Top 10 tips for flying with a newborn

When our twins were 4 months old, we flew to Minnesota for a month. Traveling with 2 babies, a tabby cat, and enough clothes and stuff for one month took some planning. But we did it.

Here are our tips for traveling with a new baby

  1. Use a travel system — stroller plus carseat for the airport and final destination
  2. Check all luggage that you don’t need on the plane. Use curbside check-in to make your life easier
  3. Gate check your stroller and carseat if you’re planning to hold your baby in your lap. Board first when they ask for people who need assistance or are traveling with small children. Get a gate check ticket from the gate agent and leave your stroller, car seat folded at the end of the jetway.
  4. Order baby supplies in advance. If you’re staying with family or friends, order diapers, wipes, formula, etc online and have them delivered to your final destination
  5. Milk: if you’re breastfeeding, good news is you’ve got the supply with you. If you’re formula feeding, bring ready to drink bottles with you on the plane (they’re temperature stable so don’t need to be refrigerated). Note: you CAN bring liquids through security. Pull them out of your luggage and alert the TSA agent that you have liquids for your child (medicine, breast milk, formula, juice, etc.). They’ll test it on the other side.
  6. Getting through security: you’ll need to carry the baby through. You can’t leave him in a carrier or wear him. If you’re traveling with someone, best to divide and conquer: one of you carries the baby through, the other one disassembles the stroller and loads everything on the conveyor belt and reassembles on the other end. If you’re by yourself, keep baby in stroller until last minute. Load everything on conveyor belt. Then detach carseat and set it on the floor with baby in it. Fold and put stroller on belt. Then pick up baby and either pick up and put carseat on belt or ask for help. On either side, wait for carseat to come through. Pick it up one handed, put it on the floor, and put baby in it by your feet. Then take down stroller, assemble, and put carseat on stroller. Last, gather all of your personal belongings once baby is safe in stroller.
  7. Diaper changes: we usually do this in the stroller, on the floor on a little mat, or even on our laps on the plane (for small babies only).
  8. Germs: bring disinfectant wipes for the plane. Clean the seatbelt, arm rests, and tray
  9. Feeding schedule: STAY THE COURSE! On our first flight, we were worried about take-off and landing and discomfort with their ears. We altered their feeding schedule to ensure they were “sucking” aka drinking during takeoff and landing. The disruption in the schedule caused a lot of challenges interfering with their nap and feeding schedule. On the way home, we decided to just go with the flow and stick to the normal schedule. The kids ended up falling asleep just after take-off, sleeping through most of the flight, and waking up to eat on their normal schedule. It was much smoother and less stressful for all of us.
  10. Borrow as much as you can at your final destination. If you’re staying at a hotel, use their crib (but bring your own sheet, they might not have one). If you’re staying with family or friends, see if they can ask their friends to borrow baby items: pack n play, changing table, swing, bouncy seat, activity mat, high chairs, infant tub / towels. Both set of  grandparents managed to track down all of these items for us, so we had 2 sets at both houses. It made it the entire trip so much easier.

Infant/toddler travel system

Step one to optimizing travel with infants and toddlers is having a “travel system”. What the hell is a travel system? Well it’s the stroller / car seat combo that can make a difference between a stressful or stress-free travel experience — whether you’re going to a checkup at the pediatrician or flying home for the holidays.

#1 recommendation — get a Baby Trend Snap N Go stroller with compatible car seats before your baby is even born.

Pictured: Baby Trend Snap N Go with Maxi Mico Infant Car seats and Evenflow Tribute Convertible Car seats.

The Snap N Go has the biggest basket you will ever have on a stroller, which makes it amazing for travel. It folds very easily to be completely flat and fits through the xray machine in the airport.

The car seats sit in the Snap N Go without “clicking” in. There is a strap you can use to attach them, which we used for the infant seats since we were still very paranoid at that point. By the time our kids were toddlers and using the convertible car seats, we were comfortable just resting the car seats in there. Even with two very squirmy kids the car seats never jostled or moved. At 2 years old, we still use the Snap N Go when we’re flying with our twins.

The car seats we chose we were also VERY happy with.

Maxi Mico Infant Car seats — One of the lightest on the market at only 8 lbs. This was a huge selling point for us given we would have 2 of them and living in NYC we’d be taking the kids in and out of Ubers all the time. They are also very easy to install into a car and do not require the base for secure installation.

  • Age used: Newborn to 7 months. (Up to 22 lbs or 29 inches long.)

Evenflow Tribute Convertible Car seats — They’re lightweight, compact enough to fit well on the airplane, and the biggest bonus of all — they fit in the snap and go for super easy transport at the airport! Oh and they’re #1 seller on Amazon for convertible carseats and only $45. They’re rear-facing up to up to 35 lbs after which you switch to forward facing. The cover also removes for easy cleanup.

  • Age used: 7 months+. As soon as our kids outgrew the infant car seat, we switched to this.

 

Should you skip the infant car seat and go straight to a convertible car seat?

Both car seats have a weight range that starts at 5lbs in the event you have a preemie. The infant carseat has a number of advantages that may justify the cost of purchasing an extra carseat for your family:

  • More reclined position suited for a newborn especially if you expect to use it frequently
  • You can take the carseat out of the car easily without removing the child (with the convertible, it is hard to get the strap in and out with the child sitting in it)
  • You can use the carseat to carry your baby with or without the stroller. (The convertible is awkward to carry with the child in it requiring a stroller for transport or 2 people: one to carry the baby and one to carry the car seat).

 

Has anyone else discovered a travel system that they love? 

 

Clothes consignment

Since 2013, I have consigned over $600 of clothing on ThredUP. It is a great way to earn a few bucks for gently used moderately priced brands (J. Crew, Gap, etc.). Here’s a list of brands they accept. I’ve sent my clothes, maternity clothes, baby clothes, old purses, etc.

Just signup for an account and order a “CLEAN OUT” kit. thredup.png

  • You’ll receive a bag in the mail.
  • Fill it with any gently used, recent items.
  • Add the prepaid return label.
  • And send back via USPS.
  • Note: they now charge a small fee per bag of $9.99 and you can choose whether you’d like to donate your payout or receive cash.

I tried several online consignment shops (Twice, ThredUP, etc) and more recently Swap.com. ThredUP is the easiest to use. And any items they don’t accept are donated to local charities.

 

Why I use ThredUP?

I hate throwing things away, especially things that are in good condition. With ThredUP, I know someone else is using these items and they’re not going directly into a landfill.

It’s also so easy to get a bag in the mail. My twins are outgrowing clothes at a rapid clip and it makes it easy for me to declutter especially at the start and end of each season.

Newborn photography

Don’t forget to book your newborn photography in advance! To get the adorable sleeping baby photos, you want the photography session to happen right away. My photographer suggested photographing newborns when they are 4-10 days old.

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Photography by Asiya

 

Losing the baby weight

For me, slow and steady was the way to go. I gained 50 pounds while pregnant with my twins. After having the babies, I waited a long time to step on a scale again.

A couple months later, when I decided I was mentally ready to understand the challenge that lay ahead, I stepped on the scale and I was still 40 pounds above my pre-pregnancy weight.

Once deciding I wanted to start losing the weight, I did a few things:

  • Set a goal a new goal weight on myfitnesspal
  • Decided to gradually lose the weight mainly through diet and minimal exercise (with twin newborns, I didn’t have the time or energy for that!) and set my weekly weight loss goal to 1 pound
  • Started tracking my meals
  • Started taking a long walk (45 min) every day with both babies

After 5 months, I started interviewing for a new job. I was still 15-20 pounds over my goal weight and couldn’t fit into any of my pants. I remember wearing the same maternity jeans and oversized black flowy blouse to every interview.

Going back to work helped with sticking to a strict diet. I joined a facebook exercise/healthy eating group that a friend from high school started. A bunch of the members were making bento box lunches, so I turned to pinterest for inspiration.

I bought these containers on Amazon and they made eating healthy a little more fun.
iKitchenPlus 6-Pack Bento Food Container Set with 3 Compartments

I searched pinterest for inspiration and came up with some healthy grocery lists full of veggies and protein. I packed my lunches for the week on Sunday afternoon, which saved time and made it easier to eat healthy every day.

2015-11-01-14-11-43

My favorite lunch usually included hard boiled eggs, cheese, deli meat, crackers, grapes, cucumbers, carrots, broccoli, and hummus dip.

After going back to work, I did run on the threadmill in our building occasionally — maybe once a week. For me, the exercise was most helpful for relieving stress. And I sometimes find that the more I exercise, the more I eat, and I actually end up gaining weight. I spoke with a few of my “fit” friends and everyone agreed losing weight is 80% diet, so I decided to focus on that.

It took me over a year to get to my goal weight, but I did succeed and with minimal effort. (It did take quite a lot of will power though). I’ve never really dieted much before and being on a diet for an entire year was depressing. It was totally worth it though because now I 100% feel like myself again. And almost 2 years later, I can say that I’ve been able to keep the weight off just fine (even with my old eating habits).

Top 10 list for surviving a twin pregnancy

Here’s my list of top tips for surviving a twin pregnancy and life with twins.

I basically approached the twin thing like it was my job — I read every book I could find on twin pregnancy and caring for infant twins, joined the Manhattan Twins Club, and tested a ton of baby products and apps to find the best ones. 

 

1) Keep your babies on a schedule in order to maintain your sanity. “12 hours by 12 weeks” is the single most useful book I’ve read for raising twins. It gives you specific advice to get your kids eating and sleeping on a schedule. 

Twelve Hours’ Sleep by Twelve Weeks Old: A Step-by-Step Plan for Baby Sleep Success

 2) Watch the DVD “Happiest Baby on the Block“. It’s ~30 minutes and gives you 4 foolproof methods (known as the 4 S’s) for soothing a crying baby. 4 S’s = swaddle, side, shhh, and swing. It works like magic!

The Happiest Baby on the Block: The New Way to Calm Crying and Help Your Baby Sleep Longer

 3) Use the app “Babyconnect” to keep track of your twins’ feedings, diapers, growth, etc. it is a lifesaver in the first 6 weeks when you’re so sleep deprived and need to keep track of things to make sure your babies are getting enough to eat. Bonus – it allows you to add unlimited caregivers to the same account. 

Baby Connect (Activity Logger) by Seacloud Software LLC

https://appsto.re/us/lfYDt.i

4) Download “Sound Sleeper” baby sound machine app for your phone. When your baby is tired but can’t fall asleep, the soothing noises help to guide the babies to sleep. (Works for tired parents too). 

Sound Sleeper – relaxing sounds of nature and white noise for calming your baby to sleep by Michael Feigenson

https://appsto.re/us/FJa-D.i

5) Get the twin Z pillow — it’s the most useful invention for twins. Our kids used it up until 11mos old. 

THE TWIN Z PILLOW- LIGHT GREEN -The Only 6 in 1 Twin Pillow Breastfeeding, Bottlefeeding, Tummy Time & Support! A Must Have for Twins! – LIGHT GREEN

6) buy two fisher price rock and plays. Best overall baby invention. Our kids slept in these exclusively for the first 5 months. Then we transitioned them into their own cribs. A lot of people use them during the day when they have their kids out in the living room. 

Fisher-Price Newborn Auto Rock ‘n Play Sleeper, Aqua Stone Fashion

 7) I’d recommend having a high risk Doctor that specializes in multiples rather than an OB/GYN. As I’m sure you know, twin pregnancies often have complications and these doctors are more comfortable and experienced in these situations. 

8) Make sure your Doctor is affiliated with a hospital that has at least a level 3 NICU. If your babies come early or have complications,  babies will need to be relocated to a level 3 NICU if your hospital doesn’t have one. I read horror stories online of a mom being in one hospital and babies in another. 

9) Make sure you know the signs of pre-term labor. It is a very common complication of twin pregnancies. If you catch it early, you can go to the hospital and take medicine to try to halt the labor. (This happened to me at 32 weeks. I spent 5 days in the hospital and then went home until babies were born at 34 weeks 6 days). 

 10) Formula feeding is a lot easier than breastfeeding. I breastfed for 7 weeks and it was a horrible experience for everyone. My babies weren’t getting enough milk and I wasn’t getting any sleep since I had to feed them every 2.5 hours 24 hours a day. I felt a lot of pressure to breastfeed and I wish I had just formula fed. Once I stopped breastfeeding and started formula feeding life was so much better. My kids were eating more and able to sleep longer periods at a time. I was able to sleep through the night. And other people (not just me) could help feed the babies. 

Which bottles to use?

With twins, I tried it all. We tested many different bottles and nipples. I breastfed for 7 weeks, pumped for 7 weeks, and bottlefed for 12 months. From my experience, I recommend the following system that gives you maximum flexibility, is very very simple, convenient, and inexpensive. It also works for breastfeeding or formula feeding moms.


1) Breast Milk Freezer Pack, 2.7 oz (80ml) Bottles (Pack of 12)
we started with these which you can use to freeze breastmilk, then thaw in a bowl of warm water, then add a nipple and serve directly. saves a lot of washing. i also liked that they are really easy to measure how much you are giving the baby.

2) Similac infant nipples & rings, Standard Flow, Ready To Use, Case of 25
they pair with these nipples. (which btw come in multiple flows. start with the newborn/slow flow) they say they are disposable, but you can use them multiple times until you notice the flow is getting too heavy.
3) Medela Breastmilk Collection and Storage Bottles 8oz (250ml) – 2 Each
we ended up trying a lot of bottles, but liked these the most. they fit with the same nipples above.

4) Similac Advance Infant Formula with Iron, Stage 1 Ready-to-Feed Bottles, 8 Ounce, (Pack of 24) (Packaging May Vary)
if you haven’t heard of the ready to drink formula, it is also lifechanging. comes in multiple sizes. 2oz nursers are perfect for babies. then when he’s older, you can give him 2x2oz and eventually upgrade to 8oz. these are a lifesaver when you’re out of the apartment. they’re shelf stable so you just shake, put on a nipple (the “disposable” ones above fit), and serve. then you can throw the whole thing away.

 

Conclusion: 1-4 all work together in one system which makes life super easy. it’s also the most flexible system if you’re considering a mix of breastfeeding and bottle feeding. you’re covered on frozen breastmilk storage, feeding in home and on the go. plus everything is super easy to wash in a medela microwave sterilizer bag or the dishwasher when your child is older.

#1 book for new parents

12 hours of sleep in 12 weeks is no joke. If you read anything as a new parent, read this!

Twelve Hours’ Sleep by Twelve Weeks Old: A Step-by-Step Plan for Baby Sleep Success

I literally think that this book changed my life. My kids have been sleeping 11 hours a night since age 3 months (son) and age 5 months (daughter). I was just telling a friend the other day that our twins ask to get into their cribs. We say “Ok time for bed” and they walk into their room and climb onto their cribs waiting for us to lift them in. Then they just lie down and sleep. That’s all!

 

The book gives you a regimented feeding and sleeping schedule to follow once your kid reaches a certain age/weight. You can start once your baby is 9 lbs, 8 weeks old, and drinking a minimum of 24 oz per day. I thought it was incredibly easy to understand and follow and it made it really easy for me to give my nanny a schedule to follow. I always knew exactly what to do when I came home since every day was the same schedule for the babies.

 

Good luck! You can do it!! I wish you many hours of sleep.