1st flight: 6 weeks
1st road trip: 11 weeks
1st train journey, auto rickshaw, horse carriage rides: 15 weeks
1st long haul flight: 17 weeks
1st bus journey: 22 weeks
Not even 6 months old, and this baby has already been to 7 cities in 3 countries. Talk about being on the move!
Based on my own experience so far, here are some pointers on traveling with a brand new baby:
Make sure you have your physician/ pediatrician’s clearance to travel, it is of utmost importance, especially for smaller babies. Do check if you need to carry any emergency medication for the baby, like nasal drops etc. Keep all important medical records and emergency contact information handy at all times.
2.Don’t compromise on the airline/ carrier
It is worth every penny spent on a good airline – the last thing you want is to be held up for petty issues.
I must highlight my happenstance on Indigo airlines from Mumbai to Chennai. They were merciless even though that had a baby and refused to allow us a couple of extra kilos. What’s more, after taxiing on the runway, the flight was delayed by over an hour due to some technical difficulties and we were sitting in the heat throughout – unfortunately I had dressed my baby up from head to toe for a flight. It was quite a nightmare but he luckily slept through most of it.
Shout out to Jet Airways & Emirates for making my flights very comfortable. I must highlight that the staff at Jet Airways was far more responsive and proactive during my travel than Emirates. But I must highlight Vicky who was on the Emirates flight and helped me at multiple instances throughout the flight. He also captured these special memories for us 🙂
We travelled by train in 2nd AC in Indian railways (from Chennai to Palani and back) and it was perfectly comfortable though I was slightly nervous before embarking. In the US, I travelled on the Greyhound and it was perfect, the co-passengers were also really sweet and made it a fun ride.
Read this brilliant post on travel gifts for kids by Flip Flop Globetrotters!
Its suggested to contact the airline in advance to check for bassinets and request for any special assistance required. Each flight will carry only a certain number of bassinets so you don’t want to miss out on that. They do not allow adults travelling with infants to be seated near the emergency exit but will definitely get preferential seating in the first rows. If you are going to be breastfeeding, the window seats might be most convenient so you can request for the same.
On the Indigo flight mentioned above, I was also told that row 1-5 are “silent aisles” so I will not be allowed to sit in these rows. They allowed row 6 which was so unexpected. Also note that low cost carriers do not have bassinets on board, including American Airlines!
There’s also an option of carrying a car seat on board, but you will need to then book an additional seat and pay a child’s fare. I haven’t done that thus far so I’m not sure how that goes. I believe there’s a minimum age restriction on this.
4.Baby carrier/ stroller stories
A baby carrier is a life saver and it really helped me at each instance and even more so while travelling solo. During my long haul flight, my baby was snug and happy with me in the carrier, and I had my hands free to carry my phone, tickets etc. We have the Ergo baby 360 carrier which was used with the infant insert for 4 months and then without. We also started using it with him facing forward from 5 months on and this made it fun for him to watch the world as we walk through. We haven’t tried on the back and hip carries yet but will be sure to include a separate review on this.
I have also been comfortable using my Soul Sling which is extremely comfortable for both baby and me. It’s also much more airy which makes it convenient for unexpected temperatures.
Since we were a bit all over the place with the new baby, we decided against buying a Stroller until we settled down in the US so we managed just fine without it for 4 months of the bub. We then went ahead and picked up a Safety 1st Smooth Travel System from Amazon which has been great so far, but the child really does not like being in the stroller for too long – we’ve still not had much success with it.
I highly recommend having a Car seats from day 1, as it is of highest priority for your little loves safety – even in India (rear facing till the recommended age and weight criteria are met). It is also to be noted that children must be kept in the back seat as much as possible and it is not debatable. I’m stressing on this for the readers in India.
Use a car seat where ever possible even while travelling in buses and on flights. If it entails an extra cost that is steep, then you can avoid it. But it is the safest for the baby and it could give your arms some much needed rest.
During take off and landing, it is recommended to nurse, bottle feed or have the baby use a pacifier. If the baby is asleep, it’s absolutely fine to let them be. At the end of a long haul flight, my baby was exhausted and refused all methods of pacification. He wailed for one-half hour before we touched down and I’m sure the co-passengers would’ve hated me but I was trying everything in my capacity to help him.
Take it slow. Try to arrive early so as to avoid any unforeseen circumstances. Most airlines have separate queues for families, but some don’t!
6. Time your travel
Even though not always possible, try to time your travel around the babies sleep schedule. I prefer traveling through the night, as the baby usually sleeps through most of it. This is tricky for longer travels or road trips so think about what works best in your situation.
Keep your itinerary easy and don’t try to over-achieve on a trip. Be flexible and keep room for a series of unfortunate events.
For road trips, try your best to make it very early in the morning, so that the driver is fresh enough and the baby is possibly going to sleep through some of the trip. Also bear in mind that babies are the freshest in the morning and oh how I love the morning snuggles 😊
7. Keep it light
Do not carry anything more than the basic necessities on board. Carry all the baby essentials like diapers, extra set of clothes, caps, socks, mittens, bibs, burp cloths, wipes, rattle or their favorite toys etc in a stroller suitcase so that you have your hands free. Also carry change of clothes for yourself in case of a major spit up or poop episodes.
Make sure to think about food or drinks that you will require during the journey. Most of the equipment including breast pump is usually allowed to be carried on board, but just make sure to check with the airline on your allowance.
8. Interact with other passengers and don’t refuse help
Before having the baby, I’ve always been one of those who hated kids travelling, I never understood why the parents don’t control their kids and even wondered why these parents don’t know how to shut them up. Now being on the other side, I totally get it. You can say my bubble burst.
Instead of being apologetic, interact with other passengers well before an impending episode. The world is a friendly place and more people love children than you can imagine. If someone offers a helping hand, do take it if you deem necessary. People were always helping me with the cabin luggage, holding seats for me 🙂
9. Nursing in public/ Feeding
It is absolutely legal and acceptable to nurse in public – even in India. It is the most basic human need to feed and to thrive on the purest form of nourishment. And it’s a sacred bond between a mother and her baby that must not be ridiculed, shunned aside, or be appalled by. There are some who don’t get it, including someone you may know – and it’s absolutely ok to let them know that you need some privacy or better – give them the ‘I see you’
10. Make it like Home
Yes, Babies thrive on routine and yes, home is comfortable. And you can travel whilst still balancing the “home” while you are “away” and have a “routine” while “on the move”. You just need to modify and mimic what you would’ve done at home. Once you reach your destination, try and set up the spaces where baby will sleep, have their diaper changed and have some play area for simulation.
Try not to make any major changes in the sleep or feed schedules around any major travels.
11. Play time
No matter how old or young a kid is, try to keep them engaged by giving them some play time during the travels. Be creative. You could just spread out a blanket near the emergency exit for some tummy time, or have toddlers run up and down the aisles for a bit. If your on the road, take frequent breaks and make the breaks fun and let them stretch and flex themselves. They will look forward to it, and it could help keep them calm.
12. Keep it clean
Carry enough ammunition to keep you, your baby and the surroundings clean. Anticipate episodes of poop, spit ups, etc etc depending on their age. Carry enough wipes and Muslins to clean up. Also carry a few disposable bags handy for safe disposal of trash.
13. Be positive
Don’t let any situation affect you. Chill out. There’s nothing you can’t handle. How ever old your baby is, try to be as flexible and prioritise their needs without spoiling them too much.
14. Go on, Have fun
It’s natural to be nervous to step out of your comfort zone but don’t fear your baby, they will surprise you by being easy. It’s all in the mind, mamas and papas.
No matter where you are traveling, enjoy the experience and enjoy your baby. It’s true, they do grow up so fast…. one day he’s going to be travelling across the globe without me and it makes me happy that I still have so many years to cherish my favourite lil travel companion.
If you have slightly older kids, read this post on traveling with a toddler.
*Disclaimer – this is a blog post based on my own experiences with my baby. Please consider that every body, and every baby is unique and what I’ve mentioned may or may not be applicable to you.