Travelling can be stressful. Add a baby into the mix and it gets even more complicated. No matter what age your child is, the thought of travelling solo with them is daunting. The fear of being “that parent whose baby screams the entire flight”starts to build up, and you being to question of how you will manage to go through security, their routine being thrown out the window, how will you go toilet with a baby in your lap, and what will others around you say when you try breastfeed. Having travelled solo and with otherss, i must say travelling is different with a baby. Different priorities, activities and lots more stuff to carry. But it doesn’t need to be stressful.
My little boy was 7 weeks old when he had his first flight. In less than 4 months he had been on 7 flights. Last year we lived in Ayr, an hour drive from Townsville in North Queensland. I would take the 2.5 hour plane ride down to Sydney monthly after my son was born so I could see family. Despite my fears at first, he was an easy flyer. He loved the movement, the sounds and i guess being like his mama and daddy, he loved travelling.
Preparing & Planning
About week before a domestic flight and two weeks before international, make a packing list for you and baby. Take ONLY what you need, besides the extras for baby accidents such as nappies, onesies and dummies because nothing is worse than sitting covered in vomit or a baby explosions.
Gone are the days were i could easily take just a carry on backpack for a few days. So I paid for 20kg baggage allowance and took a medium sized suitcase each time along with my carry on backpack. Of course if you dont have anyone to help you, it does make it difficult. All depends where you are going and what you need. You could always buy what you need there or ship it there.
If travelling alone, I would always choose a backpack over a small suitcase. You dont have to worry about wheeling something and only having one hand free
In the small nappy bag i have:
*Bottles & formula – As i have a reflux baby he is on special formula once a day. However he does sometimes refuse to take a bottle so I always bring two pre made ones just in case. I bring a thermostat bottle as well for later use. We tried so many different types of bottles but recently he likes the Minbie ones (picture inside bag) as it has an angled teet, and is ok with the comotomo too (squishy bottle)
* Clothing- I usually back an 2 extra outfits for him (i love Bonds wondersuits), and an extra top for myself. This was for any accidents on the plane and if they misplace my luggage. As I usually stayed with family for the week I was there, I would only take enough clothes (checked in) for 4 days for myself, and extra 3 for bubs as he tends to go through a few outfit changes a day.
*bibs, dummies and dummy clips, and burp cloths.- You could never have too many of these. I would always have one of each out before taking off. I love the Eco child dummies and best of all he does too- started refusing the others just like the bottles.
* Small change bag– I took extra nappies (love Babylove ones) and wipes, nappy rubbish bags and a soft waterproof change mat also in there. This was the bag purse I would take into the bathroom if he needed changing.
*Toys- favourite soft blanky . We recently got Bandit the Racoon comforter from Riff Raff & Co. Plays music and white noise/hearthbeat.
*Water and snacks for myself. Breastfeeding makes you so hungry and thirsty!
As bubs started solids after this last flight, we didnt need any but he’s loving the Raffertys Garden (Australia only) brand so will bring 2 pouches next time. Maybe one fruit, one veggie.
I have only flown on domestic flights with my baby, and he sat on my lap, but if you are travelling internationally and your baby is small enough to fly in the bassinet, call to confirm that your request for a bassinet is still good.
Because my son doesn’t have a passport yet, I used a certified copy of his birth certificate. You MUST bring some form of identification for you baby. I dont like carrying originals, so i made a copy and got a JP to sign it. I kept it with me in the bag i use for travelling so I never forget it.
At the airport
I have always had my fiance drop me off at the airport and family pick me up on other side. If you can be dropped off, it would make it so much easier. If not, try park somewhere close so you dont have to walk a long way with baby and luggage.
I also like to arrive early as theres little wait for check ins. Normally I book my seat, I love 29A on Jetstar flights. Its the seccond last row, left window side. I have privacy at the back, space to hold bubs if he’s crying and toliet near me. I also find it easier to breastfeed with him on my left side. He normally feeds laying down so left is alot easier than right for him. Also the back usually is always empty. If you dont have pre purchased tickets, ask if you can have a window and if there is empty seats for you to have that isle. They are very accommodating to mothers especially if flying solo.
I first check in my big suitcase, collect tickets then head over to the oversize drop off to leave the pram if with me. A pram is good to have but not always easy. This first trip I really did need one. But it was difficult to transport it to from the car to airport with luggage and a baby. Being such an expensive pram (stokke) and knowing how some airlines handle luggage, I had it all in the cover, bubble wrapped before hand so couldn’t wheel it to the airport.
From soon our travels will be alot easier as we will be using the GB Pockit pram. It is the smallest and most compact buggy currently on the market. When folded its 30 x18 x 35cm and at only 4.3kg it can easily fit into a large handbag, and be stored in the overhead compartment or under the seat in front of you in the plane.
We got the Stokke carrier for big overseas trips as its got strong backpack like straps and a Baby Bjorn for quick trips as its easier to come on and off. These come in handy when travelling alone, as it leaves your hands free. I put my boy into one and let him look out the window, to keep him entertained.
Going through security doesn’t have to be stressful. As I haven’t been on international flights with bubs I didn’t need to carry any liquids in clear bags.For international flights, all liquids and gels need to be in a separate zip lock bag and placed into a tray. If you are travelling with an infant liquid limits dont apply.
If travelling with a compact pram as I will be in the future, have baby in it or your carrier until you get all of your personal items into trays and onto the conveyor belt. Then put pram/carrier onto belt. I didn’t know the first time, and my son fell asleep in the carrier, then we were told it to had to go into a tray. Wasn’t happy about being woken up so I had him crying til we boarded.
Once you are through, put the baby back in your carrier or pram before collecting your stuff from the trays. Take your time, people will understand that you need the extra time. They might even offer to help!
As airports are big and can be confusing, head to the gate early. This will allow extra time to wait for elevators if you have a pram and also because people like to get into line early. Find the toilets. Change baby, feed if needed, go toilet yourself, change baby again if need to. If your baby is formula fed (mine is both due to reflux), take pre made bottles so you can mix in powder. If water goes cold, airlines are accommodating to warm it up for you.
Most airlines will allow you to board first if you need special assistance or have small children. I was standing at the front of the waiting area before boarding so didn’t make much difference but it did allow me to get settled in before others sat down.
On the plane
I always ask for the infant belt on entry to not waste any time. If its your first time, they will show you how to buckle them in.
Before getting him all bucked, I lay him down on the seats next to me with a neck cushion (good for smaller babies and to put on arm rest when he is on my lap) around his neck. This allowed me to get everything i needed out such as the nappy change bag, dummies, bibs etc. If you go in the plane first, you’d get a good 5-10 minutes before anyone is seated next to you. Just be careful the arm rests dont hit them.
Just like adults, babies ears pop when taking off and landing, which is why alot of babies and children scream during this time. The trick is for them to be sucking. So feed them or you can try a dummy/pacifier. If they are already asleep, leave them as their ears will be ok.
I either express milk or just breastfeed him with a cover. My first time I gave him expressed milk in a bottle as i was scared to breastfeed in public, but honestly no one even notices, and now I dont care- its my right to feed my baby!
My son usually eats for about 10 minutes in the plane then falls asleep. Six out of the seven times we flew, he stayed asleep the whole time, until it was time to land. He did once cry after hearing a baby scream. But other than that he’s such a good flyer.
If he wasnt sleeping I would try whatever I needed to to keep him happy- walked up and down, fed him & even sang…softly..haha .If they have a favourite toy, let them play with it. Planes can get quite cold. I had my boy in a long sleeved outfit with pants and socks and had a muslin wrap or blanket to put over him as well. Im glad i did this as it was freezing on the plane, and very hot outside.
I found going toilet on board quite easy. I changed him first while talking to him so he wouldn’t cry. Then held him in my lap if i needed to pee. If you find it hard ask a air hostess to maybe hold him for a second. Who can resist a cute baby?? Of course dont give them a screaming baby. HAHA
After what could seem like forever…
Once you land, put baby into the carrier before leaving the plane as it will leave hands free to collect luggage. Remember that babies are just babies. They will scream, they will cry. Its their way of communicating. If anyone tells you otherwise, ignore them and move on. Don’t let anyone tell you that you cant breastfeed or to make your baby be quiet. Its not a kid yet, it doesn’t know any better.
Hope this post is helpful to those that are about to fly solo, whether its domestic or international. Enjoy the holiday. Yes routine will be out of whack, things may not go to plan but that is the beauty of motherhood and travelling with a baby can be wonderful!
Have you travelled with small infants, solo or with help? Would love to hear your experiences and tips!