With the Queens Birthday long week-end almost upon us, we thought you would appreciate some tips to maximise your chances of getting your baby to sleep if you are planning a getaway.
I remember a story a friend told me the first time I intented to travel with my baby daughter Ines: “I was flying with my one year old in my lap and on takeoff, he did a a big poo which leaked out of his nappy and on to me - and I didn't have a change of clothes so he and I were wet the entire trip and of course I couldn’t get him back to sleep!”.
That story stuck in my mind and got me determined to plan my trip meticulously. That planning paid off and I am proud to say that I have no travel catastrophe of my own to share! But I do have some useful tips, which I believe strongly contributed to my well oiled travels with Ines.
PREPARING YOUR TRIP AT HOME
1. Max out your hand luggage allowance
It's safer to work on premise that the airline might loose all your bags and that all you'll have at your destination is your hand luggage. Airlines normally allow you to take a small wheel case as well as a personal item like a handbag or a laptop, so make the most of this allowance! I always packed lots of spare clothes for Ines in both my and my husband's hand luggage. I also always kept her Red Castle sleeping bag handy. It's very convenient as the long zip makes changing your baby easier.
2. Don’t forget your baby’s favorite toy, plush or even light
This will help them fall asleep easily. Ines' personal favourite was her Pixie Soft Night Light by Beaba which reassured her. While on this topic, it's worthwhile mentioning that in addition to being a luminous comforter, the PIXIE SOFT night light also stimulates your child’s early awareness with its roly-poly function.
AT THE AIRPORT
3. Carry your baby in a sling
Our three wheeled mountain buggy pram was too big to take to the gate so we checked it in and used the Babybjorn sling to carry Ines around the airport. Feeling my heart beat helped her to fall asleep. Alternatively, airlines let you take small umbrella type strollers to the boarding gate, then you give them to airline staff to put on board for you. You can sometimes borrow a pram from them too.
4. Check-in car seat and travel cot
Check-in allowances are generous for long distance flights, some airlines even have special allowances for children items such as prams. Check your airline's website for travelling with children advice. The more items your baby is used to sleep in you can take with you, the better. Personally, I always took my pram, travel cot and car seat when we travelled (it helps that my husband only needs a couple of pairs of pants, shorts and shoes... sadly I'm not that light a traveller!).
IN THE PLANE
5. A pacifier (or breastfeeding) is ideal for take off and landing
Even if your baby is a great sleeper during flights, it's likely that take off and landing won't be so easy as babies often experience severe ear pains. Remember to some Panadol in your handbag, just in case. Because take offs and landing are so painful, if you're going on very long haul flights, try to book flights with as few legs as possible.
Breastfeeding is a great way to help relieve your baby's ear pain during take off and landing. If that's what you're planning to do, you'll need to have your baby on your lap for take-off and landing (not your husband). But if your husband wants to join in on the fun, you can use a bottle or a pacifier.
6. Place your baby in a bassinet or keep your Cocoonababy as your hand luggage
Book a bassinet a few days before your trip or arrive early at the airport. We didn't have a bassinet on one of our trip so I kept the Cocoonababy with me as a hand luggage and placed Ines in the Cocoonababy on my lap. When I needed to move about a bit (or sleep), we transferred her in her Cocoonababy to my husband's lap. She slept perfectly during eight hours straight!
Alternatively, you can bring your Big Flopsy which will help both you and your baby find the right position to sleep (unlike plane pillows which always fall).
7. Keep your Complete Nappy Change Kit next to you
If your baby is waking up because he is wet, you don’t want to be going back-and-forth to your seat because you forgot any of the four indispensable changing items: nappy, wipes, change mat or rubbish bag. There is nothing worse than walk in the plane with a screaming baby in one arm and a dirty nappy in the other…
The Complete Nappy Change Kit has those four indispensable items neatly packed in a small kit that you can easily take with you to the change room.
8. Relax and get used to a slow pace
Don't forget to look after yourself too! Ask for a herbal tea when your baby sleeps, and try relax. The more relaxed and peaceful you are, the more likely your baby will fall asleep. A little pampering before your trip can go a long way in getting you ready for the trip. And of course, try to get as much sleep and naps as you can before your flight, as you may not get any during the flight!
Now with all that in mind, we wish you a pleasant trip and hope that you will enjoy every part of your trip (or most of it!).