Under 2, lap infant

First, deep breath! It’s not as tough as you think, so, relax and try to enjoy your holiday!

Our little traveller took his first flight when he was 5 months old. We flew from LHR to SIN to SYD … and back!

It was a 13 hour flight from LHR to SIN, so we booked a night flight as close to his regular bedtime as possible (I don’t think he’d appreciate being cooped up during waking hours on a long flight). Everything takes a little longer with a baby in tow so we gave ourselves plenty of time at the airport. Sometimes there were special queues for families, but sometimes we had to queue with everyone else. We first stood in a long queue with the regular folks, but only realised there was a queue for families when we got to the front! So keep an eye out for that :)

Meals: If you’re nursing, you’ll need to eat! I eat a little extra the day beforehand to store up on calories. We had dinner at the airport before our flight, because it is difficult to balance hot airline meals when you’re holding a baby (also the meal service tend to occur 2 hours after take off, which would be very late). If you’re planning to eat on the flight, then order a special meal so you get served first (1 adult can eat first, while the other holds the baby).

You’ll need to stay hydrated so bring your own water bottle and get the flight attendant to fill it up. It’s tough to figure out a good balance though because if you drink too much you’ll end up peeing constantly…

The baby will always crap at the most inopportune time (eg. when you’ve just boarded, and the seat belt sign has turned on for the next half an hour) so hopefully your baby doesn’t mind sitting in dirty nappies for a bit … Otherwise we changed nappies frequently (kiddo likes checking out new places, and it’s more comfortable for him to be in a fresh nappy). Not sure how bulky your nappy change mat is, but our dude hated hard surfaces. So bring a towel to place under your mat to make the little ones more comfortable.

Bring a big cabin bag with lots of little bags to compartmentalise everything. You’d most likely be allocated the bulkhead (front bit of the cabin with lots of leg room!) so you can leave the bag at your feet once you’ve taken off. We were given a bassinet but the little guy slept in my arms most of the time. Depending on the airline, you’ll need to carry the baby and strap them onto yourself when the seatbelt sign is on eg. turbulence. So if you don’t want to keep waking the baby and can cope with holding the baby, then do that. We used the bassinet to store crap :)

It might be difficult to nurse in the plane seat. So we used lots of pillows (I sat on some to move clear of the armrests that didn’t go up. Also I’m short). I was using a nursing cover. But that was difficult to wrangle in a cramped space so I went boobs akimbo when the lights were out :)

If the little one can’t sleep with bright lights, the nursing cover / blankets can be used to make it darker (also bring huge pegs to hold it up).

I forgot to burp the baby on one occasion and put him into the bassinet after nursing. After some complaining he threw up on me :( So pack spare clothes for yourself and bubs, and nurse the baby at angle (head elevated) and don’t forget to burp!

Entertainment: babies are simpletons so bring their favourite toy. Make sure it’s not a noisy one which would annoy everyone in the enclosed cabin … For yourself, install Kindle on your phone and download a few books … and don’t forget your power cable! When the baby is up you can walk them around the plane to stretch your legs. Otherwise, ours loved looking at photos of himself on my phone …

Health / hygiene: there’s always someone coughing/sneezing on a flight, and there’s nothing you can do about that! The most important thing is that everyone is well rested before the trip so that your immune system is stronger. And wipe all surfaces. Especially when the baby loves gumming everything …(Some) people loooove babies. So don’t be surprised if strangers want to hold your bundle of joy (prepare your responses so you’re not keen) …

Packing list

  • count number of nappies you’d need normally for that duration, and double it! 
  • lots of wipes! For wiping tray table, etc. Also muslin clothes.
  • baby’s own soft cotton blanket. More comforting for baby (familiar smells, etc)
  • long sleeve cotton PJ for baby so that they know it’s bedtime (something that’s easy to change out of, so not too many layers. You’ll be changing them in a cramped plane toilet!)
  • Some clips or pegs you can use to hold a thin cover / cloth / blanket over the baby while they’re sleeping. There will always be that annoying passenger turning lights on in the middle of the night …
  • change of clothes for yourself and bubs (we were puked on! Forgot to burp the baby and put him in a bassinet after nursing)
  • baby carrier (you need free hands! also great for napping)
  • plastic bags for dirty things, nappy sacks, etc.

Jet lag: We split our trip to Sydney by stopping in Singapore for a week. We slowly adjusted to the new time zone by exposing bubs to sunlight. We didn’t wake the little guy if he looked really tired and let him sleep as much as he needed, with the blackout shades drawn. Luckily there was room service and we had dinner / breakfast in the middle of the night :) By the end of the week we had adjusted to the new time zone and ready for our next night flight to Sydney.

TL:DR;

  • night flights closer to bedtime
  • factor in extra time
  • number of nappies x 2
  • change of clothes for baby and yourself
  • don’t forget to burp baby / nurse with elevated head
  • nursing cover if you’re shy
  • large drink bottle if you’re nursing
  • wipes. Lots of it. Also muslins
  • bring baby’s favourite toy