If you are planning your first overseas trip with your baby, there are a couple of things to take note.
First of all, you have only 2 pairs of hands and that is provided if you are travelling with your spouse. One of you will be carrying the baby while the other person is carrying the diaper bag and other necessities. Basically, you want to travel as light as possible without missing out a single essential.
What are the essentials you have to bring?
These are items we think you should bring. You can adjust according to the flight duration. The following is a good reference for a 4-hour flight. Also, you should add 2 hours or more to the overall duration to cover travelling time to and from airport. In other words, if your home and destination is each 1 hour away from the airport, you want to prepare for 4+2 (6) hours.
- Diapers x3
- 1 Diaper changing mat
- Wet wipes
- 1 set of extra clothing in case he/she soils the clothes
- 3 bottles of milk (formula or breast) based on feedings of 2-3 hours per interval
- A heat resistant container for warming up your milk since they will be kept cold in a coolant bag
- Yes, you need a coolant bag
- Baby passport!!! (We almost forgot to bring!)
- A Diaper Changing Bag to hold all of the above
- Your Baby Stroller – Check out our review for Babyzen Yoyo+ which is the friendliest stroller for travel
You can check in the baby stroller as well just prior to boarding the plane. Just make sure when you are at the boarding gate, get a tag from the customer officer. It is to identify you as the owner and for easy retrieval at the destination airport.
Do you know…
You can board without joining the main queue (priority boarding) if you have a baby with you. Simply push your stroller with baby to the front of the line and the boarding officer will check your tickets and let you pass through in a jiffy.
Take-off and Landing
During take off and landing, your baby may feel discomfort due to the change in atmospheric pressure. Adults resolve this easily by yawning, swallowing saliva but your baby won’t know how to do this. If she cries, it helps too. A less stressful experience for your baby is to use a pacifier. Alternatively, you can time your feedings at take-off and landing. This has the same effect as the pacifier and also keeps your baby fed.
We usually try to feed her at take off and landing. Not only does it solve the air pressure issue, we won’t have to worry about feeding her until we reach our hotel or home.
Feeding your baby on the plane
Any parent can agree to this. Feeding your baby on the plane is not the easiest thing to do especially if you are on exclusive breastfeeding. We tried it once and frankly, it resulted in a lot of spillage and wet clothing (both baby and mom). Eventually, we decided to go easy on ourselves and bottle feed using expressed milk.
With bottle feeding, you need to keep the expressed milk cold throughout the journey. At the point of feeding, use a container filled with hot water to heat up the bottled milk for 5 mins. We find this to be the most convenient and fastest way since there is no way you can use an electric warmer unless you are taking First Class with power outlets.
Anyway, cabin crew are usually friendly and have a softer spot for babies. I asked for a cup of green tea and it took 15 mins because the crew member forgot about it but our baby had her milk readied in 5 mins. No complaints here though 🙂 Babies come first!
*By the way, we fly SQ from Singapore. Despite the challenges in air flight service lately due to increasing traffic, it is still by far the best airline we had flew. Keep it up!
Sleeping on the plane
At some point during the flight, your baby will need to sleep. Airlines provide bassinet for newborns as long as they are not more than 1 metre in height but you have to request in advance when you book your tickets. I think a comfortable range would be 80-90 cm. Otherwise, your little one may feel very cramped and unhappy. Our baby is 70 cm and already she fits the bassinet snugly.
Though bassinets will be provided to babies, do make sure to book your tickets earlier if possible to avoid any unforeseen circumstances such as shortage of bassinet seats for example. In our trip to Sydney last December, there was a total of 11 babies on the flight. It was quite a symphony throughout that flight.
If it so happens that bassinet runs out, you may have to hold your baby from take-off to landing. You will have sore arms after that. Here are two interesting alternatives for your consideration. No, we have not used them before but we found these from our research. If you have any experience with them, please leave a comment below.
The Infant Airplane Seat works by latching one end to the back of the seat in front. It can be ideal for very small babies but we are not quite sure if it works well for bigger size babies. The advantage is that you can see your baby all the time.
Poo and Diaper Change
No parent wants to encounter this but sometimes it is beyond your control. If you don’t want your baby to poo onboard, you can try to train him/her to poo in the morning or evening and if your flights do not overlap those hours, you can maybe escape a poo explosion.
No one wants to deal with a poo situation on the flight.
The space for doing diaper change is very small and you need to work within very cramped conditions, sometimes with a line of people waiting behind you. Crying baby, stressful parents…
Here’s our tip to improve this situation. You can change your baby’s diaper using the bassinet provided. The bassinet is about a metre in length and seriously, it really makes things much easier. You may feel conscious that other people are looking but really they just marvelling at how great you are as a parent to “operate” under those kind of conditions.
In our recent trip, I did a diaper change in less than a minute using the bassinet. When I turned around, I expect people to be applauding but most of them are sleeping or engrossed in their own work. So there…the concern doesn’t really exist.
From check-in to landing, we have covered what you need to take note when travelling with your baby. At first, it may not be easy and as first-timers, you may even lose your cool. But hey, travelling with a baby isn’t all that difficult once you get the basics.
Know that you can’t move around as fast as you would like in the past. You can’t push your baby around like a F1 racer like what you used to do, and going through security checks take a bit more time as well. So it’s better to start off a bit earlier and have allowances for delay here and there.
Secondly, if it is a shorter flight of 3-5 hours, try to time it so that your baby would want to sleep after they board. This may mean keeping them occupied with a bit of play time before setting off to the airport. Our baby slept throughout most of the flight yesterday, and only woke up for feeding before landing.
Well, that’s a perfect landing!
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