Our Top Tips: Travelling with a Baby
We took some much needed time off over the Christmas/ New Year break to relax and simply enjoy some quality family time. Both of us have friends and family across the world so over the festive period we embarked on long haul flights to see loved ones – a very exciting but also a very daunting prospect taking 11 hour flights with toddlers in tow.
The reality is who doesn’t get bored on a long-haul flight? At least as adults can watch a movie or snooze, but our poor little ones have to stay seated for all of that time(!). Luckily it’s not as bad as it sounds, you just need to prepare for the unexpected and bring a little extra of everything.
As we are now becoming old hands at taking babies on long haul flights we thought we’d write down a few tips from our experiences. We hope it’s useful!
1. Snacks and milk for the flight
Snacks - think fruit, yogurt, pouches and lots of finger food, milk, and water(!) flying is thirsty work and keeping well hydrated will help with the jetlag.
Never rely on the airport or the flight attendants to have what you need. If you're breast feeding, you don't need anything here, but if you have to pack milk, the ready made, single use bottles of formula are great. The airports normally don't even test them, so you don't have to open the lid and spoil the milk. We also bring tons of food pouches that can be easily slurped up or you can get a spoon attachment for the pouches, so you don't have to fiddle with bowls. These KoKo pouch spoons are great as they are reusable, BPA free and come with a handy travel case.
A good tip is to make sure you also pack extra of all these things in your checked bag for the way back. Other countries of course have formula but it can taste so different to what's in the UK. You never know what they will have in the country you're flying to, so best to bring extra for the trip home or you’ll end up spending most of your time trying to find food for your little one abroad.
2. Bring extra everything for your carry on bags!
As our little ones have gotten older, we’ve been able to pack less, but at the beginning when the babies were just a few months old we brought double of everything on board - two to three extra changes of clothes, because without a doubt your baby will either wet through or cover themselves in food. A blanket, because you never know if they will be blasting the air-con, a cuddly toy and/or dummy. And wet wipes, lots, lots of wet wipes! Also remember to bring a pair of sweats for yourself, because things will get spilt on you too. You're sharing one tiny seat for seven hours - it's bound to happen!
3. Getting on board - With a baby, you're invited onto the plane first, which has its pros and cons!
Yes, you get to properly get yourself set up before anyone else is there to bump into you, but it also means more time on the flight with a baby. When the babies were younger, it was easier to be the first one on, because they weren’t really aware of what was happening and also couldn't move around. Now they are walking its best to try and stay off the plane as long as possible, because the confined space really makes them nutty!
4. Baby carrier or sling
Baby carriers and slings will be super helpful not only if you checked your stroller in at the check-in desk but also when you are trying to make them sleep during the flight. You can go to the back where there is more space and bounce and walk to get them to sleep if needed.
This gorgeous sling from mubakid is brilliant as you can also roll it up into a very hand little tube - perfect for travels!
If your little one has a seat and want to snooze, the inflatable travel pillow extension will help them to sleep comfortably and is an inexpensive alternative to have in case you are given an extra seat.
5. Load up an iPad with all their fav shows and keep this as your secret weapon!
On long haul flights you’ll have an in flight entertainment system but these TV sets never seem to grab the babies attention as well as the iPad for some reason. And the shows provided are never as good as CBeebies. Also bring as many toys as you can manage and introduce new ones throughout the flight. We sometimes buy some new toys that have never seen before, so on the flight, the new toys capture their attention and keep them occupied for a bit longer.
Other games that don’t use lots of space are the magic water colouring books no mess and will keep them entertained.
6. Jet Lag - It's a b*tch
Unfortunately, there is no way to avoid it and possibly babies actually get it worse. We just try to get back to the normal routine as quickly as possible, which can mean stretching naps or bed time a bit longer. Other than that you just have to weather the broken sleeps for a while. They say the number of hours the time difference is, is the number of days it takes you to get over jet lag. Definitely true for babies!
Our final thought is don't worry about anyone but you and your baby! We used to get so nervous before a flight, thinking you’re going to bother the other travellers or that someone is going to be rude to us. After all the worrying, we always have the nicest passengers around us and the most helpful flight attendants. They are SO helpful and constantly come to check on us.
We hope our pointers are useful but it’d also be great to hear from others of their experience too. And to those setting out on long haul flights – good luck! It’s never as bad as you imagine.