Tips for Flying with a Baby
I want to preface this post with a bold statement: a 17-hour flight should be illegal - just saying. Baby or no baby, I start to go crazy around the 10-hour mark. There are only so many laps of the plane you can do, and the experience quickly becomes a seated marathon for your ever-increasingly numbed behind. Ugh.
Despite my numerous impatiences, George on the other hand was a relative dream. I flew with him alone from New Zealand to London, and although I was a bit anxious about how the journey would go, it definitely was not as bad as I thought. That said, there were definitely some tricks I learnt along the way that made for a more palatable experience.
Have your baby-carrier on board
With fellow mama friends about to embark on their holidays, my one biggest piece of advice is to have your baby carrier with you. While I had a bassinet for George, every time the seatbelt sign came on (which was every two hours or so), I had to take George out of it and hold him. I figured the only way either of us were going to get any sleep was if I strapped him to me. It worked really well, both of us managing a good few hours undisturbed by the blinking seatbelt sign. If you are travelling alone, it is also a lifesaver when it comes to picking up bags off the carousel and whizzing through the airport at pace.
Also some airlines (I'm looking at you, United) don't give you a seatbelt for your baby - something which we were quite thrown by. So we were very thankful to have our carrier on board in those instances.
Plan your outfit
Although the cabin crew are super helpful if you have a baby, whenever I went to the bathroom I took George with me (I went for a two-birds-one-stone approach of changing him and then using the bathroom myself - too much information?) I wore comfortable drawstring pants which I could manage with one hand, as the tiny airplane bathrooms meant I was holding George rather than putting him down anywear. I also wore these H&M vests, which means I could breastfeed George easily without revealing my midriff to the world.
Gold-plate your journey - wisely
With all our kit (a car-seat, stroller, a travel cot and the usual suitcase haul), we decided early on to get a car to the airport rather than struggle on public transport. It was definitely some of the best money we spent. Also I’d recommend checking out whether there are any discounted lounge access passes - we managed to get into one on a 2-for-1 deal through some clever Google searching. As we’d arrived 3 hours early, it probably ended up paying for itself with the free food and drink available, and it meant we could relax with a squirming George comfortably without elbowing other passengers for the less-than-comfortable metal seats in the departures hall.
Prep your kit
The strollers can take a bit of a beating in transit. We bought these gate-check bags so we could be sure that there was some level of protection for the stroller and car seat, as we found our stroller quite banged up after our first flight. Just remember to get the bag itself tagged when you check-in the rest of your luggage.
Plan the descent
The biggest tip other mamas had given me before flying was have the bubs sucking something upon take-off and landing to help stop their ears from popping. Boobing - as a friend of mine has termed it - definitely helped George on landing. Fellow parents around me were trying to coax pacifiers into their little ones during the same time with difficulty but the addition of food seemed to be the winning trick into an easy landing.
Probably one of the best things about my experience on the way home were the people sitting next to me. As we found our seats for the 17-hour journey, the gentlemen next to me immediately offered his help during the flight and said something along the lines of ‘we were all young once’. It helped me feel much less stressed about George disturbing others, and I’ll endeavour to remember that when I’m older and baby-free.
Have you had a dream flight with your bubs or a baby you sat next to? Let me know in the comments below!
With Love, Kate