Breastfeeding Babies, Strangers, and Airplanes…….My, Oh My, Oh My!

I’m back from my Alabama visit!  I caught the last flight from Atlanta to Baltimore last night.  Phew!  Each flight after it was cancelled, due to the weather.

Best things about my trip:

  • I got to visit with family.
  • I got to hold a precious newborn.
  • I spent time SITTING on a sofa.  : )
  • The food!  Oh, the food!!!  We had Arby’s!!!  We had Swiss Cake Rolls, Fage Greek yogurt–my very favorite, but I’m usually too cheap to buy it, pizza, and oh!  Goldfingers chicken!!!  It was a party in my tummy.  : )
  • We went through many of Granny’s things, mostly clothes, jewelry, and cards that she’d saved.  I brought home a few beautiful broaches that will remind me of Granny each time I wear them.

The visit part was awesome.  The flying part was where the work came in.

Have you ever flown with an infant?  It’s not really my favorite.  While waiting to board one flight, this nice, well-meaning lady came up and talked to me.  She said, “Just wait….” and I must’ve had a look on my face that let her know this wasn’t actually my first rodeo, because she stopped and said, “Is this your first?” Of course, you know I explained that I have four, but she went on to say how much easier it is to travel with just one, rather than two or more.

Well, yes, that’s true, BUT that does not negate that traveling with even just one infant is difficult–especially when you’re traveling ALONE with the infant.  Oy.  I have flown with four different babies at different times over the years–usually without Alan–but also a time or two with him.  It’s much easier when both parents are present.

Here are a few lessons I’ve picked up over the years on flying with infants:

  1. Ergo Vs. Strollers     Now if you know me, you know that while I use my Ergo often, I’m not really the queen of baby carrier wearers.  I have trouble fastening them by myself.  I also have back issues, so I can’t wear them for very long at a time.

On my trip down south, I used the Ergo and didn’t even take a stroller with me because I can travel rather quickly that way, and I had a crazy short layover in Atlanta.


If you love wearing your Ergo, fine, but I highly recommend that you have a stroller with you….you know, for when your back starts to hurt so bad that you become super jealous of the people in wheelchairs.  I spent a few minutes there at the end, fantasizing over riding in one of those wheelchairs, let me tell ya!

While in Alabama, I went to KMart and picked out the most awesome little almost-umbrella stroller I have ever purchased.  HIGHLY RECOMMEND THIS:

I LOVE this stroller, and it only cost $32!

I used this stroller on the trip home, and I didn’t bother with the Ergo.  It worked much, much better, and I won’t spend two days with an achy back as a result of it either.

2.  Food

Food is the number one way to entertain little ones on an airplane.  JD is pretty messy with his food, so for him I used a bottle of apple juice.  My kids have to drink apple juice for their bathroom issues, so it’s a guilt-free tool for us.

JD still doesn’t really take a bottle, so he mostly gnawed on it, took sips here and there, and played with it.

Breastfeeding usually solves a lot of problems too.  Don’t be afraid to breastfeed your baby on the airplane.  People, in general, are very understanding, and if they aren’t, who cares?  Babies have to eat whether your seat mate is weird about it or not!

Which brings me to point #3:

3. Breastfeeding on an Airplane….

Oh, the joys…I have this weird problem:  When I feel nervous or uptight, my milk STOPS.  It just won’t let down for the baby.  No milk = mad baby.

Have any of you other breastfeeding mommies had this no-let-down- when- nervous problem?

On my first flight, I was walking down the aisle, looking for my seat, but all I could see in the area I was looking for was a tall, handsome, man.  “Noooooo,” I thought, “Oh, please, no, oh please, no, don’t let that be my seat,” because it really looked like it was.  I did not want to have to breastfeed  next to the handsome man.

I was lucky.  My seat was right in front of his, right beside a SUPER sweet girl, about my age.  PHEW!!!!  She was awesome.  We had such a good time talking, I really wish I’d caught her name.  She was a kindred spirit.

The stars were aligned perfectly. All went well with the breastfeeding.

Yes, I use a nursing cover.  I forgot mine, so I had to use a blanket, which is only a little more difficult.

On my return flight, I DID have to sit next to an attractive man, about my age, and guess what happened?  I felt uncomfortable, as he was not a dad yet, so I knew he was probably uncomfortable, and my milk would not let down.  What is wrong with me???  Am I the only one with this problem???  Tell me I’m not the only one!!!  Ugh.

THANKFULLY, the lady I mentioned before, that I’d talked to at the airport, who’d said, “just wait until you have two kids”, appeared out of nowhere, and rescued me with a strand of Mardi Gras beads!  JD  was in Heaven with those beads.  Thank you, bead lady!!!!

God provides.

I simply fed JD later, after we landed at the airport, in a carefully selected seat near a window, across from a nice grandparent-ish couple.  Halfway through the feeding, this young man behind me–that liked to look around, but I’d forgotten all about him–suddenly said, “Oh, sorry!” looking at me….apparently he’d gotten a peek.

There was really nothing to say to that… we’ll move on.

4. When the baby fights sleep, and the crying begins….

The very last flight was when JD started to lose it.  Don’t worry, I didn’t cry, but JD sure did.  Whatever you do at home to quiet a crying baby is what works on an airplane too.

Joshua was the type of baby that never cried once, the airplane just lulled him to sleep, and I thought flying with babies was so easy.

JD was more difficult, but he only got really upset on the very last flight.  We were sitting by the “We’re not talking here,” type of guy.  Boo fun.  I do not like sitting by non-talkers.  Holding the baby with no one to talk to is lonely.  The talking soothes JD, so without it, I was left with sleepy-grumpy-poopy JD.

We’ll talk about the poopy part in a minute…..

As it turns out, it’s perfectly acceptable to stand up, rock your baby back and forth, and even sing to him.  : )  Can you picture it?  Yes, I had to resort to all of these things, but at least he went to sleep.

5. Diaper changing on an airplane:

Somehow, JD always chose to do his business ON the airplane.  Great.  I handled this 3 different ways, all which worked just fine:

A.  On a flight where the back row was empty, I snuck back there and used that row to change his diaper where no one could see us.

B.  On a flight where I boarded first, so the seats around me were all still empty, I hastily laid JD in my lap and changed him right there.  Thankfully, it was just a wet one.

C.  JD went full-on messy diaper during our very last flight, so I just marched him down to the airplane bathroom.  Do the plane bathrooms have changing tables?  Um, no.  I put the lid to the toilet down, sat there, and changed a seriously poopy diaper right there in my lap.

This would’ve all been a lot harder with a Daniel-sized toddler.

5.  EARS

If your ears are bothering you, their ears are probably bothering them.  I tried to keep a pacifier in his mouth for this, as it never happened when he was hungry.   In the past, I have done the whole feeding during the descent thing.  The descent always seems to be the worst.    JD seemed to handle it best lying down, rather than sitting up.


  Our journey was quite the adventure.  I do have this knack for getting myself into scrapes.  On the way home, I ran into a major snag when I couldn’t find my car in the parking garage.  Advice to myself:  Always write down your parking space number.  I spent 10 minutes wandering around the 1st floor of the garage in the freezing cold because all I remembered was that I parked on the 1st floor, to the left of the elevators……I didn’t realize there are 4 different sets of elevators….

 I ended up with a cold, hungry baby, getting back on the shuttle bus, not really sure where to look next.

Guess what happened next?  Remember my post about the kindness of strangers?  I ran into some more angels-in-disguise.  Their names were Bob and Jan.  They were a grandparent-ish couple, and they asked me if they could drive me around the garage until we found my car.  We found it right away because I remembered exactly how I’d turned into the 1st floor and driven to the third row.  Phew!  Thank you, Bob and Jan!!

Again, God provides.  Be silenced, all ye who credit coincidence; there are few accidents.

Okay, so my next big goal is to start making better decisions so that I’m not constantly requiring help from strangers!!!

  • Your posts remind me of myself years ago. I rarely traveled with babies. My first trip with an 18mo was a trial. I brought suckers for him and he was determined to apply them to every part of me after licking them (but his favorite was my hair).

    I didn’t have the let down problem, but I bet a lot of moms have. Once when I was talking to an engaged couple at church, I was nursing and the baby was making so much noise sighing that we could hardly hear each other. lol

    God is good to get us through and then we have funny memories.

  • melaniewilson601

    I forgot to say that I couldn’t handle baby carriers. My babies were all hefty. I went to a craft show that was an all-day walking event with my baby in a carrier and I was in absolute agony by the end of the day. Strollers rock!

  • I can totally relate on the being uncomfortable and not being able to let down. I’m all for NIP, I just can’t do it. I usually go hide in a bathroom.

    • Finally! Someone who can relate to my let down problem! See, I have this low gross out threshold for public bathrooms, but I have nursed in the nice kind, that have chairs or a couch. I usually end up hiding in my car. Ha! As if my windows aren’t we through.

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