Traveling with an infant – Don’t we freak out at the mere mention of traveling to one place to another along with the newborn or an infant? There is no denying that babies are the most adorable sweethearts but let’s face it; they are highly unpredictable.
Traveling with an infant can be daunting in the first place, yet not a good reason to give up with your traveling plans. Many tips and tricks would make your life easy and allow your little one to explore the world tucked safely in your arms.
INFANT TRAVEL- INTRODUCTION
In recent times, vacationing has become the synonym of a stress-free life. It is considered to be one of the best medium to rejuvenate and attain some peace. Additionally, it helps in learning about a new place, culture, people, etc.
However, this also gives birth to traveling, that can be exhausting sometimes. If you are a new parent and wonders how to travel with a baby or newborn, then stay tuned to this article.
WHAT YOU WILL FIND IN THIS ARTICLE
- What is the right age of traveling with an infant
- What are the taboos attached to traveling babies
- Tips to travel smoothly with your infants (0-6 months old, 6-9 months old, 9-12 months old and 1 to 2 years old)
- Things to know before planning air travel with an infant
- How to ensure a safe and comfortable flight with your baby
Parenting comes with a bundle of joy and with a heap of anxiety. Anxieties like how to hold the baby, what to feed him, if this would harm the baby and believe me the list is countless. One such worry we parents have to go through quite often is how safe it is to travel with our newborn and infants.
RIGHT AGE OF AN INFANT TO TRAVEL
A mammoth of happiness came along with the birth of my princess. However, I used to be staying with my parents for the delivery and wanted to join my husband post my delivery. All I needed was a flight ticket and a birth certificate for my girl; however, was it that easy? Not really. Like many other parents even I was super scared to travel with my baby and decided to wait at least she turns three months.
You must have heard our grandmom’s advising us regularly, not to step out of the house before 40 days of the childbirth. Sometimes our generation does not listen to their reasons and desires to take charge instantly. The instinct of a mother is 100% correct, yet taking some advice from our elders would only make our job easy.
BUT, WHEN IS THE RIGHT TIME?
Many of us wonder if we can travel with our 1 or 2 months old baby on a flight? Although, babies more than 14 days are permissible to go in any domestic or international flights (the age allowed may differ in case of any changes in the airways rules). However, early infancy is prone to infections.
Moreover, both baby and mother need enough rest to develop strong immunity; thus, 3-4 months is the recommended age to travel along with your baby in any mode of transport.
TABOOS ATTACHED TO NEW BORN’S TRAVELLING
My girl is 1.5 years old now, and by now I have realized that we live in a country which has a plethora of taboos to deal. We have a fancy list for every stage of our life and restrictions associated with babies is no less. I am confident you all would agree that many of our relatives turn magician, doctors, travel experts and what not. They will tell you stories out of concern, however often they are without logic and are dated that adds on the frustration.
WHEN IN DOUBT?
One factor that I have invariably followed right from the birth of my child is to consult a pediatrician. Even for the slightest doubt, he was the one I always wanted to approach at the first place. To answer the question if traveling with an infant in his early days would harm the baby or not is partially right.
Knowingly or unknowingly, babies would attract germs and infections from the fellow passengers that can make them sick. Unlike elders, they don’t have a healthy immune system and when gets exposed to the extreme temperature might not be a pleasant experience for them.
Hence, our elders keep pestering us not to take our babies out in the market or for traveling. However, it has nothing to do with evil eyes so simply ensure proper hygiene and your baby is set to explore the world.
INFANT TRAVEl TIPS
#1 Book a time slot as per your baby’s sleep time: Although newborns can be found sleeping most of the time of the day, it can be challenging for babies aged more than 6 months. Booking an early morning ticket or as per their nap time would be a great idea to enjoy some me time during your travel.
#2 Invest in a good sling carrier: A good quality baby sling carrier is undoubtedly an excellent investment for any parent who loves to travel or wish to go for a long stroll. This way not only your baby will keep getting the warmth and touch of your body but would leave your hands free.
Alternatively, you may carry a baby stroller that can be checked in directly to the flight or can be taken in trains. However, you have to bear with the hassle of putting it into the security checking machine.
#3 Pack Light: I usually say this to my friends that my purses have modified from fancy brands to spacious diaper bags. While traveling alone may encourage you to carry minimal things, this gets preciously opposite in case of traveling with a baby.
Domestic low-cost flights usually allow a weight of 15 kgs as check-in baggage and 7 kgs as hand baggage. While traveling with an infant, you get an extra 7 kgs as hand baggage. This additional weight allowed can be used for another hand baggage one wish to take. Prams or strollers do not get counted in check-in luggage.
#4 Get a delivery done at the destination: If you are planning for a long holiday, then getting the wet wipes, diapers, toiletries, and formula food delivered to your destination would leave you with a lot of space to carry other essentials.
If you are traveling to a more rural area, you may want to look into the rural internet options, as being without a signal could prove challenging when traveling with an infant.
#5 Carry a separate bag for your baby: Unpredictable things are bound to happen when traveling with your baby. Carrying a separate bag exclusively for their belongings would help you to stay prepared for such a case. Some of the most essential and vital things that one need to carry in the cabin bag (while traveling in flight) or handbag (while traveling in other modes of transport) would be
- Feeding bottles, Pacifiers
- Breast Pumps (optional)
- Toys for babies (toys with sharp edges are not allowed)
- Some eatables
- Milk or juice etc (the 250 ml liquid limit doesn’t apply in case of babies milk or water)
- Extra pair of clothes both for your babies and for yourself. You never know when you have to deal with the throw ups or poopy blowouts.
- Wet wipes and diapers: Carry a small pack of wet wipes and just 2-3 diapers (depending on the hours you would take to reach your destination)
- Sanitizer (one of the most important item)
- Thermometer, Nasal drops, and medicines (for fever, vitamin d3, colic, etc)
THINGS TO KNOW PRIOR AN AIR TRAVEL WITH BABY
People say that life changes drastically after the arrival of your newborn. From sleepless nights to maintain a schedule of feeding and making him burp at regular interval is quite a task. These new responsibilities may get overwhelming at times and introduce you to stress and anxiety.
To help you travel stress-free and comfortably, the airline authorities ensure special assistance for parents traveling with an infant. All you need to do is approach and make them aware of the situation.
In case, you are traveling with an infant and has no other company to assist you with please follow these steps. The ground staff of any airlines is usually accommodating and approachable. Also, there are no extra fees or cost to be incurred for this assistance.
FROM MY AIR TRAVEL EXPERIENCE
#1 Priority in collecting boarding pass: No matter how light your traveling bag looks like, carrying your luggage along with your baby in your arms is no less than a weight training session. Do not hesitate to get some help and approach any ground staff of the respective airlines. They will help you in giving a hand to carry your luggage to get you the boarding tickets. In most of the cases, they will provide you with priority in getting the boarding passes.
#2 Get assistance in security or boarding: You may request the staff at the boarding counter to get you some support for further proceedings. The airline assistance will help you to go through the security check in and to board the flight too. In most of the big airports, they have a separate gate for parents traveling with infants.
In case you don’t have plenty of luggage to carry and do not need any assistance please go through the standard security checks. However, you can still request to prioritize your boarding without standing in a queue.
#3 Preference in seats: Infants do not have a feeding schedule and may need to get breastfed often. To ensure some privacy, one can request for a window seat. Additionally, you may request to leave the next seat empty or if that’s not possible then at least to adjust a female passenger to sit next to you.
#4 Paid Porters: All the above-mentioned arrangements can be made as soon as you approach the airline staff at the boarding counter. However, to reach that counter with your heavy bags in one hand and baby in another can still be tiresome. For a hassle-free journey, one can get in touch with the paid porters available outside the airport at a nominal cost of 150 – 200 rs.
#5 Document required to travel: The only additional document the parents are required to carry is the proof of birth of your babies. As infants are not given any extra seat, bringing a birth certificate is a must as the airline staff may wish to cross check sometimes. Also, passengers traveling with an infant are not allowed to avail the web check-in facility.
In case of any defense tickets, the parents are required to carry the dependent card of the infants.
#6 Air fee for the infant: Usually the low-cost airlines like Indigo and Go-Air charges an amount of 1500 Rs to the passenger for bringing the infant along. However, no separate seat is allocated for them and they need to be seated on the lap of the passenger. While booking the tickets online do ensure to book a ticket with an infant and also do not forget to collect the infant ticket from the ticket counter.
#7 Check in of stroller or car seats: Strollers and car seats can be easily carried to the flight gate directly at no extra cost. Just get a pram tag from the ticket counter and hand it over to the aircrew while boarding the flight. The stroller will get handover to you either at the conveyor belt or at the time of getting down of the plane. Domestic flights do not have the provision of carrying car seats inside the flight.
#8 Availability of feeding rooms at the airport: Babies do not usually have a fixed time of food routine and can demand the mother’s milk at any time of the day. However, not every woman get comfortable to breastfeed in public and we all know it is still a debatable topic to discuss.
Feeding rooms are thus available at almost every airport making the life of the mother easy to an extent. Essentials of babies including diaper, wet wipes, creams are also available at some feeding rooms along with couch to sit. Mothers can take their baby along and change their diapers or nurse them comfortably in these rooms. This facility is available at no additional cost.
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HOW TO ENSURE A COMFORTABLE FLIGHT FOR BABIES
Often we have heard babies crying on board and it might have raised your concern in the past too. But did we know the reason behind the scream? It might be annoying for some people but trust me the parents get their heartbeat skipped for a few seconds.
#1 Offer some liquid: When we are traveling at a height, it is reasonable to get some ear pain due to the fluctuations in air pressure. Unlike adults, our cute angels can’t blow their nose or adjust the pressure on their own. Thus, it is advisable to nurse them right after the take-off and once the flight starts to descend. Don’t worry you will be briefed about this by the air hostess too.
I remember once I was traveling with my 6 months old and a lady was sitting in the opposite seat with her 1-year-old (or maybe more). As soon as our flight took off her baby started howling and making everyone so tensed. Even after our constant request to feed her baby, she was hesitant to breastfeed her in the flight. I had to offer her my baby’s water sipper which eventually made her baby comfortable.
Babies can also be given a bottle of water, juice or milk as the process of sucking helps in adjusting the air pressure for babies ears. Pacifiers are also a great help.
#2 Ensure they are well fed: Another tip would be to ensure your babies are well fed so that they get to sleep peacefully during the flight. However, do not stress over this factor. The smaller (by age) the baby, the better the flight journey is for him.
#3 Get some Toys and Food to Munch: Carrying some exciting toys or their favorite snacks to munch will also help your baby to travel fuss-free. I had always carried my baby’s musical rattle when she was between 3 – 6 months. The rattle got replaced by her preferred banana teether (silicon teethers) between 6 – 9 months and then I started to get her best-loved board books, a soft toy, and some musical books as soon as she turned 11 months.
In addition to this, make sure to carry some most-liked snacks of your baby (mostly in case of babies more than a year old) to keep them engrossed in their food. It will keep them engaged while you wish to enjoy your cup of tea. Some of the snacks that I have been carrying for my baby is Makhana, French fries (homemade), biscuits and chopped fruits.
#4 Change the Diaper: Poopy diapers can also annoy your baby and make him uncomfortable. The diaper changing room is available in the flights too for which you may contact the aircrew.
#5 Cuddle and Play: Every child is different so please don’t compare yours with any other baby. Things that are working for you might not work for others. So, keep trying new things and make the journey of your child comfortable and relaxing.
I am an avid reader, but I don’t remember carrying any book in the flight post the birth of my girl. She always has and until now also demands my attention all the time. So, I try to keep her engaged in her toys, or if she gets bored with them, then I start cuddling her or playing with her.
She loves to learn new words from the books and her favorite pastime these days is to point her finger to any new picture from the book and in return, I say the word of that picture. Please do not shy away with such activities by thinking what another passenger would think. These moments won’t come back and so make most of it.
#6 Ask for Bassinets: Carrying your baby in your lap for 1-2 hours flight is still manageable, but when you are traveling abroad and have extended hours to deal with you need to find another solution.
Please check with your airline about the baby bassinets while getting your boarding passes. You may also book the next seat at extra cost and carry along with your car seat as an alternate option (international flights only).
CONCLUSION & SUMMARY
The traveling experience with your little ones might be quite challenging. However, it certainly gets better with proper planning and research.
The arrival of the baby must bring immense pleasure in your life and should not put a halt at the life you have been leading so far. Thus, listen to your heart and take your baby along to all your favorite places without switching on the panic button.
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I would love to hear about your traveling experience with your little ones too.