The Story of Many Strollers

A single man who traveled the world said, “I don’t care about a no-smoking plane, give me a no-baby plane.” You have all heard them:  the baby that can’t stop crying, the parents that are too uptight to relax with the two year old, or felt the kid behind you kicking your seat on a four hour flight.

Meeting April, and deciding to have JJ, meant we were going to become “those” parents. Travel was in us, and having a child meant we had to re-arrange how we were going to travel.

Boarding a plane in Alaska a young woman said to her two year old “Ok, you are running around too much, I am cutting off your bloody Mary’s.” We looked at her and smiled. She was relaxed, confident, and knew the kid needed to “get his wiggles out,” but she was also clearly, a veteran traveler.  A quick inquiry led to her sharing a few comments…that traveling was great with kids, it just takes two ingredients: a sense of humor and preparation.

JJ’s First Trip

JJ was six weeks old when he took his first trip. Going to Oregon from Phoenix to meet his grandparents (my folks who are in their 80’s- their first, and only, grandchild). We were fortunate that April’s mom was coming with us (the perfect nanny, someone who has been on every continent but Antarctica and makes a sport of finding cheap airfares).

Before JJ’s birth we had gone to the local baby store and the 22 year old mother of four told us the best stroller to get (Grayco, cost more than a months salary of a surgical intern).  The car seat fit inside of  it, and it had lots of room, big wheels; we were soon road ready.  Before heading out we went back to the baby store and the 35 year old mom said: “You don’t want that stroller- you need something easy, something that you don’t mind if the airline breaks it.”

That’s when we learned that a sixty-dollar Snap-N-Go was perfect. We would tag the stroller for a gate check , roll him right through the jet way, and April would swoop him to his seat while I snapped the stroller and car seat…and off we went.

It was a perfect system,  until JJ hit the 18-pound mark, and the car seat didn’t fit him anymore (he is a long kid, the NBA is calling). Lunch at the Biltmore one day, we discovered the fancy baby place. The strollers were “rad” – and could contort so JJ could sit right up to the table. We were sold.

Taking out a mortgage to pay for the stroller wasn’t as bad as getting the stroller into the jetway- and trying to pack it for the plane. Wonderful once we arrived in Alaska, but horrid to travel with.

Back in Phoenix: another trip to the baby store and a consultation with a 45-year-old mom led us to finding the nicest umbrella stroller.  Light, durable, big wheels, and easy to pack and GO. Not just an umbrella stroller, , and we cbut it can lay back so he can nap, and we can peek in and look at him.  This is the perfect system: the car seat is now checked baggage.

THE DIAPER BAG: one bottle, two bottle, zero bottle

Formula, yes you need it,  and you have to pack it. And of course, you have to assume that every trip will take you twice as long as you can imagine, and you have to be ready for that. Do you breast feed (ok, not a personal question – one of us is a doctor after all), or do you take a lot of stuff with you (if they want to throw it out,  look indignant and ask “You want to throw out my breast milk?” — in a loud voice, naturally). Even if you breast feed, be sure to bring lots of  packages of formula , and buy the water bottle on the OTHER side of security.

Liquid formula, you really shouldn’t bother. This is an invitation for TSA to strip search you, your baby, and then put the formula through chemical tests. Finally, after that circus, they might let you move on. It’s always dry formula, folks — take my word for it, they will  yawn as you pass through security.

Do you think you need the extra- fussy- soy only, goat milk enriched formula? No,  you don’t. What you need is  something (s)he will drink, and be happy with. (One of us is a doctor, remember?)  So,  if you can’t get the powder ahead of time, that is to say that you didn’t prepare,  get whatever you can because the baby will be just fine. You however may need a gin and tonic.

Wipes, bring  lots of them. There is one rule:  your baby will, just before you are going to board the plane,  have the largest poop in human history. And of course it will be finger-painted on all the clothes. So to summarize: wipes, lots of them, and don’t skimp on the wash cloths either.

Change of clothes, yes of course, for the baby, and for YOU. (2 sets at a minimum). Remember, the the poop-apocalypse is coming.

Do not save poopy clothes in the airport or the airplane, into the trash they go. Even if they are polo engraved by Ralph himself (baby will grow out of them next week anyway). Travel with clothes for the baby that you can toss , and don’t you dress in your Sunday best, either.

Diapers, yes, you’ll need them (so will the baby).

Let’s talk about the bottle.  Being the couple who thinks they prepare well, we had the perfect baby bottle ready for JJ on his trip back from Oregon. As the plane ascended he happily drank from it,  and fell asleep (all the passengers in the six rows around me smiled).  As the plane was landing the sure-handed surgeon dropped the bottle, where it rolled back four aisles never to be seen again (we understand it is now in Philadelphia). Thankfully JJ loved his pacifier – and slept until landing- ears without trauma, and happy fellow passengers.

Lesson learned: we now carry three bottles with us, yes THREE.  And one more note – if you want to nurse your baby in the plane, be my guest. Keep that baby happy, and we’re all happy.