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Remember back to before you had children, how did you feel when you got on a flight and there was a mother and baby in the seat next to you? Did you greet them with joy? If you said yes, you're a damn liar. You thought, oh crap this baby is going to be screaming and this flight is going to suck. After flying the friendly skies with with my baby twice, one time sans husband, I'm here to give you the rules on Baby Flight Club. Stick around after the rules for my semi-pro tips on how to emerge victorious, but probably not unscathed.
1st Rule of Baby Flight Club: You do not talk about Baby Flight Club. You don't owe anyone on the flight explanations about why you have brought your infant to Baby Flight Club. Odds are, if you're traveling alone with an infant it's out of necessity. It's fine to smile at others and accept their compliments about how adorable your baby is, but you don't need to apologize for anything your baby does. It's you versus the flight, if you want to beat your opponent you must adhere to the rules.
2nd rule of Baby Flight Club: You REALLY DO NOT talk about Baby Flight Club. There is no need to print out cute notes about it being your baby's first flight and distribute chocolates to those in surrounding seats. You have enough to do flying with your baby alone. Everyone on the plane was once a baby. They need to deal with it and remember that babies gotta do what babies gotta do, which is cry, spit up and poop their pants.
3rd Rule of Baby Flight Club: If your baby goes limp and falls asleep your struggle is over, albeit briefly. Now is not the time for seat mates to go to the bathroom. If they attempt to do so use your laser glare to subdue them. You probably didn't realize you have laser eyes but you developed them after baby is born. They're very powerful and you don't need to use them on your child until they are older. For now reserve them for flights, strangers that judge you and relatives that have too many opinions about how you are caring for your child.
4th Rule of Baby Flight Club: Only one baby per flight. You should not be flying with more than one infant on your own. You can bring other children that can walk and have their own seat but if you have twins or triplets, avoid flying solo. If you must fly, then you will need to buy at least one seat (but probably two) and stick one or both of them in their car seat. Baby Flight Club has strict rules.
5th Rule of Baby Flight Club: One flight at a time. Don't worry about the return flight or the next flight if you are not flying direct. You have to stay focused and keep your head in the game. You can't do that if you're worried about multiple flights.
6th Rule of Baby Flight Club: All flights require an extra shirt and slip-on shoes. For you, not the baby. Hopefully you won't need that extra shirt, but there will be spit up. There may be poop. Slip-on shoes are to ease up the struggle of going through security.
7th Rule of Baby Flight Club: Flights will go on as long as they have to. You need to anticipate a worst-case scenario where you are stuck on the plane for whatever reason. If you are bottle feeding, make sure you have enough formula. Bring two changes of clothes for Baby and plenty of diapers. Don't worry too much about toys as your baby will play with anything, plastic cup, barf bag, the person sitting next to you, magazine, etc.
8th Rule of Baby Flight Club: If this is your first Baby Flight Club, you have to fly. No backing out at the last minute. Just get on the plane, accept help from strangers and remember no matter what happens, you probably wont' be seeing any of these people again—well, except at the baggage claim.
Now that you know the rules, you're ready for Baby Flight Club. In case you're about to fly with your baby for the first time, I'll throw in these semi-pro tips for free. Everyone needs help when bare knuckle boxing, er um, I mean flying with your baby, same diff.
1. Bring your stroller with the connecting car seat and check it at the gate for free. It sounds good in theory to wear your baby in the airport but one blow out of a diaper in that thing can use up your extra shirt before you even board. They are likely to sleep in the stroller so you can eat something before the flight. Also if there are extra seats on your flight you may be able to bring your car seat on if you sweet talk the flight attendants.
2. Your stroller will fit in the handicap stall in the bathroom at the airport. Go as much as you can before the flight and try not to drink too many fluids, wine is the exception
3. Get a backpack diaper bag. It's just easier.
4. Get a fanny pack. I took a lot of heat for this fanny pack fashion-wise, but it was amazingly convenient to have my hands free. Wallet, and phone fit perfectly and if you're still wearing your pocketless stretchy clothes, you need a fanny pack. Mine is gold, because I am not ashamed.
5. Rely on the kindness of strangers. Let them hold your baby if they offer (and give them a burp cloth, just in case.) They're not going anywhere with your baby. Alternatively, look for the nice flight attendant, they will help you.
Good luck, my fellow mamas. Flying with a baby sucks but at least when you arrive at your destination there's usually someone who's happy to see you and the baby—even though they have no idea the hell you went through on your journey. That's something only the super elite members of Baby Flight Club are privy to.