Traveling with your baby can be amazingly smooth depending on how prepared you are. Have you ever been on a long haul flight or even a 4 or 5 hour journey sitting next to a mother with a young baby? Did you wonder what you’d do if you were in their shoes? Maybe you’ve become a parent since that experience and are contemplating traveling with your baby. You’ll be relieved to know that there are strategies you can use to help the hours pass with less strain and discomfort for you and your baby(s).
These travel tips can be used no matter how you're traveling: plane, car or boat, but we refer to air travel in more detail here.
Taking Off and Landing Tips:
The most distressing thing for babies and young toddlers while travelling by air seems to be taking off and landing. They get blocked eardrums causing earache. The best way to help with this is to encourage your baby to swallow or suck. I recently travelled next to an Australian Mum on a long haul flight. She was very intuitive and knew to nurse her six-month-old daughter each time the plane took off or landed. Her baby was so content during the long flight that she hardly spent any time being unsettled.
So how do you get any sleep if you’re flying with your baby alone? Usually the flight attendant will bring you a sleep bassinette or travel cot and attach it to the area in front of your seat. You may find that holding your baby and letting him or her sleep against your warm body will also settle him or her very quickly. Check out our page on attachment parenting for more tips. Babies seem to find travel easier the younger they are.
Flying with your baby can often mean unsettled periods for your baby. One of the best tricks is to walk up and down the alsle of the plane. This is best done when no meals or refreshments are being served. The motion of your body against theirs and the sound of your soothing, familiar voice will usually settle your baby into a sleep or doze.
Make sure to bring baby’s favourite cuddly blanket, soft toy or rattle with you when flying with your baby. Familiar articles like these will be comforting to your little one. Even when they are older the same things will often be helpful for long journeys.
Feeding During Flights
Whether you’re nursing or bottle-feeding your baby, it’s good to be prepared. Bring a small baby wrap or blanket to cover yourself with if you want to be discreet while nursing. If you have infant formula or baby foods that need warming up, the air hostess or flight attendants are usually very happy to assist. They also love cuddling babies given half a chance!
And what about feeding yourself? If you’re traveling with your baby and your partner or husband there should be no problem. The two of you take turns to eat, sleep or go to the bathroom. However, for those of you traveling alone with your baby it can be more difficult. Often you’ll end up holding the baby in one arm and eating with the other. Ask the flight attendant to cut up your food for you if necessary or put your baby in the travel cot while you uncover and cut up your food. Then it’s easier to eat one-handed.
Safety Belts When Flying
It’s always advised to keep your safety belt on while seated during flights. Some Airlines also provide a separate adaptor belt or loop belt to go around your toddler or older baby. Ask the flight attendant to help you if you’re traveling with your baby and are unsure what to do. Some airlines will even let you bring a baby’s car seat on board planes.
Whether you're traveling with your baby or toddler by Air, Road or Sea, enjoy the journey and try not to be too fixed in your ideas. Go with the flow and let your baby follow his or her own instincts whenever possible. This won't always work out, but give it a try for a calmer trip.