Today it’s wet and miserable. Today all of our closest friends fly off on holiday. So, today, for me, is a little… sucky. It’s just coincidence that has them all leaving on the same day. They’re from different friendship groups flying from different airports to very different places. But aside from all flying on the same day they have one other big thing in common; they’re both flying with babies.
The scourge of parents and non-parents alike; babies and planes don’t historically mix. We’ve all been there when a parent has walked down the aisle holding a baby and we’ve all silently prayed to the plane gods that they’re sat as far away as possible… haven’t we?! No? Just me?! You fibbers.
I can guarantee you that it’s JUST as stressful, if not more so, for the parents in charge. The unknown quantity – will they sleep? will they scream? will they just straight out be an a**hole?! (Because you know, just because they’re a baby doesn’t mean they don’t have impeccable timing to start throwing a wobbly… almost. like. they. know).
I can tell you all these things because we flew recently with a 16 week old and the pre-stress was enough to put me off my holiday. I couldn’t relax, couldn’t sleep, could barely breathe as we stepped on to the plane but I was wrong. Flying with a baby doesn’t HAVE to be stressful, in fact, it was positively enjoyable (don’t tell my husband I said that). Here are my top tips for surviving flying with a baby;
1 – Check out your airline first
Airlines offer a lot to those travelling with babies – whether thats cots and bassinets on board (if you’re lucky), additional baggage or priority boarding. Make sure you know what you are entitled to in advance and book it early! In terms of additional baggage, most airlines will allow you to take a buggy right up to the door and an additional bulky item (car seat, travel cot etc) for free in the hold. Make the most of it!
2 – Wear your baby
Whilst taking a buggy is great for loading it up with bags
and duty free getting a buggy through airport security can be somewhat stressful. If you’re comfortable with baby-wearing then find a sling that is metal free and strap baby in. Not only is it one less thing to worry about keeping an eye on, you’re also often allowed to baby-wear through security, meaning that you don’t have to wake a sleeping baby.
3 – Feed on take off and landing
We’ve all heard this advice but it’s so worthwhile I’ll say it again! Babies aren’t able to recognise that they need to swallow to pop their ears and reduce the pressure (unless they’re MENSA babies in which case… wow) so giving them something to swallow or suck on during take off and landing will do that for them. If you can, give them some milk but if not a dummy should do the same trick. We recommend waiting until you’re on the runway on the way up (to save sitting on the plane for ages and using all your milk up!) and then on the way back down using your own judgement. If your ears are popping then chances are theirs are too.
4 – Take plenty of light layers
Planes always run on a micro-climate of their own so light layers allows you to adjust your babies temperature and coverage easily dependent on the chill factor. This works particularly well when you’re travelling from a hot country to a cool one or vice versa as you can ‘prep for landing’!
5 – Antibacterial wipes
No-one wants to think about it but flying is a hotbed of germs and bacteria. Just think how quickly they turn planes around and how many people are on them in one day. Take some sterilising wipes with you and give your tray table and arm rest a quick wipe down when you sit down. The chances are your baby is going to be crawling all over them so the cleaner they are, the better.
6 – A thin blanket
If you read this often, you’ll know I’m obsessed with Aden + Anais muslin swaddle blankets. Here is another time when they’re perfect for the situation. You want a blanket that folds up small but has good coverage so that when your bundle of
trouble joy finally drops off you can drape this over them. If you’re using a bassinet or cot on board then this can be draped over the top to help cut out pesky overhead lights.
7 – Leave a seat gap
Do you pick the window seat and not get disturbed or the aisle and have a quick escape route? If there’s more than one of you, book the aisle and the window and leave the central seat empty. People are way less likely to book a middle seat on it’s own unless they HAVE to so if the flight isn’t full there’s a good chance you’ll get the spare seat. If it DOES get booked, I’ve not met a person yet who wouldn’t swap for the aisle or window if they were given the chance… definitely worth a try!
8 – Download shows on your iPhone
Peppa Pig saved our bacon (ha!) recently when we downloaded a few episodes literally as we were boarding – thank you free wifi! Now is the time to put aside any ideals about screen time and embrace the noisy, colourful world of kids cartoons because, you know, distraction is better than screams!
And that’s it! Have you flown recently with a baby? Let me know if there are any tips you think should be on the list!