Top tips for flying with a baby
I must admit, I was petrified when faced with Rupert's first plane journey to Ireland to visit his grandparents. At just three months old I had no idea how Rupert would react to being forced to sit inside a metal tube and being thrust high up into the air for an hour and a half!! But that wasn't all I was worried about - what would the baby changing facilities be like at Gatwick? Would I be allowed to take his pushchair right up to the plane steps? How do I get ready made formula through the security checks?
So here's a list of what I learnt on my first plane trip with a newborn. Fingers crossed it helps other parents out there who are currently coming out in hot sweats at the thought!
1. When booking your flight, pick a flight time that coincides with your baby's feeding time. Being able to feed your baby as the plane takes off means not only is he distracted from the noise and turmoil of the airplane, but the sucking motion he has to do to feed will unblock his ears so that he won't feel the change in pressure as the flight takes off. If you're not adverse to dummies then these also work well.
2. If bottle feeding, save a bit of formula to give to him when you land (for the same reasons as given above.) If you're breast feeding, you have milk on tap so can feed your baby whenever he seems distressed!
3. Beware of leaky bottles! Something I never realised or even thought about was that the air pressure on planes can make your bottles leak! I learnt this unfortunate bit of information just a little too late on our trip to Ireland when I suddenly realised that half of Rupert's milk was cascading down the side of the bottle and onto the floor due to the air pressure (meaning he lost half of his feed!) The solution? Put your bottles in a plastic freezer bag and as you are taking off unscrew the top ever so slightly to release any pressure.
3. Pack some baby ear defenders for air steward announcements. You'll be surprised by the way that your baby might sleeping contently on your lap, unaware of any other "plane noise" arouns you when suddenly an air steward announcement will literally make him startle awake. Ear defenders (or a well placed mummy hand over baby's ear) is the solution here.
4. Put your baby in a sleeping bag for comfort. A simple but very effective piece of advice- it keeps them warm and cosy on an air conditioned plane.
5. Pack an extra jumper for you, not to wear but to use as a pillow under your arm incase your baby falls asleep on you. If you can, make it cashmere for extra comfort.
6. Take bottled water for the baby! When flying, the air on the plane lacks moisture so having a bottle of boiled (and now cooled) water available is great for rehydrating your baby.
7. Going through security with liquids is fine. I was incredibly worried about what I was/wasn't allowed in terms of formula etc. Thankfully you really are allowed to take anything. If you have those premade formula bottles, they simple ask you to give them to security and they test them in a special litttle machine. If you have bottles of cooled boiled water and powdered formula ready to make up, they simple ask to see them and then test them. It's completely non envasive and incredibly simple. Airport staff, I have realised, are very used to neurotic parents worrying about what they can and can't take through security - and as a result they are incredibly kind and helpful.
8. Valet parking is definitely wort it. At £100 for a week it means you can drive to a designated car park, right by the departure gate and do not need to faff about finding parking/waking miles with your buggy to get to check in. It's the most stress free and relaxed way to arrive st the airport and worth every penny.
9. The baby changing facilities at Gatwick are amazing (or at least they were when I was there which was pre school holiday time!) The changing rooms are large enough to get a buggy in, have relaxing music playing, paper roll-out towels that you can place on the changing mat andand they even have joe Malone scented reeds in there (or at least my one did!) Thoroughly impressed!
Have I missed anything off the list? Or is there something that is worrying you about a flight with a baby where I might be able to put your mind at ease? Let me know in the comments below.