Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Baby in the Plane

A couple of friends asked me for tips with keeping a happy baby in the plane. So I finally got into it. This is not a full description by any means, just a few tips I can think of based on our experience last summer when Camilla was 7-9 months old. I hope, it'll help anybody :)

1. Number one - the most important one! When the baby is crying, don't stress out!

It happened to us once. Camilla started crying bad. I tried everything I could think of that might help. But nothing helped. Her cry was only increasing in volume and pitch, and nothing helped. There was a 7 year old boy sitting directly in front of us, and his mother asked to give him a seat somewhere else. And people were giving me looks. And she cried and cried... for what felt like several hours. We were sitting in the plane, packed and ready to take off, but there was a delay. When the plane finally started moving, she immediately stopped crying. At the end of the flight (I was so ashamed of myself not being able to manage my baby), several people turned to me and said something like, "We understand. We had small kids too, and it happed to us. It's OK". Even the mother of that poor boy gave me her words of encouragement - so sweet of her!

So just try your best. But if it comes to a cry - try to keep yourself cool and calm. It happens!


2. We had a total of 7 planes last summer. I would say it's easy with a baby on the plane! Much more easier than what I expected.

Camilla sleeps best when she is in the car - it rocks her to sleep pretty fast. Here is a picture of her sleeping in the car in her Halloween pink poodle outfit.

It is even better on the plane. It rocks babies to sleep even better than the car! She slept a lot during her flights. Nice deep sleep. When she would wake up, she was a very happy rested baby, full of smiles and drawing full attention to her happy self from all the people around her :)

So, here is my advice: if you have a problem putting baby to sleep that even car ride doesn't help, take a flight ;)

3. Take off and landing: ears!

The ears pop. It helps to swallow, or better suck on a hard candy. With baby's ears, it is even a bigger problem, since their ears are built differently than adult's; and you can't really tell them "to swallow now".  And that's when breast feeding helps a lot! I tried to stretch time a little if I could - so that Camilla would be hungry just in time for the take off. Then I started to breastfeed her while the plane would go up. I didn't notice any problem with her ears.

They say, if not breastfeeding, keep the bottle of formula, or drink ready to give to a baby during these times. I noticed the other parents did, and it appeared to help. Maybe a bottle with the smaller hole than you usually use?

 4. For me, it was not a car seat, but a pillow!

Since I had planned to keep her on my lap (due to our co-sleeping and breastfeeding), I took a regular size pillow with me. It took a lot of space, but this is the single most important thing that helped me. I put her on a pillow where she could play, and move around, and sleep without to much discomfort for me (I still could move around under that pillow and stretch my legs). The airways provide you with the additional belt: the loop at one side goes around the baby, the loop at the other side is attached to your belt. So while sitting on the pillow, she also was attached to me ;)

I also had two baby blankets. One to cover myself for breastfeeding, the other to cover the baby: it's cold in the plane.

During the long flights on the big planes, sometimes, there are special seats available for the parents with small kids, and bassinets for the babies (there is a weight limit for those). Check with your airlines and order them: they are very helpful. There is more space, and it is a wall in front of you, not a seat for other passengers: it does help a lot :) I believe, these seats are for a regular cost, not additional charge.

5. Toys and activities.

The space in the plane is the most limited. Even though we took a bag of toys, we almost didn't use them at all. First, the luggage goes in the above head compartment. So any time you need anything, somebody has to stand up and get it. I did have my son trying to help, but he had his own things with him, like his laptop. I had maybe one multifunctional toy that I attached to my cloths that it wouldn't be on the way until I need it. We played with the plastic cups and spoons, napkins, magazines, nursery rhymes and finger plays, and entertained people around.

6. Change of cloths.

In that one flight, I was so proud of myself to pack all the baby things neatly. It turned out, I forgot all about myself. Parents need a change of cloths too! She nocked a cup of coffee I was drinking, and spilled it all over herself and me. Thanks the airlines for serving cold coffee! I changed her just fine (they do have the changing shelves in the restroom, I am not sure if it is available all the time). But for me, I had to take my shirt off, wash it, and put it back on wet. How funny is that?

7. Stroller in the airport.

I did take it. To keep it clean, it needs a protective bag. It wouldn't protect from damages, just the dirt, which is a lot. I bough the cheap non-padded bag, but it was bright red, and clearly marked as carry on. It stayed perfectly fine through several planes, but got all ripped off when I decided to check the stroller with the suit-cases. I bought a used stroller just for travelling. Not the umbrella stroller, but a lightweight that supposed to be "folded with one hand", which is a must because it should be folded and run through the scan at security points. I practiced folding it at home, and it helped: I did manage to get it together with one hand while holding the baby.

8. Baby food

The security rules change all the time. As of last summer, I didn't have any problem. I would just say that I had baby food, and had it ready to pull out in the zip lock bag. The security never tried to test it, or open it, or count the amount. I believe it was unlimited, so I had more than we needed, just in case.

9. Happy end!

If you share any thoughts or tips, it would make me happy :)