The Travel Tales

Surviving a long flight with a baby / toddler

Probably the most requested post the moment i came back & started posting throwback pictures from our NYC trip.

“How do you survive that long flight with Nadya?” 

Before the trip itself, i kinda prepared myself for the long flight. Kept thinking about how we can handle the flight with Nadya around but i always feel that preparation is key especially with a toddler around. You plan nicely and chances are things will go at least 80% right.

Our Carry-on Baggage:

We brought a cabin luggage for all our stuff to be used on board & during transit. This cabin luggage also stored most of the fragile items like urmm makeup. Lol. and also most of her packet milk / drinks & snacks etc. Nadya don’t drink other UHT milk brands except for Marigold. She’s ok with other brands of Fresh Milk but a bit particular with her UHT milk so we brought extras for the trip itself.

*Nadya is on Fresh milk feed. If your toddler is on Formula Milk Feed, i would recommend pre-boiling some waters and storing it in mineral water bottles and just bring it up with you in the cabin luggage. You can always get the Flight Attendants to refill hot water for you during the flight. As long as you have a baby/toddlers, you can bring water along with you. Don’t worry about it being tossed away during baggage checks.

We also brought along a backpack with us. I use a Jujube Be Right Back to put in half of the things we’ll need on board and also cos it’s easier to reach compared to a cabin luggage itself. Obviously the backpack can’t fit everything we need for that 23.5hrs so we replenish the stock from the Cabin Luggage either during transit or in the middle of the flight. But the idea is to have the backpack under our seat after takeoff so everything is within reach because, well if you have toddlers, you’ll know why! Haha.

Here’s a simple packing list of what we brought with us in the flight.

travel-packing-list

Seating Arrangement:
Just before takeoff, i use the Tula to babywear Nadya from the boarding gate and because priority is given to Families with kids, we’ll head over and settle down first before the crowd starts coming in. We did not buy Nadya any seat since she’s below 2 yrs old and we can get away with it. Firstly, the flight bassinet will no longer be suitable for your toddlers. It worked well for her on our Japan trip. She was only 13mths old then. At 21mths old & at 85cm, she’s too tall for the bassinet so don’t bother with it.

We did however choose the Bulkhead Seats which comes with more leg space. These seats run out pretty quickly so book yours asap. The extra leg space comes in handy cos Nadya can still stand and walk around that area. We didn’t have to walk all up & down the aisle throughout the journey. We just let her stand around our seat area.

For all our flights, we somehow managed to get 1 extra seat next to us. The flight from Dubai – JFK, all the seats next to us were full but one of the FA was nice enough to ask our neighbour if he’s ok with switching to another aisle seat so that Nadya can have her own seat and he gladly did. So so thankful for that.

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If you choose the bulkhead seat in the middle section of the plane (4 seats in a row), the armrest can be pulled up for extra space so u can make a makeshift bed. This only applies to the 2 seats in the middle. So be sure to choose that! It was so comfortable for her that she slept a full 6hrs like that. We took the airline blanket to cover the seat, 2 of the airline pillows and just let her sleep. That is also when you should start sleeping as well. Forget inflight entertainment. Go get that sleep.

Getting them comfortable: 
Take-off & Landing can be quite a horror with kids especially with the change of air pressure, resulting in ear pains. But you can prevent that by getting them to drink something during take-off & landing. Timing is crucial here cos you don’t want them to finish drinking before the plane is landing. I usually take a packet drink/milk bottle and place it at the magazine slot where they put all the aircraft menu etc. Only give the drink to them when u hear the Pilot telling the FA to standby for take-off & landing. That way, they’ll be drinking at the right time. If you’re breastfeeding, same thing. Just let them latch. If they are not keen to drink and if they use the pacifier, then let them suck on the pacifier, works the same.

Wear light clothes during the flight. Long sleeved tshirt & leggings or even pyjamas. Bring a jacket as well in case it gets too cold. Work with layers instead of letting them wear a sweater top with jeans cos it restricts their movement. I let Nadya wear her sneakers (use velcro strap ones instead of shoelaces one) so that it’s easier to remove & wear when they need to move around eg head to the toilet.

Keeping them occupied: 
A mother’s woes. How to make sure they keep still?
If you know Nadya personally, you’ll know she cannot keep still. She’s got ants in her pants. Always moving around. Always babbling. So that was one of my worries. How do i get her to sit still? During take-off, i gave her Milo cos it seems like Milo makes her sleepy. Lol. With Milo & her in the carrier, she’ll fall asleep within minutes without me trying. Being in the carrier is her weakness so that helps. After the seatbelt sign is off, i’ll prepare the sleeping area, remove the seatbealts, transfer her to the sleeping area. This is really up to your child cos i know how Nadya is like and how long it’ll take for her to to go Stage 3 during sleep. Transferring her to cots etc has always been pretty easy cos she sleeps like her father. Haha.

When Nadya is awake, i’ll give snacks to her and then we’ll start with an activity. We did a lot of colourings in this flight.

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I prepared some coloured crayons / washable markers, a small notebook and a few A5 Sized Papers for her to doodle on. Make sure bring max A5 size books / papers cos you don’t have space for anything bigger than that. Give them one colours at a time so they’ll get excited again & again. Once they’re bored of the activity, introduce another activity. Say, reading a book / sticker books / toys but the trick is to always introduce one at a time and when u’re introducing the new toy, make sure you keep the old one 1st. We did let her play with the iPad during the flight so if you’re comfortable with that, you can do that too. Load up all your child’s favourite video in the ipad before your flight.

But she was sleeping half the time so it was not as hard as we expected. She only cried once in the flight. From JFK – Dubai and that’s because we didn’t allow her to walk along the aisle. She wanted to say hello to another kid at the seat behind. Lol.It also helps if your neighbours love children. Sometimes Nadya will play peek-a-boo with them so she’s happy most of the time.

Meal Times: 
We flew by Emirates and their Infant meals are limited to Jar Purees. I know Singapore Airlines have weaning meals for toddlers. So do check with your Airline before you fly. I called up Emirates office prior to flying to ask abt their infant meals and found out abt the purees. Nadya is not fussy with food so we end up giving her Adult meals cos there’s no way she’ll eat the purees. But if you have a fussy eater, you might want to prepare their meals before you fly and then ask the FA for help to store / reheat them for you.

Changing Diapers:
Aaahhh.. this one cannot escape with long flights. During our Japan trip, we took a red-eye flight and changed her diapers just before we board and then change her diapers again when we land cos it was only a 6hrs flight and i know Nadya don’t poo at night. But with a long flight, anything above 6hrs, changing diapers on board is inevitable. With a 23.5hrs flight, i know there would be at least 1 poo session.

First find out which toilet has a changing table. They usually have that changing table sign on it. Else, just ask the FA where’s the nearest one. I put in all Nadya’s essentials for diaper change in a small pouch / wristlet. I use the Jujube Quick to store the following:

  • Pull-up diapers
  • Wet wipes stored in Butipod.
  • Minyak Telon
  • Ziploc Bags
  • Diaper cream

I would totally recommend pull-up diapers instead of tape diapers during travelling because diaper changing can be quite a hassle in the plane cos the toilet is really small. Even while travelling, its hard to find a proper diaper changing room or a clean one at least. So with pull up diapers, you don’t need to have a space for your child to lie down.

For wet wipes, i’m used to separating my wet wipes into 2 separate Butipods cos they don’t take up as much space as a huge pack of wet wipes. Be sure to put soiled diapers in ziploc bags 1st before disposing them in the rubbish bin. Let’s be civilised people ok cos the rubbish bin in the aircraft toilet is not sealed.

What if your child gets too noisy?:
You can try walking up & down the aisle and don’t look at your neighbours cos then u’ll panic and get so embarassed, you won’t know what to do next. Just focus on fulfilling your child’s needs 1st and when everything is ok, just smile and if they happen to look your way, say sorry.

Don’t feel like u’re causing a nuisance because just like them, u’re a paying passenger and with a child, it’s expected. As long as u attempt to do something about it. This is not the time for you to let your child “cry it out”.

I also feel that your child will replicate your mood. If you keep calm and happy during the flight, even when she’s being difficult, she’ll cooperate and listen.

If you’re travelling alone with your child, don’t be scared to ask for help from the FA. They’ll usually be glad to help if u need to use the toilet etc. Just avoid busy period like meal times etc.

I hope this entry will somehow help with managing your child during long flights. I worried too much about the flight but it turned out to be easy. Managing the jetlag was harder but that’s another entry for another day! Lol

❤️

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