All I could remember was feeling excited. It was my first flight and non-work trip for 2 years and it didn’t matter to me that we would have a baby under 6 months with us. On the other hand, my husband started thinking of all the logistics, what to take, what port-a-cot to buy. When we were invited to a best mate’s wedding in Palm Cove all I could think of was beach, sun and sand. I immediately said yes and that was how it all began.
Using our travelling experiences I’d like to share my top 8 tips for travelling on a plane with baby. It can be a positive experience. Tiring yes, but good.
If you know that you will be travelling frequently with family in tow, and you don’t mind another type of training then this one will also pay dividends. While his first flight was at 5 months, my little one had been travelling long distance in the car from 5 weeks of age. It hadn’t been a plan of ours to start that early, the long distance trips were a necessity as we lived a 4 hour drive from our family and best friends. In hindsight though we did benefit from it. From packing the car and planning the trip in stages, we had the routine down pat. Same with flying. For the little one, he became accustomed to the sensation of the car and plane early on and doesn’t cry upon take off or landing and in between. Now that he’s a toddler, it’s trying to keep him entertained that I’m working on!
Book a flight time for when they’re due a nap/night time sleep
Booking flights is the fun part! I usually select a flight time that is as close to his nap time or when he’s due for night time sleep (for longer flights). If that wasn’t possible, I then took into account travelling to the airport and minimal waiting around and boarding time so that when we were in our seat and buckled in, by the time the plane was taxing the runway the little one would be asleep. On those occasions when he wasn’t, or if he was quite anxious or over stimulated then I would breastfeed. As he is older now I offer him his favourite snacks. And I make sure I’m stocked up…which segues to the next tip.
Snacks & water is a given
I know I’ve just mentioned this, but when my little one was younger I would breastfeed during the plane’s take off to settle him. Now, along with his water cup, I have at least 5 different types of snacks such as apple, banana, blueberries, corn on the cob (infant size), grapes, orange, pear), banana Baby Mum-Mum, Little Bellies Hoops & Loops as well as some baby food with me if the flight and all the travel time continued over one of his meal time feeds. I rationed all the snacks throughout the trip and made sure he was hydrated.
Baby harness/carrier is essential
There’s too many reasons to list why a baby carrier is helpful when you’re travelling but the top 2 are being able to keep your 2 hands free. On the plane, you will be asked to remove baby from the harness during take off and landing and use the baby belts instead. Until my little one was older, I kept him in the harness and buckled the belt around the harness. I also had him facing me inside the harness so that he wasn’t too over-stimulated at the airport and during the on boarding of all the other passengers.
Bring comfort toy/Soother
Nothing more to say..
Ask for a seat with a bassinet
When you’re travelling long distance with a baby, a seat with a bassinet is golden. And even if your ticket is attached to an infant ticket the airlines won’t always put you in those seats. I don’t always get the seats but I always call the airline and ask for them (you may have to pay a fee) because it’s nice just to have your personal space to yourself and have a few quiet moments on a long haul flight; to read, to stretch your arms and legs or to eat!
List is a life saver
I’m a list maker. I love crossing things off a list. Preparing and packing for a trip helps satisfy my type A tendencies. I make 2 lists for the flight and pack the non-essentials the night before and leave the essentials out until the morning. Here is my essentials check-list:
- baby food
- water cup,
- baby utensils,
- comfort toy/soother,
- spare nappies,
- baby carrier,
- baby’s jacket.
Also on the list but too big for my carry on was the stroller, with a little note to remember to pick it up from the conveyor belt. Yes, it’s funny how easily you can forget this one..
Pack essentials together into a smaller bag
On the first couple of flights I made the mistake of just throwing all the essentials into my carry on. It meant that sometimes I would be half crooked rummaging to the bottom of my bag with my little one on my lap and my head almost in my fellow passenger’s lap. Not the most lady like way of introducing myself. Now, I put all the essentials into a smaller bag so that they’re all together in my carry on. I also remember to leave it as the last thing to pack so that it’s within easy reach when on the plane.
All in all, I’ve learnt a lot from the occasions I had to travel on my own with baby. While I did wish I had someone else to help me; I did always have the kindness of strangers. It warms the heart that a little human being can bring about common ground for 2 people.
So for your first flight; or your next one with your little one I wish that it will be what you hope for, and a positive experience. It may not go the way you planned, and know that it will be tiring but it will certainly be an adventure and one for the memory banks for the both of you.