Thursday, February 23, 2017

Flying with a Baby

I actually started writing this post from my seat on our flight back from Florence to London.  Fleur was on my lap buckled in, sleeping.  That was last week, Fleur's 7th flight, she was five months old. Our first solo flight to the States now seems like years ago and it was only two months ago. I was so extremely nervous that first flight. All I could think of weeks leading up to it was a crying baby for seven hours. Luckily that was not the case for me, but I know that I am not the only mother in fear of that.  With a little research and a lot of preparation these flights have become much easier one by one. During these last couple of flights I have got a bit of a system down and I thought it would be a good post to share. I am certainly no expert and I know that like every step of parenting, it gets easier over time. I hope you new mamas find my flying with baby tips helpful! Good luck, relax and breathe.

...this post is written mainly towards 0-6 months, I have yet to see my experience beyond:) 
BOOKING YOUR FLIGHT

Traveling with a baby has changed the way I look at booking a flight.  I use to say yes to an extremely early morning flight, excited that we would get to our destination earlier in the day, but now knowing I'll need to wake, feed and dress myself and Fleur and possibly take the tube during rush hour with luggage and the buggy, it makes me rethink it all together.  Mid day flights work great! 

Let's be honest, once you have a baby you realize that there is a price tag on convenience and sometimes it's worth it.  I've decided that I would much rather pay £20 more for a direct flight then having to connect flights with Fleur.  I would rather pay a bit more and be able to fly out of London city airport (the most convenient airport!) knowing I can take the overground there and back. 

If you are taking a longer flight, make SURE to book the bassinet! Every airline has a different rule about booking this, but inquire what the airline policy is. I flew Virgin to the States when Fleur was three months old. Their policy was a first come first serve basis, however you could make a request in your reservation for it, AND I made sure to be at the airport early, on time and to get one of those bassinets! British Airways on the other hand allowed you to reserve them in advance, but their flights were fully booked. Depending on how big the baby is, how long your trip is will depend on if you want a bassinet. When we travelled two and from the States, she was three and four months and it was so nice to be able to place her in the bassinet and cover her with blanket for a few hours so you could also sleep! 

Do make sure to remember to book the infant! Yes, infants on your lap do not cost an entire ticket, however there are some taxes you need to pay for this. Also, an infant is allowed baggage and usually you get seated near a window area. Do not let yourself get to the airport unchecked, with the baby and it is a surprise to them that now their is a baby on board. 

PACKING

I live in London and do not have a car so it truly depends on which airport I'm flying out of. If I am flying for a weekend trip I do not use a suitcase and instead go for a duffel bag so I can fit one under the buggy and one hanging over the buggy. This way if I need to travel to the airport without my husbands help, I can push everything and not have to worry about pushing a suitcase and the buggy. 

If you are going gone a longer journey then you will need a suitcase for sure and the tube ride there may be out of the question, instead, for ease, book a car/taxi to the airport! 

Travelling with babies is all about simplicity I have learned. Do not over pack your carry on. Here is what I recommend: 

Pack of Wipes

4-6 nappies {always good to have more in case of accidents, delayed flights and for landing!}

a change of clothes for baby

a change of clothes for you {you never know when the pressure gets to your baby and their food gets all over you!} 

3 x disposable changing pad {I wipe down the changing pads but still, airplanes are small and babies grab at everything sometimes, I find these useful when traveling!} 

1 x blanket

1 x pacifier/dummy

2-3 toys

hand sanitizer

sanitized empty bottles - remember to pack a bit more then their regular scheduled feeds. Just like adults, flying can make babies a bit dehydrated. The last thing you want is a crying baby and no clean bottle to feed them with. 

pre boiled water measure in bottles {if formula feeding} -or- bottles of breast milk - you will have to put this through security, just make sure to check the security regulations online to see if you need to have them measure out in certain quantities. I was able to take water and formula on all flights easily! 

pre measured formula

pre made formula bottles {I like to pack a few of these in case the water spills, they are easy to pour into a bottle as I mentioned in this post}

2 x burp cloths

hand sanitizer 

1 x backpack - MUCH easier to wear a backpack through the airport and have your arms free then to have a cross body bag or over the shoulder bag. This way if you put the baby in a baby carrier you can still have your passports/ticket in one hand, maybe grab a coffee! I am now all about the backpack! 


I found it very convenient to pack "changing table" bags in ziplock bags then during the flight I didn't need to bring in my entire backpack or rummage through it to the small airplane bathroom. Instead I made a few bags that each included: 1 nappy, a small bag full of a few wet wipes, 1 x disposable changing pad, 1 x nappy bag to throw it away. These made my bag much tidier and so much easier on the flight. It truly depends on the length of your flight but I estimated 1 every three hours. 

Things for you....unfortunately I have stopped packing magazines, ipads, etc. in my bag.  I am sure once Fleur is older I will but for now, I have my small kindle in my bag if she falls asleep and indulge in watching a movie on the fight. Do not pack it in your bag if you TRULY think you will not use it! Babies require enough stuff, do not carry around extra useless items. My last flight I didn't even pack a big bag of liquids for myself. Usually I have hand lotion, multiple lipsticks, etc. This time for ease of going through I packed one lipstick and voila, done. 
 BUGGY vs. CARRIER

We have the Uppa Baby Vista with the bassinet. I was very hesitant to bring the bassinet with me to the States on the flight because it does not fold down all the way. After calling the airline to confirm, they said it was not a problem to have two pieces. When we check in, they tag the bottom buggy and then I have them tag the bag {either buy a cover for the bassinet or you may have received one when you purchased the buggy!} because that is what you will give at the gate. I have preferred to keep Fleur in the bassinet until we get through security. You are required to take the baby out of the buggy through security and can not have a carrier on anyways, so I like to be able to sort all of my items through security and then pick her up and walk through. Then I have the buggy ready to place her in as I  get everything sorted again after security. If you are at the airport with loads of time, great, have the baby take a bit of a nap, otherwise, put them in the carrier and really try and keep them up so they will sleep when you get on the flight! People love babies, they do, and a smiley baby looking around the airport is great. It also allows you to have your hands free for ticketing, etc.

I know some people like to check the buggy all together and get it after the flight, I think this is a personal preference and depends on if you have help etc. While traveling alone I have found it nice to have both with me. I wait to pack up the buggy once I am checked in at the gate. I usually place my coat and blankets in the bassinet, place them in the bag and then leave them right by the plane. The airlines have always been super nice on collecting them. DO MAKE SURE to ask where you collect it. I have had it delivered to me right as I exit the flight and other times I have had to collect at baggage claim.

The Carrier! The carrier is great to wear when boarding the flight, if the baby is fussy you can walk up and down the aisle with them and through customs and baggage claim. Make sure you pack this! Also, if your baby does not like the bassinet, a lot of babies are great at falling asleep in the carrier. I love holding Fleur while sleeps, but on a seven hour flight with them in your arms, a carrier is a good thing!
 TAKE OFF / LANDING 
Unlike adults, babies have no concept of how to adjust to the air pressure of take off and landing. The best thing to do is to wait until you see the plane getting ready for take off, not when you get on the flight, when the plane is physically in motion and start feeding your baby {breast or bottle!} so the sucking motion blocks their ears from hurting during the altitude change. If they are asleep and not eating, try giving them a pacifier so the sucking motion helps. Luckily Fleur has been really wonderful with this, however if you are not prepared you can have one crying baby in your arms!
 WEAR A BACKPACK 
I think I said this earlier but really, I can't say it enough. I'm a HUGE fan of my new Fawn Design bag that I can use as a shoulder bag, backlog, cross body bag. It has been great to travel with because I can organize everything neatly and as I mentioned, it frees up your hands.
 DOCUMENTS
Easily pack your documents. I have a pouch where I keep all of our passports, boarding passes in one together. It is bright pink, easy to find in my bag and I can hold onto it instead of rummaging through my bag every time you need to show your tickets and passports. Sounds easy right, well honestly, it is and that one simple step helps. Also, do make sure in case your baby has a different last name then you that you get a document approving travel outside of the country with you, if you are flying alone! This way at customs you do not have any trouble.
 ENJOY THE TRIP 
As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, this is not suggested for older babies, toddlers, etc. I only have experience with my little five month old Fleur. However, what I have really learned while traveling so many times with her in a short period of time, both with my husband and alone is...there are nice people out there! Every flight I get nervous that she will cry, go crazy etc. Fortunately I have planned and packed well. We had a one hour delay for a flight, I was so worried she was going to be fussy and not sleep or eat on the plane, she wasn't. The staff at ticketing have been helpful to me and allow early boarding {take advantage of this!}, and strangers are nice {take advantage of this!}. While traveling alone to the States at three months I was probably sweating and looked petrified. I had two mothers come over to me and say they were there to help if I needed someone to hold the baby so I could use the bathroom. You know what, I asked half way through the flight. They were nice people and just wanted to help. They had been there once! Men helped me at baggage claim, helped me on the shuttle, etc. Breathe a little and just try to enjoy the little bits with your cutie looking out onto the clouds for a minute. Breathe and be prepared and you will be OK!

 
 Once they start walking.....that is another story! Enjoy your trip!

xoxo Rebecca

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