Baby’s first flight, how to have a stress free plane journey.
If you plan to fly with your baby or toddler soon, then these guidelines should help to take the stress off you the parent!
If you have flown before you will hark back to the days when you sat back and just chilled out during the flight, most likely enjoying the attentiveness of an air stewardess and the on-board entertainment, food and drink.
Your next flight with your infant will NOT be like that, because you will need to be focused exclusively on your infant’s needs! So read on to discover how you can make the experience as stress and hassle free as humanly possible. Forward planning and preparation is the key to achieving this goal.
This sounds very obvious, but there are some things that are just as important as flight times and hotel transfers. So, pre-book your airport parking, for a discounted advance booking deal, and reduce most of the stress associated with parking your car whilst away. When possible avoid the scramble for boarding your plane by arranging pre-boarding passes at your departure gate so you can get the little ones settled into their seats ahead of the crowd!
Location, location, location!
Because you require as much space around you as possible and need to be close to the toilets, then where you are positioned on a plane can make all the difference to your comfort and how easily you can tend to your child’s needs.
So booking your flight as far in advance as possible is vital. This will allow you to get first choice on seats that are most convenient for you and baby. Most airlines have websites where you can review the available seating and reserve your favored seating position.
Do bear in mind that you will probably not be able to book the seats adjacent to the emergency exits, where extra legroom is normally available (at extra cost), as the area in front of those seats is kept clear for easy access to the emergency doors on both sides of the aircraft.
Those extra legroom seats will only normally be available to passengers over 16 years old. Aim to be as near the front of the aircraft as possible, but within close reach of a toilet. Being at the front of the fuselage allows you first access to the toilet once food and drink is dispensed by the stewards to those in front of you. When the service trolley goes past you it is your cue for a trip to the toilet for a nappy change or a freshen up for you and baby.
Secure comfort for you and baby
Children under two are frequently allowed to travel on planes free without a seat of their own. For most parents, this means holding the infant the entire flight and letting them sleep on their lap or chest. This is NOT the most comfortable way to travel for the parent and infant, especially if you’re on a long haul flight.
Some flights have baby or nursery cribs – known a Baby Bassinets. It is a tiny bed that connects to the wall of the aircraft that’s designed just for babies. If you can secure a baby bassinet, you’re on a winner because it’s the holy grail of traveling with a baby!
So DO reserve one of these if possible. Airlines do sometimes have a weight limit for the allocation of a crib (usually the bassinets can accommodate babies up to about 20 pounds / 9 kgs), so check this aspect out IN ADVANCE so you won’t be disappointed.
If a crib is not available or your infant exceeds the allowed weight limit then your next option that can make life easier is (finances permitting) to book an extra seat beside you on the flight.
Keep infants amused during the flight
Make your children a part of a well managed team. Involve the children or child in what is happening right through the process at the airport.. For example give them the tickets just as you get to the booking-in desk to hand to the ticket clerk.
Your child’s objective is to hand them over and chat to the staff about where you are going and staying. Then you can allocate the job of finding your departure gate and spotting the signs to get you there. You will naturally need to keep a close eye on them and check this process yourself at every stage to avoid mistakes, or to ensure no documents get dropped, but it’s a great way of engaging them and turning the whole process into a fun filled adventure.
To further distract your infant from the bustle and hassles of the airport and even during the flight, encourage them to eat or drink their favorite snacks and juices, or suck their favorite sweets. This is especially true during take-off when the very loud revving of the engines can be scary, then some comfort foods or drink will ease the stress levels, and also when there is a difference in cabin air pressure during descent and landing times that can cause ear discomfort and even pain to your infant.
Since a baby doesn’t know you can yawn or swallow to relieve the pressure on its ears, hence the sucking motion will help to relieve the discomfort to a degree. If necessary administer a pacifier.
It is also important to keep your infant focused on other things to avoid them being fractious during the flight itself. So, if you are traveling with a toddler you can opt for a cartoon channel on the on-board screen monitor, or If your infant is a very young baby then entertain them with some of their favorite soft puppet toys, cuddly animals or Teddies.
Carry convenient food and drink
Sachets of baby food are easier to eat from than jars. Similarly, for ease of use and limited mess, then packets of rusks and bread sticks are ideal for your baby to suck and chew on. If going on a long-haul flight, airline crew will be happy to refrigerate food or baby milk, so just ask!
Fluid carrying limits
When flying with a baby, you can take enough baby food, baby milk and sterilized water for the journey, as deemed reasonably necessary for the baby’s needs, even if this is over 100ml (the usual limit set by security to be taken on board). However sterilized water must be in a baby bottle. The security staff at the airport might ask you to open the containers to check the contents and may even ask you to taste them. You can order milk from airport branches of major pharmacies and collect it before take-off.
The best time to travel
When traveling on a long haul flight, aim to travel during the night since with a quieter cabin and lights dimmed for other passengers to sleep you have a greater chance that baby or infant will sleep too. For short haul flights, then morning or afternoon flights are considered better as the children can be occupied with in-flight entertainment and the process of eating cabin served children’s’ meals, or even sharing your meals.
If you can avoid nappy changes on the flight then this is best. However, on a long haul flight this will not be possible. So make a point of making nappy change just prior to boarding your flight. You can buy compact nappy changing kits, containing wipes, bags and of course the clean nappies to make the whole process easier and trouble free.
Aim to pack smaller transparent plastic bags ( so you can easily identify their contents) of toys, food, milk, medication, wipes, etc. Pack all of these smaller bags into a larger on-board carry bag. This will make life much easier when you urgently need specific items when under pressure.
Managing your stress levels
If your baby cries incessantly or if your toddler grizzles and moans then breathe deeply and resist getting upset or embarrassed. Check for any obvious causes and eliminate them where possible. Remember babies and infants will cry for no apparent reason some times! Distract them if possible, or take them for a short walk up the isle or carry baby up and down a few times to take their mind of the discomfort or boredom. Don’t get harassed or stressed if other passengers complain. After all they were young once, or had young fractious children in their care at some point in their lives!
A very good way to engage with your baby or toddler during the flight, to help the time go faster, is with a personalized story book whereby each illustration and rhyming story is based on the letters of their name. See what your child’s personalized book would look like here at My Magic Name Book