Family travel expert, Emma Lovell, tells Mamamia her tips for a smooth, stress-free holiday with a baby.
Research your airline
All airlines are not created equally when it comes to flying with a family, some really do go that extra mile. Check out their offerings with regard to the size of their baby bassinets and maximum weight of the baby that can go inside it, whether they offer specially designed children’s meals, activities for the kids and extra help whilst you need another set of hands. Some allow free infant checked in baggage allowance, child head sets and free stroller use on arrival whilst at their hub – it’s worth doing thorough research before booking your flights.
What time of day do you leave?
Try and book a flight (if you can) for when your child would normally sleep. Perhaps an evening departure would work best for your baby? Or if they’re great day sleepers, then a day flight might suit them better.
How will you hold your baby?
Give thought to how you’ll carry your baby and your hand luggage – by having bub in a baby carrier, and a backpack with your flight essentials, you’ll have two free hands to navigate security, manage older kids, and look after passports/boarding passes etc.
Air pressure tricks
Be prepared for take-off and landing by offering baby the breast, a bottle or a dummy. The change in air pressure can affect their little ears at these times and sucking will alleviate any pain.
Where will your baby sleep?
When booking your airline tickets, make sure you book a baby bassinet (bed provided by the airline at the bulkhead of the aircraft) – this leaves baby to sleep while you can look after older kids, or catch up on a movie yourself. Be sure to pack a CoziGo Sleep Cover. This nifty device is a dome-shape pop up cover the clips to the bassinet, blocks light and all the crazy distractions on the plane and allows baby to sleep on their normal routine. It also doubles as a universal stroller cover once you begin your holiday so you can keep your baby on routine throughout the trip.
Podcast: Olympic gold medalist Lydia Lassila on how to travel with a little baby (post continues below)
Pack spare clothes for baby and kids, but remember to pack a spare top for you too – accidents happen.
Planes can get very cold – dress yourself and baby in layers that can be easily added to and removed.
The on-board nappy bag trick
Create nappy packs – rather than lugging a big nappy bag into the very small cubicle toilet every time a change is needed, I packed 10 nappy bags, each on containing one nappy and a few wipes. That way, when you need to change baby on board, you can quickly grab a pre-prepared bag of essentials.
Consider packing a small bag with your essentials for the flight that you can keep at your feet (nappies, wipes, toys, snacks etc). If the seat belt sign is on, you have everything you need within reach.
Take toys that your baby is already familiar with, their sleeping bag, a blanket, and don’t forget their comforter. This way, they still have all their regular sleep cues at bedtime.
Above all, try not to worry about flying with a baby – be as prepared as you can be, work off baby’s cues for feeding, sleeping, playing, and remember that you’re doing all you can to keep baby happy on board. You got this – now go and make some memories.
Emma Lovell is the inventor of award winning product, CoziGo.