Ma Wednesday! Refining the art of baby travel- Part 1

For a human being who can not yet dress herself, or do her hair or even have the motor skills to use a spoon effectively; she does a darned good job at clicking- on  her infant seat belt. She can undo it herself as well.

She braces herself and hangs on to dear life when the plane starts to “whoosh” before take off and smiles and undoes her belt when ever there is a jarring sound (she thinks the plane’s landed).

She even knows which button to press so that “ding- dong” happens, soon after which one of the pretty, smiley, colorfully painted ladies will come to her and maybe even give her random goodies and treats.

Of course, she despises the the bassinet and thinks it is beneath her to be trapped in that cramped, juvenile contraption. She believes a plane- ride is an exercise in human behavioral study and hence does not waste any precious moments snoozing or lazing. She watches, mimics, smiles, hides, coos, babbles, sings and occasionally wails to the entire plane.

Oh yes, I almost forgot to mention- she once saw a co- passenger continously open and shut her jaw/ mouth during ascent and started mimicking her. I think Zoe has now figured out that it helps with the weird feeling that she probably gets in her ear. I caught her doing it again later, randomly; for a little while!

Welcome to the world of a one- year old frequent flier. Mama and Papa are based roughly 3000 km away. Gramps and Granny are around 750 km apart, uncle is another 3000 km away, while pediatrician “dada” (also uncle in reality), Auntie and cousins H&M are 400 km afar. Not to mention Mama’s hometown which is in another corner. To top it all, there are vacations to be had. So yeah, Mademoiselle Zoe travels a lot. And flies quite a bit too!

Getting easier..

We have been refining our “with- baby” travel technique for the past one year. The first few trips were pretty stressful. We carried truckloads of stuff and when we actually needed something, it was not to be found. We are still a work in progress though. But every trip is easier. There are glitches and untoward occurrences sometimes, of course, but the baggage is definitely getting lighter and the travel more pleasurable.

Travelling as a couple with a baby is a breeze these days. The real hassles arise when you are travelling alone with your bub, especially long hauls and transits. Honestly, the only real problem I have encountered while travelling alone with Zoe is managing the loo breaks!

Our work schedules mandate that about 60 to 70 percent of the time, I’m travelling alone with Zoe. And after several flights, we now have a routine.

Actually there are only two tips that matter.

1. Keep the bub full and dry.

2. Travel light (or as light as you possibly can)

Yep. That is all.

Feed the bubba I say!

A hungry baby is a cranky baby, and trust me you don’t want a cranky baby on your second connecting flight while you are in the middle seat with two pudgy, sleeping aunties/ grannys on either side, absolutely no wiggle room, and four other wailing babies in the seats in front (been there, done that!). So yeah, you feed well and you feed often.

If you are still nursing exclusively; don’t be shy to do it as often as the bubba wants. A nursing cover and the right top will save you from any seemingly embarrassing/ awkward moments.

The first thing I do at transits is find the changing/ baby room and get down to business. Change, wash, nurse (especially when EBF) and then get to more interesting concerns (like shopping 🙂 ).

Find the baby room asap!
Find the baby room asap!

Baggage woes

If I am alone, I try to carry only the changing bag as my hand- baggage. Everything else, including my laptop goes into the checked in baggage.  If The Mister is along, we plonk all our electronics and gadgets into a light- weight wheelie and roll it around. It also serves as a spare standing- stroller for Lil’ Z.

She is standing on some really expensive "stuff" here. Good thing the bag is sturdy!
She is standing on some really expensive “stuff” here. Good thing the bag is sturdy!

 

When alone, that is my entire armamentarium right there..
When alone, that is my entire armamentarium right there..

 

Seating conundrums

We prefer to sit together, and sometimes if you want the bassinet seat the husband might have to sit in the row behind (depending on the number of infants in the aircraft); so whenever we travel as a family we do not opt for the bassinet seat. Moreover, she doesn’t really sleep in them anyway.

I book them when I’m alone though. What if she miraculously falls asleep? I can lay her in it and maybe stretch or take a mini- break from chasing and wriggling.

I call the airlines and place a request for it a day in advance. Sometimes I don’t bother, or ask for it at the check- in counter. It has only been useful to me once, Zoe was 6 months old and she slept in it for 20 minutes and I managed a meal and coffee in peace.

Several times, we have been lucky enough to have empty rows on the plane. After take- off we ask the attendants and move to the empty seats- baby and bags in tow; and then we have some pillow fights and puppet shows!

Sustenance for the caretaker/s

Eating is really, really hard when you have a squirmy baby on your lap, especially in ultra- cramped economy seats (more so on domestic flights). I have once had a helpful co- passenger who volunteered to hold Zoe while I ate. Once I skipped the meal entirely and just asked for the bread/ bun/ croissant and munched on that. On long haul flights, you can request for some num-nums (nuts/ chocolates/ buns) once the bub tires herself out and falls asleep.

I sometimes eat at the airport/ transit instead of fighting it out in the plane. I find a cafeteria/ stall which has a high chair, pop some Baby Einstein on the iPad (or on Ms Zoe’s Pink faux “iPad” in the pic below) and eat in peace.

Changing bag essentials

The changing bag essentials. I would ditch the creams and potions (except saline drops) for very short domestic flights.
The changing bag essentials. I would ditch the creams and potions (except saline drops) for very short domestic flights.

 

First must have- Wipes and diapers. I don't do clothe diapers while travelling- it is just too much of a hassle. And I don't pack too many. Remember, they are available on - board and at transit airports- if need be or emergencies arise. Travel light- The Mister forever chants!
First must have- Wipes and diapers. I don’t do cloth diapers while travelling- it is just too much of a hassle. And I don’t pack too many. Remember, they are available on  board and at transit airports, if need be or emergencies arise. Travel light- The Mister forever chants!

 

A decent sized changing mat.
A decent sized changing mat.

 

Another absolute must have- FOOD! Meals AND fingerfood. FInger food will allow you to eat while meals with keep her full. I am not yet comfortable feeding all the airline fare.
Another absolute must have- FOOD! Meals AND fingerfood. FInger food will allow YOU to eat, while meals will keep HER full. I am not yet comfortable feeding her all the airline fare. Also, the disposable/re-usable/ wipe-and-use types bibs are super- handy.

 

Straweberries and veggie- lentil rice porridge- her favorites. Bananas are good too; for shorter flights. They get mushy. Oranges.
Strawberries and veggie- lentil rice porridge- her favorites. Bananas are good too; for shorter flights. They get mushy otherwise. Oranges are another great flight- food option.

 

You can keep some packaged food of your choice handy. Especially if you little one is under one and you don't want to make do with whatever baby food the airline offers. Most international airlines do stock some packaged baby food.
You can keep some packaged food of your choice handy, if you so prefer. Especially if your little one is under one and you don’t want to make do with whatever baby food the airline offers. Most international airlines do stock some packaged baby food.

 

QA has some packaged food on air, so does Etihad and Emirates.
QA has some packaged food on air, so does Etihad and Emirates.

 

Entertainment. But to be honest, there is no point carrying. She is more interested in all "adult" stuff. So while aboard, a napkin becomes a puppet, a blanket becomes a castle, a plastic spoon becomes a man, pillows becomes mountains, the sick bag apparently contains secret treasure- you get the drift...
Entertainment. But to be honest, there is no point carrying tons of baby toys. She is more interested in all  the “adult” stuff anyway. So while aboard, a napkin becomes a puppet, a blanket becomes a castle, a plastic spoon becomes a man, pillows becomes mountains, Papa turns into a monster, the sick bag apparently contains secret treasure- you get the drift…

 

Paraphernalia to keep her toasty and cosy. Layering is always a better option, some flights are freezing cold and some stiflingly warm.
Paraphernalia to keep her toasty and cosy. Layering is always a better option, some flights are freezing cold and some stiflingly warm, do be prepared for either scenarios.

 

Change of clothes, based on duration. Spillage of fluid and beverages is a common occurrence in the baby- world, be armed.
Change of clothes, towels and napkins; based on duration. Spillage of fluid and beverages is a common occurrence in the baby- world, be armed.

 

Wipes and towels and tissues of course. But she will still take in billions of germs through her nose, mouth and skin. There is nothing much you can do about it!
Wipes, towelettes and tissues of course. But she will still take in billions of germs through her nose, mouth and skin. There is nothing much you can do about it! Also, do not fret if you run out- you can either buy them at the airport or ask the friendly crew on air.

 

emirates
They don’t always give you the baby- kit though, but can request for specific items if the need arises.

 

 

Packed to the rafters! Mama sneaked in some of her stuff in as well...
Packed to the rafters! Mama sneaked in some of her stuff in as well…

 

To be continued in Part 2

Till next time..

Dr J.

 

 

 

10 Comments

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  1. a thought came in my mind to start getting prepared for our travels after reading ur post.. but then wondered what lies in store for us!!

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