Practical tips and secrets for travelling with a baby that will make your trip enjoyable and stress free for everyone
Take care of Yourself
Firstly, and most importantly, look after yourself so you have the energy to look after your Baby. Happy Mumma - Happy Baby.
Try to get lots of rest before your trip (if your LO lets you).
Take your time to eat, sleep and drink plenty of water in preparation and during your trip.
Make sure that you take few days in advance to wash, pack up and plan out your trip. Do not leave everything to the last minute!
Allow plenty of time to go to the airport and schedule extra time for feedings and nappy changes.
For a peace of mind, we recommend that you speak with your Paediatrician to make sure your LO is fit for travelling and is up to date with any required vaccinations.
Furthermore, several weeks in advance consider strengthening your family’s immunity with some good quality probiotics, Vit D and Elderberry Syrup (one of my personal favourites). It tastes nice and sweet, rich in vitamins A, B and C and well known for its antioxidant activity. Elderberry Syrup boosts immunity and protects against coughs, colds, flu, bacterial and viral infections. If you’re breastfeeding the benefits will pass through your milk to your baby. If you have a toddler, they should like the taste of it.
Plan your trip around babies’ nap time. Book the flight outside of the “witching hour”! Generally, it is best to travel in the morning because babies are better rested, happier and more adaptable to the new environment.
Make reservations and preparations in advance
Go to the gate early and see if you can be seated next to an empty seat. If the plane isn’t full, most airline attendants will let you move to a seat next to an empty seat. This is a big advantage when traveling with a baby. It will allow you to strap in a car seat in the empty seat so that LO can fall asleep in the familiar space. And you can use the seat to rock your baby to sleep. It works a treat!
Alternatively, if the airlines allow, reserve the plane’s bassinet. Make sure to ring up and ask for one in advance - there is usually limited amount. It does not matter if you are in Business class or Economy, most international flights will have Bassinets.
Choose your seat wisely. Reserve a Window Seat! A window seat is certainly helpful for travelling with a baby. It gives you privacy for nursing or feeding and creates support to lean on, which helps a lot with a squirmy baby. You are also in charge of the amount of light coming in through the window shade, which helps when trying to get a baby to nap. And some babies also like to look out of the window - bonus!
Although, the best place to sit on a plane with babies is debated by parents. Some like the bulkhead because of the extra legroom, and the fact that they can be some of the first to get off the plane once it lands. Some planes, especially for international flights, also have bassinets your baby can sleep in that attach to the bulkhead. But the big downside of choosing this option is that on most planes you can’t have your carry-on bag by your feet during take-off and landing, and you’re going to be stressing if the kids are wailing and you need something but can’t get it quick enough.
Others recommend the back of the plane. It’s sometimes less populated, so you have less chance of bothering others. Plus, it’s near the lavatory in case you and your Baby need to use it. The back of the plane is also less affected by turbulence, helping your child sleep more soundly. Keep in mind though, if you sit in the very last row, you’ll find that the sound of people unlatching the bathroom lock is surprisingly loud, and it may rouse your baby from precious nap time. Plus, toilet smell…So you might want to choose seats several rows away from the bathrooms.
But the best recommendation I once got from a flight attendant is to seat your young babies wherever the plane’s engines are. The engines create a din of white noise that will help soothe your little one. One thing to keep in mind though, when the engines are at the back of the plane is that’s where the lavatory is, too.
Be Prepared to Nurse…a lot (if you are breastfeeding). Take bottles with filtered / boiled water (if you are bottle feeding).
Wear an easy access top and bra so baby can nurse comfortably throughout the flight, especially during the take off. Our recommendation is to feed the baby during take-off or landing as rhythmic swallow helps babies to pop their ears. Nursing, offering a bottle or pacifier will certainly help to equalise your baby’s ears.
Keep in mind, if you're bottle feeding at any point, whether that's breastmilk or formula, you can always ask a flight attendant to warm up the bottle for you.
If you are formula feeding, have bottles prepared but wait to actually make them – have the powder ready to go in the bottles before boarding. Bring bottled boiled / filtered water with you on the flight. The water filters on most airplanes are not great to say the least.
Be Organized. Overpack.
If this is your first trip with the Little One, we say Overpack! Not only will you likely to use most of it, but you will also have a peace of mind that you have everything you need and then a backup. You don't want to run out of clean clothes or clean bottles on your first trip and have your baby traveling hungry or covered in a spit-up. Can’t think of anything worse!
- As we all know, diaper bags can get heavy, and all that weight unevenly distributed on one side can really cause problems to your back. So, we’ve found, for traveling, backpack diaper bags are the most convenient. They are usually very spacious, and they distribute the weight evenly across your back and shoulders. In addition, having your hands free and the baby bag on your back makes manoeuvring through the airport a whole lot easier.
- Nappy bag size matters. It needs to be large enough to hold everything you need with plenty of internal and external compartments to make it easy to find what you need and do it fast enough. Lots of pockets is important - so you can pack all the gripe water, gas drops, Panadol and other medicines in one compartment, and all of the Baby Changing needs (like nappies, wipes, rash cream) in another. And the passports, documents, boarding passes, and other travel needs - in another. And so on… Having your belongings neatly organised in designated compartments will make it easy to quickly grab what you need without having to dig through a bag looking for it, saving you a lot of stress and time.
- You will be using a lot of baby wipes and disinfectant wipes on the plane. The bag with a designated wipes pocket that has integrated wipes dispenser would be extremely helpful. Additionally, make sure you choose the bag that can safely accommodate your travel devises ( Laptop, iPad ) in a separate compartment – the last thing you want is the formula of breastmilk spilling all over it. And most importantly, we recommended bringing either an insulated pouch or choosing a bag with the integrated insulated pockets, so your baby’s bottles can stay the right temperature for as long as possible.
‘What else should I pack?’
Travel with baby requires creativity. If this is your first trip with LO do not pack light – more is more.
- Bring your favourite baby carrier. Especially if you’re traveling on your own having your baby in a carrier means you’ll have your hands free to deal with luggage, filling in documents and carrying last minute items.
- Pack plenty of distractions - books, toys, snacks, pacifier (if you use one).
- Extra nappies (overpack on nappies - 1 diaper per every hour of your journey is the best practice)
- Lots of wipes. Nappy changing wipes and disinfectant wipes.
- Changing and burp cloths.
- Pack plenty of changeover outfits in case there is a diaper blowout or spit up.
- Backup clothing for YOU.
- Breast pump & accessories (if you’re pumping)
- Extra pacifiers (if baby takes them)
- Antibiotic ointment, a few cotton swabs and fabric bandages
- Bring Ziplock bags in case of an explosion. These are great if you are on the plane and something gets on you or the baby and you need to store your clothing. Also, great for food leftovers, used formula bottles or pump parts.
- Bottled boiled / filtered water if you are feeding your baby formula.
- Clean bottles or Sippy cups.
- Sleeping pouch or a doona / duvet and several muslin wraps.
- Carrier or Stroller Cover.
- Compact changing pad and sanitizing wipes if you will be using the changing table on the flight located above the toilet.
And remember, to your baby this is one big adventure, something different, new people to talk to and new things to look at. They’re not counting how many hours of sleep they’ve had, and they won’t self-destruct from a couple of missed naps.
Do your best and go with a flow. It’s difficult, especially for new parents, to surrender some of our control. But it challenges us to dig deeper and be rewarded. So, prepare, relax, and enjoy your vacation. And make precious memories that will justify the ‘fun’ travel time.