It’s vacation time at the Hunter House. Hallelujah! We rented a house for the week which was fantastic and afforded me the luxury of a private pool therefore saving the public the horror of seeing me in a swimsuit. (shortbread cookies + babybod = yikes) The house also afforded me the luxury of a kitchen which was a perfect spot to try out the cranberry pistachio shortbread cookie recipe my dad found in a magazine on the plane. He doesn’t remember which one or which plane but the cookies are amazing so I’ll let him get away with it.
Tip zero (is that what’s above one?!): Murphy’s Law wins with babies. Forever. Don’t fight it.
Here’s my top 10 lessons/tips when traveling with an infant:
1. Try not to do it alone. Bring a Husband. It doesn’t even have to be yours, any one will do. Number one reason for this? Bathroom breaks. As in, there are none unless you want to put your tiny human on the floor of an airport restroom. Gag. (Reason number two is to have someone to hold your coffee. Babies have horrible coffee-holding skills.) By hour 6, I was dying and wishing that I, too, had worn a diaper. I have yet to find a solution for this except maybe to drink less coffee. But that’s clearly not a viable option.
2. Get a travel boppy pillow. I felt dumb buying the travel one when we have a perfectly good regular one. Such frivolity ranked right below wipe warmers in my book (to which I have also succumbed) but I would do it again in a heartbeat. Excellent for letting him hang out on the seat or floor without him actually touching the seat or floor. I am a far cry from a germophobe but something about airports makes my skin crawl. I would rather see him chew on my boots after I walked through the cow pasture than touch an airport floor.
3. Avoid tiny planes like the plague. Our first trip to Texas was on tiny, regional jets and my giant backpack (which was designed to hold 72 hours of survival supplies but only fit 72 minutes’ worth of baby gear) didn’t fit so I had to gate-check it. Meaning I had to scramble to figure out what supplies I was going to need and stuff diapers in my pocket. I got smarter by the second flight and packed a smaller bag (a medium wet bag was the perfect size) inside the bigger one that contained just the essentials which I could pull out and put under the seat while the big bag could be gate-checked. I restocked the small bag on layovers and repeated the process. On a larger plane, this wouldn’t be an issue but those regional jets are like flying in a sardine can. A tiny, smelly, miserable, bumpy sardine can.
4. Two changes of clothes are not enough. Every time, I was overly optimistic and thought I wouldn’t need his whole wardrobe on the plane. I thought wrong. Murphy’s Law ensued and every diaper was a blow-out and there was more spit-up than milk actually being consumed. Awesome.
5. Invest in Pacifier clips. Babies should just come with those pre-installed. I don’t know what i was thinking when I didn’t buy 17 of them before the first trip. I was leaving trails of pacifiers through the airport and horrifying fellow mothers when they could see me debate between cleaning it and giving it back to him right away. So I ordered these. Because what newborn doesn’t need 80 yards of survival cord?!
6. Pre-made bottles. Have a bottle filled and ready to go before take-off so you don’t have to juggle a hungry baby, a bottle, and a bag of milk. And put that bottle in a ziploc bag because no matter how tight you screw on the cap, or how well you cover it, or how you swear it stayed upright the entire time, it WILL leak. Murphy’s Law applies to all things baby. Helpful hint: an airsick bag full of hot coffee warms a bottle in 4 minutes flat. Everyone told me to have him eat on take-off and landing to help his ears but the little man had zero problems and I just fed him on his regular schedule and let him sleep through take-off and landing instead.
7. White noise. By the second trip, I became smart enough to bring the little guy’s sleep sheep which helped tremendously on the actually sleeping-at-night front.
8. Travel bassinet. Great idea. Baby Hunter still prefers to sleep with me but I’m also a fan of sleeping (which rarely happens when he’s happily snoozing on my chest) so the travel bassinet is the way to go.
9. Get a Tula/Wrap/Onya/some sort of hands-free baby-porting carrying device. There is seriously no way to do it without one. Seriously. Unless you want to use a stroller to strap in the small one but that requires more hands so you’re better off not with kids this young.
10. Cookies and earplugs. Because when all else fails, you can always just bribe your fellow passengers into not kicking you off the plane.
- 1 C butter, room temperature
- 3/4 pure cane white sugar
- 1 orange (zest + juice)
- 1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste
- 2 1/3 C flour, sifted
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 C pistachios, roughly chopped
- 1/2 C dried cranberries
- Beat butter, sugar, and orange zest until fluffy.
- Stir in vanilla bean paste and orange juice and mix until well-combined.
- Stir in flour and salt and mix until dough forms.
- Fold in cranberries and pistachios.
- Roll dough into a log, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Or…you can make a double batch and freeze a roll of dough and you’ll have ready-to-go cookies for when you have unexpected company. Win! Except that now I’ve given away my secret and no one will be fooled into thinking I bake cookies every day…
- Preheat oven to 350F
- Slice dough into 1/2-inch slices, place on cookie sheet, and bake at 350F for approx 13 minutes. Don’t wait until they look done, just cook until no longer shiny and edges are beginning to turn golden. They’ll harden into shortbread consistency while they cool.
- Pack them in your suitcase to keep fellow travelers happy when your baby has just had enough. Give them to your baby, too. And you eat a few. Everyone wins.