Tips to Travel by Air with an Infant
I had always been an avid traveler, so when I became a mom, naturally my biggest concern was how I would keep up with my travel bug. Turns out with some effort of planning, babies can be great travel companions and get you loads of benefits like free airline upgrades, priority check-in and boarding and other freebies! Read on to find out more.
Being a mommy has been a life changing experience. Going from 'breathe in, feed the baby' to 'breathe out, change the nappy', life changed overnight. In between those heart melting moments of cozy hugs, tiny feet and toothless smiles, the mushy mommy in me wanted to find that carefree girl who once did not hold back on her dreams on travelling the world.
That's when I thought, why can't I have it all? I want my daughter to be inspired by me, to live life queen size, to go out there and see the world. Why can't I have fun with my daughter and make her my travel companion? And thus started an intricate level of planning to travel with the baby.
Babies have limited needs- food, comfort, play and sleep. If all of the above are met, you will seldom have a crying baby. And hence you need to plan out your travel to satisfy all of the above needs.
1. Book your flight at a reasonable time and of a reasonable duration
By two months, your baby will have some schedule of waking and sleeping hours. Book your flight during the day around the time when your baby is in most playful and happy mood. This will help as the baby will be interested and aware in his/her surroundings. You would also be spared of a crying baby and irate travelers.
Make sure that the travel time is within 2-4 hours as anything longer than that can irritate your baby. Understand that the baby will be in your lap for all of this duration and if you are travelling economy things can get pretty cramped. So unless its absolutely necessary, choose places which are within a reasonable time frame.
When we traveled the first time with our daughter, she was four months old. We took an 11:00 AM flight from Bangalore to Singapore which is about 4 hours in duration. Our daughter was up and about and thrilled to see new faces and objects. All the air hostesses were fussing over her and she enjoyed every bit of it.
2. Pre-book infant crib with the airline (which will also give you the front row seat)
When we flew to Singapore, I called the airline before I confirmed my flight to ensure they offered a baby crib. When they said they did, I confirmed our tickets, and immediately called them back to reserve the front row seat and crib. This needs to be pre-booked since airlines have limited number of cribs that they allocated to aircraft on a request basis.
This will give you a lot of benefits- First, when the baby is asleep, you can place the baby in the crib and can finally be hands free! woah! such a relief. Second, you get front row economy seat, which means you exit the aircraft earlier than most people. Win, Win!
3. Breastfeed the Baby while Taking Off, Landing and anywhere in between
This is a golden rule. Invest in a good nursing poncho and throw away your hesitation of feeding in public places and just feed the baby. The baby's natural suckling instinct kicks in when the baby is in a new environment, and feeding will ensure your babies ears don't pain due to pressure difference. Most likely, this will also put your baby to sleep which is great. In case your baby is used to bottled feed, you can also do that while take off and landing.
During long flights, when baby (especially older babies), get impatient and cranky, feeding again helps in calming them down.
What's best is you don't need to worry about sanitizing spoons, bottles et all breastfeeding is easy and simple!
4. Always carry small toys to engage the baby
Babies have short memories. Whenever the baby gets impatient during flight time, engage him/her with toys especially rattle ones. Keep 3-4 small toys hidden away in your bag and take them out one after another and then repeat. This will ensure that your little one doesn't get bored easily.
Devices should be a complete no-no, since you would be setting a wrong precedent for your child. This may also lead to several issues including behavioral and developmental issues in the long run if exposure to devices is too much.
5. Finally, underline this, pack well
This should be your doctrine. Make a checklist prior to your travel and list down every single thing your baby will need. From diapers, to change of dress, to changing pads, to toys, to wet wipes, to sanitizer, to feeding bottles, babies need a lot of stuff. Good part is airlines don't restrict your hand luggage as well as capacity of carrying liquid if you are travelling with an infant. So plan well and pack well. Invest in a good diaper bag since most bags in the market are childish and side hanging, which can be challenging if you want to pick up your baby again and again- check out our options here.
Following is the list I swear by:
Seems like a lot, but trust, each one of these items is absolutely essential. And that is one of the reason why I spend hours looking for the right diaper bag, which was trendy and suited my style, as well was big enough to neatly pack all of the above items. When my search failed, I came out with my own line of The Mom Store Mommy Bags and Nursing Ponchos !! Check these out here- you can pack all of the above stuff and much more, while still looking stylish and in-control, Voila!