Last month, Nick and I took Felix on a plane for the first time, at just under 5 months of age. We went because I really wanted him to meet my dear Nan, who has lived in Adelaide since I was about 14. As I was growing up, my Nan was my best friend, we were as close as they come. Therefore it was so important to me for her to meet Felix, especially if this may have been her only chance. Now.. planning a trip with a baby can be quite a daunting experience, because there is literally so much more to consider, things to take, and all that extra planning. So I really wanted to share my experiences and tips and tricks with you all just incase any fellow mummas out there are planning a trip of their own with their bubs, in hopes it may become useful to them. I also have a video on this topic over on my channel, so feel free to watch that afterwards if you would like!
The most important thing is making sure your little one has the most positive, comfortable and safe experience on the plane with everything they need, so that you can have a hopefully stress-free (or at least less stressful) flight, and bub is happy. then hopefully they can also enjoy a sleep on the flight, and before you know it you’ll be at your destination ready to begin your baby’s first trip away!
Don’t Be Afraid To Ask For Help
Now I’m not the kind of person who does this often, as I like to learn things from my own personal experiences, or take situations as they come independently. However, in this situation we were going to be taking Felix on a plane, which for me is a really big deal because a plane is even scary to me (I absolutely HATE flying) so I get a lot of anxiety prior a flight as well as during. Therefore I wanted to get all the help I could beforehand so I didn’t forget a single important thing, and I knew what to expect/what to do if Felix got really upset etc. So I contacted a lovely girl I follow on Instagram who had posted about taking her little one to New Zealand when he was three months of age. I explained our travel plans, filled her in with my anxiety, and she was absolutely amazing and kind, and offered me the most helpful advice and support I could have asked for. I really owe it to Sophie Skipper for being my rock at this time, she was there for me every day leading up to the trip, and we still talk to this day!
What To Pack
Obviously all of your nappy bag essentials. So your nappies, wipes, disposable nappy bags, changing mats, sanitizer, creams, tissues, face washers etc. However, because you are travelling with your baby for potentially a long period of time, you will definitely need to pack other things as well. Nick and I bought a few blankets with us, so Felix would feel comfortable on the plane and hopefully manage to have a sleep. We also bought one of his sleeping bags, although we actually didn’t end up using it. The first reason was it wasn’t a long flight, and the second reason was that I didn’t even think that of course Felix will need an infant seat belt. Basically these loop through one of the parents seat belts first, and then wrapped and clipped around the baby. Therefore it would have been a bit of a hassle to get him in and out of his sleep bag unless we were in for a really long flight, or if it was a really cold day. So we just opted for blankets, and my really warm cardigan I bought along. We also bought Felix’s pillow from home, the one he gets when he is a little older (although we sometimes use it now during the day when he is being supervised whist on his play mat etc.) We thought Felix would feel more comfortable with a pillow because we had to hold him during the flight, and with the infant seat belt weaved through mine, it was so hard to position him so he wasn’t lying on top of my own seat belt buckle. With the pillow, at least his head and neck were more comfortable and he was able to nap thankfully.
We took our own special change mat we were gifted at our baby shower, as well as disposable change mats too. We buy disposable change mats for our changing table at home, so we thought we would bring some with us as well as I’m a bit of a germophobe, and wanted to minimise any chance of Felix getting sick during our trip. Now there is a changing table in the lavatory on the plane which is great as that is important. However we didn’t end up using it because Felix didn’t need to be changed on our flights, we just changed him at the parenting room at the airport (which in my opinion was so much better than if we were to somehow change him in the limited space you get on the plane!)
I also bought hand wipes and antibacterial surface wipes. This was so I could wipe down the area we were sitting, so the seats, arm rests and anything Felix may reach out and touch was germ free. Also my new mummy friend Sophie told me that when you get to your seats on the plane to turn OFF the air cons above your head. This will prevent germs from circulating around your family from the other passengers. As let’s face it, you don’t know who is sick, or who is sick and doesn’t know they are. Obviously you can’t avoid the risks entirely because you are all sharing the same aircraft, but if there is a way to minimise the risk, I highly recommend it!
We also bought spare outfits in case Felix had any accidents, some bibs, a few of Felix’s favourite toys, some which made musical sounds so he felt happy and comforted. You could even bring scrunched up pieces of paper for bub, as they absolutely love the texture! Just make sure they don’t put it in their mouth! If your baby is teething I would also recommend rusk sticks and teething toys. Nick and I also bought the obvious, snacks for ourselves and two bottles of water because you always got to stay hydrated, especially if you are breastfeeding.
Now Felix is both breastfed and formula fed. So because he takes both, we thought we would bring some formula with us too so we are extra prepared in case for any reason he doesn’t want to breastfeed or if he needed a top up. So we took a few bottles with previously boiled and cooled down water securely inside (as you can only make formula with cooled down boiled water). We matched those bottles with sanitized and securely wrapped Tupperware containers of baby formula. We didn’t end up using the formula in the end because I just chose to breastfeed, so the formula stayed in our bag, but at least we had it if needed it.
If you are exclusively breastfeeding, you can take previously expressed breast milk on the plane too. I can’t be certain about international flights, I’m not aware of how strict they may be in regards to bringing liquids such as breastmilk on the plane, I can just currently confirm it is fine on a domestic flight. The only thing is, I am not too sure how you would go with heating up both formula and expressed milk on the plane. There’s a lot of controversy over whether cafes should be giving parents boiling hot water to heat up their babies milk, because there is a risk you could spill the water on the baby and burn them. I think this is ridiculous personally, because you could do the same thing if you ordered as damn coffee for yourself and just happened to also be a parent. However I do understand that people employed in hospitality are just following protocol and protecting their businesses, which is fair enough. It just makes it harder on parents at times – especially the ones who do not breastfeed/can’t breastfeed. Nick and I were able to get some boiling hot water for our baby bottle with no worries at one cafe in Adelaide, and then one cafe in Melbourne they didn’t want to and only gave us warm water, which obviously wasn’t going to work. And without a microwave on a plane, it does make things extra tricky. So if flight attendants are willing to offer you boiling hot water to heat up your bottles, or even take them to the private food storage units on the plane to do so, that’s fantastic. But if they refuse, at a worse case scenario, you can feed your baby cold formula. It isn’t desired by all babies (definitely not mine!) and I absolutely hate it – we will only do it if we REALLY have no other option. But if your baby is really hungry, yes you CAN give them cold formula. I even read online that some babies even prefer it cold. So no matter what, your baby won’t go hungry, unless you have an extremely fussy baby, and then it may be worth researching this issue and preparing for a worst case scenario a little more if you are thinking of taking them on a plane. Call the airline and ask them if you are really worried. Ask about their policies and what they can do to assist you.
Now this was the part that concerned me the most, because Nick suffers from quite painful ears on the plane nearly every time we fly. So obviously, I was concerned the same thing may happen to Felix. Therefore I wanted to be 110% prepared, because I would have gotten so upset if Felix had bad ears on the plane, and not being able to entirely make it go away till the end of the trip. Because he is only a baby, he wouldn’t understand what would be happening, and he’s obviously too young to tell him. So I was told by my mum and from Sophie that if I am still breastfeeding, it is a good idea to breastfeed him on takeoff and on landing, as it helps with the popping of the ears. The idea is to get the jaw going – same if you and I chew gum on a plane, or consume snacks. If you are not breastfeeding, you can do the same with a bottle, and again with a dummy. Felix doesn’t like dummies, he always spits them out every time we try, so we didn’t bother bringing any. However if your child likes sucking on a dummy, I highly recommend getting a dummy clip cord, as you do not want them dropping their dummy on the dirty aeroplane floor! If you haven’t got a dummy clip cord and run out of time to buy one before your trip, make sure you have antibacterial wipes safe to use on dummies on standby! Finally, we also gave Felix some Panadol half an hour before his flights. You don’t have to do this if you don’t find is necessary, but it’s just something we wanted to do as some extra protection.
It’s also worth knowing that when travelling with a baby, larger items such as prams, car seats, portacots etc, travel in check in for FREE. So they are not counted in your luggage allowance. Also, your nappy bag is another extra you can take on carry on, so if you have some extra room in there, definitely take advantage of it and shove in things such as your phone, charger, tampons, snacks, or any other personal belongings you may bring that won’t fit in your handbag. I actually took a larger bag as my ‘nappy bag’ on our trip for that reason! Also meant I could pack extra nappies and toys for Felix.
Ignore The Negative
One of my biggest fears (other than Felix having ear trouble) was other people’s possibly poor reactions to if Felix was to cry/scream during the flight. As there always seems to be at least one negative Nancy wherever you go! Now obviously, there is a chance that this may happen. You can’t predict the future, only try to make it the most comfortable trip you can by offering your love, cuddles, kisses, and in my case I also sang to Felix as well. So if your baby unfortunately doesn’t have the most positive experience, whether it be their ears hurt, they are scared by all the loud noises, too many people or the environment, if anybody makes it obvious to you that they are annoyed by it, or are rude either directly or indirectly, just IGNORE them. Block it out, it’s all negative nonsense you don’t need to involve yourself in when you have higher priories to focus on – your little one. Block those individuals out, try to relax, because if you stress, your bub will more than likely pick up that energy and stay unsettled. (this was hard for me with such great anxiety, but I did the best I could at calming down.) Remember that the trip will come to an end, and trust me that once you get off the plane, your little one will go back to their cute happy little selves pretty quickly. Also, there are going to be more understanding and accepting people on the aircraft over the nasty selfish ones, especially because a lot of people would have been through this experience before once upon a time. In fact, even a flight attendant showed her understanding and offered some help to us on our first flight because I was getting so anxious. But in all honesty, I didn’t need to be. Felix slept most of all three flights! I don’t know whether we were just lucky or whether the things we did helped, but he was such a brave little chicken, only getting upset for a brief moment on the first plane, but that didn’t last for long because he was more interested in feeding 🙂
Anyway, that is all for now, I do really hope this post has helped anybody out there who is is nervous about taking their baby on their first flight! I hope you all have a lovely day, and remember this, if it really was such an awful experience to take a baby on a plane, people just wouldn’t do it. So you and bub will be fine Mumma, trust me!
Watch my video below!