IT'S that time of year again when many parents are travelling with their children to visit friends and family overseas for the holidays. Here are a few tips for making this process seamless.
1. Ensure that all travel requirements are met, including obtaining passports and visas.
2. Check airline and airport security policies affecting travel.
3. Check ticket requirements — you may need a ticket even if the baby's travel is free and they aren't being assigned a seat.
4. Moderate flight times — try to book flight times to coincide with wake times to decrease fussiness. Prepare for connections and flight changeovers as well.
5. Seat choices — the aisle and bulkhead seats may be easier to access with minimal disruption to other travellers. Since you may need to walk with your baby when he becomes fussy, then this could be very good for you. In addition, it is quite likely that you will need to change the child's diaper which will require that you go to the bathroom to use the changing table.
6. Transporting the baby — when transporting your baby, consider using a carrier or wrap. This allows hands-free access while cuddling the baby and so you will be able to complete security and other requirements without being handicapped because your hands would have otherwise been occupied with the baby. Also, strollers and car seats can be used outside of flying time, but should be checked on board.
7. One of the most important things to consider is your child's meals. Make sure that you have adequate amounts of extras in case of delays and/or cancelled flights. So you should have your expressed breast milk, formula and water, even though the in-flight service may assist with water to mix feeds. Formula, breast milk, juice in quantities greater than 3.4 ounces or 100 millilitres for infants are allowed in carry-on baggage and do not need to fit within the liquid restrictions.
8. You should always have a change of clothing for baby and yourself; after all, accidents do happen. This should always be accessible even in-flight, so put these items in your carry-on luggage. Layer the child's clothing to facilitate changing and adjusting the child's clothing to the varying temperatures. At all costs, avoid tight clothing, as this can make the trip quite uncomfortable for the child and will contribute to fussiness. Adequate amounts of diapers and wipes should always be packed — this means packing in excess of your usual daily usage.
9. All prescription medications should be packed. Assembling a small first-aid kit is also a very good idea. You also may want to fill out a form with the child's health information and keep it close. Include any health complications, allergies, medications that he/she is allergic to.
10. If there was ever a time you will need distractions, it is while travelling. Take multiple toys and/or gadgets to provide a distraction, but not too bulky to take up space. Charge tablets and phones which act as excellent flight companions. If you have little baby headphones, these would be an asset as you won't have to worry about interrupting or annoying other people. A fully charged power bank is also an asset, as sometimes getting access to charging ports at the airports is like trying the find the proverbial needle in a haystack.
11. Make efforts to reduce or prevent ear pain in your infant. Ear pain is a common problem that babies and small children experience. So you may ask to board last to decrease wait period before take-off. Strategise so that for take-off and landing your child will want to feed. If the child is not hungry, then encourage him to suck on a bottle, pacifier or sippy cup, as this will decrease ear pain that may be associated with take-off and landing.
12. If you can afford it, purchase a seat for your child. If you choose to purchase a seat for your infant, you will need an approved car seat for the child. This is the safest way for the baby to fly, as evidence shows that injuries are more often seen in lap-carried children in cases of severe turbulence.
13. Travel as light as possible. Unless you have help, then when travelling with your infant, struggling to drag oversized baggage is not ideal. You want to manage your baggage appropriately — like dropping them off immediately as you get to the airport, and keeping only essential items when on the plane.