Flying with a baby or toddler soon?
In fear at the thought of being one of 'those' passengers? The ones who have numerous pairs of disapproving eyes fixed on them, nervously praying that you won't be seated next to them.. Then the same accusing eyes wondering why you had the audacity to go on holiday with a baby? How dare you right? And that's just one of your concerns. Frankly, a root canal may seem more appealing to you right now.
Well firstly, let me reassure you, it's very possible to fly with little ones and maintain your sanity, maybe even watch part of a movie and enjoy a glass of wine. There may be puke, there may be poo explosions, but you WILL survive.
I'm an ex-flight attendant and wanted to install my daughters with the same love of different countries and culture that I have, plus with my hubby being Australian, they have to get used to ultra long visits to see relatives. My eldest was 11 weeks old on her first flight. She has accomplished over 20 flights, before she turned three, so you could say I've picked up a few tips along the way and hopefully they will help reassure you. Here are my top survival tips for flying with a baby.
1) Preparation is absolutely key. Research which airline best caters to your needs. Be it, the longest bassinet, best infant baggage allowance, complimentary strollers in transit or even a sky nanny on board like Gulf Air or Etihad.
2) Once you have your preferred airline chosen, book your bassinet. Airlines such as British Airways, allow you to choose your seat online as soon as you have bought your ticket. Knowing where you are sitting can help ease the stress. Note short haul flights on many airlines do not provide bassinets, but don't despair. If just the two of you, plus baby, it can often be worth choosing seats which leave a seat between you. If the flight has space, you could end up with a bonus spare seat for baby and avoid the whole lap scenario. Even if it doesn't work out, most people would be very happy to swap the middle seat and move so they don't have to sit between your family.
3) Pack wisely.
Use or pack a baby carrier in your hand luggage. This helps keep hands free when wrestling with luggage at the other end. Don't forget a spare change or two of clothes for baby and for you too. My DH learnt that the hard way despite a gentle reminder when packing. To try and keep packing light, use Calpol and/or ibuprofen 5ml sachets. Other key necessities include favourite toys/ comforter, LOTS of snacks and new entertainment. Whether that's new toys wrapped up to keep toddlers busy, or a downloaded show from Cbeebies. If you are using a buggy travel bag, stuff a few extra nappies inside to make the most of your baggage allowance and to further protect your pram.
4) Baby milk and food.
This CAN be over 100ml whether it's powdered, pre mixed, breast milk or puréed. Since January 2014, UK security no longer need to taste it, but it may be subject to further testing. I would advise to always pack a little more than you would normally use, just in case of any flight delays etc. You can pre order formula milk from Boots online and select the UK airport you are departed from as your collection point.
On many airlines, especially long haul you can also request a baby meal ( puréed food jars) and for those over two, a child meal. Singapore Airlines even provide a post-weaning meal! Plenty of finger food snacks also while away the time.
It's also worth mentioning that several companies will deliver baby supplies such as nappies and milk to your destination. Travel Tots and Little Logistics are two UK based companies that will deliver overseas.
5) Allow extra time ..
To get to the airport, pass by security, pick up your pre-ordered milk from Boots at UK airports, for the last minute clothes/ nappy changes, wear the toddlers out at airport soft play, to breathe. You CAN do this.
6) Board last with baby.
Yes, many airlines do provide priority boarding for families with young children but this is not always such a great idea. It can just prolong the amount of time a wriggly infant has to be confined. We found that if my DH boards first with all the baby gear and hand luggage and finds somewhere to stow it and then I board with the little ones a bit later on, everyone is much calmer.
7) Take turns.
Have one of you on duty for an hour and then swap.
Remember, the flight will end and the holiday on the other side makes it all worth while...As for the other child free passengers, you can relax with a relatively smug face, it will be their turn one day....