** This post is a follow-up to the Travelling with a Toddler post (read here) So it may not be as detailed as the post on Travelling with a Toddler, but you can get a lot of the information from there anyway. **
Our first travel experience with Jayden (as an infant ) was a complete misadventure!!! By our first trip we had a robust infant who had developed a sleeping and eating routine but had an appetite that kept me busy every 2 hours. I had researched so much about travelling with an infant, and ended up with wayyyyy to much varying information / advice. I over did everything, carried wayyyyyy too much of everything!! I remember I was so distraught when airport security had to pour away the water in his Tomme Tippee Flask (by the way this flask is amazing for travel!!) because the airport scanners couldn’t properly determine the content!
P.S: The hot water was to warm up breast milk. Turns out its super easy to obtain hot water at the airport (from the lounge or any restaurant) or even on the plane.
Nonetheless, the experience made me better prepared for our next trip and subsequent other (local and international) trips. In fact, quite frankly, no matter how much you read on this, you’ll always learn better from your own travel experiences.
With our second born – CJ, our first trip together was our trip from Atlanta to visit Grandma in London and our return trip from London back home to Nigeria. Even though we had J (now as a toddler) in tow, the trip was a lot more relaxed, than our first trip with J as an infant – knowing what to expect with an infant and a lot of planning ahead really helped.
Okay, so here are some (travel) tips to get you started on your first / next trip with your infant – based on my first trip with J (as an infant) and more recently our trips with CJ:
Considering that I was EBF (exclusively breast feeding), my biggest concern was not having a steady flow of breast milk due to the stress of the trip or J not having an appetite on time (the usual was every 2 hours) which may eventually lead to my boobs being engorged.
My other concern was germs!!! Germs!! And more Germs!!! He had been given his routine vaccinations (look out for an interesting post coming up on our choice to vaccinate), but somehow I was worried about germs and strangers who like to touch babies’ lol.
Also (with my first baby – J) I wasn’t sure whether (or not) to travel with a stroller or baby carrier.
A day before the trip I set aside separately bagged litres of breast milk, sealed and put them in the fridge (not freezer, I had a freezer stash too which I transported lol I’ll do a different post on preserving and travelling with / transporting breast milk). I also stuffed my ice packs in the freezer, to keep the breast milk as fresh as possible throughout the trip.
Additionally, I carried along a manual Tommee Tipee breast pump, in case J refused to nurse directly from the boob on the trip, or lost his appetite on the trip due to the change in his sleep pattern. Also, I took a nursing cover to help me feel as comfortable as possible. However, with CJ, I carried along my electric pump – again, experience helped me with making this decision.
I had the Babyganics foaming hand sanitizer and anti-bacterial wipes to wipe down in case of unsolicited contact from albeit well-meaning admirers – although most people seemed to know to keep their distance (bless them all lol).
We travelled with a baby carrier (the stokke) because The Hubs was there to use it and it was fantastic because J was small enough to be strapped to The Hubs the entire time. However, on our first trip with CJ, we travelled with both the stroller (for J) and the baby carrier for CJ.
To calm my infant(s) before the flight, I would give a wash / pat down with a cloth and warm water in the bathroom of the lounge right before the flight, moisturize his skin, put some powder on him and changed the clothes he had on since we usually have to leave home really REALLY early (like 4 hours before flight time lol). Then I’ll wrapped him properly and keep him warm (but not too warm) throughout the flight.
The breast milk stayed fresh – cooled by the ice packs, and I loved this idea, because The Hubs was able to warm up the milk to feed and burp him when I wanted to catch some sleep during the flight.
I nurse (with my nursing cover) when I could to avoid being engorged and when I couldn’t directly breastfeed – the stash of milk was available to help; and I’m pleased to say that we didn’t receive a single stink-eye from anyone due to nursing on the plane or at the airport. I also used the pump when I was feeling engorged, but you have to master the art if you are using a manual pump – it’s an art, the good ol’ manual pump! Lol else you may getting nothing out.
The baby carrier was extremely helpful, and we couldn’t have done without the both the carrier and the stroller traveling with 2 kids. A baby carrier is absolutely useful to keep your hands free – especially if you’re flying solo or with more than one kid– keep in mind you’ll have to take baby out for taxi, take-off, and landing.
Using a carrier means that baby can happily continue napping while you get around the airport, especially if you have connecting flights. Sometimes they let you wear your baby through security, so you don’t have to disturb him if he is sleeping. They just do a quick swab of your hands (to check for explosives or something) once you get through. Just make sure you aren’t wearing a jacket underneath the carrier – else you would be asked to take it off, which of course means taking off the baby and carrier.
P.S: At some airports where security measures have been upped, they may insist you take baby out first to go through the scanner.
Also, we requested for a baby bassinet (you may have to do this ahead of your flights sometimes – different airlines, different rules) and usually your well-fed infant should sleep throughout the duration of the flight in the bassinet (in 2 – 3 hours bits).
- Everyone needs a passport. Yes, everyone – even infants. Be sure to sort this out in advance.
Also if you are travelling alone (one parent without the other parent being present) a birth certificate and a letter of consent may be required depending on your destination country.
2. A good nursing session right before take-off helps baby to relax and feel comfortable. Also, I understand it helps to prevent the ear ache from air pressure changes during take-off and landing. Personally, I keep my babies sucking during take-off and landing, sometimes by nursing, by a bottle, or by a pacifier.
Keep in mind that not all babies experience ear pain – I don’t know of any firm medical guidelines on the topic, so just use your judgment. If your baby’s sleeping soundly, he might get through the take-off or landing without any ear ache.
3. Dress yourself and your infant for quick and easy diaper changes. I would recommend anything which gives quick access to the diaper and yet keeps him warm and comfy.
4. When booking plane tickets for a connecting flight, if you have a choice between a 30-minute or 90-minute layover, choose 90. With an infant in tow you need more time now to change diapers, feed, and soothe. But with customs, security, and the need to board the plane train to get to our next gate, you may hardly have any extra time if you choose a short layover. Try to get to the gate early and blow off some steam. Even an infant can benefit from stretching out in between flights.
5. Check in online so you can take the seats reserved for bassinet users or passengers with babies.
6. Always have back-up for extra feeds, if your infant is formula-fed, bring extra feeds and bottles – you never know when or for how long delays will happen, and you don’t want to experience the stress of having a hungry baby and not having access to breast milk, or formula. If your LO is EBF (Exclusively Breastfed) then you can make arrangements to (i) travel with some of your expressed breast milk stored in baby bottles in a freezer bag with ice packs in it, (ii) carry along a manual pump, and or (iii) carry along your nursing cover for direct feeds. Just tell TSA you’re carrying it, and they’ll run it through the X-ray machine.
7. Toys won’t really do much at this age either, so don’t congest your diaper bag with toys just yet!
8. Travel during bed time whenever possible – hence late night flights are my preference. Flights pass quickly when baby is asleep lol.
9. Since baby clothes are so tiny at this stage, more than one change of clothes (for you too, if you’ve got the room) is a good idea to keep everyone clean and comfortable.
10. Most planes have a change table in the washroom of the plane that should fit an infant just fine, but it is becomes a challenge for older babies since the space is so tight. I recommend bringing along a change mat and lots of wipes to clean things beforehand.
11. Pack your diaper bag carefully and preferably light. I know this is hard and pretty impossible with an infant because you need so much. Diapers, blankets, burp cloths, PJs, clothes. But try your best to keep it to a minimum, and use small / travel sizes of things.
12. Only bring one carry-on. Yes, you’re entitled to one carry on and one extra bag but make it easy on yourself and only carry only baby’s diaper bag. An extra bag with an infant can be a lot to remember. If however you are wearing your baby, then you may survive with an additional (but small) carry-on– even though I still won’t do it – baby carrier or not.
13. Most importantly, DO NOT feel guilty if your LO cries. There’s a crying baby on every plane. And there’s always the jerk who would glare rudely or sigh audibly to express their discomfort. There was this one time J and I were travelling from NY to LND and a lady (who you would expect would be nice – maternal instincts and all lol) totally gave J and I the rudest stares ever throughout the flight, *gasps* I was mortified every time I caught her. I wanted to kiss my tooth at her, but I had to remind myself that pre-baby Oby has been that jerk plenty of times. Now I’m the Mom…with the baby lol. It’s life. On the bright side, while your LO is wailing, you’re also getting lots of supportive looks from parents like you who’ve been there. And that’s who I am now. I’m that mom that would approach you to tell you how good your baby was on the flight (even if he wasn’t very quiet lol), because that’s what we should do for each other.
If you’re traveling by plane for the first time with your baby, you should keep in mind that you’ll be busy. You will have your hands full, and you may be very tired at the end of your journey. But the wonderful memories you will create would make it all worth it. Your baby will not remember these journeys, but you will never forget them; so take loads of pictures, and enjoy every minute of it.
Of all the times we’ve flown with both kiddos, while the first trip with J as an infant was the most chaotic lol, the infant stage was definitely the easiest.
So enjoy travelling with your infant Mama, because once he starts scampering about, travel becomes a far greater (but even more exciting) challenge.
Look out for coming posts on (i) travelling with expressed breast milk, (ii) checklist of essentials for travelling with an infant, and (ii) checklist of essentials for travelling with a toddler.
What did I miss? Please share your own tips and tricks for traveling with your infant.
Love & Light,