Flying with a toddler is hard work, let me tell you! As some of you may know my family and I recently relocated from the U.S. to Australia. At the time our daughter was 11 months old. This trip will forever go down in history as the worst travel experience of my life!
I know, I know, I’m supposed to be some sort of baby guru here but sometimes you have to live it to learn it. While my husband and I are avid travelers, err were avid travelers, we had no idea what we were up against traveling with a baby.
We got dropped off at the airport and my husband and I looked at each other and then our luggage, our MASSIVE pile of luggage. Mind you this was all we owned in the world. We were used to living out of suitcases, just not with a baby. And babies have a lot of stuff. We managed to get in the door and wondered around like the stressed-out parents we were. Finally, we found our gate, checked in most of our bags and headed to our first of 4 flights. Yes, FOUR flights! Which also adds up to
35 hours of travel, with a baby.
We must have been mad or maybe just naive.
To be fair the first 2 flights or the first 24 hours actually went pretty well. My daughter was still breastfeeding so I mostly just popped my boob out and let her sleep during the flights. Then we would let her run (more like crawl) around wild on our layovers.
At this point I was very exhausted because if you have ever tried sleeping while holding a breastfeeding baby in a tiny little airplane seat you would know, it’s nearly impossible.
Even if you can manage to get comfortable you are just worried about dropping your baby the whole time. We get off our 2nd flight and head to the customs line in New Zealand. I notice a few spots on our daughter Aneira’s tummy. I’m slightly worried as I tell my husband but hoping it’s just a heat rash and maybe it’ll go away on its own. We make it through the never-ending line at customs and have a few hours to kill so we find a quiet area for Aneira to run (and us to catch up on Facebook). I happen to speak to my mom who mentions hives. CRAP! It’s hives. How I didn’t think of that I don’t know. I blame exhaustion. When she said hives, I knew it because Aneira was on meds for an ear infection and obviously must be allergic to them. Now that we thought we knew what it was they seemed to be
spreading like wild fire.
I was getting the ‘should your baby be out of the house’ look. What could we do we weren’t even in the country we had visa’s for. We had to go on.
The next flight was the stuff us moms have nightmares about. It was a 7-hour flight from New Zealand to Australia. Other than the spots Aneira showed no other signs of being sick. The first 6 hours of the flight were spent buttering up to the doctor sitting next to us. He reassured us (a thousand times) our daughter had hives not
some incurable disease google was telling me about.
We were on the last hour of the flight when things started going south. Aneira started crying uncontrollably.
The kind of blood curdling crying you hope the neighbors don’t call the cops on you for.
She wouldn’t even breastfeed anymore! A kind (or annoyed) flight attendant gave us some Advil to help with her discomfort. It didn’t help. Nothing helped. We were starting to descend and seat belts were supposed to be on. If you’ve traveled with an infant on your lap, you’ll know they give you an extra belt to go around your baby that latches to your own seat belt. For some reason the flight attendant wouldn’t let it go that my daughter didn’t want to be in hers. I know, I know safety first but when there is a plane full of people giving you the evil eye because your baby has been
nonstop crying for 45 straight minutes
you just want to do anything you can to calm them. And then it happened. All at once Aneira puked on herself, on me and on the empty (Thank God) seat next to us. As if on cue, the pilot came on the speaker and said “We’re preparing for landing. Flight attendants please be seated”. There was no way I was going to wait 20 minutes to clean us up so I darted into the bathroom before anyone could tell me not to. I quickly changed Aneira and cleaned us up the best I could. All while the flight attendant was knocking on the door telling me I needed to be seated. I finally finished up and walked out with my head down in shame or fear of breaking. My husband knew the look. He knew
I was about to have a meltdown.
I was at my breaking point and couldn’t help but to fall apart. He took Aneira from me, strapped her in and let her cry on him while I silently sobbed in my seat. I could see the side glances from people nearby which didn’t help. I tried to pull it together but the flood gates were open and there was no turning back now.
The plane finally landed and we got off that thing as quick as possible. Heads down, feet running. Aneira must have felt some relief as well because as soon as we got off the plane she finally calmed down. We collected all 5,000 of our belongings, waited another 3 hours in customs and decided to ditch our last flight (BEST DECISION EVER). We got a hotel for a few nights before continuing to our final destination, Exmouth Australia.
This my friends, is what travelling with a baby is.
No more mini alcoholic drinks, no more long naps, no more movie sessions, just pure embarrassment.
My husband and I vowed to never get on a plane again until she was at least old enough to follow direction. We both know that’s a promise we will never keep but we WILL be waiting until the memory fades a bit.
Kind of like childbirth, I suppose, you have to forget a bit to want to do it again.
Now, because I so clearly know what it takes to travel with a small human, or at least what it doesn’t take,
Just in case your little one decides to break out in hives and puke all over. I suggest a dress as it is the easiest way to deal with changing diapers too.
Same reason as above. Make sure you keep both sets of clothes in an easy to access bag.
and diapers of course. The wipes will come in handy when you are cleaning up… well, you know.
Food is entertainment. Not necessarily for the gentlemen getting a carrot thrown at him but for your toddler. It will entertain them. You are allowed to bring food from home onto the plane with you so you don’t need to break the bank at the airport bookstore. These munchkin containers were perfect for travel.
They say the pressure is bad for babies/toddlers ears. Have something for them to suck on during takeoff and landing. Something like a pacifier, bottle or boob.
It is easier to take a blanket on and off than a coat or sweater. It can get drafty up there and you don’t want your baby waking up because she’s cold. The Aden swaddle plus blankets found at Amazon have grown through the months with us. Now that we have a toddler we use them as a regular blanket and something to snuggle up with.
Her favorite dolly, some interactive books, a coloring book with crayons or a color sorter would do the trick. I’d suggest ones that aren’t easily tossed around as other passengers don’t appreciate a hot wheel to the forehead.
If your child will sit and watch a show or play a game, let him! Not a great idea to limit screen time on a plane. Let that kid watch whatever he pleases.
If you have to travel alone, let the force be with you. Otherwise get someone to help. You will at the very least need to pee and that is very difficult to do on a plane let alone on a plane with a child in your arms.
This was a lifesaver for us. My husband was able to strap her on and walk around the plane with her. I was able to have a break from holding her. This is also how you start to connect with other parents on your flight. It’s funny how I never noticed how many crazy people actually travel with babies until I did it. Our favorite is the Tula. If you have tried a Tula you probably love yours too!
For some reason, they only give you those small cups of water. I mean, it’s a 14-hour flight don’t they know I need 8 full glasses of water a day? Best trick is to bring your own empty water bottle (Camelbak water bottles are the only ones we use around our house) and have them keep refilling it. Double win because you don’t have to worry about it spilling!
Remember how I said the flight attendant gave me Advil. Well that’s because I didn’t have this list to remind me to bring a pain reliever just in case my child had the hives.
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