Ahhs: Up, Up, and Away!


for this post I had to enlist my dear friend and fellow mommy, vicky lam, mother of 15-month old phoebe. she has traveled the globe--well at least compared to me-- with her little daughter beginning at a very young age

guest blogger: vicky lam
when my daughter phoebe was 7-months old, we did the killer 23 hour flight from nyc to australia. in preparation, i was frantically reading blogs and asking friends for advice and got myself even more stressed out. so with that in mind, this is a short and sweet post of 10 things i learnt from flying with my baby


1. don't overpack, mobility is key. just visualize taking your baby and carry-on into a bathroom cubicle or escalator. the baby carrier was perfect for keeping my hands free.

2. for overseas travel, don't forget baby’s passports and visas! easy to forget when you think they're an extension of you.

3. call the airline to see if you can reserve a bassinet seat before checking in or be the first to check in otherwise those seats are gone. even though phoebe didn't like the bassinet, the extra leg room was priceless. a blanket on the floor and a couple of toys and she was happily playing at my feet.          
                     
4. i liked using an ultra light cloth tote for diaper changing trips—just a couple of diapers, wipes, diaper trash bags and not much else, so i didn't have to haul my whole diaper bag with me when we needed to go.
  
5. dress for comfort, discreet breastfeeding and to camouflage stains. and try to wear bottoms that don't involve buttons or zips. one handed bathroom trips might be necessary. my favorite outfit for the flight was a long t-shirt or tunic with a pair of leggings, a soft jacket with pockets and a scarf for breastfeeding that doubles as a baby blanket. zipper pocket for pacifiers/ teething toys/ lipbalm are a bonus. the normal rules for dressing for security checks apply...slip on shoes and no belts. Don't even try taking off a belt while wearing the baby in a bjorn- no fun. a change of clothing for you and baby will come in handy.

6. a pillow from home helped me with carrying phoebe for hours on end.

7. getting your baby to sleep most of the way is ideal.  so figure out how to get them comfortable enough to sleep. even though i was trying to train my baby not to breast feed to sleep, I did whatever she wanted for the flight for the sake of sanity.

8. zip lock bags are great not just for fluids. baby socks and clothes are much easier to locate in those clear plastic baggies.

9. moisturizer, lip balm should be handy, preferably in your pocket. A small mirror and face mist would be a bonus if you can keep it compact.

10. give your baby lots of smiles and cuddles. my biggest fear was trying to calm an inconsolable baby while everyone glared at me.  but when phoebe was fussing, i was so focused on trying to comfort  her that i didn't even have time to be self conscious, and that was a good thing.

in the end it really wasn't so bad. i was anticipating a lot more drama from reading anecdotes because I seemed to remember the horror stories the most, so don't read too much. Being calm and happy is your best bet for getting your baby to travel happily.

some useful links:

5 comments:

  1. Brilliant advice! sure to come in handy when I travel home to South Africa with my new baby, two NINE hour flights, usually with a long stop over!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Great advice! I've traveled a few times with Matthew and we always bring brand new (small) toys that he can play with. Instead of bringing toys he's already played with, the new ones usually occupy some of the time. That and cheerios. When he's fussy, cheerios usually make him happy. :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. good stuff, very detailed!
    A few notes:
    - a plastic trash bag for all the little things that need to be disposed of
    - choose a night flight if possible so your baby can sleep through the night
    - bring something to play with
    - give fluids every now and then while plane descends
    - check out http://seatguru.com for the best seats
    - try to bring stroller onboard (if you opt for one) if the flight is not too full, they can get bumped up quite a bit if checked

    ReplyDelete
  4. This is great advice...and reassuring to remember that little one's can cope with anything if the mother stays calm! I on the other hand traveled alone with my toddler boy on the same hideously long flight and it wasn't such a positive experience. So forgive the long post, but like Vicky I too was desperate for advice, so here is what I have learned.

    This is mainly about traveling with a toddler, as 18-36 months is the hardest...which makes sense. When you have a kid that wants to walk, but doesn't want to watch TV those long flights can be...well LONG. So here's a few tips I would add to Vicky's already excellent list.

    ASK FOR HELP
    The flight attendants on those long haul flights are amazing and really trained to know how to help out a stressed out, exhausted mother. They encouraged me to call the buzzer every time I wanted something, so I wasn't always juggling everything or dragging my child with me when I needed to pee. They would just take my son off with them for 15 minutes to give me a break, had endless ideas of how to calm him down when he got over-tired. At the other end, they organized ground help for me to get through immigration etc, so I wasn't trying to hold everything at once. They were amazing and you should use them!

    CHANGE OF CLOTHES
    I wouldn't underestimate the amount of clothing changes the baby might need. Of course not everyone's kid is going to sick up their mac and cheese dinner in the gate lounge before you even get on the flight...but still...you may as well be prepared. Vicky's ziploc suggestion is great for spoiled clothes and also don't forget to take a change for yourself, as you are unlikely to get out of there without a serious stain or three. Still, don't over pack as they do have spare PJ's and diapers etc for kids on long haul flights.

    OVERTIRED
    Of course parents mostly get anxious about getting their child to sleep...knowing the flight will be less painful for everyone if the little one's are dozing. When our son wasn't sleeping and every other kid was I surveyed the parents on our flight and EVERY child had been given benadryl! I am not adverse to drugging my child at all if it helps him avoid getting hysterically over tired, we were just unfortunate enough to have the child who gets hyper with benadryl. So after trying every drowsy drug at the pharmacy and fruitlessly begging our pediatrician to prescribe something someone recommended Hylands Calms Forte. It is a homeopathic pill for over tired kids. You can't overdose on it and it isn't a sedative, but it does calm them down. After my originally nightmare flight I can't tell you the difference of traveling with these little pills. Our son loved taking them and they seemed to keep him calm. He still stayed awake until 5am New York time before he fell asleep but at least he wasn't crying his head off tired.

    Then again he was also almost 3 by then. So perhaps the best option is to never fly home between ages 18 months to 3 years!!

    ReplyDelete
  5. good stuff, very detailed!
    A few notes:
    - a plastic trash bag for all the little things that need to be disposed of
    - choose a night flight if possible so your baby can sleep through the night
    - bring something to play with
    - give fluids every now and then while plane descends
    - check out http://seatguru.com for the best seats
    - try to bring stroller onboard (if you opt for one) if the flight is not too full, they can get bumped up quite a bit if checked

    ReplyDelete

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