It has been a busy month! The second weekend of May we flew to Texas for nine days to attend my younger sister's college graduation, celebrate my youngest nephew's first birthday, meet our 6-month old niece for the first time, and watch my best friend from college get married. Adeline is currently only four months old, but this was actually her second out-of-state trip. At eight weeks old, we flew to Wisconsin to visit my family in Milwaukee for four days. Now that we've traveled with her twice, for different amounts of time, I feel like I have a better idea of what it takes to have a successful, peaceful trip with an infant.
First of all, don't schedule a flight that lands after their typical bedtime. When we flew to Wisconsin, our flight departed a little before her typical second feeding of the morning, so I nursed as the plane took off and then she napped the short 2 1/2 hour duration. Once we landed, she was ready for a diaper change and to eat again. We learned the hard way how important time of day is on the first leg of our flight to Texas. We had to fly out on Friday, and my husband needed to work at least a half-day, so the only non-stop flight at that point departed at 6:30 pm, we didn't land until 10:00 pm, and then had a forty-five minute drive to my in-laws from the airport. I was able to nurse Adeline on the plane again, and she slept the entire 4 1/2 hour flight, but transferring her to the car seat in the car (and her sleeping the whole drive home), and then trying to transfer her to the pack n play at their house was too much. She'd already been asleep for about six hours straight at that point and it took almost a hour, with very confused overtired cries, for us to get her to sleep that first night.
Thankfully, we were able to keep to her more normal routine the rest of the week we were in Texas and each night, she went down a little easier. We also found that she seemed less overwhelmed if we scheduled more relaxed, down days (just at one of our parent's houses) between days of being out and about a lot and meeting new people. Unfortunately Saturday and Sunday were back-to-back graduation and a birthday party, with lots of new faces and activity, so she was a bit fussier than usual. But we made up for it by staying in and doing more low-key things on Monday and Tuesday, and that seemed to help get her back to her happier self. The biggest difference between the Wisconsin and Texas trips though were the length of time we spent in each place. We were only in Wisconsin for 3 nights, so we didn't bother to bring a monitor or her noise machine for nighttime. In Texas, we brought both, and were able to put her to bed then spend more time with family in other areas of the house while still keeping an eye on her. Setting up the noise machine (and borrowing a nightlight) also seemed to help her sleep more peacefully and longer at night, like she does at home, since she is used to both these things as part of our bedtime routine.
Since we spent twice as long in Texas, it was also easier for us to keep to her routine (aside from the first night of getting in so late), because we knew we had more time with everyone even if we left to get her to bed on time. I fed her around the same time every night that I do at home (7:15 - 7:30 pm) and then she went to bed around 8:00 pm. She averaged 10 - 11 hours per night (like home) and the second to last night we were there, I actually had to wake her to nurse because she slept over 12 hours! I was very nervous about sharing a room with her again, as she's been in her own room since she was six weeks. We were in the same room as her at my in-laws and the hotel for my friend's wedding, but had her in a room across the hall from us at my moms, but thankfully she didn't seem to be abnormally more restless or wake more easily in either situation. She's a pretty good sleeper, other than 1 - 2 minor wake-ups at night still, and that was true in both sleeping situations on this trip. I'm sure that is one aspect that is different for every child though, and may change as she gets a little older too.
My last piece of advice, or perhaps a warning, is while she acclimated and slept better during the longer Texas trip, she also has taken longer to get back into her sleep routine than she did after our shorter Wisconsin trip. I think after the shorter trip, she may have been a little fussier than usual the first night. We are now on her fourth night in a row of extended crying after being put in bed (we practice a shortened version of CIO at night). Thankfully last night, once she did fall asleep (after being comforted three times), she slept more peacefully than the previous two nights. Hopefully tonight is a repeat of that (she only needed to be comforted twice at bedtime tonight so hope we're on the up-and-up!). I don't know if the extended crying is just recovering from the trip, or her four-month vaccines on Monday which resulted in a low-grade fever on Tuesday, or a little bit of the "four-month sleep regression" I heard so much about, or even a combination of all three. Basically, bedtime is not the most fun right now. Also, she's back on her kick of only wanting to nap in my arms during the day, which is tough since just in the last few weeks she had started taking two of her four naps in the crib each day. Hopefully this all passes soon, because our place is in desperate need of a good cleaning.
Thankfully, even with some of the bedtime stress and attempts to adhere to her schedule, we had two wonderful trips, and I'm so glad she got to meet all of her cousins, more of her family, and a lot of our good friends. I'm already looking forward to another trip with her that we're planning for October, and am interested to see what travel with a mobile baby will be like. I can't believe by this fall, we'll have a crawler on our hands!