I am a frequent reader of Offbeat Mama & am expecting my first child in May. My husband and I will be traveling with the baby in July, when the baby is about 8 weeks old. We’re flying from the East Coast to Denver. I keep seeing advice on dealing with breastfeeding while traveling, and specifically on airplanes, which is great.
What I don’t think I’ve seen is any consideration of how to deal with diaper changes in transit. We’re planning to cloth diaper as much as possible, but we’re open to using disposables when necessary. My first thought was to look for a direct flight if at all possible (trying to minimize the pressurization discomfort, not to mention the potential for running through an airport with a babe in tow), but now I wonder if it might not be better to look for two shorter flights, and plan for a diaper change during the layover. Do you have thoughts about which might be better? Have you changed an infant on a plane? -Kate
First of all — congratulations! As a May birthday myself, I can assure you that May babies are amongst the best out there. 🙂
Secondly, to answer your final question first: Yep, I’ve changed diapers on a plane more times than I can count and it’s utterly doable, especially with a dinky newborn. My least ‘favourite’ diaper-changing flight was a nine-hour overnight, international trip when I was eight weeks pregnant, very nauseated, and my then-eighteen-month-old had a vicious stomach flu. Not a great combination, especially in mid-air — at one point we were timing a mere four minutes between diaper changes. But we managed, and on the plus side, all that walking to and from the cabin did wonders for avoiding DVTs!
As to the practicalities of your trip: if finances don’t factor into it, I would advise looking into the direct flight options. As well as your very sensible reasons above, one flight means you run a smaller risk of being stuck with a delay. Additionally, any connecting flights usually run through the airline’s hub, which means it’s likely to be a connection at a busy airport with a greater distance between gates.
With regard to the diaper changes; unless you have a terrifically predictable newborn (and most newborns are terrific, but rarely predictable!), you would probably find that your plan to change your baby’s diaper between flights will be thwarted by the baby presenting you with a dirty diaper 10 minutes after take-off. In-flight diaper changing is pretty straightforward; most major airlines have pull-down baby-changing units in the bathrooms, which is something you can check with your airline when booking your flights.
In case they don’t, or in case of emergency, I’d recommend bringing a waterproof changing mat with you — with a tiny baby, it’s pretty easy to change them lying on your lap. At a push, this could even be done in your seat, assuming your husband, and not some random stranger, is sitting on the other side of you. Disposable diapers might be more straightforward in this situation, but if you aim to bring your cloth diapers (and have somewhere to launder them on arrival), I’d suggest bringing a number of empty ziploc bags to plonk them into when changing. Be sure to pack twice as many diapers/wipes as you think you need, and a spare change of clothes both for your baby but also for you, in case of any spillage/leakage issues.
You’ll have seen this in the breastfeeding advice, but in terms of avoiding pressurisation discomfort, nursing your baby (or feeding him/her a bottle if breastfeeding turns out not to be an option) will help with take-off and landing — the suckling stops the baby’s ears from “popping.” For the most part, tiny infants take pretty well to plane travel; the motion of the plane soothes them to sleep.
And above all — enjoy your trip!