He’s licked the wheels of your carry-on case and there’s formula powder sprinkled over the nappies. The fully foldable stroller is too wide for the aeroplane and you’ve left his favourite board book on the last leg. Sound familiar?
Despite best-laid plans, there will always be something that catches you off-guard when you travel with a baby. It’s best to expect and accept that. But a little preparation goes a long way towards avoiding total meltdown half-way over the Atlantic. Having just done the flight to Australia alone with my son, here are some tips that got us through long haul travel with a baby…
Practical Tips for Long Haul Travel
Aim to get to the airport early and find a soft-play area – almost every international airport has one. My son had just started crawling and I wanted to give him some exercise before he was stuck in a seat for 22 hours. He was happy as a clam, romping around in the soft-play area in Heathrow Terminal 2. By the time we boarded at 8pm, he was ready for bed.
Travelling alone with a baby can be a logistical nightmare in terms of luggage. I suggest packing a soft carry-on bag rather than a mini suitcase. You can then wedge it in the bottom of your buggy compartment so there’s less for you to lug. Most airports allow you to take the buggy to the gate, but it’s best to check first.
Fully foldable buggies that are small enough to fit into the overhead compartment are worth their weight in gold. It means no hanging around waiting for the buggy to emerge from the hold whilst everyone else cruises through security. The Babyzen Yoyo was the world’s first to comply with baggage size guides – and even fits in the EasyJet compartments.
I took the Montain Buggy Nano, thanks to a very generous last-minute lend from a friend. It was super light, which enabled me to sail across Singapore airport in time for a tight connection, but it didn’t fit into the overhead compartment on the last leg due to the wheel size. Slings and baby-carriers are the other obvious solution. But if you’re travelling alone with a slightly heavier baby, sometimes it’s worth having something to sit them in.
Essential oils are great for boosting the immune system while travelling. Oils like lavender have been scientifically proven to reduce stress and induce sleep, and all essential oils are oxygenating.
Essential oils contain some of the highest oxygenating substances known to man, which is really important when you’re stuck in an aluminium tube breathing recycled air.
Take several new toys, books your baby hasn’t seen for a while, and a few random items. This was my dad’s suggestion and it worked a treat. I purchased a pair of £4 reading glasses from Amazon before I flew and packed an old remote control with no batteries plus a small plastic hairbrush; endless entertainment.
For a nine-month old baby used to a lot of stimulation, I found I needed to switch things up every 15 minutes; whether that was book-time on the lap, helping him hold himself up on the aisle seat, or me gargling water to different tunes… whatever works.
Carrot sticks saved us during a traffic stack-up on the way to Heathrow – especially good for a teething baby. If you’ve got a short-haul flight then fresh food is best – avocado and puréed chicken, buckwheat and mixed vegetables; whatever your freezer has on offer.
Nom Nom kids make BPA-free, phthalate-free, dishwasher safe refillable food pouches – great for on the go.
If you’re in for the long-haul without a fridge then pasteurised pouch food is really the only option. Goodness Gracious and Babease both have a great range of products which are organic and mercifully low on fruit content.
Remember that liquid restrictions don’t apply to infants so take as much filtered water for formula (or simply for drinking) in baby bottles as you need.
When You Land
The food factor can be as much of an issue on arrival as it can be mid-air. You don’t want to spend a weekend away looking for good-quality meat and organic veg. So, for short trips, take frozen food in your carry-on luggage that you can use for the first few days of the trip. If you live in London, you can purchase some healthy on-the-go baby food from companies such as Little Pickle Pots, or BellotaBaby which I’ve mentioned here in a previous post.
On a recent trip to Copenhagen I took several meals from Little Pickle Pots, which meant Ajax had grass-fed meat and wild salmon to eat for the weekend away.
When you’re back on the ground, choose a meal with turmeric. The spice will fire up your digestion and help protect from radiation (during a seven-hour flight from New York to London, travellers receive about the same dose of radiation as a chest X-ray).
When I interviewed a New York Neuroscientist, Professor Banerjee – he emailed me a paper showing that turmeric can successfully block brain tumour formation. So make friends with turmeric.
* Juice it – with things like carrot, celery and kale.
* Sprinkle it on sweet potato wedges.
* Or try this Turmeric Chicken Curry recipe for baby.
Finally, try and stay calm, ask for help when you need it, and remember that having baby on your lap for 24 hours might not be ideal for you, but it’s probably heaven for them.