Since we stayed at my grandmother's house, she thankfully borrowed or bought a few things for the baby, namely:
- crib & sheet
- baby bathtub, towel & baby soap
- diapers & wipes
This was huge because...
Babies Require a Lot of Stuff
Like a TON. During B's first three months we had taken day trips and a couple of overnight trips - mainly to his grandparents' homes, both of which are close by in New England. Each time we packed for an overnighter, we were shocked that we FILLED the trunk of our car. It seemed preposterous, being that we traveled around the world for almost a year with just a backpack. However, after each trip with the little guy, we evaluated our packing and realized that we used everything. It's like the smaller the person, the more stuff they need! Very counter intuitive.
Carry-On: We flew Jet Blue and they allow passengers with a baby to carry on an extra diaper bag and to gate check the stroller and car seat. Check with your airline as rules vary.
Car Seat, Frame & Base - VERY USEFUL - for a few reasons:
- Safety: We didn't buy B a seat on the plane but ended up getting an empty row of three on the way there. This meant we could carry the carseat on board and strap it onto the third seat. Safety wise, this made a big difference. When I was holding him, I worried there would be sudden turbulence and he would fly out of my arms. Being a nervous flyer, I wasn't able to relax unless he was belted into his seat. Note: when bringing a car seat on board a plane it must be FAA approved (label should say so) and it must go in the window seat. If you don't have a window seat, they will make you gate check the car seat.
- Carrying Cart: When we were running around the airport I could put the boppy (essentially a giant neck pillow that goes around your waist for feeding the baby) in the stroller basket and hang his diaper bag from the hook on the handle. It was very easy to move around. Had I put him in the baby carrier, I would have been extremely uncomfortable.
- Car Rental: It was worth bringing the car seat base since we rented a car. You can gate check the base with the stroller frame so you worry less about loss or damage. I'd recommend getting a bag for the base since the baggage handlers can be rough. You may also have to gate check the seat itself, and you'll definitely want a bag for that. Also, you could put the boppy in the bag until you are ready to board.
- Boppy - VERY USEFUL - we used this on the plane when we held B and all the time in the house in Puerto Rico. Remember to wash it after your flight (or bring an extra cover).
- Feeding supplies required a lot of space in my backpack. Let's break it down: Three Dr. Brown's large bottles pre-filled with formula powder and a bottle of water. B mainly drinks expressed breast milk, but I had to supplement with formula a few weeks ago due to an illness I had. He did just fine with formula and it's much easier to travel with formula powder than pre-packed breast milk, which needs to be refrigerated and somehow always spills in my bag. I also brought Medela sterilization bags, mechanical breast pump, hand held pump, and anursing cover on board. I used everything in flight except the mechanical pump & sterilization bags.
- Pacifiers - VERY USEFUL - B uses a paci to fall asleep so these were important.
- Two blankets - USEFUL - One to keep him warm and another to cover his car seat if he was sleeping.
- Three bibs and a handful of burp cloths - VERY USEFUL - This kid drools everywhere.
- Change of clothes for the three of us - DID NOT USE - but I'm glad we had them in case of a major blowout. No one wants to spend four hours in a poop stained shirt.
- Changing kit with extra diapers and wipes (just in case there were delays) - NECESSARY
- Two of his favorite toys (plastic rings and a giraffe) - NICE TO HAVE - Definitely not necessary at this age but the rings entertained him for a little while.
- Boba Wrap - NOT USEFUL - We didn't use it once during the whole trip.
Checked Luggage: We only checked two carry-on sized rolly bags. It mostly contained our clothes and the following for B:
- Sleep Sack & Magic Merlin Sleep Suit - VERY USEFUL - B was transitioning from his Rock N Play to a crib so we were experimenting with different sleep suits since he is now too big for a swaddle (he can turn over). We found that Magic Merlin worked best, as long as the A/C was on and he was in the crib. He typically sleeps from 7:30ish pm to 6-7am. The sleep sack was good for the hotter temps during nap time. On the plane we just brought two light blankets and dressed him in a onesie, soft pants and socks.
- Sleep Sheep - NICE TO HAVE - He loves falling asleep to the heartbeat setting. We realized that we could have taken just the noisemaker out of the sheep to save space.
- Sound Monitor - NECESSARY - B sleeps in his own room so this is a must.
- Medela storage bags - DID NOT USE -I pretty much produced on pace with B's demand for milk so I stored expressed milk in his bottles.
- Nose bulb & nail clippers - VERY USEFUL - In hindsight it would have been smart to pack the nose bulb in the carry on in case he got stuffy on the plane.
- Baby medicines (pain reliever, vaseline, saline drops) - NICE TO HAVE - luckily we didn't need to use this but it's good to have just in case. Depending on where you are going, you can also buy this stuff at a drug store.
- Swim trunks, long sleeved SPF rash guard & hat - VERY USEFUL for the beach
- Coppertone Sensitive SPF 30 - VERY USEFUL - I guess we aren't supposed to use suntan lotion on the baby until he is six months, but we put a little of this on his arms and feet since the sun is so strong in PR. We mainly kept him in the shade, but it's hard to avoid the sun 100% of the time there so we wanted to protect his sensitive skin.
- Bibs, burp cloths and onesies - lots of these because he spits up so much. Sometimes we kept him in just a diaper because it was pretty hot (and he was so cute).
- Teething ring - USEFUL - he has a tooth coming in and the cold was refreshing in the 90 degree heat.
I wish I could say that we managed to travel with carry-on only, but it was not realistic with a baby. I think we might be able to do it once he is off breast milk (the pumping equipment takes up a lot of room) but I have to say that it's nice not fretting about finding room for suitcases overhead in addition to all the other stuff we had to carry on.
B behaved really well on both flights. The first was an afternoon flight where he slept for maybe an hour total and then either ate or played with us the rest of the time. The second was an evening flight and he slept for most of it. Fingers crossed he remains a great traveler on future trips!