After a long day of travelling and a few days to relax and unwind, I thought now would be the time to share with you some of my top tips when travelling with a baby for the first time – before I get too distracted enjoying the sun, sand and cocktails and it all becomes a distant memory!
Memory, not nightmare. Remember that as you read on…it’s actually not that bad travelling with a baby, trust me, we even braved a long haul flight!
Before we set off, I did what most of you are probably doing now – research. What advice, top tips and experiences do other mamas and bloggers out there recommend to make the journey as easy as possible? As I expected, and hoped, most mamas had the same advice…
- Book an extra seat on board for the baby
- Alternatively, book an aisle and window seat as the middle seats in a row of three are usually the last to be booked, giving you an extra seat for free. If the flight is full, then the person in the middle is likely to be happy to switch with one of you so you will be sat together
- Book your on board cot/bassinet in advance.
Unfortunately, this only fuelled my fears further because…
- Travelling long haul, we couldn’t afford the cost of an extra seat for little N
- We paid extra to pre-book our seats, for both the outbound and inbound flight, but we were only offered single seats, scattered throughout the plane. Major panic, but in hindsight it was lucky we couldn’t afford to book an extra seat for little N after all
- We booked our flight with Thomson and they don’t have on board cots/bassinets – even for long haul flights!
So, for all you mamas and dadas out there who find yourself in the same situation, here’s my crazy, long list of tips and advice to help you on your travels…
It sounds simple, but if like me you have suffered a few sleepless nights before take-off, if you’ve worried about other passengers glaring at your when your baby has a meltdown or generally rolling their eyes at the sight of a baby at their boarding gate, then staying calm (and ignore the angry glares) is all you need to survive.
It’s never as bad as you imagine it will be, in fact I think travelling with a baby has a few advantages over travelling with a toddler or older child as you don’t have to worry about providing constant distractions, entertainment and tasty snacks because babies sleep…especially if you’re travelling long haul.
Travelling is going to knock your routine sideways, but keep an eye on the time and try to follow your usual routine as best you can, even if you have to skip duty free to find a quiet place to feed or you need to miss that first holiday drink at the bar to walk around the airport to help them sleep. It will be worth it.
Use a backpack for your hand luggage
It sounds simple, and it is. We’ve all been on holiday and envied those women who can travel in heels, arrive at the airport at 6am with full make-up perfectly applied and not a hair out of place with a designer handbag on their forearm. But if you’re travelling with a baby, forget it. This is not the time to be fashionable, on trend, or even looking remotely ‘put together’. Right now it’s all about being efficient. Pack your hand luggage in a back pack, sling it over your shoulders and keep your hands free, you will thank me for it.
Keep everything together
Our flight was over 10 hours, added to the extra time in the airport before take off and the coach transfer at the other end I knew we needed a full day of feeds and snacks in our hand luggage. Cue another list to make sure I had everything I needed, in the right place, at the right time!
To save time rummaging through our bags at security I bought the Boots ‘plastic is fantastic multi set’ to keep everything together. The larger one was perfect for bottles, food pouches and some yogurts for on board while the smaller one was perfect for calpol and teething gel.
Carry your baby
Thank you devonmamaonline!!! This was the best advice we were given and being able to wear little N through security meant he wasn’t disturbed and I had my hands free.
Note: Pushchairs must be baby-free at security as they are screened separately, so if baby is asleep you will be expected to take them out and carry them anyway – possibly not what you want if you’ve just got them settled.
Think about your outfit
If you do decide to wear your baby don’t make things harder for yourself. Wear comfortable, but easy to slip on and off shoes (sometimes you’re asked to take your shoes off at security…think about it, will you topple over trying to reach around the baby or will hubby need to help you?) and don’t wear anything that might set the metal detectors off.
If you need a belt to keep your trousers up, wear a different outfit, if you don’t need to keep change in your pocket, then don’t. It will make it easier to get through security, without the need to be frisked and have the hassle of taking a sleeping baby out of their sling or carrier.
Attach your dummy
If, like us you often reach for a dummy to help settle baby, or you just carry one for emergencies, make sure you have a dummy clip for travelling. The last thing you want is for it to disappear under the seat when the seat belt signs are still on! You can get a few varieties on amazon but if you want something a little special, then I absolutely love these dummy chains from Pop Ya Tot
Toys, toys, toys
I don’t think you can ever have enough toys, books or games when travelling – and don’t forget hubby can take a few extra in his hand luggage too! The biggest challenge is what to pack that isn’t too noisy or drive the most patient fellow traveller crazy…think about it mamas, how many times have you taken the batteries out and lied that it’s broken and can’t be fixed, just to have a moments peace? Imagine that same, constant repetition over and over in a confined space? Not a good idea. Step away from the Toot Toot toys now!
As well as some of little N’s more ‘airplane friendly’ toys, we also bought a few new ones to surprise him on the flight, which kept him quiet a little longer.
I definitely recommend the Usborne Touchy-Feely books…we bought little N the ‘That’s not my plane’ one to mark his first flight!
Take over the ear headphones
Most airlines will provide headphones for the in-flight entertainment (long haul flights anyway) but these usually fit in your ears and aren’t ideal for babies or young children. If you want to take advantage of the colours and noise of the in-flight entertainment (even if they’re too little to really understand) then take a pair of over the ear headphones to keep their ears safe.
Is there anything else, a little different to the usual advice, that you would recommend for our next family adventure?