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Every experience teaches you, what to do or what not to do. Travelling or flying with a baby is not at all easy but if you plan ahead, are prepared, and are calm yourself it is not at all difficult.
I am an Indian by origin, now living in Australia. I delivered my daughter in Australia, and post her birth I was keen on taking her to India so that the family could meet the new little member. My biggest worry was travelling on a long flight where it took almost 24 hours to reach my destination, that included an actual 17 hours in-flight, with a stopover.
I remember how anxious I was while taking the decision to book tickets, as my daughter was just 10 weeks old. I was worried about how she would cope with the long journey, the ear pain that babies often get, and her feeding schedule, as she was exclusively having expressed breast milk.
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Today I am very confident about travelling with my little one on long flights anywhere in the world. From my experience, I know that we both will manage it well. But this confidence has come from the first positive experience of travelling that I had, and it came with a lot of planning and organizing. In this post, I’m sharing some important tips to make the journey with an infant comfortable for both the baby and parents.
A lot of international flights have an option of choosing a bassinet seat for your LO (little one). The limit is usually 14 kgs. The extra leg space for yourself and a designated comfortable space for the baby will add up to a better experience. If a bassinet seat is not available for your travel dates, change the dates, but make sure you get it – it’s worth it.
As my baby only had expressed BM (break milk) from the bottle, I had to store and freeze the BM from 4 days before we flew. I carried the BM in storage bags and in ice packs. On getting aboard in-flight, I handed the insulated bag to the air hostess to store in chillers. Whenever my LO needed a feed, I just took a bag and kept it in warm water, poured it into a bottle, and all was sorted.
I travelled from Australia to Mumbai with frozen bags of milk. I also expressed about 3 times during the journey, so there was enough food for the baby throughout the journey.
If your baby is breastfeeding as usual, then there is no hassle, but even if the baby is breastfeeding it is a wise idea to carry formula milk just in case your body plays up a bit with supply due to travel anxiety. Using hot water from the supply in-flight is safe to make formula milk.
This might sound weird because usually while boarding the priority is given to parents with infants. But I feel that the confined space and so many people walking into the alleys can make the baby cranky and restless. It is a good idea hence to board last so that there is not much gap before taking off after you get into the aircraft.
The temperature in aircraft can get cooler for the young ones. From my experience, a warm onesie or sleeping bag is great to make the baby sleep well. Don’t put on too many warm clothes, though, as that too can get stuffy for them.
The main concern for parents travelling with kids is ear pain during flights. The solution is feeding during takeoff and descent so that sucking helps. A lot of blogs and forums mention feeding during landing and takeoff, but the major sudden altitude drop happens at initial descent and not so much at landing. Ask the air hostesses to inform you before that happens and start feeding the baby at the right time.
A lot of international flights allow the stroller as a free piece of luggage, and one can carry that up to the gate. Make sure you specify at the check-in counter that you would like to gate check-in the pram. You can take the pram up to the gate, and when you alight it is ready just outside the aircraft.
On stopovers, it is comfortable to have strollers for both parents and baby. Also at the destination, one has to walk large distances to come out of the airports and having strollers ready as soon as you come out if aircraft is handy.
Infants have got a few designated kilos to be carried as cabin baggage. Having a well-stocked baby bag will make the journey easy. I carried diapers, wipes, hand and face wipes, nappy rash cream, sanitizer, extra set of clothes, toys, paracetamol, swaddle blankets and disposable changing mats in the bag.
Babies sense mother’s anxiety and so if the mother is calm it would help baby be calm too. It is obvious to be anxious about travelling with a baby, but if you are organized you will be confident.
Relax before and during the journey. Don’t stress even if baby cries during the flight and most of all do not be embarrassed. It is ok even if you see the upset faces of fellow passengers. Do not concentrate on them rather be calm and try to calm the baby.
When I returned from India my baby was 8 months old. She was more active and stayed awake for longer as compared to when she first travelled as a 10 weeks old. Older babies want to move around and do things. It is a good idea to keep them busy with a toy or teethers so that they don’t get restless.
I had a late night flight and before leaving gave LO massage and a warm water bath to help her sleep well. After the feed at night, she just slept through the first leg of the flight comfortably.
Overall even with my problem of the baby not latching, carrying a stock of BM and expressing thrice during the flights, the journey with my LO was smooth.
Image source: YouTube
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