you have the bulkhead row, I'm thinking there is actually more room there than in the bathroom. Put a blanket on the floor, kneel down and the change the diaper. Put soiled diaper in a plastic bag and hand to the flight attendant to dispose of. No one else would even notice what you're doing.
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Old Feb 3rd, 2009, 11:38 AM
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Having had the pleasure of a cross country trip accidently sitting next to two unaccompanied minors (5 & 6)and no flight attendant helping....

Take enough activities for the 4 year old to stay occupied. Every child has ADD at the age, so take different kinds of things.

For you, take the aisle seat and put the 4 year old next to the window. Looking out the window kills time. Doing this also keeps the child from running up and down the aisle.

Remember, it's bulkhead, so all storage must be overhead for take off and landing.

For diaper changes, get one gallon zip lock bags so that it can be sealed properly without lingering odor.

Many airlines no longer have early boarding for small children, so you may be with the masses.
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Old Feb 3rd, 2009, 01:57 PM
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Bring food for both kids - too many horror stories about passengers being stuck on planes for way too long.

Consider getting one of those offensive (at least to me) kid leashes. I would never have even considered using one in the real world - but when I flew alone with our then 4 year old and an infant, it was essential.


Let your 3 year old have his own carry-on and stash some surprises for him. He will likely enjoy packing and unpacking it himself.
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Old Feb 3rd, 2009, 04:37 PM
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Rastaguytoday. . . I'm so sorry about that flight! A 5 & 6 year old flying alone?!? And you stuck there?? That's just wrong. I'm sure you were a good row-mate to those two.

Thanks for all the great suggestions. Bummer on the potential no early pre-boarding. Clearly I have not flown in a long time!!!

I'm thinking that I might get a double umbrella stroller, per another poster's suggestion. Hopefully that would alleviate the need for a kiddie-tether. (I'm with you -- horrid, but useful in airport settings.)

The food thing is KEY. I'm also considering the portable DVD thing. Curious George might be a good friend on this flight. . .

The other thing that I forgot and am slightly overwhelmed about is the need to bring my laptop for work! Can't imaging being able to carry it on with the kids and kid gear, but also can't imagine checking it through in my luggage. Suggestions???
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Old Feb 3rd, 2009, 08:40 PM
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kellbell,

I actually spent about $20 to call the kids' mom on the airphone to get them to stop crying.

At the end of the trip, the FA came up to me and said that I did such a nice job, I should have a free drink. The person sitting directly behind me said "After what he did, he should have a free flight".

Once you get on board and have the kids settled, gate check the "double umbrella stroller".

Tell the gate agent that's what you want to do. The gate agent will tag the stroller and give you a matching receipt.

The FA will be most helpful, and you will have the stroller immediately upon leaving the plane. All you have to do is get outside the plane and wait for the stroller. Everything after that is a roll in the park.

Check out www.seatguru.com to understand the lay of the land in your plane. It's a good site for almost everyone, including me.

Think sbout things like empty baby and water bottles that you can fill after you go through security. Make and bring your own food. Fruit is always good.

BTW, I've never had kids.

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Old Feb 4th, 2009, 06:06 AM
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Clearly you would be a good parent, though! Thanks for the advice!
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Old Feb 5th, 2009, 01:28 PM
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You'll be fine! You will need to gate check anything before you get on the plane though. At the gate go up to the counter and they will give you a tag for the stroller. Leave it at the bottom of the jetway before getting on the plane. Pick it up in the same spot when you arrive. When I have to wait for a stroller I like to be last off the plane. I have a huge pet peeve about the folks who open strollers, settle kids while people behind are trying to get someplace. This is especially true when I am not travelling with the kids.

If you find the folks across the aisle from you or behind are pleasant ask them to watch your son while you take your daughter for diaper changes. It is common courtesy to not change diapers in a public place if you do not have to. Your fellow travelers will thank you.
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Old Feb 5th, 2009, 02:16 PM
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Actually, if you make a prearrangement with the Gate Agent and FA, they will often let you bring stoller on board and then take it off for you to be gate checked.

Think of it as a variation of taking a wheelchair.

If not, you check the stoller at the door to the plane. Practice numerous times with your 4 year old what needs to be done. Tell him that he has to be good and follow mommy's exact intstuctions, and if he does, he will be a very good boy!.
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Old Feb 6th, 2009, 05:48 AM
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One thing... I've always hated rental car seats. I know it adds another bag to check, but I have a car seat bag and I've used it to puts coats etc. in.

If you are coming or going from cold weather, I would check coats. I know you are taking a little risk, but for me, the hassle factor of dealing with them (and possibly losing them) isn't worth it.

I give kids a shot of Motrin before... helps take the edge off. Some have used Benadryl, but if your child has never had that, I wouldn't recommend it as it does make some kids hyperactive. Do a test in advance. The other benefit of Motrin is it helps reduce swelling in the ears.

Get a few special new things - for the 1 yr. old, Color Wonder is a great thing! (the markers that only color on the special pages). They also have little Color Wonder activity tablets the the older one could do (mazes, games, etc.)

markers: bad (only washable please)
crayons: good
snacks: very good
lollipops: essential
tictacs: very good

in general: little treats that the kid thing are really cool that last a long time are really good... you can draw them out (Skittles is another favorite). Lollipops are also good for takeoff and landing.

My little ones always liked the flap books to look at ... so that might be a good choice ? I've found that sometimes instead of getting new toys or books, take some of the favorites now and hide them. Then it isn't something totally new (this is more for the 1 yr. old), but a favorite that they haven't seen for a while.

Btw, one of my 4 yo's favorite things is to look at the safety card that explains (in pictures) exactly what to do in case of an emergency. We look at each picture and talk about what it means...

Instead of a DVD player, I just carry my Ipod. I've loaded movies for the kids on there and that is smaller and easier than a DVD player. If you are carrying your laptop, then use that for the DVD player.

Finally, save some of the 'special' things for the trip home...
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Old Feb 7th, 2009, 09:49 AM
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Please don't be like the mom I sat behind who changed the toddler's dirty, smelly diaper on the seat.

And try not to get flustered by grumpy people who assume your kids will be brats-if you're calm, the kids will be, too.

Remember something to drink and/or suck on for take-off and landing ear pressure.

Allow yourself lots of time in the airport so you're not running.

The car seat does not need its base for the aircraft.
Kudos for buying seats for the babes! You will be able to hold them when the seatbelt light is off.

Remember to have fun!
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Old Feb 10th, 2009, 03:34 AM
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Please DO NOT change your child at the seat on the plane.Its gross and disgusting to all that you sit around.)For the record, I am a MOM of two kids but know what it is like to fly alone with kids but also to work as a flight attendant. Please do it in the lavatory and put the dirty diaper in a burp bag before throwing it in the waste hamper.

The flight attendants will be happy to sit with one of your children while the other one is being changed or watch over them outside of the lavatory while you are inside.Flight attendants are NOT supposed to touch any dirty diaper as they are food handlers!(And yes, they frequently wash their hands-just company policy.)

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Old Feb 10th, 2009, 06:46 AM
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dutyfree is exactly right... do not change the baby at your seat...

Also, not sure why so many are advising you to board early. I always find it it easiest to board as late as possible with my kids.

It really doesn't take a lot of time to board and it's quick to strap them in the seat. Then those engines start to hum and changes are good that they might sleep!

Good luck!
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Old Feb 10th, 2009, 06:46 AM
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I meant chances....lol!
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Old Mar 31st, 2009, 06:00 AM
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Hope the trip went well!

Just two more tiny bits of advice for traveling with kids:

Preboarding definitely has its pros and cons (a big con today is that when you're last to board, there's often no more room in the overhead bins for any carry-on luggage). If you're on an airline that no longer offers preboarding for families, you can usually sweet-talk the gate agent into letting you board with Group 1 (right after first class passengers and all of the gold/platinum/emerald/diamond folks).

Make sure you have a folding changing mat in your diaper bag, since some airplane bathrooms do not have changing tables. I found this out the hard way on a recent United flight, and the stewardess suggested I change our 6-month-old on a toilet seat (Um, no). Our compromise was the floor of the galley.

Happy travels!
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Old Mar 31st, 2009, 08:49 AM
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Hope the trip went well. I recently traveled solo with my 22 month old daughter to Naples. One major help was having my mother-in-law get a gate pass where she could go through security with us and our gear. It was a HUGE help and she got to wait at the gate with us until we boarded. If you have someone that can do that with you, it is worth it.
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