Ask new mammas what terrifies them the most about taking a little munchkin abroad, most often than not it's the journey: you'll often hear horror stories of babies intent on screaming throughout the journey or favourite bunnies forgotten at the boarding gate...
Let's face it, travelling as a grown-up can be quite a daunting prospect these days (with shouts of "liquids bags!", "remove your coats" and "place your smaller bag under the seat in front of you!" even before you can think about what time it is...) so imagine the stress of a little baby going through it all. And then its parents trying to smooth things over to make it all better. After this it's no wonder some mammas arrive at their destination looking less yummy mummy and more haggard zombie.
A big traveller for work and leisure, not travelling with Monsieur Baby was not an option I would have even considered, so I had to draw a master plan to make travelling as painless as possible.
1) Pack intelligently and with plenty of time: don't leave packing your baby's suitcase (and your own) until the last minute, that's when you'll forget half of what you need and be extra stressed even before leaving the house! If you can, make a standing list that you use everytime you travel with your little munchkin.
2) Take three changes of clothes on board: two for your baba, one for you... Accidents happen, motion sickness is a dog and in just over a year I have yet to be able to go through an entire journey without either Monsieur Baby or I needing at least a new top.
3) Bring your own entertainment: it doesn't matter that you're travelling First Class or Easyjet (though it will probably be easier on you in the former, I admit), your baby probably won't show any interest in the in-flight system... you must take lots of toys and baby books along to avoid them getting bored out of their mind and screaming the place down in despair. I always make sure to have one or two toys my monster hasn't seen before to get his interest up.
4) Time your travel well: in my case, I try to book flights which coincide with Monsieur Baby's bedtime or nap time. He is on a pretty good routine so we know what time he will feel sleepy and it's best not to have that clash with passing security for example!
5) A bottle on the way up, another on the way down: babies don't know how to ease the pressure on their ears so making them swallow some liquid (ideally milk, not scotch) as the plane rises in the air and descends before landing will stop them from feeling any pain in that area.
6) Take plenty of baby food on board: most of us hate plane food so why expect a baby to actually like it? It's best to take plenty of food your baby has eaten before and snacks they are used to having at home. And don't forget to bring plenty of water to keep them well hydrated!
7) It's all about comfort: I don't know about you, but I have a much better time travelling when I'm comfortable than when I'm cramped in the middle seat, feeling cold (or hot!) and unable to relax... well for babies it's exactly the same, so make sure you bring along enough little blankets and soft muslins to recreate some of their home comforts. Similarly, try dressing your baby in clothes that are soft and comfy...
8) Take a baby carrier with you: most airlines will insist on sending your buggy (as foldable as it is) to the haul as you board and you'll only get it back at the luggage hall; imagine trekking across a long terminal like Schipol or Madrid with a jiggling baby in your arms, not good...
9) Try to isolate your baby from the rest of the plane, train etc: sometimes all that noise and light can be a little much for little ones, and it's best to try and shield them with a well-placed muslin or black-out liner.
10) Accept the facts, your baby may cry during the trip: honestly, when delays get too long and the seat is too straight don't you wish you could scream in frustration? Well your baby can, and he will. If other passengers have a problem with that, they should be told to take their private jets next time...
Check out the below must-haves for zen baby travelling:
Clockwise from bottom left:
- Stella McCartney cashmere and cotton playsuit
- The Little White Company cashmere blanket
- Flying bunny rattle
- Bib and towel set
- Philips Avent bottles
- Dinosaurs book