For those of you planning on jetting off over the summer holidays, but who might be a bit nervous about flying with a baby or toddler, don’t stress! I have a guest post here from the lovely Nicole from Tales From Mamaville. She shares her tips for flying long-haul with a baby and toddler. In my mind, you can never have too much advice.
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Nicole’s take on Flying long-haul with a baby or toddler
Parenting is not straightforward – all of us who’ve been there and done that know that too well. What works on Monday will most likely not go down too well on Tuesday. We are constantly learning the challenges of handling it all, even as our babies/ toddlers are learning to walk and talk and navigate life.
But, when it comes to long-haul flights, I can claim to be a ‘bit of an expert’ (excuse the Daddy Pig reference, I couldn’t help it!). Because ever since my son was four months, I’ve been flying long-distance with him – and one way is almost always solo.
I remember my first time flying with a baby, I was petrified. I had no idea what to expect. Would he cry throughout? Would his ears pop and hurt him? What if I needed the loo, could I leave him in the bassinet and make a dash for it? Question after question.
I aced that first flight (I’m lucky my little frequent flyer has always been quite good on flights). But every age and stage brought with it new challenges (like when he had just learned to walk and refused to sit still – I remember walking up and down the aisles behind him for almost the entire flight!!!).
So, for the #realmomswhotravel series, I’ve put together some helpful tips for mums who are doing their first long-haul flight with a baby or toddler. Breathe. You can do this…
The ‘Flying with a baby’ Stage
Believe it or not flying with a baby is the easiest stage when travelling with a tot, however, terrifying it might seem on the outset. I know, there are a zillion questions racing through your head – so here are some tips that can help:
- If possible, book a night flight, so your baby’s body rhythm and sleep pattern doesn’t get disturbed. With it being the night, there is a higher chance your baby will sleep for most of the flight. Or, if you have the budget for it, consider chartering your own private flight through a company like Jettly – that way it doesn’t matter what your baby does, since you’ll be the only ones on there!
- Choose a bassinet seat. These seats have more legroom and with a baby, you will need all the space you can get. Request for a bassinet so you can get a break from holding baby during the flight – or if you need to use the loo. If nothing, you can use it as a dumping ground for milk bottles, pacifiers, nappies and toys.
- Ditch the fancy handbag – this is crucial if you’re flying solo. Seriously, ditch the fancy handbag or huge nappy bag. Opt for a comfortable backpack instead, preferably one with lots of handy compartments. Put your essentials like your passport and cash in a crossbody bag. This way you are hands-free to manage baby and everything else.
- Use a baby sling or wrap instead of a stroller – so much more convenient to navigate the airport. Plus you’re hands-free to manage passport checks or even have a coffee (which you will need!).
- Their ears will pop during take-off and landing and will cause them a lot of discomfort. Sucking on a pacifier or a bottle nipple will help ease the pain. Most parents don’t realize this, I mean, have you ever noticed how most babies cry during take-off and landing? That’s why.
- Keep a few things like picture books, rattles and small plastic mirrors (babies can spend a considerable amount of time looking at themselves – they are fascinated with their own reflection) at hand to distract them when they get irritable or cranky.
The ‘Flying with a Toddler’ Stage
This is the trickiest stage because, well, toddlers! They don’t like to sit still and need to be constantly entertained. That can be tough to do when you’re on a 13-hour flight!
The trick to surviving here is to carry lots – and I mean LOTS – of entertainment and snacks.
- Carry a few of their favourite toys (not too bulky and definitely not noisy); but something that will keep them engrossed for some time. A favourite car, perhaps, or character or soft toy.
- Sticker pads and colouring books always work a treat. Again, it keeps them entertained for a significant amount of time.
- My saving grace – electronics. Download as much as you can of their favourite shows/ nursery rhymes/ games and use that as a last (or first) resort! Alternate with the in-flight kids’ entertainment for variety. Remember, on a long-haul flight with a toddler, there is no screen-time limit (if you want to keep your sanity intact at least).
- If your toddler has a particular comforter or blanket or soft toy that he needs to sleep, remember to keep it with you. It will help them settle to sleep quicker.
- Snacks – super important again. A hungry child is not a pleasant child. Besides, snacks have a lovely way of keeping toddlers occupied.
- A toddler’s ears will still pop. You can make them suck a lollipop or sip on water during take-off and landing.
- Once you’ve crossed the bassinet stage, don’t choose the first row of seats in any part of the aircraft as the armrests are fixed and don’t come up so it is impossible for your toddler to lie down on your lap.
- Every once in a while, take a stroll down the aisles with your toddler – he will be curious about the aeroplane and it will serve as a much-needed distraction. Besides, he will get to move a bit – it’s not fair to expect a toddler to be seated for 10 hours straight!
The ‘Flying with a Young Child‘ Stage
You’ve survived the worst; from now on its smooth sailing – as long as you still remember the electronics, some activity books/ books to read/ games and good old snacks.
Young kids can often sit through an in-flight movie too, so that’s a bonus, but if the in-flight movie isn’t one that they are a fan of you can keep them entertained by putting some movies on your iPad or mobile phone.
If your children have a favourite that is on DVD and you can’t get it onto your iPad or Phone you can use an online converting service to make your DVDs digital. It may seem like a lot of effort but trust me, your flight will be so much easier.
Handy tips for flying with kids.
Make sure you carry some sachets of paracetamol in case your little one develops a fever or pain on board. Teething can happen anytime, anywhere!
Keep a packet of wet wipes handy – you never know when you will need them! And you will need them…
Always carry an extra pair of clothes – for baby/ toddler and for yourself. Pack it in your hand luggage in case of toilet accidents or spit-ups, or if baby throws up on you!
Most airports have a baby/ toddler play area, so ask/ find out and head there as soon as you are done with check-in and security. The journey is long, and the three hours at the airport only make it longer. Let your child expel some energy and run and jump about before the long flight – who knows, it might tire them out too! And you don’t have to worry about keeping them entertained at the airport either.
Thanks, Nicole. That is great advice for flying long-haul with a baby or toddler!!
Be sure to pin this post for when you’re planning your next long-haul flight with a baby or toddler.
Please check out Nicole’s blog – Tales from Mamaville. She has some really helpful advice on a range of parenting subjects. Plus, she’s really funny too.
I am sure you’ve found those tips extremely useful and practical as you prepare for your next trip flying long-haul with a baby or toddler. I’ve shared advice on a range of topics all from other real moms who travel too. Check out the following posts for more inspiration, tips and advice on travelling with kids: