October 10, 2008

Zach & Henry's Excellent Adventure

Zach, a friend in DC who is finishing law school, was going out to a job interview in Salt Lake City a couple of weeks ago. At the last minute, he and his wife thought it'd be fun to surprise the grandparents by having Zach take their 6-month-old son Henry along for the ride. Naturally, I thought it was just the kind of crazy-sounding dadventure that belonged on Daddy Types, so I had him write about it. You can read his account after the jump.

One lesson I learned from it is one I've learned too many times on my own: the Baby Industrial Complex is seriously letting us down when it comes to simple powdered formula transportation solutions.

So I had a job interview in Utah at the end of September. When making the plans we tried to find a ticket for my wife Alicia, but the prices were outrageous and never really came down. So, we decided that Alicia and five-month old Henry would have to stay home. We knew how much Henry's grandparents wanted to see him and we kicked around the idea of me taking him on the trip. There were a lot reasons not to do it, putting Henry on formula and him being without Alicia being the main ones.

The night before I left we started talking seriously about it and decided it would be a stupendous surprise for Henry's grandparents. We slept on it and that morning we still thought it was a good idea. We packed about a dozen outfits (half of which Henry never wore). By the time we showed up at the airport my wheely bag and a huge duffel with all of Henry's stuff made a mockery of the airline's carry-on policy. When you have a baby they let you get away with murder.

I started to worry when I learned that the flight from DC to JFK airport in New York was going to be on a tiny commuter plane. I had to sweet talk the gate attendant into letting me try to take the big duffel bag on the plane. I took out enough stuff to survive the plane ride and fit the duffel in the overhead bin.

I thought the trip would be a cakewalk when no one sat next to me on that ride. Henry fell asleep right when we took off and the 45-minute flight was a great time to relax and catch up on some reading. I was so relaxed that I left the book on the plane.

The JFK airport is an awful place to hang out with a baby for four hours. It was crowded and there was no where to sit. I also had to worry about a stroller and two huge bags. I paid $12 for a terrible salad at a sit down sports bar and then tried to change an overflowing diaper in the stroller with many disgusted onlookers.

The flight to Salt Lake was totally full and Henry was screaming when we boarded the plane. We came up with the brilliant idea of putting the dry formula in plastic bags and then putting that in the bottles to make up formula. This proved to be an impossible task and I got more formula on my pants and the carpet of the plane than was in the bottles. Finally I put together some mixture of water and formula (that Alicia would likely not have endorsed) and gave it to Henry. I started to get worried when he wasn't asleep and there was no more formula. As we were taxiing I had to make a second batch and a woman on our row was nice enough to hold him as I made it up all the time cursing the plastic bags and wondering why we hadn't just put the dry formula in bottles (which is the way to do it in case you're wondering).

He went to sleep as we took off and stayed asleep the whole time. This sounds like the best thing in the world, but on a five hour flight, that meant that I got to hold him the whole time. There is only one position I could put him in where he would stay asleep and I even had to hold him while I went to the lavatory, which I think qualifies me for some kind of juggling certification.

We finally arrived when it was 1:00 AM our time and I was sure it was a mistake to bring him. When my parents picked me up at the airport they couldn't believe it and it was an amazing five days. Henry loved being held all the time and did great with the formula. He wore his jammies for a few days in a row and didn't take a lot of baths, but he survived. His relatives didn't want to let him go . . . and I got in a BYU football game, a horseride and I got a job offer, so I think the trip ended up being a success.


Another way to transport formula for little trips is a formula dispenser (http://www.munchkin.com/products/detail.html?pID=41). You scoop the amount you plan to use per feeding into each of the little sections, and then when you're ready to use, pour water into the bottle, pour out a section of formula, close and shake. Done!

Bravo, and brave!

holding the baby and going to the bathroom on a plane has got to be tough. I was once on a flight and the mom with the 6 month old sitting next to me actually handed me her baby (!) so she could run to the bathroom. She wasn't feeling well and was about to hurl - so I kind of understand - but I think I'd be juggling like Zach.

Yes, the munchkin formula dispenser is a bottle/formula feeding parent staple. I always include one in a baby shower gift as it can also be used as a snack cup for cereal or goldfish etc... I have one friend that would buy a small container of formula just for her diaper bag. She was happy and surprised to see my formula dispenser and went out an purchased almost immediately. For a long trip or plane ride I would take two just to be safe.

If you don't want to worry at all with measuring, try the Similac Pixie Stix:


We have some similar ones by Enfamil, but 1) they're expensive, and 2) like the Similac ones above, each pack only makes 4oz. We're holding steady at 6oz bottles these days, so they formula stix seem as convenient as a 6-pack of hot dogs and an 8-pack of buns.

ziploc bags, given terrorists carry scissors. just chew/bite the corner off the ziploc and pour it in. hygene schmygene.

Pouring the dry formula into the bottom of the bottle and then pouring the water in water after will throw off the concentrate of the formula as the 6oz of water is sans the bulk of formula...

So if you were to pour water on top of the powder and stopped at the 6oz mark you'd probably be adding only about 4.5 or maybe 5oz of water...

Definitely a formula dispenser and bottles of premeasured water are the way to go for your next trip and as mentioned they are useful as snack cups after baby is done with formula...

Avent makes one where the compartments are removable so it becomes one cup instead of 3 compartments...

One other way to transport formula powder -- use the three and half ounce breast milk pumping bottles from Medela -- each one carries just enough for four scoops of formula, and their thin cylindrical shape makes them easy to stash.

Wow, Great information. I will keep these in mind. K2 is 4 mos. and I may try a few days at the in-laws w/o the Mrs. and just use formula. I don't know if She will let me as she is afraid that her just pumping will cause her to produce less.

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