Dear Aunt Juniper,
We are looking forward to some summer sun abroad, but we have a six-month-old and a three-year-old.
I’ve checked, and apparently we’re not allowed to leave them home alone.
We can barely get ourselves round the local Sainsburys unscathed, how on earth are we supposed to go on an actual aeroplane with them?
From, Nervous Flyer.
Dear Nervous Flyer,
Ah, the infamous parenting rollercoaster:
YAY, WE’RE GOING ON HOLIDAY!
OH NO, DO I REALLY HAVE TO BRING MY KIDS ON THE PLANE TOO???
Before every flight I have taken with my son, since he was 6 weeks old, I have dedicated at least 24 hours to stressing about how stressful it might be on the plane. Needless to say, except for sitting still for 5 hrs while baby sick soaked through into my bra and pants, it has always been almost fun having him on the plane with me. Sure, you no longer get to drink free gin at 6am, but you will be able to spend some quality, uninterrupted time with your children – without your iPhone beeping every two minutes.
Whether you are flying to Auckland or Alicante, here are some top tips from me and the Gin Fund Mummies to elevate some of the stress:
Flying with a new-born:
This is one of the easiest ages to fly with; they’re not too heavy and they’re not on the move!
- Take LOTS of changes of clothes for them and one for yourself; one big explosion or puke and you will all need changing.
- I’d recommend you prepare individual nappy sacks containing a clean nappy and wipes, to avoid taking your whole change bag into the small loo on board.
- Give them some milk or a dummy to suck on for take-off and landing, but don’t start feeding them too early. Some flights taxi for longer then you expect, so wait until you are actually taking off.
- If baby is bottle feeding, take enough milk to cover a substantial delay. Most airlines will help warm it up for you but it’s handy if they just like it at room temperature. You may be asked to drink a bit of your milk as you go through security.
- Short haul? Sometimes low cost airlines (EasyJet etc) are so cheap for a seat that it’s better to book them their own seat than to pay the flat rate they charge for an infant to sit on your lap. During take-off and landing they will still sit on your lap.
- Long haul? Confirm a bassinet seat early with your travel agent or email the airline directly.
- 1st passports can take longer than 3 weeks to process and they only last 5 years – so don’t be caught out!
- It’s recommended to pre-book ‘meet and greet’ parking at the airport. A bit of a luxury but it’s great with babies as you just drive to the terminal, meet your driver and your car is parked for you. Then when you land on your return, they meet you again at the terminal with your car. So no transfer buses to take to the long stay parking!
Flying with a baby:
This is the age of distraction and snacks!
- With your baby now into more of a routine, it’s handy to book flights close to their nap times or overnight.
- Take lots of snacks to keep them busy and some antibacterial wipes in case they would rather chew on airline safety card instead! A friend of mine once got 50 minutes peace on the way to Greece whilst her 14 month old ate an apple.
- Sugar free lolly to stuck on take-off and landing.
- Pound land gifts wrapped up and opened once an hour.
- Popular toys are sticker books, masking tape and mini play doh.
- Most airports have a soft play area, so it’s worth investigating where exactly in the terminal it is in advance. And take a little soft ball to wear them out before or between flights.
- Be prepared to walk up and down the aisles a lot!
Flying with a toddler:
This is a very fun time to go on holiday with your child; plus they are finally old enough to be entertained by an iPad for hours on board.
- Ipad, ipad, ipad, apps, cbeebies programs and movies / peppa pig episodes on download.
- Kid size headphones are a great investment http://www.amazon.co.uk/JVC-HAKD5P-Phones-Stereo-Headphones-Pink/dp/B005OQ5ZM8
- Get on the plane last, even if they say you can get on first.
- If you’re flying long haul – then consider a stopover for a few days en route, it’s a nice excuse to discover a new city and culture together, plus will help with jet-lag.
- Buying or borrowing a CARES harness is a safe way to keep your toddler in their seat. http://kidsflysafe.com/ Worth it for long haul flights if they have become over-tired.
Lots of Love,
Aunt Juniper* xx
*On this occasion, Aunt Juniper was Hannah Scoones from Travel Counsellors.
With over 12 years’ experience as a Travel Agent on the High Street, I am now based in Forest Hill. Specialising in family and long-haul travel – I offer a personal, one stop, bespoke service to my clients at a time to suit them. I have direct contracts with the best luxury family resorts around the world, so even parents can relax on holiday! Importantly all bookings are backed up with full financial protection and ATOL bonding.
FROM THE MUMMY’S GIN FUND FACEBOOK COLLECTIVE:
‘We checked the buggy and car seat with our luggage and took baby through airport in a carrier – much less of a faff.’
‘It’s possible to pre-order pre-made bottles of formula from Boots airside. I always order far more then I will need, in case of a delay.’
‘I always buy some new little toys and stickers, stickers are good! Try and mess with the nap schedule a bit so they’re due at least an hours sleep during the flight. I give Calpol 30 minutes before take-off and landing for any potential ear pain. Lots of small snacks like raisins.’
‘Thread cheerios or hula hoops on some string – the novelty factor keeps them entertained for a bit!’
‘I dress my son in a bright jumper so he’s easy to spot if he makes a run for it in the airport.’
‘My son enjoys packing his own little wheelie case with toys, pens & books in it so he can pull it round the airport with him, just like the grown-ups.’
Note: These are suggestions from members of Mummy’s Gin Fund based on experience and should not be treated as official advice. Any action taken is at your own risk. Always seek professional advice if you have any questions or concerns about any aspect of your life.
Always consult NHS 111, your GP, health visitor or A&E for professional medical advice.