I was definitely dreading it, our first flight with baby. Not only had I read horror story after horror story about how she was going to scream the entire time and everyone would be shooting daggers at us, but I also had to drag my sweetly sleeping baby out of her crib a solid 5 hours earlier than I usually would!
Booking a flight at 7:30 made sense at the time, we were always up then anyway. It was only after I had paid for everything that it occured to me we had to be at the airport 3 hours before that, therefore leaving the house 45 minutes before that! We had to get up at what time? Was there any point in even going to bed?
Turns out, with that flight and our subsequent early morning flights at the crack of dawn, those were our easiest travel days. Now we have a system down pat, and if given the choice between an early flight or mid-afternoon, I’ll take early every time.
Tips on surviving early morning flights with a baby, toddler, or young child in tow:
Put them to bed in their travel clothes. Some just bring their kids on board in their pyjamas, but I’ll leave that to Paris Hilton (is she even around anymore?). I pick out clothes for my kids that are comfortable, but still look like clothes.
Get up earlier than everyone else, get dressed, and finish the packing. Load up the car and warm it up if necessary.
About five minutes before you have to leave, lift baby/toddler/kid out of bed, into their coat and into the car – stuffie, woobie, or blanket in hand. If they have a pacifier in bed, let them keep it.
Some kids might actually go back to sleep for the ride to the airport (mine didn’t) but I found they’re so stunned at being up and out that they just kind of sit there in shock. Once you’re at the airport, pack them into the stroller or carrier and have a drink handy. Usually you don’t have to worry about a diaper change or breakfast until you’re at the gate since they’d normally still be sleeping at that time anyway.
By the time you’re en route, baby may or may not doze off, but depending on your destination, you’re pretty much guaranteed a healthy nap after lunch AND an early bedtime. By day two of your trip you should all be raring to go.
One of my fondest memories of our first trip is from the morning we first arrived. We’d landed and were all set up in our resort in Cuba by lunchtime, so we went to the poolside grill for a bite. Megan was sitting on my husband’s lap, eating toast soldiers. She fell asleep in his arms, mid-bite. I was able to change her out of her swimsuit and swimming diaper and into a regular diaper and onesie, wrap her in a blanket, and put her down on a lounger, all without waking her. She slept there for 2 hours, while we enjoyed café con leche by the pool.