Travelling with a baby requires a lot of planning and patience. In this post, I would share some tips from my recent experience on a short haul flight for the Christmas holidays, so you can avoid my mistakes.
Baby T was 8 months at the time.
- Travel Light: I read this in so many blogs and yet I didn’t seem to get the memo. I was within my BA luggage entitlement and was thrilled about what I was allowed to take a car seat, stroller/pram, a 23 kg luggage for me and also for the baby and a hand luggage each.
The BA staff were amazing, friendly and helpful with check in and on boarding the flight.
- Large holdall bag with Graco contour electric travel cot and the Fisher price space saver high chair, blankets, snowsuits and some free pieces
- Luggage with clothes, nappies, wipes, toiletries, cereal, etc.
- Car seat -Joie Every stages in a bag (JL Childress Ultimate Car Seat Travel Bag for Newborn and Above (Black)) – I had so much space so added toys, towel, spare blanket
- Icandy pram and seat chassis in travel bag used remaining space for some more toys
- Hand luggage with my baby changing bag which I had with me while on the flight plus baby carrier strapped on.
If you feel this isn’t too much and I most be exaggerating, what if I told you it was a 10-days trip away and I was travelling alone with Baby T. Ah hopeful you get the big picture OVERLOAD
I was offered the option of having the pram at the gate on arrival but because I didn’t know how to assemble my two piece stroller with my 8 months old strapped on, I opted out (plus already had extras in the bag :-)) I ended up using my Lillebaby carrier which was a lifesaver.
If you can travel with a second pair of hands it will be a lot easier. I meet a fab couple travelling with their 3 weeks old for Christmas and had their carrycot and pram which they had taken to the gate.
On arrival at the baggage claims, I had 4 heavy pieces of luggage a hand luggage and a baby strapped on I tried to get help as couldn’t fit all the luggage on one trolley. While waiting for over 30mins for someone to track down the porters at the airport with an overtired baby, passengers from another flight waiting for their luggage claim offered to help. I was so relieved as despite the wait the staff were still unable to contact the porters.
While away the pram was only used once for a shopping trip so the carrier was basically all I needed.
We were still breastfeeding so didn’t need formula etc. Take only essentials and if possible get the rest when you get to your destination.
2. Get a Toy (if you can):. I spent days wondering what new toy to get or take sadly my order didn’t arrive on time so I loaded some apps on my tablet and took some of his toys.
Like some comments seen on other articles, Baby T was interested in grabbing the in-flight magazine and ended up playing with a pack of crisps from the trolley. Although he was due a nap, he didn’t fall asleep like I thought he would. I spent most part of the flight trying to keep him engaged to stop him whining. I was so pleased to have a 7-year-old and her mum sitting next to us who spent time playing with him.This meant for the rest of the trip with his new friend, we had laughter and giggles.
Her mum was also very helpful and supportive. It can be uncomfortable when baby crying and all eyes are on you. She held Baby T, while I adjusted seatbelt and showed me how to strap him properly and she also helped hold him so I could retrieve my hand luggage from the cabin.
3. Get baby a seat (optional for short-haul but would strongly recommend on long haul flight for older babies)
There wasn’t much room with a baby in the economy seat and when his toy fell, it was very difficult to retrieve. For babies younger than 6 months or non-mobile this isn’t applicable and on long hauls can request to have bassinet take the car seat on board etc. For an active baby, having extra room to place baby to grab stuff from the bag, for instance, can be a life saver.
I also read in some articles that it’s actually safer for babies to fly in their own car seat. This wasn’t possible with BA on short-haul flights
” From BA website: Our carrycots and child seats are for infants from birth up to 2 years old. You can reserve a carrycot/child seat position in advance on long haul flights only, as our short-haul aircraft do not have carrycot/child seats.”
4. Feed Baby
This sounds like common sense but babies can often have a mind of their own and decide they are not ready to feed when you offer and would choose the most awkward moments to demand it. I gave baby T solids and breast milk before we went to the airport. However, by the time we had checked in, gone through airport security, the wait in the lobby for gate details, boarding, well before take off, Baby T wanted some milk. Which did not surprise me I had tried giving him some snack while waiting for gate details which he refused twice. And now here he was making his intentions loudly known. Despite my attempt to distract and delay feeding until take off to help his ears with the air pressures., I gave in and feed him. During take off he was fine and on landing was keen to latch on and suck despite my fears that he will be too full or not interested.
In the end despite a good feed when offered during take off and landing he still latched on and feed which was a relief. I also had a bottle of water handy just in case.
Lesson learnt: If the baby is hungry feed and don’t wait until take off. Happy baby equals happy mum and a pleasant experience. There are several accounts of babies that sleep through both take off and landing and ears not affected, especially if they have no problem with their ears.
5. Book flight outside “fussy hours”
When my baby was younger he was very fussy around 4-6pm and more so if he was overtired and we skipped a nap. I was keen to avoid this timeframe but ended up booking a 5 pm flight due to the cost savings. I also felt it got darker earlier this time of the year so falling asleep should be easier. I was wrong it was tough when he started fussing he also didn’t have his afternoon nap. I was so grateful for the 7 years old companion seating next to us who kept him entertained throughout the flight.
6. Pack early
I spent weeks thinking about what to take and planning for the trip but didn’t really start packing until the day before our trip. Which meant I was up late and then up early the next day. Phew with a baby still waking up for night feeds talk about sleep deprivation by the time we got to our destination I was very ready for bed…
I always commit my journey to God in prayer because I don’t believe anything happens by chance.
And finally, no matter what happens even if things don’t work out as planned or you had a crying baby throughout the flight. Take in a deep breath, exhale, relax and enjoy the rest of the journey because you are just awesome.
If you have any tips or story to share, I would love to hear it.