We’ve all been on a plane where a child kicks off, everyone rolls their eyes, people tut, glare and moan that they want to get to sleep, well this time, we’re the one with the child and suddenly the idea of going on a long haul flight with a 10 month old feels super daunting! When I landed at The Westin Maldives last week, there were an overwhelming amount of messages asking for support and tips on travelling with a baby so I sat down with my husband, over a glass of wine by the pool, and pulled together a list of items, tips and tricks that we have found useful for us. Since having Jax we have been on five flights, each varying in time from one to sixteen hours and we’re about to embark on a trip to New Zealand at the end of the year which will be two twelve hour flights, so trust me when I say, we’ll be using this post!
Flight: Choose your flight times wisely. We always choose to fly during the evening or at night for the simple fact that your child will be sleepier than during the day. It might mean they’re a little cranky, to begin with, but you know that at some point they will fall asleep and it will be for a longer time frame than daytime naps.
Routine: Wherever possible stick to your normal sleep routine. Before boarding an evening flight we always make sure we’ve changed her nappy and put her into a sleepsuit. We have the blanket from her cot, a comforter and favourite toy on hand as well as book and bottle ready to read to her and feed as the plane takes off.
Team Work: I cannot stress what a difference it makes when you have support! High five to those of you doing long haul on your own. If you’re lucky enough to travel with someone, ask them to do the nappy changes, fill up bottles, tidy the space and even feed you if the little one has fallen asleep and you no longer have the use of your arms. This will give you little pockets of time to clear your head or simply wiggle your toes.
Jet Lag: I’ve read so many posts on this but can only share my experience. With flying at night your little one should hopefully have had more sleep than just a nap meaning that when you land they shouldn’t be as cranky. Where possible move over to the local time as quickly as you can but stick to your routine, just in their time zone. Our little girl falls asleep happily in a car seat, carrier or cot so if you can time them being in these situations during your first day, do. We usually aim for a nap during the day and then a slightly earlier bedtime if she’s super tired but always sticking to the bath, massage, book, make the room as dark as possible and then bed, routine that she has always had.
Airport: If you need a stroller for your vacation then, by all means, pack one but if you’re happy to just use a carrier we’ve found this to be so much easier! A carrier meant we had our arms free for luggage and could walk the aisle of the plane if she was struggling to drift off. It also makes your life easier when you’ve landed as it can be quite a walk and if your child is anything like ours, they love to fall asleep just as the plane lands.
Stimulation: Jax is ten months and yet to watch TV or Apps, however, if your little one does watch them just try to limit the amount of time staring at a screen before you want them to go to sleep. Big boosts of stimulating activities will only prevent them from being able to switch off. Instead, buy a couple of small toys, wrap them in tin foil to make it like a pass the parcel (gives you more playtime) and only one toy at a time to keep them interested.
Carry on: Whenever we fly I wear the baby bag and my husband has a backpack with the bits that we would both need. This makes it simple to know where everything is, I recommend packing the following in your carry on bag:
- Zip up Sleepsuits: makes it so much easier to change in tiny aeroplane toilets.
- Change of clothes: we took three simple outfits with us, babies poop a lot in the sky, dribble, food, it might be too hot or cold when you land so it’s always helpful to have options.
- Pillow: If you pack anything make sure it’s a small, soft pillow, trust me, when they get so tired they can’t get comfy this will be the one item that gives you some you time on the journey.
- Nappies & Wipes: we usually take ten to twelve nappies and a full pack of wipes.
- Blanket: Bring the blanket your child normally sleeps with at home, this will add familiarity and help them sleep in new surroundings.
- Snacks: Never underestimate the value in having all the snacks. There’s kind of an anything-goes rule when travelling. We always pack three ready-made Piccolo meals and then about four snack bags as well as fruit, baby biscuits etc.
- Spoon & Bib: Babies are messy at the best of times, bring a bib so that they know it’s food time, it also prevents you needing to use another outfit each time and bring back up spoons, you know they’re going to go missing on route.
- Bottles: If you’re no longer breastfeeding I’d recommend taking two bottles and a pack of milk with you. The crew on the plane will happily get water for you but I also purchase a bottle once through security.
- Pacifier or Dummy: Jax loves her dummy so we purchased a dummy clip to make sure she would be able to find it at all times and had a spare packed just in case.
- Baby Carrier: Perfect for getting around the airport and for helping them drift off to sleep on the plane.
I’m not going to go into too much detail when it comes to what you need to pack for your holiday but I’ve popped down a couple of items that we’ve used every trip and wouldn’t want to be without:
- Packing Cubes: I have never been an organised person but these packing cubes really help you to get your items in order. We have different colours for each person, one for her bits, mine, his, dirty laundry, muslin cloths, cables etc.
- Inflatable: It sucks when you can’t do activities as a family, like enjoying time in the sea can be one of them when you have a young baby. We purchased this swan inflatable with a cover to shade our daughter from the sun and it’s been the perfect accessory to enable us to all have fun in the sea together.
- Muslin: I’m sure you have lots of these but for the purpose of this post I’m talking about a thick muslin that can be used to block out light or create a barrier. We like to create a dark area for Jax to sleep in and use a couple of muslins to block out the light or prevent her from seeing us in our bed so that she can switch off and relax.
- Baby monitor: In most cases your little one is going to want to go to bed before you, taking your baby monitor gives you a little more freedom in the evening to go and sit on the balcony and enjoy a cocktail or three.
I hope this has inspired you to keep travelling even with little ones. We had the most incredible time at The Westin Maldives, a place often only ever thought of for honeymoons yet Jax had the best time. The resort had the most beautiful creche with more toys and activities than you can imagine, a babysitting service and the staff kindly created the tastiest meals for her at each of their three restaurants. Nightly rates at The Westin Maldives Miriandhoo Resort start from £608/800 Dollars for two people on a B&B basis. For more information or to book please visit westin.com/maldivesmiriandhoo.