To air travel with a small baby for the first time is to some extent stressful for every mother in the world. I am always afraid to be the couple that has got an impossible baby and is hated by everybody on the plane. What do you do when there is nowhere to go? 😀
Advance preparation and following a few tricks made our flights with Samuel easier and more enjoyable. I hope some of them will come in handy for your future trips too.
1. Take a look at the baggage allowance for your airline. Travel with a baby means lots of baby gear. Check the size, weight and number of bags you will be allowed to check-in and take as your carry-on. Some airlines will not allot space for the baby’s full luggage if an infant travels on your lap.
*Babies under 2 years can travel on your lap without a separate seat. You can still purchase a full ticket for you baby if you want to. You can then also bring your car seat so that the baby is seated more comfortably.
We did not go for the separate seat for Samuel and he travelled on my lap. If you read the tip 2, you will know why.
2. Book seats for you and your partner and book smart. If you are traveling with your partner and if you decided to travel with your baby on your lap, choose your own seats (paid option) rather than letting the system to automatically assign them for free.
If the plane has rows with three seats across, book the aisle for you and the window for your partner. The system will block the seat in the middle and unless the flight is fully booked or someone has also paid to choose that particular seat (but trust me no one wants to sit in the middle), it won’t be occupied and you will get three seats for your family.
We did this twice in a row and it worked! Just remember, when you pick up your boarding passes at the check-in desk at the airport, ask them to take a look if the middle seat is still available. The last time it was not the case and someone was already seated next to us. The check-in girl however was very nice and moved that person to another seat. In general the airport staff is quite accommodating to the parents traveling with babies so do not be shy to ask.
3. Invest in a stroller traveling bag. If you are checking-in your stroller, a traveling bag is a must have. We went for STOKKE even though we have JOOLZ stroller (most of the traveling systems are universal and will fit a stroller of any brand). A traveling bag offers great protection and has plenty of room to use for others belongings (we took Samuel’s bouncer too and staffed the bag with all kinds of things). The bag just swallows items and it feels like space is unlimited.
Besides all the stuff that you can see Seb is carrying, I had another luggage and carry-on bag. Our dream is to learn how to travel light, we are always mules 😉
4. Pack your diaper bag with all needed items and take extras. Baby’s diaper bag will be considered as your baby’s carry-on luggage so pack it as full as you can with all the items your baby will need. Take an extra blanket on the plane and an extra outfit or two for your baby in case of leaky diapers and baby spit-up situations.
5. Wear your baby. We found it very convenient to have Samuel in a front carrier while traveling rather than using a stroller. If you have several bags to carry, you do not want to push a stroller too. By wearing your baby you have both your hands free.
They should also allow you to wear your baby through security, which is great if your baby is sleeping, you do not have to disturb her. In Malta airport however they asked me to take off the carrier and I carried Samuel in my arms through the security gate.
6. Dress your baby for quick and easy diaper changes. Samuel was wearing one-piece with long sleeves – his pyjamas basically 🙂 as it is normally cold on the plane. In this case it’s more important to be comfortable than fashionable 😉 It gave me quick and easy access to the diaper without removing all the socks and pants.
7. Always change your baby immediately before you are ready to board. Not all airplanes have changing tables (Airbaltic is one of them) so always try to change a nappy at the airport. I must say that even with changing tables available on the plane, the lavatory rooms are so tiny that changing a baby is still not an easy task and the fewer times you have to do it in flight the better.
8. Feed your baby during descent and takeoff. Pressure changes can be so uncomfortable, and babies don’t know how to clear their ears on their own. Sucking on a pacifier and/or swallowing by taking a drink will help to keep your baby’s ears clear. I tried to encourage Samuel to take a dummy, but he would not. The actual feeding worked like magic though. One time I even gave him just an empty bottle with a few drops of milk and it also took his mind off discomfort.
9. If you are not breastfeeding, prepare baby food in advance. It is very convenient when you are breastfeeding, you can do it anytime, anywhere. But if your baby is bottle-feed (whether it is expressed breastmilk or formula), some additional planning is required.
While there are restrictions on the liquids you can take on a plane, they don’t apply to food or milk for your baby and you can take what you need for the trip in your carry-on baggage – expressed breastmilk, formula, boiled water to make a feed (must be in a baby bottle).
I warmed two bottles of milk for Samuel already at home and placed them in thermo-bag (they keep bottles warm up to 4 hours). Just do not do the mistake I did – make sure you check the temperature of the bottle from time time prior to the feeding so that it is not too hot when you actually need it. If it is too hot, take it out from the thermo-bag and let it cool down. I forgot to do that and when Samuel wanted to eat, the milk was still hotter than he was used to. He got so hungry, but he would not eat. He would just cry looking at his food poor guy 😦
*You will be asked to take out all the baby’s food at the security gate. Keep it in one place with an easy access to it so you do not have to go through all your carry-on luggage.
10. Bring the entertainment. If your baby is in the age when he can enjoy toys, bring his favourite ones with you and also try to get him a new one. A new toy is a great distraction if nothing else helps. Btw, when we were flying with SAS to Malta, Samuel got a cute soft toy from the crew as a gift, loved it :-).
If you have some great tips to share with me, please, do so.
And may your future travels be happy and beautiful! 🙂