I thought I’d do a little post of my tips for travelling with a baby/toddler as this is something a lot of my friends tend to ask me about. A fair few of the other wives in AIK have kids and they have all travelled quite a bit alone with their little ones too. We have had many a chats about this topic, and I think sharing my experiences might help some of you out there who haven’t yet gone on a long trip with your little one because you don’t know what to expect when flying with a baby.
Maria’s Travelling Tips
- First and foremost plan ahead! If you are flying far,or your flight is long, try to book flights that will coincide with your baby’s nap-time. It might be a bit more difficult to get your little one to sleep on the plane, but when they do it’s well worth it, as you get some free time to sit and relax! I usually put Nicholas in the baby bjorn and go back to the toilet area, sometimes even into the washroom itself and rock him to sleep. He doesn’t fall asleep easily if there is any distraction, but in the back there is a nice humming sound from the engine, and in the washroom there is nothing to look at. It usually takes about 5-10 min for him to fall asleep this way, but again, it is worth the effort!!
- If you are flying between the continents most airlines have 2 or more cots you can book for your baby. Call the airline well ahead of time, as these usually get booked pretty fast. And ask about weight/age limits for using the cot. These cots are pure genius as they give you, and if you are travelling with someone else,both hands free to eat, drink coffee or read a book.
- If you have many hours to kill between connecting flights, and are going to a warm place where you can get away with using an umbrella-stroller, ask at the check in if you can bring and collect the stroller at the gate. That way your stroller will be waiting for you right outside the airplane, and your little one will have a place to sit/sleep in between flights.
- Bring a baby bjorn, majtaj, carrying shawl or any similar item that can give you your hands free whilst your baby is sitting/sleeping comfortably on your body. Believe me your arms can and will go quite numb when you are holding your sleeping baby for two hours straight in a tiny airplane seat with no possibility for you to move around and stretch. Also the carrier is great in between flights if you haven’t brought an umbrella stroller you can bring to the gate.
- At check in ask if the flight is full, and if not, if they can block the seat next to you. This is great if you are travelling with a child old enough to sit on his/her own for short periods of time, and also for the child to lay down and sleep off your body so you can enjoy your meal. It is quite frankly impossible to eat on a plane with a baby on your lap. The table wont fold down completely, and the baby can reach all the food on it!
- If you are flying with a small infant you can sometime bring your rear-facing car-seat on board the aircraft. This is something each airline has different policies on, and you just ask at check in if they will allow it. In order for you to do this you must have the middle and window seats reserved for you. As the car-seat has to be placed next to the window. I have done this several times when I have been flying alone, and it has been great every time. Nicholas has been sitting on his own, and I have enjoyed being able to both eat and sleep while he has been safe and snug in his seat.
- Make sure to pack extra diapers, wet wipes and an extra set of clothing for the baby in your diaper bag. Spills easily happen, and it’s not fun for you or the child to be travelling with wet and dirty clothes. I always bring an extra shirt for myself as well, something I started with when I was breast-feeding Nicholas and he would spit up quite a lot.
- For active toddlers the trip can be quite long, and sitting still becomes a challenge. I always bring plenty of toys that I know Nicholas likes on the plane, with some books as well. If he gets exceptionally bored I make sure to have some cartoons on my I-phone/pod/pad for him to watch. My friends swear to portable DVD players, game boys and all other electronics that will keep them sitting still for the duration of the flight. Buying a new small toy (and keeping it for emergency meltdown is also a popular thing to do)As for walking back and forth in the isle, my only suggestion is DO NOT make it an option, or you will be walking back and forth the whole flight. Not fun for you, the flight attendants or all the people who are trying to get some rest.
- Bring plenty of healthy snacks, and bottled water for your kids. The cups they serve drink in on the airplanes might not be the most suitable for your child, so I prefer bringing a sippy-cup or a drinking bottle. No spills means less stress for you, and most kids like having a cool bottle to drink from
- Let your kid run around as much as possible in the airport to burn energy, this way they will be less likely to go nuts sitting down on the airplane.
- Equalising your ears is not an easy concept to explain to a baby, so as the plane takes off it can be a very good idea to let your child drink from the bottle or breast-feed, the sucking helps “pop” the ears, and hopefully it will help your baby from hurting and crying the whole flight. For older kids yawning or sucking on a lollipop can help. Also make sure that the nose is completely free from snot, as the sinuses have to be clear for you to equalise properly.
- Pack your hand luggage in a back pack, so you have your hands free. This is especially important if you will be travelling on your own as it is hard carrying multiple hand bags at the same time as your baby. I always bring one back pack and one diaper bag. I put everything I will need during the flight in the diaperbag under my seat. And everything I might need (extra clothes for me, extra toys) in the backpack. I personally avoid bringing a laptop because there is nowhere to put your child whilst you are putting the laptop back in your bag after security…
- Nicholas would never fall asleep when things were going on around him, and there fore I bought him a sleeping mask when he was little that he used when he was travelling, he would fall asleep instantly if I put it on when he was tired enough
- Most important of all is STAY HAPPY!! Even if your toddler has a minor, or not so minor, melt-down, stay smiling. Don’t let your smile leave your face, and the child will tune into your positive energy and hopefully calm down. Travelling can be stressful for both kids and grown-ups, but if you keep smiling you will feel better!
- oh, and last but not least VIP service at the airport is great if you have the cash 😉 they wait for you with a cardboard sign with your name on right outside the plane, and you get plenty of dirty looks when you sneak down the side stairs 🙂 Not to mention that they take your luggage right off the plane, and bring you to lovely lounges…ahhhh…