Happy new year guys!
This is my first blog post of 2018 and as i spent most of Christmas and NY traveling i thought it apt to start my blog here on this particular topic. I recently returned from a 10 day trip visiting my family back in England. This was the first international flight for little Sebastian and prior to boarding the 10+ hour flight i was understandably nervous. Thankfully we survived with very little stress and so i wanted to share with you all some tips and tricks we found useful on our first family adventure.
Make a List and Check it Twice!
There is really no way to avoid the sheer amount of stuff you need to take when traveling with a baby. We tried to minimize it to the bare essentials but you also need to be prepared with spare changes of clothes, blankets and cloths for all eventualities. I made a thorough list which i went through and ticked off items as i packed. I got my husband to check it so i wasn't the sole person responsible if we forgot something.
Choose a Travel Outfit Wisely
Don't worry about cute you want to dress your baby in something practical. Choose an outfit that has as few separate items as possible, has easy access to the diaper region (essential when dealing with poky plane bathrooms and turbulence) and something that will keep your little one warm on the flight. We opted for a Onesie with a full body zip rather than poppers and then added a wool hat and cardigan for extra warmth.
Make the Most Out of Your Carry Ons
This may differ with different airlines but when we flew with United we had the option to carry the baby onto the plane in either a car seat or carrier and in addition have a separate breastfeeding bag, 1x personal item bag each and a separate diaper bag. If you need all of those bags or you are choosing to fly with solely carry on items then you can really utilize all of that extra bag space. Because we were checking in larger cases i chose to consolidate our items on the flight and managed to squeeze my breast pump into my diaper bag and then had my handbag and carried the baby in my arms when we boarded.
Have a Plan for Tackling Security
My husband and i discussed how we wanted to tackle the queues, security and the boarding process prior to arriving. It may sound a little over the top but for at least the first time traveling with your baby it can a make a huge difference in minimizing a mini melt down in quite a stressful situation. We chose to check our stroller in at the gate so we kept the baby (who was asleep when we checked in) in the stroller while we took our shoes and coats off and placed our bags and electrical items onto the conveyor belt. It was then my responsibility to take our baby through the metal detector while my husband collapsed down the stroller and car seat. By checking the stroller in at the gate it also meant that we could place all of our additional bags in the stroller basket to save our shoulders as we strolled around the airport.
Give Yourself Time
No one likes hanging around an airport but rushing around an airport with a newborn is no fun either. Give yourself plenty of time to find your gate, pick up snacks and to give your little one a feed and diaper change prior to boarding. For us this made the boarding procedure much easier and the baby was in a content sleepy state when we boarded the plane.
We were advised to ignore pre-boarding and board late with the baby. On the way out we took this approach, mainly due to us having to feed and change the baby right when they called pre-boarding. However, on the way back we took the pre-boarding option and i actually preferred this. We were able to stow all of our bags (remember you are carrying more then you normally would) above our seats, we were able to get settled without standing around in the aisles and once we got settled we could change the baby and feed him before we took off.
Take Off & Landing
Feed your baby or give them a pacifier to suck when the plane is taking off and when the plane descends for landing to avoid their little ears getting uncomfortable with the change in air pressure.
I breast fed during the flight and had pumped an additional, just in case, bottle of milk for the journey which we ended up not using. Know that you can take breast milk or formula onto the plane and it does not need to comply with the 100ml bottle restrictions. Some airports will scan the breast milk however San Francisco International did not for us although London Heathrow did. I also took my electric breast pump with necessary attachments onto the plane inside of my diaper bag. I actually took my Boppy pillow onto the flight and used it when breastfeeding the little one. It also made a great pillow for me when i tried to sleep. I snaked it around my waist and up to my opposite shoulder and it made quite a comfortable makeshift bed!
Book in Advance for the Best Seats
All airlines provide a select few seats which can hold a bassinet for a baby at no additional price. If your travel plans allow then book ahead for these seats as they sell out quickly. The seats with the bassinets are at the front of the row so you get the luxury of extra leg room and privacy for your little one so they can sleep undisturbed for the same price as an economy ticket. To make the journey more comfortable for your baby pack additional blankets for the plane bassinets, ours did not have a mattress or covers. We also used a blanket to drape over part of the bassinet to block out the overhead lights. If you swaddle your baby during their normal bedtime routine then swaddle them on the plane, this gives them a sense of familiarity and comfort and will keep them warm when the air con switches on after take off. We normally play a womb/whitenoise soundtrack for our little one to send him to sleep at night. However, this was not necessary as the planes engines make for a great soundtrack!
Most importantly don’t stress! From what i have heard and learnt from my own experience traveling with a newborn is not so bad if you are well prepared and give yourself plenty of time. Our little one slept most of the way on a 10+ hour flight and really only seemed to get fussy when the air pressure changed. Flight staff are super eager to help, so let them if you are flying solo or need additional support. Prior to flying with my little one i was dreading what other passengers would think and picturing people rolling their eyes when we boarded. But actually our fellow passengers were incredibly understanding throughout the journey. I know once Sebastian is more mobile and talkative then traveling will become a little more challenging. But i am pretty sure this guys is going to be a jetsetting, traveling pro by the time he is 1 yrs old! :)
Here is to a fabulous year ahead with plenty more trips with my little guy!