Tuesday, 6 September 2016

21 Great Tips for flying with babies

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Planning a trip with your little one? Read the ultimate guide to travelling with an infant, 21 great tips and advice for flying with a baby for a smoother journey.

B.C. Before Chance the Mr.L and I would travel every 3 months, last year alone we travelled to Cyprus for my first-trimester babymoon, Maldives and Qatar for my third-trimester babymoon and before all of these trips a birthday jaunt to Istanbul.
I just love travelling and dragging my husband who fears flying to beautiful destinations.
But now, with Chance it isn’t as simple as just escaping to another country it requires serious logistical planning, especially if I want to continue to satisfy my wanderlust and not wait until my son is much older.
Already this year, we have proved we can continue to travel, Chance has visited Denmark, Sweden, New York and Italy all before he was 8 months old and we still have our major trip to Zanzibar in 72 days but who's counting!

With that said I have learnt a lot since our first major trip with Chance at 11 weeks old and have come up with the below 21 tips for flying with a baby, so that both parents and child are happy when travelling.

  1. Create an Itinerary
Before each trip, I write an itinerary which includes times we should head out especially if we aren’t taking a cab to the airport, what time we should arrive at the airport, what we should do at the airport, where the transport will be when we land and so on. It has some timings but it isn’t strict, it’s just a way to plan and ensure that nothing gets missed off. The most important part of the itinerary is actually when I set several alarms for feeding.

  1. Ensure passports are easily accessible
It is my recommendation that every mother has a small go to bag with their essentials; I carry all of my essentials within my Chanel WOC which for me is a game changer. When we travel, I empty it out with everything but lip balm and passports, so everything is easily accessible and I don’t have to go through a diaper/changing bag in a time pressurised situation.

“When you’re flying with babies you can never have too many wipes”

  1. Wipes!Wipes! And more Wipes!
You may have seen on my recent Instagram and Twitter that Chance had a few toiletries within his toiletries bag.  When you’re flying with babies you can never have too many wipes. We carry these Naty Eco Travel Wipes for mopping up small spills and nappy changes as well as Antibacterial Multi-Surface wipes for everything that could possibly be touched on a plane; which includes the seat, seat backs, tables, safety cards, magazines, armrests, absolutely everything.

  1. Pack toys that your child enjoys
Parents are always looking for the perfect toys to keep their child entertained on flights, and there are so many ‘travel toys’ out there. My tip that has worked quite well with us, is to bring toys that your child enjoys off the plane onto the plane. Chance absolutely loves his Lego cars, his Sophie La Girafe and neckerchew teethers as well as his noisy Hape Mr.Tambourine.

  1. Have a Backpack changing bag
There are many things a parent needs to carry when travelling with a baby, nappies, spare change of clothes, changing mats, snacks, toys, medicine etc. as well as carry on any other luggage that needs to be taken on board. The easiest and most stylish way of doing this is with a backpack such as the Tiba+Marl Elwood leaving arms and hands completely free and ready for anything. I would also recommend placing all 100ml liquids such as medicines, diaper ointment, moisturisers in a clear bag at the top, so it’s easily reached when you’re passing through security.

  1. Hold your baby high...or just stand up
Not 100% sure why this works but it does. Chance has never really fussed or cried on a flight, but when I feel something could happen, I hand over to the trusty Mister who is able to hold him high (so he can see all over passengers) or stand up. Babies seem to love it, and I think if you can do it when the seatbelt sign is off, definitely try it.

  1. Check in advance and early
I have always said that my holiday starts as soon as I get to the airport. With that said, it can start as soon as I have checked in, and that needn’t be at the airport. As British Airways frequent fliers, we’ve downloaded the app and get a notification to check in up to 24 hours before our flight is set to depart. Benefits of this, not worrying about printing boarding passes, or long queues at the kiosk, which means only having to drop luggage we would like to be checked such as suitcases and car seats; as well as giving us more time to get to the airport dependent on whether it’s long haul or short haul. With children, anything can happen. That said, checking in early is something I would highly recommend especially as screening hand luggage can take a bit of time, even if you are in the fast track queue.

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  1. Pre-order for your baby before you travel
I mentioned earlier that a backpack is incredibly useful for carrying all your baby’s needs, and placing food, milk etc in a transparent bag ready for inspection. They don’t have to be 100ml if they are baby foods, and they needn’t even be in a transparent bag but it’s easier (trust me) if they are. If you want to avoid the hassle at security, you can reserve and collect baby’s milk and foods from Boots after security when travelling from Heathrow. Great as some of those Ella’s Kitchen pouches are more than 100ml. Take a look here.

  1. Book flights around nap/sleep times
B.C. Before Chance starting my holiday in the shortest time was my first objective. Booking the earliest flight and leaving on the last flight out, so I could maximise my time away. That no longer takes priority. The smoothest and easiest way of travelling with a baby, I have found has been booking flights that fit in with Chance’s nap and sleep times. When flying back from New York I booked the last flight out in the evening, so by the time we were in the lounge, he was starting to feel sleepy and once we got onto the flight he resumed his usual night time sleep of about 8 hours. When he woke up, it was daylight and basically back home in London. When flying short haul recently to Italy, I booked the flight in the middle of the day, when he usually would take his afternoon nap which lasts about 90 minutes, so by the time we arrived in Italy he was ready for a little active playtime before taking his nap again. Travelling at off-peak times, especially if you aren’t travelling business class means that you could have more seats available to you, to ‘stretch out’ and the other benefit...if baby does end up not being happy on the flight, like some babies do, there may not be as many people around to give you ‘the eye’!

  1. Locate the family and baby changing facilities
Travelling with babies and infants on a plane is not only made easier by getting through security with minimum fuss, booking the best seats and flight times, but also enjoying your time at the airport before you board your plane. Something that I never thought of prior to having my baby was the family facilities. Having fun and entertaining your little ones pre-flight is important, especially if you want them relaxed on a flight. As is ensuring that you are close to the baby changing facilities. If I am honest I have looked for them at Heathrow as we travel so frequently from there, but haven’t managed to take advantage of them as of yet; mostly because I have too much fun winding down in the ‘adult’ lounge where I comfortable breastfeed and can change Chance whilst he is so young.

  1. Pack snacks for the plane that are ‘non-messy’
Whilst this may be obvious it actually isn’t. One flight I packed Chance’s finger foods, the Ella’s Kitchen Grab Me Melty Puffs not a great idea! So, so messy! Again another reason why you need plenty of wipes to hand. So, the next flight I chose the Ella’s Kitchen Smoothie Fruits, Yummy Yoghurts and vegetables especially the Parsnips Parsnips Parsnips as they are incredibly convenient and can be delivered directly to the mouth without the need for feeding utensils.

“Gone are the days when I could read my magazine”

  1. Pack Touch and Feel board books especially if you want to preserve your magazines
Gone are the days when I could read my magazine. Point 4 was to pack lots of toys, but what happens when your child tires of playing with toys and wants books, magazines, the flight safety cards. First things first, wipe down everything that is made of paper/card, those in-flight magazines and safety cards specifically. Second, hide your magazines if you want them not to be ripped to shreds, many of my own magazines have gone to the heaven that is my son’s mouth. Thirdly pack some of those books that can distract them. Chance loves his Peekaboo Sophie and The Very Hungry Caterpillar Touch and Feel playbook, as they’re fun to read together and easy to clean post reading.

  1. Pick clothes that are easy to move around in
And layers that are easy to remove. Flights are awfully dehydrating and the temperatures vary so much. I would recommend layers that can be removed as well as clothes that aren’t stiff, so if your child is awake during the flight they can easily move around and be comfortable. Have a couple of outfits spare in your bag should any accidents occur.

  1. Baby travel mattress
Mentioned in an earlier post here, the SkyBaby Travel Mattress is perfect for infants travelling in your lap. Unless you’re travelling long haul, there isn’t a bassinet to hand, and having your little one comfortable during the flight without worrying about the hard arm-rests, or odd positions that babies get themselves into when sleeping, this takes the worry out of baby sleeping in your lap. If you don’t have one when you arrive at the airport you can always make a makeshift one using a travel pillow and muslins and blankets.

  1. Pack children’s first aid kit and medicine
One of the first things I added to my changing bag was a baby medicine pouch which includes everything from a digital thermometer (the ones that go under the armpit), baby Nurofen, Green People rescue balm, alcohol wipes for cleaning, Sudocrem Antiseptic Healing cream, bandages, gauze strips, oral syringe, nail clippers and file, decongestant, insect repellant and baby rehydration sachets. The main thing is to always check with your travel clinic at your GP to make sure that you have gotten the relevant vaccinations and medication for where you are travelling to.

  1. Book seating in advance
Linked to points 7 and 9, booking and checking in advance usually means that you can book the best seating for your family. Infants under 2 can travel in your lap which means you don’t need an additional seat for a rear facing car seat. Ensuring that your partner or yourself has the aisle seat makes it easier to hold your baby high, or stand up (point 6), and a window seat means that you can show your little one what is going on outside which Chance loves. I like to book business class seats (where possible and available) so that we have the option of the Mister sitting on the outside and me sitting beside the window; usually the first row is perfect (or the bulkhead if in economy class) due to the extra legroom. You can check seat plans using SeatGuru to find the best places to sit in advance. Also take advantage of family pre-boarding so that you can get settled in your seats.

“All you need is a backpack and a baby carrier to make your life extra easy when travelling”

  1. Ditch the buggy for the baby carrier
All you need is a backpack and a baby carrier to make your life extra easy when travelling. Seriously when your child is young this is the best way to navigate your way around an airport, board and disembark a plane, and save time waiting for the buggy you gate checked.

  1. Car Seat or lightweight buggy
There are so many lightweight buggies these days that can be taken onto flights. There is the space efficient GB Pockit or the Mothercare XSS Stroller which can be stored in overhead lockers and the BabyZen YoYo which can do the same but can be used straight from birth. Taking these buggies onto the flight saves you valuable time waiting for it at baggage collection or at the gate.
If you plan on taking a car at your destination, gate checking your car seat or at the check-in kiosk is the easier way of travelling with a car seat. Alternatively, you can bring it onto the flight so far as it is safety approved, rear-facing and fit to use on the flight.

  1. Don’t make any radical changes before a flight
Try not to book immunisations, begin weaning or anything else close to when you should be flying. Sometimes flying for babies is uncomfortable enough without having more change thrown into the mix. What I have learnt with Chance is that babies love routine, and if you plan flights close to their usual routine then they shouldn’t react too much to the disruption that is travel.

  1. Either de-plane first or last
This really depends on where you seat, whether you have taken advantage of the pre-boarding so that you can pack everything into overhead compartments and take out what you need, and how your child is handling the journey so far. I like to get on the plane first, usually because we are sitting in business class, near to the front of the plane. Boarding first allows us to prepare for the flight and reduce stress by showing Chance our surroundings without so many people around us. If Chance is sleeping on arrival and we haven’t packed up quickly enough to get off the plane first, we will deplane last; this can be the lesser of two evils especially when it seems that others are quite eager to get off the plane first. Benefits of getting off the plane last, are that your luggage and any gate checked buggies/car seats are waiting for you, as opposed to you waiting for them.

  1. Feed!Feed and Feed!
Planning your feeding is important whether you breastfeed or bottle feed. Should you bottle feed, get on the plane first and prepare the bottle so that when you are taking off your child has something to suck on that eases the effect of cabin pressure on the ears. I find myself breastfeeding on take off and landing even though Chance may not require it, as I feel even if the cabin pressure isn’t affecting him, the motions of the plane could and breastfeeding can add that extra comfort. If you are breastfeeding ensure that you are wearing a breastfeeding friendly outfit. My favourite is this dress from JoJo Maman Bébé.

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Have you been on holiday with your little one? What tips do you have for avoiding stress onboard?

Thank you for reading and please do follow me on Bloglovin’ to keep up with my experiences of travelling with a baby every Tuesday.

Thank you.

SAL xx

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