Having a baby can be hard work – especially when you are trying to lose your baby weight and following a healthy eating plan – but what can be REALLY challenging is when you have to go on a long haul flight with your bub. People often tell me that if your baby is very young it is easier as they sleep more and that it gets even tougher when they are at toddler stage. So in light of this Lose Baby Weight has recruited a fabulous mum – Caroline – who has travelled long haul with her toddler and has shared her learnings in the below article. Thank you Caroline and I hope everyone finds it useful – I know I have!
Long Haul Flights and a Toddler
Going on a long haul with a baby and in particular a toddler can be an interesting but challenging experience.
The first time I did a long haul was when my son was 4 months old. We endured a 17hr flight to Argentina. The joys of this age was that Tommy fit in the bassinet provided by the airline, I only needed to worry about formula (I had stop breastfeeding) and his spare clothes & nappies were still small enough so that the carry-on bag was still light. I gave him a bottle upon take off – the sucking helps unblock ears when the change in air-pressure occurs. For the remainder, there was some little crying off and on but I would just get him out of the bassinet and cuddle him in my arms and that would be it.
The second time was a different experience. Tommy was almost 11 months and crawling & standing. We flew from Sydney to Buenos Aires (Argentina) 17 hours. We stayed three weeks in Argentina and then flew from Buenos Aires to Amsterdam via Madrid. The whole trip was 23 hours and Tommy was 12 months old.
What can I say the trip this time was much harder; kids are so restless around this age. I was not given a bassinet in any leg because Tommy was already 11kg and definitely too big for it. The first leg we were lucky and the flight was not full and hence I managed to get a spare seat next to me. That helped a little. It was still hard work to keep him entertained in our seats though.
I entertained Tommy with anything I could find. From the remote control of the TV to toys I had bought for him and had not given him before the trip. He slept for a couple of hours here and there but he was almost awake for 20 hours! The joys of an overtired child came up and I just took lots of deep breaths. To make things more exciting we had some trouble when going through immigration for EU in Madrid. Immigration officials questioned me whether I was the mother of my child. I hadn’t changed my surname after getting married and there you had, a tanned Latin American mother with a blond fair skinned child. I was exhausted already and the last thing I needed was that hassle. I asked them to get me in contact with the Australian Embassy and hence all got sorted out. Last leg to Amsterdam was short but we were both beyond exhaustion. It was hard but we got there in the end! J
When we got back to Australia from the Netherlands, Tommy was walking. We flew from Amsterdam to Sydney via Dubai. The experience on board was somewhat similar to the trip from Sydney- Argentina- Netherlands, however this time it was harder as he was walking. Tommy was also even heavier and the flight was full. My husband had joined us in The Netherlands so we took turns to have our son on our laps on our return flight. I must admit it was hard to have 13 kgs restless child on our laps for over 20 hours.
I am due to have our second baby in October and yet planning to visit family overseas again sometime mid next year. Tommy will be around 3 years old and the youngest one roughly 6 months. It will be yet a very interesting and I am sure even more challenging experience. hmmmmmmm!!!
Tips for long hauls
1) Depending on the duration of your trip make sure you have 2 or 3 sets of spare clothes, lots of nappies and a bit more food than normal(this is a must have in case of unexpected delays). Don’t rely on baby food provided by the airline as we know our fuzzy eaters may just not want airplane food.
2)Carry some baby Panadol and/or Neurofene with you in case teething ‘’conveniently’’ strikes during your journey.
3) Use ‘’CALM’’ BRAUER – Natural Medicine (for children over 6 months). It’s a homeopathic medicine and you can find it in in most of the big chemists in Australia. Young children pick up on their parents being a bit nervous and Calm helps your child settle in stressful situations. It also helps when babies or young children get unsettled due to ears blocking upon take-off and landing. This was recommended by a nurse.
4) Buy some toys and don’t show them to your child until you are on the plane
5) A portable DVD with your child’s favourite DVDs – this only works for toddlers and kids 18 months +
6) 3 Wheel strollers can only go as checked-in luggage and will not have it them until your final destination. Always carry a stroller than can be folded like an umbrella so that you can get it as soon as you get off the aircraft. Even if you are just connecting flights.
7) If crossing time zones, keep in mind that adjusting to more than 8 hour time difference might take even up to a week.
8) If having a stop and/or connecting flights on another country do your research first and fly an airline which will stop at a decent and well equipped airport. This certainly makes it a long easier when travelling with young children. Dubai, Singapore & Hong Kong would be the best stops for travelling from Australia to Europe for instance. I was amazed by Dubai airport numerous brand new strollers outside each of the gates.
9) If your child is over 9kgs consider buying a spare ticket or avoid flying in high season.
10) Always keep in mind that you WILL GET TO DESTINATION!