If you’re one of the lucky few whose baby is great on planes without any effort on your part – please, tell us the secret. Maintaining the comfort of a baby during long-haul flights can be chaotic, stressful and more often than not, a little difficult. That’s why we had Alyza Puri, who herself takes care of 1 toddler and 1 infant, chip in to give us her advise on how one can make their travel journey easier for their baby and themselves!
Do research for yourself and your child. If you aren’t already familiar with the plane or airline you’re travelling on, now is the time to do it. What sort of inflight entertainment do they offer? What support do they have for infants? If you will need a stroller after lander, check if your airline will provide one. Reading up on various articles to pick up innovative tips on how to keep your child entertained will also be helpful. Don’t worry – it’s not as extensive at it seems, but if you have all this information beforehand, it is bound to make your flight experience more easy, efficient and calming for yourself and your baby.
Prepare Your Child
Alyza comments that she likes to mentally prepare her toddler by ensuring that they are aware of the travel journey – ‘they’re usually very fascinated by the plane… just making them familiar with the whole process and where you are going is a great idea’. If your child is older, it is a great idea to introduce play books and toys that imitate stages of the journey. A first flight or a plane ride in general, is monumental for both you and your child; it’s important to make the grandeur of the experience as less intimidating as possible. If you are a parent then you will know how fundamental association between image, experience and language is in the early years of your child, Alyza summarises this: ‘Communication with toddlers is key’. Getting your child familiar with the experience beforehand will mean they aren’t taken by surprise; prepare them especially for take-off and the fact that they won’t be able to move around freely for the next few hours. While telling them this, focus on the destination and tell them how exciting it will be when they finally reach.
Packing your luggage, running errands and looking after a baby all at once are not easy things. There are some simple ways to reduce this stress, but one thing that helps so many is making a list. It keeps you in check, works as a reminder in case you missed something important in packing and can also help calm your nerves. With a baby, it’s easier to forget things but taking time out to make a list will ensure that there won’t be any last minute confusion.
The list, generally, shouldn’t be extensive, only fundamental items preferably, which will mean that if you do perhaps forget anything, it won’t be major, and hopefully you can accommodate for the forgotten item in the country you are travelling to. The list should contain comfort fundamentals for the baby’s flight experience: formula milk if that’s what your baby is drinking currently, sanitised bottles, baby food and spoon if needed, all hygiene essentials (diaper bags etc), a first aid kit and more. It should also contain your flight information essentials: visas, tickets, passport etc. And of course, don’t forget your baby’s favourite things. Is there a teddy that calms them down? Or maybe a blanket? Some babies even have a colour that soothes them. Make sure you carry the things that are going to help make your baby feel more at home during this journey.
Calculated Feeding Times
Ensuring your baby is hydrated with supported digestion is extremely important on flights, due to the change that can take place in cabin pressure – something that will be entirely new to your child. Alyza advises that you should feed your baby upon take off and landing to ‘to avoid each aches due to ear pressure changes’. If your baby is particularly sensitive to pressure changes, other helpful tricks are for them to suck a dummy or a finger.
Pick The Best Flight Times And The Best Seats
Your experience flying with your baby will be much more relaxed if you work the flight schedule to your baby’s feeding and sleeping schedule. This obviously isn’t always possible, but when it is try to accommodate for it as it could make the journey easier. Try and fly at night when final feeds are stable, and you are ensured to get more rest than you would during the day. In addition, ensure that that you are able to attain bassinet seats for the comfort of both you and your child. Alyza explains that ‘if the baby has been well fed, you can rest them in the bassinet’ which will be far more convenient and comfortable. They can rest independently, and so can you. You will have the space to tend to your child’s needs and take resting periods.
Another great port of call is communication and familiarity with the air hostesses – if you have the time and space of mind, try and become comfortable and friendly with the air hostesses in your cabin, as it will be easier in times of need to communicate.
Benefits Of Duty-Free
If you are struggling with baggage weight or simply want to reduce the extent of load on the way to the airport, duty free is a great hack. With the use of your list of fundamentals, you can buy certain things (if you are choosing this option, make sure to check the duty free online for availability) like baby food, mixed formula or fresh beverages for both yourself and your baby. Alyza comments, ‘remember to pack some munchies of your child’s liking so they can enjoy the whole experience of flying.’ There is subsequently less stress during the security period after duty free, and reduced risk of thrown and wasted liquids. Plus if you have a layover, the duty-free can be where you replenish your toddler’s snacks!
Objects Of Comfort And Familiarity
As mentioned earlier, sensations of familiarity and comfort for your baby are extremely important to their calmness, especially on plane flights. This is why it’s important to bring a blanket or similar object that your baby regularly sleeps with or holds. It will ease them into sleep better – and give you more rest. Alyza emphasises that particularly with toddlers, entertainment is another requirement. She advises on displaying cartoons and animated movies whilst enjoying their food. Small and easy-to-carry toys are also fantastic, preferably ones that make little to no noise in order to ensure you aren’t disturbing other passengers. If they are likely to try and chew on harder toys as a result of teething stages, ensure you have a dummy or a gum relief gel (i.e. Bonjela) on you as well.
Lastly – Don’t Be Afraid
In writing, this seems like a lot – don’t worry! Alyza reminds us, ‘you need a lot of patience’. It’s mostly mental preparation if anything, and ensuring you are relaxed enough to have all of the correct preparation in place. Don’t be afraid that your child is going to disturb others – this should not really be a concern, particularly if you have a very young child. Don’t hesitate to clap, sing, and play with your child if he/she is restless and irritated; it will stimulate your child and distract them from distress. Similarly, when suitable, don’t be scared to walk onboard around your cabin to calm your baby.
You are new to this, and that is okay – always keep the focus on the comfort of you and your child!
Cover Image: @muzisufi