Flying with a baby. Those four words are enough to strike dread into the heart of any first time parent. We recently survived our first flight with Jacob, and it wasn’t that bad! There was a bit of crying, but nothing too intense. Here’s how we did it.
Use a baby carrier at the airport
This was a tip I got from other parents. We decided not to take a pushchair on holiday at all, as we thought we wouldn’t use it that much. If you do want to take one, I’d highly recommend checking it in and using a baby carrier of some sort at the airport. It means you have free hands, and baby tends to be happy being attached to mum or dad and can look around. We used our BabyBjörn (I previously wrote this review of the BabyBjörn).
Use the family security lane
This was a revelation for us. Gatwick airport have a special security lane for families. A very lovely member of security staff came over and told us while I was busy sorting out all the liquids into a plastic bag. It meant we could take our time a bit more and not feel like we were holding other travellers up. I could go through the metal detector with Jacob in the BabyBjörn. As always, I set off the metal detector, so they patted Jacob down (he loved it). He was then handed over to his dad while I went through the full body scanner. It was nice and relaxed and all the staff were helpful.
Be prepared to give baby milk on the plane
Another tip from friends with babies. Make sure you give the baby something to drink during take off and landing—whether that’s breast or bottle. The swallowing helps their ears so they don’t hurt. Jacob actually fell asleep during takeoff, which was a bonus.
Once the flight is underway, you need ways to keep baby distracted. If they are old enough, food is perfect. One of the best things we did was to take loads (and I mean loads) of carrot sticks from home. Jacob gummed them for ages, then tried to feed them to us. We had so many it didn’t matter when he chucked a few on the floor. Rice cakes would work well too.
This was recommended to my husband by a work colleague. We bought 3 new small teething toys to take on the plane. The idea being that because the baby hasn’t seen them before, they keep them distracted for a while. This did work to a certain extent, although carrots definitely keep him entertained for longer!
Use two nappies
This is something we do at nighttime, and thought it would be helpful on the flight. We put two nappies on (and used the more absorbent Pampers Baby Dry ones) to prevent any leaks.
Overall, I’d say the most important thing is to relax. It’s pretty likely that the baby will cry at some point in the flight, but the vast majority of people are very understanding and friendly. We didn’t have any negative comments, even though I’m sure some people were pretty irritated their peaceful flight was disrupted.