10 steps for a better first flight with your newborn

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Image: VIcky leta/ mashable

You can fly with a baby almost immediately after the bundle of joy is born any time from 48 hours on some airlines but should be used?

For many people, and for many reasons, it’s often not a selection so much as a necessity, even if the idea might make even seasoned travelers and confident parents anxious.

My son Oliver has grandparents and relatives on both sides of the Atlantic so he was always about to become a frequent flier, and Ive taken several flights with him during his first 10 months on the planet.

It was a daunting prospect Ive no doubt earned some serious negative karma for my own pointed glances at parents of screaming newborns over the years but in the end it wasnt anywhere near even worse as Id anticipated.

We first flew from London to Rome as a family last June, when Oliver was two months old, and then at nine months built the 11 -hour flight( and 17 -hour door-to-door journey) to Los Angeles. Hes crossed the pond two other hours with just his mum. And somehow, everyone has built it through.

We may have left a road of litter in our aftermath, crescents of cracker dust on taxi floors and molehills of rent up sick suitcases and in-flight publications on aircraft chairs, but we induced it from A to B just about intact.

I learnt a lot as Oliver racked up his first 15,000 air miles.

Oliver committees his flight in Rome.

Image: Tim Chester

You can bring as many toys as you like but nothing is as interesting as a plastic bottle or the straps of a lifejacket under your seat. Strangers noses and ears just have to be pulled and prodded at regular intervals. He’ll likely be sick just as the food service comes. Changing a writhing baby sideways in a plane lavatory is akin to wrestling a jellyfish and made all the harder with knocks on the door, seatbelt dings, and the fact you cant genuinely stand up straight.

Changing a writhing newborn sideways in a plane lavatory is akin to wrestling a jellyfish

In our suit, traveling when he was under six months old was much easier, as he napped in our laps much of the style. From then on it got a lot more lively. By the time he was crawling, he was heading for the exits at the front, middle and rear of the plane at the first opportunity.

We made playpens from cushions, purses and legs but he was halfway down the aisle in the time it took us to pour a G& T. We tried the sky cot, but youd think we were laying him on hot coals. Eventually I carried him in a sling to the back of the plane and stood swaying and one-handedly reading through publications as I counted down the minutes to landing.

Perhaps the most crucial thing I learnt, though, is that I was much less mortified by his noises on behalf of the members of other passengers than I thought Id be. People seemed relatively relaxed about his presence, and he was usually one of several babies on board.

Generally, the crews were helpful and we find facilities and people happy to help at most phases on our journeys.

By following a few basic tips-off you can induce that first flight with a baby a little less stressful.

Choose your airline carefully

Airlines offer a host of things to build the experience easier, from bassinets or sky cots to newborn meals, newborn luggage allowance and in the case of Etihad and Gulf Air even a sky nanny. Check around before you book.

Pick your seats wisely

A window seat offers more privacy for breastfeeding but the aisle has easier access to bathrooms. The bulkhead seats offer invaluable crawling space and brackets for the bassinet and can usually be reserved if you check in early enough.

If both parents are flying, cross your thumbs and pray to the Gods for a row of three to yourselves. We had a bulkhead row of three just for us returning from Los Angeles to London lately until a human with a neck brace shuffled up at the last minute and plonked himself in the spare seat.

Select a flight time that fits with your baby routine

If youre flying anywhere further than a couple of hours, your babys routine is about to go haywire. But for the outbound journey at the least, you can harness their natural rhythms to mitigate the blow.

For us, taking a 4 p. m. airplane from London to LA tied in quite nicely. The first snack service was finished and illuminates went down by around 7 p. m ., his usual bedtime back home. Which entailed he slept for a good 38 minutes of the 11 hour flight.

Pack this stuff

Nappies( diapers ), wet wipes, favourite dolls, volumes and food are a devoted. In both the U.S . and the UK, breast milk and formula and some other liquids are permitted in hand luggage. Airlines often offer some, and in the UK you can order food to pick up at the gate from Boots, but it’s easier to take your own.

Beyond that, at the least one change of clothes for the newborn( and mothers ), a blanket, some travel-sized baby medicine, baby-friendly apps if youre pro-screens, a pacifier and anti-bacterial wipes will all come in handy, as will a sling or newborn carrier. Ive spent hours over the Atlantic with the flight attendant at the back, trying to jiggle my son to sleep.

Choosing your seats wisely will make for a more comfortable journey.

Image: RyanJLane/ Getty Images

You’ll probably want a buggy and a automobile seat, but they’ll usually merely make it as far as the gate. Check whether you’ll get them back as you disembark, or at the carousel area.Sky mattresses, meanwhile, are available to snugly hold a newborn on a lap.( We have one, unused, at home .)

Oh, and a passport for them will come in handy.

Get to the airport early

Everything will take longer with a baby.

While you might get lucky and get ushered past the odd line along the way, any gained day will percolate away as you pack up purses, shoes, iPads, baby foods and the stroller chassis into a million plastic trays at security.

Find the soft play area

From Dallas-Fort Worth to Minneapolis St Pauland Heathrowmost airports have a playground tucked away somewhere that might just tire the little ones out, if they’re old enough to play.

There are usually nursing rooms and quiet areas separate from the chaos of the communal areas.

Heathrow has a number of household friendly areas.

Image: photolibrary

Board first

Normally, Id let everyone else queue up to grab their seat and stroll on last, minimising time spent stuck on the plane and shuffling down passageways, but this is one time you want to get on first.

Get your suitcases in a locker by your seat, grab all the bits you need for the first hour of the flight and generally get the baby settled before take-off.

Make sure theyre sucking on takeoff and landing

Nursing, a bottle or a pacifier can help with the ear popping sensation.

Try and leave period after the flight to get over jetlag

Our UK-U.S. flights took us over eight time zones, and it took several days at each end to re-establish sleep patterns. Newborns will take even longer to adjust if you’re crossing countries around the world horizontally, so try and keep the diary clear for some time after the flight if you can.

Be considerate

Most people dont mind babies on airliners, per se, but sometimes have issues with their parents.

If you entertain your own child, keep them off other peoples laps/ food trays/ faces, apologise if they yank people hair or puking on their shoes, try and minimise freakouts with food, cuddles or trips up and down the aisle, youll likely get on with your fellow passengers just fine. They might even offer a smile.

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