Monthly Archives: May 2012

My Travel Hats went to Los Angeles, Chicago and Spain… with a newborn! An introduction to dragging your child around the world

First of all, much apologies for my complete and utter neglect to update this blog. It’s been a fairly exciting time. If you haven’t already met her, I’d like to introduce you to my new child:


(Jon with our baby in Toledo, Spain)

Because I believe the Internet is an unharnessed and somewhat precarious state of existence, along with having watched way too many Law & Order SVU episodes about child molesters and pedophiles during maternity leave, that is about the extent of the photography you’ll get to view of my little one until she is 18 years of age.

However, it is time to return to the blogosphere so I’ll begin with an introduction to Traveling with a Newborn.

Before we took her overseas, we first flew her from Baltimore to Los Angeles at exactly six weeks for my cousin’s wedding. Kind of like a trial trip before the big one. Our doctor suggested having her vaccinated before getting on those germ-filled planes that are spread around the air vents easily, so we had her shots done (you can get them done at six weeks, although traditionally they start at two months), then hopped on a plane the next day. We spent about a week in Los Angeles, then another week in Chicago with the grandparents, and then jetted home for a few more before we embarked to Madrid.

At two months, she doesn’t do much but sleep, eat and digest everything into her Pampers. You soon realize how little a baby actually needs, despite what Buy Buy Baby and Babies ‘R’ Us might make you believe. It was relatively easy flying around with her, and no one, not even the unhappy bankrupt airlines and their unhappy employees, can resist a cute little baby. We got to cut the line everywhere, from security to the boarding gate. We took her to museums, restaurants, cafes, bars, and a bullfight, and probably permanently messed up the wheels of our second-hand Graco stroller frame from dragging it across cobblestone streets in Spain, but we all had a great time. As I write this, she is whining a little from her bouncy seat, probably wondering why she’s not rattling across some rocky street with Moorish archways and cathedral ceilings to stare at overhead.

A few things we had to learn about flying with a newborn that we didn’t know before:

1. Baby does not need an ID. But it’s probably a good idea to carry a copy of the birth certificate with you just in case.

2. Baby under two years of age is free if you sit him/ her in your lap. According to my sister, they stop sitting on your lap before then though. But if you decide to buy them a seat because you’re tired of holding a squirming toddler, they won’t sit in it, and then you’ll be out a few hundred dollars.

3. Baby gets to bring a carry-on in the form of a diaper bag, so pack that thing full.

4. You can take the stroller and carseat up to the gate, and then they gate-check it. I decided to get a cover for our carseat so it wouldn’t get dirty in the cargo, and it was a great idea since that bag came back with a whole lot of dirt marks on it that would have otherwise ended up being ingested and digested by our kid. I’m all for exposing her to dirt and building that immunity, but licking the inside of the cargo hold of an airplane is not in my plan. I ended up sewing my own from a very loud mustard-yellow curtain of my parents from the 70’s, so there’s no mistaking whose carseat that is, but you can also purchase one at Amazon. (You can buy anything at Amazon)

5. You can bring a cooler with ice pack and milk through security. They’ll run the bottles through some special little milk detector machine and not question the ice pack.

6. Doctors will suggest feeding the baby during take off and landing, to help ease ear pressure. Believe it or not, there are actually breastfeeding policies for each airline, ever since Delta threw a passenger off a flight for breastfeeding her kid. To summarize each one, prepare to have some kind of cover for the kid. Airline blankets are not the cleanest, so bring your own scarf or swaddle and tie it around your neck.   Sure, there is a whole army of breastfeeding women who want to fight for their right to breastfeed in the open, but I will save this for another blog post.

7. Baby needs to be listed on one of the boarding passes as a passenger. We learned that the hard way and had to go through many more lines to make sure she was.

8. Give yourself a LOT of time. Pad it on. There’s nothing like racing to the gate when she suddenly needs three diaper changes in a row. That being said, it’s also helpful to bring a spare outfit for the kid. And perhaps one for yourself, if baby decides to barf on your mid-flight.

9. For Spain, we realized she would need a passport, which requires a social security number and birth certificate, and it took four weeks to receive the social security number. I had to physically go to the DC Department of Health to get a copy of her birth certificate, but it was issued the same day. Not only that, both parents have to be present to get the passport. We made an appointment at the local post office and brought her social security card, copies of our drivers’ licenses (front and back), birth certificate, two 2″x2″ pictures and application. I also took her pictures, which was a task in itself, since the head is supposed to be centered and eyes open, staring straight, but she squirmed a lot and liked to rotate her head or stare anywhere except straight at the camera. We decided to expedite the passport, to make sure it would come back in time.

More updates to come on our three-week voyage across Spain!

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Filed under Europe, Kids - the Extra Carryon