Having returned from a wonderful and relaxing holiday in St Lucia this morning (weep!), pulling off two long-haul flights with two babies and a toddler in tow, here is Mummy B’s survival guide for flying with little ones.
- This one goes without saying, but give yourself plenty of time. Getting through the airport as a family takes a while and you don’t need that extra pressure.
- Don’t forget your little one’s comforters. Big D would probably have melted down without her Elsa doll!
- Pack enough milk (Aptimel single 7ml bottles are great for traveling) and food (you really can’t beat Ella’s, just ask the steward to pop a pouch in boiling water for 6 minutes and you’re good to go). Neither of these generally need to be opened when you go through security.
- Call the airline in advance and arrange a toddler meal. I’d always have some extra snacks in your bag just in case you have a fussy eater!
- Don’t check your pram/stroller through with your hold luggage. Airlines will always let you take the baby through in the pram and fold it up just before you get on the plane. It will then appear either on the conveyor or with the oversized luggage on arrival.
- You can take two baby items for free, above your normal luggage allowance, eg two of a pram/stroller, travel cot or car seat.
- Remember to pack the baby carrier (Baby Bjorn or similar) to use when your pram/stroller has been placed in the hold – it helps having your hands free. Also, if your baby won’t settle on your lap then it’s great to pop it on and have a walk around the plane – less of a back breaker if you have to be on your feet for a while.
- If traveling long haul, contact your airline and book a bassinet. This is a godsend, especially if you’re flying through the night (it also means you’ll have extra leg room).
- If you are lucky enough to get a bassinet you may be split up from your husband like we were as there was another baby on the flight. If you have two children, aim to sit one child with Daddy so you can team-up and share the load. (The poor mother I sat next to looked after her baby and toddler for 8 hours while Daddy was on a row behind chillaxing with his iPad!)
- If timings and routines allow, try to hold back and be the last on the plane. There’s no point prolonging the experience.
- Again, if timings work, try and give your babies their bottle when taking off and landing as the sucking will help their ears to pop.
- If you follow a strict routine, try and be relaxed about it. The likelihood is your baby won’t sleep for two hours after lunch as there will be so much stimulation around. Try to go with the flow. As long as a baby grabs a bit of sleep here and there and isn’t hungry chances are they’ll be happy. If you’re flying to another timezone you will all have to reset your body-clocks anyway.
- Bring plenty of in-flight entertainment to keep it interesting. Big D loved practicing her tracing with her First-Time Learning books I picked up in WHSmith as well as watching some Paddington Bear. Little D had lots of teething toys and cuddly toys but in actual fact she took most pleasure tearing the in-flight magazine to pieces and playing with my headphones!
- Take two extra sets of clean clothes in your hand luggage, just in case. Baby O had a nasty bout of car sickness half-an-hour in to our return journey to the airport. Take an extra set for you too.
- Try not to get stressed if your baby won’t settle (easier said than done). I had this issue at nap time when Little D decided to flex her vocal chords. Once I looked around I realized everyone had their earphones in so I popped mine on and soon discovered that people could barely hear her. It instantly helped me relax so I was able to soothe Little D into a nice little slumber.
- Work as a team with your husband. No one likes to see stressed-out bickering parents and your kids will just feed on that negative energy. Remember, you’re already on holiday.
- If your baby isn’t playing ball, try and crack a few jokes with the passengers around you. People will be far more sympathetic towards you if you let them know this isn’t quite the dream!
- I always pack everything back up at the start of the plane’s descent so that, when the seatbelt lights go off after landing, you’re ready to roll. There’s nothing worse than trying to do this when the entire aeroplane is stood up ready to charge down the aisle and you’re wrestling with bags, teddies, bottles and little ones.
Happy Holidays and Good Luck!
Love Mummy B
PS a travel blog on the amazing Sugar Beach, St Lucia to follow. x