The idea of travelling by an airplane with their baby is distressing for most new moms. However, with right precaution and preparation, you can make air travel safe for your baby. Plan your travel well in advance, so that you have adequate time to arrange for a comfortable journey for your baby.
- Baby’s medical check-up
Take your baby to the doctor for a check-up at least ten days before your journey commences. A comprehensive check-up is necessary to make sure that your baby is fit to fly. Your baby must be free from cold and cough, infections of ears and sinus, or any other condition that would otherwise make him unfit to fly. The doctor shall also prescribe medicine for decongestion, if required.
- Passport and ticket for your baby
Your baby would need a passport for international travel. Submit an application for the passport well in advance, because application-processing generally takes weeks. Forms and instructions are available at regional passport offices. Children under two years of age generally fly free. However, policies differ from one airline to another. Call up the airlines to inquire about their policy on travelling with babies. Some airlines would need a note from your gynecologist, stating that you and your baby are fit to fly. Ask them if you would need to buy a ticket for your baby. Feel free to ask about a discount and if your baby would get a baggage allowance.
Bulkhead seats are most suitable while traveling with a baby. Bulkhead seats have no row of seats in front of them, offering most space. You can mount a car seat on it for maximum safety of your baby. Some airlines also have carrycots for babies. Airlines allot carrycots on first come first served basis. Place a request for such seat while booking your tickets and confirm the booking well in advance. Your baby shall be able to sleep peacefully in a carrycot.
- Facilities onboard
The air hostesses would happily warm milk for your baby and heat water for making formula. They would hold your baby while you use the restroom.
Changing and feeding the baby on an airplane is difficult. Be considerate of your fellow passengers. They would not like the sight of you changing your baby’s nappy in front of them. These days, restrooms in most flights have changing boards. You can change your baby’s nappy with ease. Otherwise, you can ask the air hostess about a suitable place to change.
- What to carry?
Take extra sets of clothing and nappies for your baby. Pull-up disposable nappies are ideal while travelling. Keep a pack of baby wipes and tissues, a bag to hold used nappies, small bottle of hand-sanitizer and nappy cream.
Take extra pacifiers, bibs, water in feeding bottles, milk, baby food/formula, a bowl and a spoon. Carry some snacks if your baby eats solid food.
Carry your baby’s favorite blanket to keep him warm. It will also offer you privacy while you nurse him. Bring an extra shirt or top for yourself. A couple of toys would suffice to keep your baby happy onboard. Do not place these things in your luggage. Keep them properly arranged in your back-pack or carryall, instead.
- Keeping your baby calm onboard
Your baby may experience discomfort due to changes in the altitude and pressure conditions of the aircraft. Babies tend to cry because of ear popping caused during take-off and landing. Nursing or bottle-feeding your baby during take-off and landing would help alleviate the discomfort. It would be even better if your baby is asleep. Do not wake him up; he would be just fine.
Keep your baby’s fluids up at all times. Babies tend to get dehydrated more easily during air travel. Nursing is the only way to keep a baby under 6 months of age hydrated. If the baby is older than 6 months, make him drink small amounts of water at frequent intervals.
It would be better if you talk to the passengers seated next to you. They will understand your situation and won’t fuss much about sitting next to a baby, helping you alleviate your guilt. Don’t shy away from making your baby happy by playing peek-a-boo with him. A happy baby is better than a wailing baby. Walking the wailing baby through the aisle is the best way to console him. This will make him feel fresh and relaxed. Try to travel during off-peak days or off-seasons when the flights are not very crowded. If possible, take nighttime flights. This will not upset baby’s schedule and he would be asleep for most of the time.
These simple tips will certainly ease your anxiety and make flying with your little angel a memorable experience.