Flying with a baby can be daunting for new parents but what if we told you that it can be much easier than you imagine with a baby? Mum of two Rachel Arvanitis and inventor of SkyBaby gives us her top tips for smooth flights with tots in tow and why travelling is great for children.
In all honesty it seems so much simpler to bundle the kids in a car and take a staycation when you have a baby – and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that! But for our family, travel was essential. My husband’s family live in Greece and we obviously wanted them to see our children as much as possible. We first flew when our girls were 6 and 8 weeks and the first time were anxious beforehand, but I remember feeling totally relieved and elated at the other end that it really wasn’t that bad. We tried to prepare for everything, but the biggest problem was settling our baby for several hours on our laps. It’s the most natural thing in the world to cradle your child in your arms but do that for several hours, and you end up with cramp and your child may overheat. When we created SkyBaby we wanted to replicate being close to a parent, to hear their breathing and feel comforted and of course make it easier for parents on the flight too.
Now my children are older I realise that travel isn’t wasted on tiny tots. As parents we became more flexible and go with the flow, and as a family I think it’s a good thing to let go of routines occasionally and discover new ones! Travel is the perfect way to encourage kids to be adaptable so why not start them young?
Take the plunge
If you want to go abroad on holiday, don’t wait. For a start babies fly for free when travelling on your lap so take advantage of this whilst you can. Toddlers and small children are fidgets and far more likely to kick up a fuss when strapped into their seat or need the loo the minute the seat belt sign is switched on. On the other hand, babies sleep a lot of the time and once they are settled in your arms and fed they should sleep for most of the journey.
It’s so important to pack light with a baby. Keep it simple; go for an organised changing bag and ideally something that will keep your hands free such as a messenger bag or backpack. We loved PacaPod bags for all the useful compartments inside to store food and changing gear, making everything easy to find in the small confines of the cabin. When you feel organised you feel so much more in control and ready for anything - so channel your inner girl guide and prepare!
Be security savvy
You will need to remove all juices, liquids and creams from your luggage. These should be contained in a clear zip-top bag and placed in a plastic security tray for x-ray so keep them ready for the security line. Don’t worry if you don’t have the correct size bag as airports have plenty for you to pop your stuff into. Some airports also have a handy Boots airside service, and milk and drinks can be reserved for the flight.
Babies can’t swallow or yawn on command so take care of popping ears by encouraging your baby to drink milk or juice during take-off and landing. The swallowing and sucking will help to release any pressure and hopefully divert their attention. If your baby uses a soother then this will also help the ears to pop naturally until they are old enough to join you on the boiled sweets.
Have some tricks up your sleeve
Babies aren’t too precious about their special teddy coming along and if you’ve ever left a much-loved toy on a plane and tried to placate a howling child then you’ll appreciate what a relief this is! Babies are brilliantly easy to please and happy simply staring at the passengers, yanking the seat belt or scrunching up the inflight magazine, but pack a few toys and snacks to keep them amused just in case they don’t sleep throughout the journey.
We bought a cheap lightweight buggy to whizz around the airport and at our destination and it’s well worthwhile. You want something easy to fold up in a hurry for check in and that you won’t feel too precious about as it’s thrown onto the luggage carousel at the airport! The SkyBaby mattress rolls up into a neat bundle with a drawstring so you can attach it to your buggy/changing bag and grab it when you board the plane.
Keep it in perspective
Your baby may cry - it happens. All you can do is apologise to fellow passengers and try and comfort your baby. Most people understand what you’re going through and besides it’s not forever and you will soon be off the plane and enjoying your holiday!
SkyBaby is available priced £33 here