Imagine this: You’re planning to attend the next family reunion which is about 2 months away, a get-together of 30 odd members of your extended family. Accompanying you on this trip is your husband, your sprightly 3 year old boy and the newly arrived 2 month old baby girl. While you are in the process of planning details, you noticed there are two categories of parents in your family circle.
Category 1 thinks – TRAVEL is the perfect antidote to STRESS.
Category 2 thinks – TRAVEL is the cause for STRESS!
Let’s delve in a little deeper and rewind to understand why these parents think so.
Category 1 parents want to expose their kids to the rewarding experiences of travel. In their last vacation, they planned their travel itinerary to the last detail and made the most of their time away from home.
Category 2 parents also travel with the same intention, but assume children are little adults who can adapt easily to changing routines and traveling with children requires no special preparation. You can guess the ending to their vacations. Do you know parents belonging to either of these categories?
Travelling with children, especially infants, is an activity deserving of a project management plan. Really? Just kidding! But yes, it certainly requires preparation as things have a tendency to go awry. If you are intending to travel by air to your destination, you need to know what are the flight rules for babies.
Can newborn babies travel in flight?
While most airlines allow babies who are less than a month to travel, it is best to check with the doctor to understand the baby’s readiness to travel, given that babies with developing immune systems would be susceptible to infectious diseases. Also some airlines might insist on a fit-to-fly letter from the doctor as additional documentation.
Can you take baby food on international flights?
Yes, baby food is allowed in your carry-on baggage as personal items. Usually, airlines allow passengers to carry enough baby food for the duration of the flight. However, it would be prudent to retain the packaging of the baby food powder that you intend to mix with water in-flight. This is helpful if there is additional scrutiny at the security check. Assume you are traveling with a 7 month old baby. At this age, babies can have supplementary food like plain rice porridge and sprouted ragi porridge, alongside with breastmilk. If you have specific questions regarding what type of baby food products are permissible, please call the airline office beforehand. Mothers would find it most convenient to carry airtight baby food jars with a small bowl and spoon. Hot water in a flask would complete your baby food pack!
What are the other things to carry while traveling with baby in flight?
With the food taken care of, other essentials to pack include diapers (lots of them!), wet wipes to clean, baby lotion, change of clothes for you and the baby, blankets, plastic bags of different sizes to store soiled diapers/clothes, warm clothing in case of cold weather, essential medicines and a few of your baby’s favourite toys. Don’t forget to pack energy booster snacks for you to munch on!
A common problem faced by many mothers is managing the ear pain in babies caused due to the air pressure fluctuations during take-off and landing of the airplane. Breastfeeding or sucking from a bottle or soother during these times may offer some relief to the baby. Usage of medication to sedate babies for the duration of the flight is not recommended by paediatricians.
At 7 months, a baby already has a routine which is bound to be disturbed whilst traveling. Anticipating your baby’s need for sleep and food, you may time your travel accordingly. Do not pack in too many activities on travel days as babies take time to adjust to new routines. Ensure your baby is dressed appropriately for changing weather conditions. As baby supplies can occupy a substantial portion of your baggage, plan your packing accordingly to not be burdened with a higher number of carry-on bags.
Tips for a travel-happy baby
1. Treasure the moments
In an environment with many unfamiliar sights and sounds, babies find comfort when they see or hear their mother. Make time out to talk or sing to your baby. Babies have amazing abilities to listen and absorb new experiences. At 7 months, babies start babbling and are intentionally repeating sounds to grab your attention. A travel is a good time to block out conflicting schedules and priorities to spend quality time interacting with your baby.
2. Staying hydrated helps
Hydration is an important aspect of travel. Babies are prone to dehydration over a short period of time, therefore adequate caution has to be exercised to avoid any untoward incidents. If babies are being breastfed exclusively, no additional water needs to be provided. In case the baby has already been introduced to solids, it would be best to offer sips of water at frequent intervals. Be mindful of a tendency to overfeed as it might cause abdominal discomfort to the baby, especially given the environment of fluctuating air pressure inside the airplane. Regular change of diapers and a wipe-down ensures a dry and comfortable travel time for the baby.
3. Entertainment and nap time is priority
A couple of toys set aside exclusively for travel, can grant a much deserved reprieve for mothers on a flight. Teething toys are a popular choice. Based on the duration of your flight, you can space out the toys being provided so that you don’t run out of toys before it is time to deplane. Nap times are a very important part of babylife. Keeping track of the hours the baby slept during the flight helps you plan the rest of the day better. A favourite song or a cuddle toy or blanket could provide a feeling of familiarity, helping the baby sleep better.
In the end, behind every travel- happy baby is a calm but energetic mother. If you stress out when things don’t go as planned, as they mostly will, it will affect your abilities and judgement as a parent. Ensure you snack regularly, drink adequate water and catch a nap when the baby sleeps. Every travel experience teaches you something new and helps you make smarter choices. Keep in mind, you may have taken many trips in an airplane before, but your baby is just getting started. Allow your baby to savor the novelty of the experience and share their joys. As always, preparation is key to success. Happy travel!