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Flying Abroad With A Baby

by Charlotte Walker

Sun, sea, sand… screaming baby! It’s not the usual image you muster up in your excited imagination when you’re about to board the aeroplane, but it was for me as I anticipated trying my first ever flight with a little baby; my daughter, in fact, Ava – aged 5 months.

For a first ‘Momma Tried’ blog, this is a monumental one, but we did it… we came out of the ‘other side’ smiling… I have lots of advice for fellow mommas (daddas, grandmas, etc) and I might even be able to put your mind at rest, or at least prepare it!

Now, let’s not even start with getting onto the plane; I was going to begin the blog right there but, frankly, every momma needs to be prepared for the mammoth task of packing your little one’s case. Wow! How can someone so tiny need to take so much?!! In fact, Ava (being around 14lbs herself now) had half of her weight in hold baggage… HALF!! We started with packing an outfit per day (vests, socks, the usual) and then a sleep suit per night but then you think ‘what if she chooses to blast out one of those apocalyptic poops? You know, the kind that can only be matched to the eruption of Krakatoa paired with the stench of an open sewer! What if that happens in one of her outfits? What if it happened daily? Better pack TWO outfits per day! And just for extra insurance, you throw in a couple more! Then there’s the need for a couple of posh evening outfits, her bibs, muslin cloths, mittens, hats, nappies (lots and lots of nappies), wipes, bathing products, sleeping bag or blanket, supplies for feeding…

Her main bag is packed. Finally! So you move onto her hand luggage. Surely this can’t be as bad, surely? Now, on our flight, babies are not entitled to any hand luggage allowance (that’d be silly, right?) so we resign to the fact that some of her things will need to be part of mummy and daddy’s hand luggage. Her usual changing bag clearly needs to come on board with us, so there’s my hand luggage vitoed right there! Sean, my husband, thinks he’s got away with it; we’re both used to filling his hand luggage with a laptop for film-watching, books, magazines, sweets and a whole plethora of onboard relaxation and entertainment must-haves! But wait…! How will the baby be occupied? Thoughts of a bored, restless, screaming mini-person fills our heads, along with the image of 200-something not-so-pleased passengers. Toys! She will need toys… lots of toys as that day she might decide that Peppa Pig is no longer the boss and that super-cool rattle thing with bells on doesn’t ignite explosive laughter anymore, let alone raises a smirk.

What if it’s cold on the plane?- she’ll need a blanket! What about feeding comfortably?- let’s pack the pink princess boobie pillow! Popping ears?- pack those dummies! Our second and only-remaining chance of adult hand luggage fades away into a distant fond memory, but now our baby has everything she should need (guarantee of any baby still not having a hissy fit on board not included!) All of the above sounds excessive, but we did come to need most (if not everything) we had packed!So let’s talk about poop again. Come on, it’s a baby-based blog… it’s always about poop! Never in my life had I prayed for poop as much as I did that morning and on the way to the airport, or even whilst waiting in the departure lounge… poop anytime but whilst on the plane. Sadly, that day my poop prayer wasn’t answered. Ava did offer us a few trick trumps in the airport just to get our hopes up then to find no poop had arrived. She’s ‘normally’ a morning pooper. WHERE IS THE POOP?!! If I was out shopping at that time, she’d have pooped. If I was at my mother and baby fitness class at that time, she’d have pooped. That day, Ava wanted to grace us with poop in the afternoon. We were at 38,000 feet and the stink bomb fell, shortly after that undeniable sound that Sean only describes as the sound of “blowing bubbles in soup”. This one was daddy’s turn; another bit of advice to you mommas is to call shotgun on the right to stay firmly seated throughout the flight!

Having not witnessed the nappy-changing event first-hand, I’m not able to offer my advice and take on the matter, although Sean did that usual daddy ‘thing’ that I’m sure most dads do anyway… you know, that thing where they feel they have to report back on their time as chief nappy-changer because, I don’t know, they don’t want you to feel like you’ve missed out on one. Anyway, the changing unit was a small fold-down changer that pretty much flopped above the sink. Any edging was kindly excluded allowing baby to roll freely off the edge if they so wished. Sean allowed himself the time to contemplate his plan should the plane experience any turbulence during the procedure; baby would surely fall directly into the toilet with any sudden banking, so he considered whether you’d catch the baby or the flying poop platter heading your way..? Actually, he never did tell me what his choice would’ve been…?!! Thankfully, no turbulence was experienced at that time, the job was done in around 5 minutes and Ava was kind enough to keep all contents contained within the nappy, with no ‘code-browns’, as we call them.

Feeding wasn’t an issue flying out. Ava is breast fed and I just fed her on demand, trying to aim for taking off and landing if I could as a way of helping her ears a little, but dummies came into good use for that too. Ava’s pink princess boobie pillow came in good for support for my achy arms and later doubled up as a brilliant neck pillow for me – result! Albeit I must’ve looked like a Tudor sporting a princess-themed neck ruff! Feeding on the flight home was a little more difficult but that was due to my own stupid fault; wanting to don my lovely maxi dress for the journey and not realising it made the boobs almost inaccessible in any publicly-acceptable way… almost! Advice there… always consider how you’re gonna get the ‘girls’ out.

The other passengers. On the run-up to the flight I did have that picture in my mind of us walking down the centre of the plane, baby in arms, and other seated passengers expressing that sheer look of fear on their faces as you approach their row of seats, followed by the outbreak of relief as you walk past them. I know other people feel that way; I used to be one of them. To be honest, I didn’t have the time to notice, I was too busy searching the row numbers whilst juggling a baby and carrying stupendous hand luggage that’s emitting sounds of bells, rattles and the Peppa Pig theme tune! To be fair, all surrounding passengers seemed fine. Most chatted to Ava and complimented her behaviour (she was extremely cool on both flights though!)

And that’s it! First blog is done. It was on my mind to do this whilst on the plane as I hadn’t a clue what to really expect… I could’ve done with the low-down from a real momma beforehand. I hope anyone considering the chance to take your baby on a flight goes for it and that my experience helps you on your way. Happy travelling!

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