Greetings from Germany! Landon and I flew from Newark, NY, to Hamburg, Germany, a few days ago to visit Nani and Opa.
My mother picked us up and we arrived in my former hometown Bremen about 1 1/2 hours later. Landon had been a doll on the plane. It was the first time that we had to pay for his seat as well, and I had been wondering how he would do. I rented one of those kids airplane harnesses in the hope that it would make L feel like he was sitting in his cars seat, but that didn’t work out too well.
But aside from wanting to see the bathroom every hour again, he did pretty well in his seat. I felt bad for the young man next to us, though, who was trying to sleep the whole eight hours. Landon kept nudging or kicking him inadvertently, but he was a good sport about it.
It was a bit of a challenge to keep L from kicking the seat in front of me when he was sitting on my lab, or from hitting the buttons on the screen in front of us, which he did a little too enthusiastically for the taste of the lady in front of us.
But playing with the headphones and the headphone plugs kept L occupied for about half an hour, and I had also collected little toys over the last few weeks that I thought might interest him. I bought several wind-up toys that were slow and didn’t run off the little table, and a few finger puppets.
I also packet a little sticker book and a few sheets of those free address stickers we get with junk mail. Landon liked deciding which of the stickers he wanted me to peel of the page and then proceeded to put them on the sticker book and the TV screen. That killed another 15 minutes.
One more thing: I put L’s little froggie and all the new toys in a new little backpack I gave him right before we left for the airport. He was so proud of it that he had it sitting next to him the whole car ride and wore it the whole time in the airport. It made him feel very special to have his own bag, and closing and opening the bag was another time-consuming task that let me have a few quiet moments.
At 11 p.m. I made it clear that I wanted him to sleep. He fought me for quite a while, but he finally fell asleep in my arms while nursing.
Nursing a toddler in public is a whole different animal than nursing a baby, and I’m not even referring to the looks you sometimes get when nursing a toddler who can ask for “ba ba.” L has taken to wanting to play with the other breast when he nurses and keeps pushing my shirt up, which makes the breastfeeding session a bit of a wrestling match.
I never covered him when breastfeeding him as a baby, because even though I had a beautiful cover it was so hard to try to latch him on with that cover in the way and I couldn’t see easily how he was doing. So I abandoned that after a few tries and just pull up my shirt, making sure I don’t show any skin. I also never bothered buying expensive breastfeeding clothes, I didn’t feel the need. But now L resists me covering him so I don’t show my breasts to the whole world when he pulls up my shirt, hence the wrestling match.
I didn’t get more than a few minutes of sleep, but I got to see part of a movie with L snoozing in my lab and also ate breakfast with one hand before he woke up. When it was time to buckle up again for the landing, L didn’t want to get into the confining harness again and got cranky, probably because the pressure in his ears was starting to bother him. Ignoring the seat belt sign, I let him nurse until we saw the ground and by then he was so interested in seeing the green fields and houses from above that I got him strapped in again in time for the touchdown.
My recommendations for flying with and nursing a toddler:
- Fly with your partner or someone else who can help you, if possible!
- If you are traveling alone with a young child that has his or her own seat, get one of those harnesses so you can check your car seat (you can buy or rent them from Traveling With Kids).
- Buy and collect little toys that are new to your child and will work on the little airplane table.
- Pack all kinds of snacks and breastfeed, if possible, to keep your child hydrated and a content little traveler. In my experience people are too happy to have a calm child next to them to give you a disapproving look.
- Just to be on the safe side, get your partner to sign a “permission to travel” consent form and get in notarized if you are traveling internationally. I have never had to show it so far, but I rather have it with me. I found a consent form on the Internet and Don gets it notarized at our bank for free.
Be prepared for your almost potty-trained toddler to proudly announce, “Big pee pee coming!” to everyone in earshot before you can rush him to the restroom, but other than that, airplane travel with a small child is less stressful and definitely doable with a little planning.
For more information about the rental airplane harness, the Maya wrap I used to use when traveling with L, and the Sit ‘N’ Stroll 5-in-1 stroller/carseat I CAN’T live without, go here.
Get more practical, helpful tips from green mommy bloggers at Healthychild.org!