To travel with babies can be a challenge, whether it is in the car, public transport or on an airplane. Most of us who have travelled anywhere, even if it is only a trip to the park, know how much there is to pack, how many things there is to remember and how difficult it can be to time the departure and arrival to fit into the baby’s ”schedule”. It can be a nightmare, but it doesn’t have to be one. By planning your trips and taking some precautions, the journey may even be pleasant.
Planning and packing
First of all, never plan for everything to go according to plan! If you get upset that your baby hasn’t slept when you want him to or eaten when he usually does, you are already creating a stressed atmosphere which can only end in tears. Either yours, or the baby’s, or both! Accept that you are going on holiday, and when doing so your normal routine changes, that is ok as long as you make allowance for it. Make sure you have got a passport for your baby. Try to book your plane tickets so you travel at a time of the day that will work best with his sleep pattern. If he has to be woken in the middle of the night to get on a plane, chances are he’ll be moodier than in the morning when babies naturally feels more rested and happier. If your baby has many naps before your travel takes place, try to make them a little shorter than normal so he will feel more tired on the plane, but not so short that he is cranky before you’ve started your journey. Make sure you feed him before you leave for the airport as there might be a long time till you can feed him again. A full baby is a happy baby. Don’t pack at the last minute. You may have gotten away with that when you were single and going away with the girls, but packing for a baby takes more time and effort, and leaving something crucial behind can make your trip hell. Make sure you have everything you need, but nothing more. You do not want to carry heavy bags filled with unnecessary things. Make sure you have plenty of time when going to the airport; it is amazing how quick time goes when you’re travelling with a baby.
A short list of some essential travel items:
- Food (if your baby takes a bottle this is the best thing, or of course your breast if you are breastfeeding).
- One or two small toys that can keep your baby entertained.
- Extra clothes (remember to bring socks, the plane may be cold).
- Teddies and comforters that your baby may use to sleep.
- Nappies and wet wipes.
At the airport
When you travel with your baby, try to go straight to the check in. Check if you can bring the pushchair all the way to the gate. This is usually not a problem, and sometimes you can even bring it all the way to the stairs of the airplane. Change the nappy before getting on the plane. Some prefer to board the plane first when travelling with babies; personally I prefer to get on last. If you wait till most of the people have boarded, you will have less waiting time when you get on the plane. Remember that it can be challenging to sit still for a little baby, and for take off and landing he has to be strapped to your lap. However, if it is an airline with no assigned seats it may be an advantage to get on first as you may be able to get a whole row to yourself if the plane is not full. Don’t be afraid to ask for things that will make you more comfortable; most of the time the airline and cabin crew are more than happy to oblige. Remember; they want your baby to be happy too, because that will in turn make the crew and the other passengers happy.
On the plane
When you are on the plane and ready to go, make sure you are as comfortable as possible, as your baby will be sitting on you for a while. Ask the cabin crew for water if you need it for your bottle, but the easiest is to bring the portion packed milk. When taking off give your baby milk, either breast feed or bottle feed. The constant swallowing will help prevent your baby’s ears popping. It will also keep him occupied for the time he has to be strapped in. If you have an extra seat you can put him down for a little nap. On long journeys it is possible to get a ‘bed’, but this must be ordered in advance and can only be provided for babies who are shorter and lighter than certain standards. (These measurements vary from airline to airline.) I have also, when in desperate need, put a blanket under the seat in front of me and put him to sleep here. For smaller, less active babies, this can work.
Most important of all; relax! If you are relaxed your baby will relax, if you stress, your baby will stress. Bon voyage!
About the Author: Veronica Grude Docker writes for UK based Pink Heaven, specialists in party ware, pink bedroom accessories and girls’ birthday presents.