Taking your little one on holiday for the first time? If you're clued up on how to get a baby to sleep on a plane and you've already read our tips on how to tackle the airport with your growing brood - here's everything you need to know about ensuring your tot's first time on a plane an absolute breeze...
1. Preparation is key
Before you travel, ensure your packing is appropriate to where you are travelling to (think climate, types of activities etc). Also, have a separate packing list for the aeroplane to ensure nothing is forgotten and you have plenty to amuse your little ones!
2. What to wear
Everyone wants to travel comfortably but don’t forget to think about what the temperature will be like when you arrive at your destination! Pack layers accordingly. Do not forget to pack changes of clothes for both yourself and your children too – having to sit in baby sick for a long journey is not fun! If you are travelling with a baby, ensure you have sufficient nappies (plan for one per hour of travel time plus a few extra and you should have more than enough!)
A pashmina or baby muslin. These are lifesavers and so versatile as you can use it as an extra layer for baby, a wrap-around for you or even a cover-up if you’re breastfeeding.
A child-friendly necklace. You want to look stylish as you travel but you don’t want your favourite necklace to broken by your children. Halia Rose jewellery is super-durable, chewable and washable so is perfect for travelling with. It can also be a great sensory toy for babies to play with, keeping them occupied for part of your journey.
3. Bags inside bags
When juggling carrying a baby and travel bags it’s usually easier to carry one simple holdall. However, if everything is stuffed in it can be extremely difficult to find what you need at the airport and on the flight. To avoid this stress, have multiple smaller bags within one main one which each have different items in (e.g. a change of clothes, nappy changing, snacks, toys, passport etc so you can easily grab what you need to).
4. Manage your expectations
Of course, you want the trip to go smoothly but be realistic about this, things will get stressful but it is unlikely to ever be as bad as you anticipate (think of what your worst case scenario might be and keep it in mind before you travel… think children staying awake the whole time screaming, baby sick all over you, baby tries to climb out of bassinet… you will get through it, life will go on and it will all be worth it once you get to your destination!)
Also ask for help if you need it - most airline crew are pretty helpful and will hold baby if you need to get something from your bag or will offer to watch your children if you need to pop to the bathroom (it can be tricky taking two small children into those cramped toilets – it is possible but I wouldn’t recommend it!)
5. Plan around sleep
Although many people avoid night flights, these can be ideal with babies who are in a bedtime routine, as they, if they can nod off this, is less daunting than trying to entertain them for the full flight!
Treat the flight as you would their usual routine, give them their milk, read a story, put them into their pyjamas and tell them it’s time for bed. Although there are lots of interesting surroundings, try to keep things as calm and ‘boring’ as possible so they aren’t over-stimulated. If it’s dark already then that’s a bonus! Just keep your fingers crossed that there is little turbulence so you don’t have to take the baby out of the bassinet! If all else fails then make sure you have a baby carrier so you can strap them in and walk the aisles!
6. Break it down
If you are travelling for a long period of time, break down the trip into sections of time so it doesn’t feel so daunting. Come prepared with:
New toys: Buy a few cheap things so it doesn’t matter if you lose them down the side or under seats but be mindful that they are not too noisy so you don’t annoy other passengers.
Wrap them up as individual presents: This takes time for your child to unwrap them and adds to the excitement.
Bring stickers and drawing materials: Make sure it’s crayons or colouring pencils, not pens – you don’t want coloured marks all over you!
Create stories or games: You can then use things like stickers to bring them to life.
Make use of an iPad or in-flight entertainment: There is definitely a time and a place for technology and on an aeroplane is one of them! Pre-load the iPad with your child’s favourite programmes so you know there will be something they like to watch.
7. Snacks & meal times
Make sure you have some age-appropriate snacks with you (small things that children have to pick up individually take longer to eat and can be a form of entertainment!
We'd suggest cornflakes (without the milk!), blueberries, dried fruit and crackers.
Most airlines will provide children’s meals before adults which works out well as there is less chance of everything ending up all over you if you can separate out your meals. Your hands are also free to help them and minimise spilling plus once they are fed you can generally distract them with something whilst you get to eat.
8. Mama time!
Fingers crossed the children will sleep or are distracted by the in-flight entertainment for some much needed ‘you’ time. If you find it difficult to switch off then try reading – it’s always disappointing if you start to watch a film and can’t get all the way through so I would suggest investing in a Kindle. You can hold it with one hand (helpful if you are nursing a baby) plus it’s also a LOT lighter than a book and given all the added extra bits you need for your little ones, any weight and space saving is a bonus!
Travelling with kids is certainly a different experience, especially if you’ve previously only travelled on your own or with your partner but it doesn’t have to stressful – it’s just different! Good luck and most importantly enjoy your holiday!
Written by Sarah Cooke, Founder of Halia Rose