Not long after Baby A was born, I was taken over by the idea that it was ab-so-lutely essential that we take a family trip to Denmark so that he could meet the Danish family. I don't believe that I've ever mentioned it here, but my dear MIL is Danish, thus making SH half Dane. Keeping close to our Danish family has always been important to both of us, and my MIL is great about maintaining her traditions AND exposing the children to the language. In fact, she speaks only Danish to my beloved, precious niece, and the plan is for her to do the same for Baby A.
Needless to say, a whole host of circumstances (business trips, weddings) has made it possible for almost the entire family to visit Denmark for a week over the summer (we'll miss you, Aunt C and Uncle P!). I have been once before, and enjoyed every moment-it's a beautiful, CLEAN country. I know that's a rather mundane adjective to use to describe it, but once you've visited, I think you'd understand. Gorgeous architecture characterized by modern Danish design is present even in the airport. Streets and highways (with many, many roundabouts) seem spotless. In the countryside, it's not uncommon to constantly pass farms where kartoffler (potato) is sold, freshly pulled from the dark, fertile soil. The food, by the way, is uncommonly delicious. I gained something like five pounds on my first visit. Huge hunks of salmon scattered with finely chopped dill, juicy pork with its crispy skin still intact, buttery pastries mounded with fruit and covered with cream, dark brown bread with butter and sharp white cheese. Dark coffee and really good Danish beer served approximately five times a day. And always kartoffler. At every meal.
Ok, so clearly I'm getting distracted from my main purpose in composing this post. Obviously the amazing breastfeeding diet is going to be slightly less successful when I'm devouring mountains of Danish food. Now that we've got that out of the way, I shall move on to more important matters, namely, how in the world am I going to be able to properly entertain an eleven-month old on two monstrously long flights?
Logistically, I'm pleased with the flights themselves. Our first flight departs from the East Coast in the late afternoon, and I am fairly certain that baby A will sleep at least two or three hours of the 8 hour flight. It won't be the first time he's flown, so I'm not concerned about his ears or the pressure bothering him, although he has become more frightful in the past two months-he might be more nervous. Our return flight, which also departs in the late afternoon, is all the way from Frankfurt to San Francisco, so much longer. My only consolation there is that we arrive home in the evening, so even if A has slept a mere hour or two on the flight, he'll at least get a good jump start on readjusting to our time zone.
I've been scouring the Internets for suggestions for flying with a baby, and I have found a few good ideas, which I'll list here. I was shocked, in this day and age, to see how many message boards were full of parents advocating medicating the baby. Granted, most of our parents probably did this, and we clearly all turned out okay, but I can't even fathom dosing baby A with something I have idea how he might react to, particularly since it would mostly be for my convenience! The little love has barely touched a non-organic thing in his little life! He won't be taking any medicine to calm him! Granted, if there WERE some FDA-approved, all natural, homeopathic soothing medicinal "remedy" I will admit I would be tempted....
*I would like to note that in NO way do I mean to judge here-everyone is perfectly entitled to do what they think is best!
I've compiled a collection of ideas I found, all of which I've begun to purchase and gather together in anticipation of our departure. My plan is to have my second carry-on (the first being my diaper bag) full of these items, which are all relatively small and take up little space. The books are the heaviest and most unwieldy. I'll pack a few of them in A's bag for the return trip and switch out before we leave.
for tearing apart, sifting through, sticking
-stickers + small notepad
-packages of travel-size tissue
-box of Band-Aids
for actual play:
-finger puppets-I found a great, perfectly sized set of these at Ikea
-super small nesting cups/dolls
-lift-the-flap or multi-sensory books
-travel-size Magna Doodle-My favorite mom blog, growingafoosa, tried out this idea first and it was a big success.
-miscellaneous $bin items-think squishy bath toys, throwaway cardboard books, small bouncy balls. Basically simple toys of dubious origin that I would otherwise avoid.
Granted, baby A is going to attempt to put each and every one of these items in his mouth before playing with them, but there isn't a whole lot I can do about that. I'm hoping that I can get 5-10 minutes of interest per object. He LOVES books, which is a huge blessing. I'll also have plenty of snacks.
So, loyal few, any good travel hints you can pass along? I will be eternally grateful! After we've recovered from our trip, I'll return the favor with any newfound traveling-with-a-baby wisdom I've acquired.