Flying with a baby needn’t be a nightmare
If you have an infant, chances are, you can say goodbye to a footloose and fancy-free lifestyle. Travelling can no longer be about packing up and jetting off at the drop of a hat; instead, it involves an almost military-like precision and strategic planning to ensure all bases are covered. Still, it doesn’t mean your travelling days are over. We offer you some tips that will make your journey smoother and more stress-free. We can’t guarantee your trip will be perfect (babies, as you know, are unpredictable), but it will be decidedly more pleasant.
You’re heading to a foreign place, so it’s natural that your child will feel more insecure and unsure of his or her surroundings. Bring along a favourite blanket, pillow, teether or rattle — the familiar objects will soothe the child a little. Books, snacks and toys can also serve as a distraction when he or she starts to get cranky on the plane. New ones can Trust me, these will be a real godsend when that happens.
If you have an infant travelling with you, the 100 ml restriction for liquids, aerosols and gels in carry-on luggage do not apply for baby’s milk, medicine and food. You’re also allowed to bring milk powder onboard, as well as hot water in a flask. Just present them at the security checkpoint. Most flights should provide warm water too, if you request for it. But best to double check with the airline to be sure.
Take your finger off the snooze button: You gotta make sure you reach the airport early so you have ample time to check in and clear security. To make the process a breeze, make sure you’re hands-free by putting baby in a carrier and using a backpack diaper bag. Once you’re through, try to play with your child and tire him or her out, so that he or she can fall asleep more easily on the plane.
Change your baby’s diapers just before you board so you don’t have to wrestle with that in the plane’s tiny bathroom (barring any poop incidents). Needless to say, bring along a changing mat and wet wipes. Tip: Be one of the last few people to board, because you don’t want to be stuck with an angsty baby in close quarters with nowhere to run.
Pack extra clothes because you never know when there’d be a poop explosion or a puking disaster. If weight is an issue, bring your own baby-safe laundry detergent so you can do your own washing. For diapers, pack enough to last at least two days so you have time to get more at your destination.
If your baby is bottle-feeding or if you are breast pumping, bring along baby-friendly dish-washing liquid and sterilising tablets. Simply wash your bottles, teats and breastfeeding equipment with warm soapy water, dissolve a tablet in a non-metallic container filled with cold or lukewarm water (giant ziplock bags work too) and pop your items in. They should be ready for use in 15 to 30 minutes (depending on the brand).
If you’re still breastfeeding, get your nursing cover ready and latch your baby as soon as you feel the plane pick up speed for lift off or prepare for landing. The sucking motion will help relieve painful air pressure. Alternatively, a pacifier or bottle feeding your baby works too, but make sure your baby is relatively upright if he or she is bottle-feeding.
We suggest picking an aisle seat, because you’d want to be able to pop in and out of your seat easily to change diapers or soothe your baby. In fact, consider choosing seats on opposite sides of the aisle so you and your partner can take turns. Take baby for a walk along the aisle to calm him or her down, or put him or her in a carrier and make rocking movements to send them to sleep. Patting, singing and talking in a low soothing voice helps too.
Say goodbye to having spontaneous days and late nights. At this age, your baby will usually require plenty of naps (every 2-3 hours), so make sure your activities are scheduled around that. Plan for one or two activities in the morning before heading back to your hotel for baby to nap. Once he or she is refreshed, there’s less likelihood of a meltdown during evening activities. You could bring along a pram or carrier for baby to catch a few winks, but outdoor naps are usually short and non-restorative.
Remember: A tired baby is an angry baby! For flights, opt for a morning one near baby’s nap time. Babies tend to fuss more as evening approaches, so if you pick a late flight, you’d run the risk of having to put your baby down for bedtime way past his or her bedtime, which can mean only one thing — good luck with that.
We all know how nightmarish it can be to be cooped up in a plane or a restaurant with a shrieking baby. A small gesture to those around you may soothe the pain, or at least, make them more forgiving. Include earplugs, a sleeping mask, snacks and a handwritten note expressing your appreciation. It’s bound to make them feel better about the whole experience.
By Joy Fang, Updated by Sandhya Mahadevan, November 2018