Flying with a baby is not easy, however I feel like a pro now that I've travelled so much with Ayla!
I've just returned from a whirlwind trip to the UK and I wanted to share my tips for travelling overseas with a baby.
I've done this trip twice, once when Ayla was 10 weeks old and more recently with her being 8 months.
My first bit of advice... Fly Business Class! ...
I flew from Perth to Edinburgh by MYSELF! Conquering this was huge for me! Being confined to such a small space with an 8 month old is HARD work.
I mentally prepared for the very worst! I was so nervous & anxious about the flight even at the very last minute I was trying to find a way of not having to go through with it.
Long story short, my husband and I were travelling to the UK for a friend's wedding, however the dates were not in our favour and the longest my husband could be away was one week...
There was no way I was going to put Ayla through all that travel for one week, it wasn't fair.
So, the only solution was that I fly over a week earlier so that Ayla and I had two weeks away, enough time to get used to the time change (but then of course we had to fly home again!) Anyway...
I didn't want to fly solo with a baby but I had no other option.
Good news, it wasn't as bad as I had thought. Don't get me wrong it was still horrendous, but we made it!
On the way over we flew with Etihad, direct, just a 1 hour stop over in Abu Dhabi.
I recommend breaking the trip up if you can. Stay a night or 2 to give yourself and Bub a break. This wasn't an option for us.
From door to door was over 24 hours.. TORTURE (especially when you've been awake for the past 8 months!)
Missing my arm has never been an issue until I became a mum. There are certain tasks you need to do when you have a baby where having both hands would make life easier, like carry her and luggage!
I used my Marsupi Carrier (from Fertile Mind), which is the easiest carrier for me because there are no clips or buckles, just Velcro!
Which is also great when traveling because you don't need to take it off when going through security!!
So tip one, wear a carrier that has no metal! Otherwise you'll be taking it on and off at every security check point.
I had to travel with minimal 'stuff' because I can only manage one bag, otherwise it is just impossible for me to carry Ayla.
I took my Marc Jacobs baby bag. That's it.
This meant I had to really think about what to pack inside! No excess crap which it's normally filled with!
What I packed:
Nappies x 10
(always pack more than you think just incase there is a delay)
Nappy bin bags
A few familiar toys
(Don't go crazy though, remember less is best when travelling. AND, if your baby is anything like A they will be more interested in the safety instruction card and the headphones! But familiar toys are good to help baby feel secure in their new surroundings.)
(Something I usually read at bedtime, again for familiarity
(Again for familiarity, and because even though I did use the blankets provided by the plane, I didn't want them to directly touch A (I'm a bit OTT when it comes to hygiene)
A muslin wrap or similar
(Great for all sorts of things, I used it to cover up while feeding.
(So now that A is eating solids I had to pack food. I'm very picky when it comes to baby food. I make my own! But, I didn't have enough room to pack all the little containers with home cooked meals, so I opted for packaged baby food... Bellamy's organic (the only packaged food I will give A) that way I could throw it out once she had finished eating.
I packed about 5 individual pouches. Again a few extra just in case of a delay. Airlines do have baby food onboard, but it's just sugary crap so I didn't give her any of it.)
* I should mention that I had absolutely no issues at any security point with regard to her food.
A baby bottle
(With Water for Ayla which I kept it under 100ml)
Bibs x 2
Change of clothes for Bub as well as socks!
(Just in case (didn't need it)
Toiletries & muesli bars!
Don't expect to get much sleep. Or any at all.
You need to pre-book the seats that have the bassinets, or arrive very early, because it's basically a 'first come first serve' basis.
On the way over I was very lucky and had the seat next to me free!!!
This made a world of difference. It meant we could spread out, a little.
I always feed Ayla during take off and landing to help alleviate any pressure in her ears/sinuses etc.
Once the seatbelt sign is turned off the hostess will bring the bassinet. Once the bassinet is set up, it does take up a lot of space, but it's worth having, even if you just put toys in it etc.
Depending on how old and mobile your baby is, the bassinets are good for babies to sit in and play.. Of course Ayla is too active and would literally stand up and jump out!
So it wasn't really possible to do it this time.
Instead I laid blankets on the floor and let her sit and play.
She wanted to crawl everywhere so I had to barricade her in using the baby bag!
I didn't get to eat much for obvious reasons, but thankfully having the seat next to me free meant I could put the meal tray there and just pick at food. Otherwise you can also put it in the bassinet if your baby isn't it there.
Going to the bathroom - well it just sucked! My little girl does not go to strangers! (Which is a good thing) but this meant when I needed to go to the toilet she had to come with me. It was awkward and awful. Trying to hold her so that she didn't touch any surfaces!
It was just horrendous!
Changing her was also, awful. The quicker the better. But of course she wanted to roll over and reach for everything. I hated it. But unavoidable.
Ayla doesn't sleep for more than 3 or maybe 4 hours. Ever. However she does have regular naps.
So I figured this might actually not be too bad, at least I knew that she would sleep at some point. She slept on me. Which meant I got no sleep.
I tried putting her in the bassinet but she woke up. I think I succeeded once, but turbulence meant I had to get her out again!
Whenever there is turbulence, babies must be taken out of the bassinet!
It's frustrating especially when they are fast asleep, but it's for safety reasons.
I eventually gave up and just left her sleeping on me.
At one point I lost all feeling in my legs.
Overall it wasn't too bad.
She really didn't get a lot of sleep so being over tired made her a little irritable, but it wasn't too bad. I just had to keep her entertainedShe didn't scream or suffer any pain when we were descending, thank goodness.
She cried a few times as all babies do, just because she was tired.
The hardest part of all ... JET-LAG
Even for adults jet-lag sucks, but little babies don't understand, they just sleep when they are tired.
We landed at 7.30am
By the time we got our luggage and through customs and from Edinburgh to Glasgow (1 hour drive) it was about 10am
Ayla had a nap at about 11am - but she woke up screaming, probably because she was in a new place and also probably because she felt dizzy ? - I always feel like I'm still on the plane days after, so it must be awful for babies.
Anyway that first night she slept from 4pm to 2am !!!!
At 2am I was happy to play with her. She went back down at 4am to 6am!
The second night she slept 6 hours.
But then the rest of the time she was back to normal ... Waking every 2/3 hours.
Thankfully it was sunny in Glasgow (very very rare!) and therefore we went out as often we could! Fresh air is always great to help recover from long haul flights.
THE TRIP HOME
I had my husband with me ... There was no way I was changing any nappies! He owes me for life!
It was still exhausting but of course much easier having him with us this time round.
It's always so much worse coming back this way!
We are in the midst of it right now.
The best thing to do is the same as you would for yourself, try to get back into your usual routine straight away.
For the first few nights your baby will be out of whack with their sleep.. Just go with it.
The first night we just embraced it - we were up playing from 1am to 4am - but forced ourselves to wake up again at 8am.
For the following few nights, just try to keep the room dark and the noise to a minimum when they wake up.
It's tough when you don't get any sleep, but you get back into a routine soon enough,
and of course .... There is always coffee!