Let’s be honest, unless you are sitting in ultimate luxury in first class, flying is not that fun. You are cramped in the seat, your butt starts to hurt and go numb, the food is horrible, and you can never really sleep comfortably. Add in having to fly with a baby or a toddler, and it becomes one of the most stressful things you have to endure. I had to attend a wedding in Mexico for which I was the Maid of Honour when my baby was 3.5 months old, and unfortunately my husband couldn’t come with me. So, I had to fly from Beirut to Dubai (4 hours) and then from Dubai to Los Angeles (16 hours – yikes!), just me and my baby. Here is my survival guide to flying with a baby with tips from my experience in the air:
Book the bassinet (if your baby still fits in it – check airline regulations for the weight and length specs.) at the time you book your tickets. You can call the airline to book this in advance.
Regardless of whether you are going to use the bassinet or not, ask them to put you in the row where the baby bassinets are, since there’s more floor space for a baby to play if they can sit up by themselves already. Plus, if you need to get up and walk around with a baby who can’t sit still in the seat with you, there’s usually a bit of space in front of this row of seats where you can stand with the baby without getting in the way of the hostesses or other passengers.
The Right Diaper Bag
Get a diaper bag that can go on your back – or use a backpack as your diaper bag. If you are travelling alone, you need about 10 hands instead of just two, so anything that will free up your arms and hands is an absolute must. This bag by SkipHop is the one I used.
The Smaller the Stroller, the better!
Use a stroller that is SUPER easy to assemble and break apart, because (as I mentioned in the previous point) you don’t have a lot of free hands and you’ll probably need to do it with one hand. If you can afford the BabyZen Yoyo+ stroller, this will be your ultimate lifesaver since it folds up and fits in the overhead compartment of the plane, and it’s very light compared to other strollers.
Wear your baby like your best handbag
Take a baby carrier with you (like the Ergo baby or the Lille Baby) – this is particularly handy if your baby doesn’t like being in the stroller and wants to be close to you. It will also free up your hands, and the baby will probably be rocked to sleep as you walk through the airport to your gate – win win!
If you know that you are travelling long in advance and taking the baby with you, keep breastfeeding! They fall asleep a lot faster and more easily, and you don’t have to worry about warming or cleaning bottles, and it saves space in your diaper bag.
Zip and lock it up!
Ziplock bags are your best friends. Put everything in ziplock bags and keep extra empty ones on hand as well. They’re great for dirty, puked-on onesies that you don’t want stinking up the rest of your diaper bag.
Outfit changes by the hour
Pack more onesies/clothes and diapers than you think you need – it’s amazing what can go wrong on a flight. Better to be prepared.
Don’t forget about your monthly visitor
For the moms: this might sound weird, but make sure you have a few pads or tampons just in case. A lot of the times we are so busy with the baby that we forget when our cycle should be arriving, and Murphy’s Law it will come in full force when you are 36 000 feet up in the air with no provisions.
Transfer all the baby’s toiletries into travel size containers (just make sure you label them correctly so you don’t get confused with what is what once you’ve arrived at your destination).
Your new BFF’s
Make friends with the air hostesses from the minute you step on to the plane. There will come a moment during the flight where you are bursting for a pee but your baby is refusing to sleep and wants to inspect every other person on the flight, and this is where the air hostesses will come in handy for a nice cuddle with the baby while you get the chance to relieve yourself.
Take a chill pill
Try not to stress about other passengers’ stares and comments if your baby is throwing a tantrum. As hard as this is, you can’t afford to be stressing out and panicking since your baby can sense it and will probably cry more because they don’t feel they are in a safe environment. If a passenger is being ultra mean, face them head-on and say: I can only deal with one tantrum at a time, you will have to wait your turn!” That should shut them up quite quickly.