Flying with a baby
Flying with a baby
As a couple Phil and I love a holiday and have always tried to get away as much as possible. Each year we stretched our 22- 25 days of annual leave as thinly as we could. Whether it be getting off a red eye flight from New York at Heathrow and whizzing around the M25 straight to the office or catching a 5am flight back form Mallorca and sprinting off the Gatwick express to my office in London….anything to save a day precious day of annual leave.
Whenever we talked about starting a family we hoped that we would still be able to travel and see the world with our children, especially in those first few years where you don’t need to pay for a seat for them on the plane. I’m not going to lie travelling with a baby is not a relaxing experience and whenever you tell people that you are going away you are guaranteed to be greeted with useful comments like: ‘Good luck with that, your holiday won’t be the same!’. No sh*t Sherlock, my whole life is not the same anymore! It’s not like Phil and I have this chilled life where we do our own thing and then all of a sudden the chaos of a baby is thrown into the mix. So since having Bella we’ve been lucky enough to go on a few trips and on the whole Bella has surprised us both and been a lot better than expected. So here are my tips for perhaps the most stressful part of going away….flying with a baby.
1. Time of day
I guess this point is more relevant for long haul flights where you have a choice of a day or night flight. In my experience both options have pros and cons. A night flight is great for young babies if they sleep for most of it, but that is a big IF. The problem is if they don’t sleep you are more worried about disturbing others. Plus you don’t get any sleep yourself resulting in you looking and feeling like you’ve been dug up when you land. At least with a day flight the bambino might sleep for parts and when the cabin lights are on and it's light you can walk around with lots of others up and about for stimulation. At Christmas we flew to Dubai over night and Bella did sleep on me and in her cot for bits, but I missed that whole night’s sleep. On the way back it was a mid morning flight and she was awake for most of the journey but I certainly landed feeling a lot better.
2. Your baby’s handluggage
Whenever I have travelled with a Bella she was allowed her own hand luggage. Definitely take spare outfits for those poo explosions, especially in the early days. Lots of nappies and wipes are integral. You are allowed to take baby milk and food through security too. When travelling to Dubai Bella was still predominately breast fed but I was so glad I took a bottle of formula, I was shoving the boob in her mouth any time she grizzled and after 8 hours on the plane my nipples were so sore a bottle of formula was a godsend. Below I have put together a guide of what I have previously packed in Bella's handluggage:
Most long haul flights will probably be on larger planes which provide cots. Make sure you log on as early as possible to reserve these seats. Again when flying to and from Dubai we were lucky enough to have these seats but there were a lot of people on the plane who weren’t so lucky and had to hold their babies the entire flight.
For short haul I would just recommend an isle seat so you can get up and walk about as much as possible with your little wriggler.
Every airline I have come across lets you take a buggy / stroller for free. You are allowed to either take it through security to the gate with you OR you can check it in with your other bags. I have always gone for the latter of those two options and checked it in. Mainly because as Bella is not one yet I have wanted my big upper baby with me. I have therefore bought a travel bag on Amazon and packed it to avoid damage. What I have also done is stuffed that travel bag to the rafters with nappies, food, milk, collapsed baby bjorn bouncer - the works. In my experience they have never checked the weight and it has meant I have been able to take lots of additional things without eating into our precious luggage allowance. We have therefore carried Bella in our baby bjorn carrier (albeit she is quite dinky) which also means we both have two free hands in the airport and when getting on / off the plane. This is just what works best for us and others would think I’m mad carting my big buggy about rather than a smaller collapsable stroller. The bonus of taking the big buggy is if you have your car seat with you and travel anywhere by cab you don’t have to then carry the empty car seat around and you can clip it onto your travel system.
5. Car seat
Some airlines allow you to take a carseat for free, even if you have a coach transfer at the other end it’s good to have your car seat so you don’t have to hold your baby on the coach, and in my option is safer too. I would recommend buying a travel bag for that too as it’s less like to get damaged.
6. Screen time
Controversial I know and like most new mums I try to keep screen time to a minimum BUT I did download a couple ‘In the Night Garden’ episodes onto my iPlayer app. This was incase of a total meltdown during take off / landing OR anytime the seatbelt sign might be on and I wasn't able to walk about the plane with Bella. I didn’t actually have to use it on the plane but it was a life saver when stuck in a traffic jam for over an hour sat in the back of a cab.
7. Ear popping
Like us, babies' little ears pop during take off and landing so I always try and engineer Bella’s routine that day into a feed for take off and landing as swallowing the milk helps pop their ears.
8. Account for delays
Let's face facts, we are all delayed more than we would like when flying and this can be all the more problematic with a baby in tow. Pack more nappies, clothes, milk and food than you think you'll need. Even if you are delayed in the airport you can't rely on every airport having a handy little Boots in departures. Also remember you can be delayed on the plane too, when travelling to Dubai the flight was meant to be just under 7 hrs but we ended up sitting on the tarmac at Heathrow for over and hour. Then we circled Dubai for over two hours (would you believe it due to fog) before landing. This meant we ended up being on the plane for nearly 11 hours in total.
The last thing I would say is ORGANISATION IS KEY. Write lists and pack your hand luggage taking your time. I wish I was as organised in the rest of my life as I am with Bella. You want to know where the nappies / favourite toy / dummy is at a moments request not pulling everything out of all of your bags in those cramped airline seats!
Happy Travels X