Tips for travelling with baby
TIPS for TRAVEL SUCCESS
- Book tickets for flights out of peak/business times. You may get a quieter plane, and thus more room to move.
- Breastfeed or give your child a dummy or a bottle during takeoff and landing to help prevent sore ears.
- Arrive at the airport at least 30 minutes earlier than you normally would have pre-kids. You never know when you'll need to change a nappy or a whole outfit!
- If you are planning on visiting relatives overseas, plan ahead and do it with your child when they are quite young and less mobile. It will be easier for everyone and won't create as much frustration for your child.
- Always pack more clothing that you think you will need. Small people have an incredible habit of making mess!
- Pack a baby carrier. With the many stylish and incredibly practical baby carriers and slings on the market today, taking off on a holiday with less baggage and happier children has never been easier.
There are times at an airport or when on a flight that are more difficult than others. Try and plan ahead so that you aren't standing in a line at the airport at your child's normal nap or sleep time. If this is unavoidable, use a baby carrier to keep your child close to you. A worn baby is safe, secure and happy, so transitioning (changing environments or going from wakefulness to sleep) is easier.
Having a child who is happy and content makes for easier travel. Dr William Sears M.D. and Martha Sears R.N. have been studying how baby wearing improves behaviour. "Parents would come into our office exclaiming, 'As long as we wear our baby he's content.' Research has validated this parental observation: Babies who are carried more cry less."
There are many things you can do when travelling with small children in tow, and asking for help from airline staff is a great start. When making your booking, you can ask for the "meet and assist" service most airlines offer, which means that staff will walk you to the plane from the check-in desk and help you get seated with your hand luggage. Once reaching your destination, this service will also help fast track you through customs (if it's an international flight you are taking) and out to collect baggage.
Depending on your child's age and weight, you may be eligible for a bassinet seat. Most children enjoy this slightly elevated vantage point, but many do not want to sleep in a strange bed in such a busy environment. When they get tired, this is the perfect time to wear them in the baby carrier and walk around the plane. Your child will be attracted by the visual stimulation of the environment, and because home to a baby is where mother and father are, the baby carrier is a constant reminder of familiarity. The adaptation to the new sky-high environment is easier, and travel is then a more enjoyable experience for the whole family.
Why not request an aisle seat too. Once your little one is asleep snuggled against you, you can ease into your seat and rest until they wake. Having an aisle seat also makes it easier to walk around as you need to, without disrupting others and climbing across strangers!
Some parents believe that medicating children for flights is appropriate. Dr Sarah Buckley (GP, mother, and author of "Gentle Birth Gentle Mothering") suggests otherwise, and that "parents should be very cautious about using sedatives with young children".
"Although these are medically safe" she says, "they can have the opposite effect in some children, causing hyperactivity and nightmares. A better alternative is to use physical contact and cuddles, which will reassure as well as soothe. Breastfeeding is an ideal sedative (for both mother and baby) and another excellent remedy is lavender oil, 1-2 drops on the upper chest or, for a young baby, on the clothing."
Airports can be very busy places and easily overwhelm a child. To fill in the time before a flight departure, why not try walking up and down beside the large windows with baby or toddler snuggled against you, allowing your child to see the planes outside, whilst still close and safe with you. They'll usually be delighted to see and hear the engines and huge aeroplanes, and you'll be glad that they are safe in your arms and happy.
Travelling with children offers an abundance of wonderful experiences and rewards. With a little thought and planning flying can be an enjoyable and memorable experience for all.