When I look back at our holiday trip last 2011-2012 to the US, I am happy for two reasons. One, we got to spend Jacob's First Christmas with family in the US. It wasn't exactly a white Christmas, but it was a freakin' cold one! If you know me personally, you know how much I love spending the holidays in the East Coast that here in toasty Manila. I feel like the holidays are much simpler there. And we just have one to two big parties to host and attend to.
Second, I am glad we decided to travel thousands of miles on an airplane when Jacob was barely 6 months old and not walking. Why you ask? Well, if you look at him now, he's not entirely one to sit still for hours and hours anymore. He's physically active, adorably loud, and pretty much unstoppable. What kid isn't at this age?!
I feel like I can't go on a plan ride with him right now, especially one that takes 16 hours, 2 stops, and a complete change in body clock. I'm saying this because he's barely two. Just about getting to his terrible twos, if not has started already! And he can't sit still like an older child can obviously. Even if I put on his favorite movie, he'd still be moving around, playing with his toy cars on the floor when he gets bored, but he'd still be watching it from time to time. So basically what I'm saying is, airline tray table activities won't work with him yet.
But I've got great tips, based on experience, for parents who are planning to travel with their babies by plane soon. It's always, always, a great idea to be prepared. I'd even suggest going overly prepared because you'll really never know!
For our trip, to and from, I've listed down EVERYTHING we would possibly need for Jacob for two days. It's just like packing your regular diaper bag, but this time on a bigger bag for a much longer time. I have to admit, we fell short on one thing (milk!), but the rest I can say were perfect. So if you're planning on traveling with your baby by plane soon, read on!
Tips on Traveling with a Baby by Plane
1. Stock up on Baby Food
This can mean either solid food if your baby has already started on it or breast milk or formula.
Jacob was already mixed fed during that time so even though we have the convenience of breastfeeding on demand, I still had to prepare enough formula for the trip when we need it. I've read on many parenting and breastfeeding blogs that breastfeeding Moms tend to dry up a little bit when traveling by plane. This can be caused by dehydration and fatigue, but more on this later.
So basically, I estimated that if we were at home, he'd get a maximum of 3 bottles of formula for a day. But I added two extra bottles just in case those 3 weren't enough. Sad to say, on the last leg of our trip, Narita to Los Angeles, Jacob had already consumed 4 bottles of formula because I felt really tired and my supply had gone low, almost nothing was coming out, and he wanted to nurse endlessly. The last bottle was reserved for our car trip from the airport in case he cries out and obviously, we can't take him out of the seat.
If you baby has started on solid food already, this is fairly easy for you. If you're traveling across the country and you will be served food on the plane, you can actually order baby food for your little one and it's basically free. Well, not free. You did pay for his ticket, unless it's a domestic flight. They serve Gerber to the cuties. But of course, you can take your own! Baby food should pass security checks, just like breast milk and formula. Just make sure you put them on sealed containers and sealed bags or Ziplock bags to avoid spillage when stored. Bring finger foods too so they can munch on their favorite snacks when bored.
Be prepared to Breastfeed. Have your nursing cover or blanket ready. Wear a nursing top or nursing bra. Choose a seat next to the window so people don't bump into your arm or baby's head if you take the aisle seat. Have your husband assist you in preparing to breastfeed too!
2. Stock up on Diapers (a lot of them!) and change them often.
Your baby may be using 6-8 diapers a day, so if that was my baby I'd pack with our carry-on luggage close to 20 diapers JUST TO BE SURE. You never know because your baby might drink lots of milk or any other drink during the flight to soothe himself. We made sure to change Jacob's diaper every 4 hours, depending on how soiled it is with pee or poop. Basically, you want to keep your baby comfortable during the flight so while he may be okay crawling around with a semi-soiled nappy, it may be a different case while on the plane because of the different environment and the amount of liquid he takes in.
Changing a diaper can either be easy or difficult. Most planes have at least 2-4 lavatories with changing tables, depending on the type of plane you'll be flying. I'm sure even domestic ones have them, but I've read some complaints about other airlines not having changing tables available.
How to Change a Diaper on a Plane
1. Take only what you need. 1 change of diaper, wipes, a soothie or toy if your baby needs one. I would not suggest changing baby's clothes inside the lavatory because of the small space.
2. Close the lid on the toilet seat. Duh! Lol.
3. Changing a diaper must be fairly easy for you now that you've been doing it for weeks/months. This time, just do it faster! It's hard enough that you have to do it in such a cramped space, it may not be the most comfortable diaper change for your little one either.
4. NEVER change your baby's diaper on your seat or on the floor (can I just say, eww?) IF you are not traveling with the people next to you AND you're planning on changing a poopy diaper. Common courtesy to your fellow passengers is key to having a great flight with your baby. If you really need to change right then and there, make sure it's not a #2 kind and you do it fast and discreetly.
5. Don't forget to wash for obvious reasons! Oscar actually had the strength to wash Jacob after a dirty diaper, never used wipes at all! I don't know how he did it, but he did. Just make sure you wash your hands and your baby well. Use a tissue to hold the faucet and when opening the latch of the lavatory. I'm a germaphobe like that!
We also took advantage of lay-overs to properly wash and change his nappy. Prior to our trip, I went to each Airport's nursery room or restrooms with changing tables.
|Nursery Room at Narita Airport|
Walk around the cabin often to entertain your tot, especially if he's already walking. Make sure you only do so when the seat belt sign is off and that you won't be bothering meal service. It's okay to walk around when everyone's asleep, just make sure you don't disturb those around you.
4. Bring a couple of sets of clothes to change in. Comfort is very important, if I haven't emphasized it enough. So make sure to only bring change of clothes that your baby won't be fuzzy in and can have a good nights/day sleep in. For our trip going to L.A., I brought 3 sets of clothes and 1 set of sleep clothes. We changed him into his jammies during our 9 hour flight.
|Changed into his jammies!|
6. Keep an empty water container for you to fill-up and drink up during the trip. Especially for breastfeeding Moms traveling with their baby on a plane. I can't say this enough, your supply, no matter how much milk you usually produce, can get very low when traveling long hours. I've experienced it and was lucky that I brought two extra bottles of milk with us. Or else, all hell would have broken lose. Oscar had to actually walk Jacob around, dance him to sleep, during our long haul flight because he can't sleep well and even breastfeeding can't help because nothing is coming out.
|During our layover at Detroit International Airport|
8. Preparing courtesy notes/candies/ear plugs for your nearby passenger neighbors is also a thoughtful thing to do, especially if you think that your baby has a greater chance of being fuzzy and noisy while in the air.
|Bulkhead Economy Comfort at Delta Airlines|
|Ask your Airline what their bassinet weight limit is first!|
I hope you learn something from my tips on how to travel COMFORTABLY by plane with your baby. It helped me a lot to read on tips and how to's before we traveled. I'll be sharing more traveling tips for new parents!
QUESTION OF THE DAY
What was the hardest part for you when traveling with your baby by plane?
Share your thoughts below!