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Your first flight with baby

Filed Under: Blog, Family Travel Tips Tips on flying with a baby

Posted on 11th Feb 2014

Luxury family holiday specialist Tots Too passes on tips about travelling with a baby.

“Sheer terror. That pretty much sums up how I felt about flying with my first child when he was 5 months old. I felt overwhelmed by the logistics and complications of bringing this small bundle of joy with us on holiday. Now with three children and many holidays under my belt, I feel able to pass on some of the things that I have learnt (the hard way) along the way.

Firstly, feeding. If you’re breast feeding, you already have a fresh, portable milk supply. Although you may be tied to a routine, it would be ideal if you could feed your baby during take-off and landing, as the sucking will ease the pressure on their tiny ears. Even if you have long lost any feelings of modesty about feeding your baby in public, be aware of cultural sensitivities abroad, and consider ways in which you can breastfeed discreetly, perhaps with a strategically placed scarf.

For those using formula milk, a little more planning is required. Whilst airport security permits you to take baby milk (formula or expressed) and baby food in your hand luggage, they may ask to check it, perhaps by asking you to open and taste the milk. This can be a problem if you’ve brought with those ready-made Tetra-Pak cartons, as once opened, the milk begins to go off. There are two solutions. Bring with sterile bottles filled with the right quantity of boiled water, as well as pre-measured formula powder in a small container. Then, just before you want to feed, mix the powder with the water. The other solution is to buy ready-made cartons from the airport shop after security. This is more reliably offered at UK airports than at your destination, especially if you favour a particular brand, so it is good to come prepared with a container with pre-measured powder just in case.

Some airlines may kindly warm your baby’s bottle for you, although this is usually done by bunging it in the microwave so take care that it is not too hot and shake well to disperse hot spots. Busy cabin crew may not be able to help you straight away, so plan ahead and ask them before your baby is shrieking. If you’re bringing bottles of water from home, you could start your journey with very hot water, and then by the time you’re ready to feed, it should have cooled to a comfortable temperature.

The second hurdle is nappy changing. You’ll need a well stocked cabin bag! Think ahead to how many nappy changes you’re likely to have during the journey, right through to arrival at the hotel. Take the right amount of nappies, plus a few spares to cover unexpected flight delays, as well as the inevitable mishap. Even if you’re a cloth nappy fan, consider going for disposables for the journey itself. Nappy changes in the airport toilets are pretty straight forward, but if you feel that public toilets are not the cleanest, you can pack some anti-bacterial wipes and a roll-up changing mat to make yourself a clean base. Changes in the poky aeroplane loos are tricky too – make life easier by preparing a few single-change kits: put one clean nappy and a couple of wipes into a disposable nappy waste bag. Then you don’t need to carry the hand luggage as well as the baby down the aisle, just the essentials for a single change. You can even keep a kit tucked into the plane seat pocket, avoiding the kerfuffle of the overhead locker each time.

Potty training whilst travelling can make the nappy stage seem like a doddle, so if you’re thinking about starting your toddler off, you may be wiser to wait until your return. But there are various things you can do to smooth the way. Frequent stops at every public loo in the airport should be built into your timing plan. Fold up potties can be invaluable, especially when your little one is caught short at an awkward moment. If you don’t think it will set back your potty mission too much, put your toddler in a pull-up nappy just for the journey, or at least heavily padded training pants. You’ll feel glad of this when they curl up on your lap and go to sleep!

Your hand luggage will also need a few changes of clothes for your baby. This is to deal with the change of temperature at your destination but also the usual leaks, spills and mess that come with both travel and children. Of course parents aren’t immune to this mess either, and unless you fancy spending the flight with a wet stain down your front, you may consider a change of clothes for yourself too.

A few toys are useful to dangle at your baby when they need distracting: a couple of old favourites and one or two exciting new ones should do the trick. And if you’re a dummy user, bring plenty! The sucking helps with cabin pressure and your fellow passengers will silently thank you for it. A sachet of Calpol is another stand-by in case your baby suffers ear pain on take-off and landing.

For active babies, those early walkers and crawlers, let them burn off energy whenever you can, whether it’s tottering around the terminal on a harness or some supervised outings up and down the aisle when it’s not in use by the cabin crew. There are so many hours when they will need to be confined to their seat or their buggy, so make the most of whatever mobile time they have.

For traversing the huge airport terminals, however, a pushchair is very handy. You can usually take it with you right up to the runway, and then the airline staff pop it in the hold at the last minute. Even for those airlines with a tight weight restriction, pushchairs are usually exempt from extra charges (check in advance). It’s also useful as a makeshift trolley for your hand luggage! Consider taking a baby sling with you as well, as you’ll need to carry your baby from the plane to the baggage carousels before you can get your pushchair back.

Other practicalities include getting a passport for your baby (which can take time), otherwise you’re not going anywhere. Under 2’s can sit on their parents’ lap, saving you the price of an extra seat, but you would still need to book a ticket for your baby, as the airline needs to know the details of everyone who is travelling with them. If you prefer to reserve a separate seat for your baby, you can usually bring your baby’s car seat with you to put on it, so that they’re comfortable and safe (check with the airline).

Even the journey to and from the home airport can be fraught with difficulties, due to the car seat conundrum. Taxis rarely offer infant car seats, or have a habit of turning up without them. One option is to take your own with you, but then you need to be prepared to bring it with you for the whole trip, and they tend to be weighty bits of kit. Another option is to book valet parking, so you can bring you own car, complete with baby seats, to the airport, and then allow someone to handle the tiresome process of airport parking.

The team here at Tots Too will be happy to ensure that everything is set up for your baby on arrival at your destination. We’ll ensure that you’re met by a private car with the correct infant car seats fitted, and that your suite is prepared with a cot, cot linen and any other baby essentials requested, such as bottle sterilisers, bottle warmers, baby baths, etc. We can even arrange for some of the heavy items from home to be sent ahead for you, such as bumper packs of nappies or favourite jars of baby puree. The chefs at many Tots Too hotels take pride in concocting healthy baby purees from fresh local ingredients, so you may choose to leave the jars behind and let your baby can enjoy a taste of your destination too.

Tots Too are specialists in luxury family holidays and we have helped many families survive and even enjoy their first holiday abroad with their baby. Contact us here >, we’d be delighted to assist you.”

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