It’s the fear of every (new) mother, and also the biggest fear of any other plane passenger; Flying with a baby!
Because lets face it, you do NOT want to be that mom who can’t shut her baby up and have a crying, screaming bubs on your lap! Not to worry, Sunny’s here to help ;-).
We flew home in 12 hours last December from Shanghai to Holland, for a Christmas vacation. Genesis was 6 months at the time, and I was scared to death. I checked all the blogs, asked every mommy group I knew, called the airline 15 times, and had sleepless nights. Guess what? All wouldn’t have been necessary! It went great!
The most important stuff is as follows:
Get a bassinet!
Most of the bigger flight companies provide bassinets for free, or for a small amount of $$$. GET IT! You will have the ability to sit in front of the plane, and be able to put your baby down for a nap, and we let Genesis sit in it with a couple of toys, so we would have our hands free every now and then too. Pro tip: Ask the crew to give you the bassinet AFTER the first meal. The bassinet + tables out + food becomes a little crowded.
Genesis hardly fit in her bassinet by 6 months, so do your research in finding out how tall/heavy they limit babies to.
Most bassinets go to (approx.) 10 KG and 70 CM.
You are able to bring your (new born) car seat on board for free. This is handy in the case of a delay. Your bassinet cannot be put on till you’re up in the air. And lets face it, in China you are more likely to have delays than not. In that case it’s great to have a car seat with you, where you can put your little one in while you wait 5 hours inside the plane right at the gate… (we have all been there once or twice!!) As soon as you take off, the crew will take your car seat and store it somewhere safe. We didn’t have any delays in December, but it felt nice having the car seat with us, just in case.
You are also allowed to check in your car seat for free with your luggage. Problem is: most airports are known for not being very careful with your luggage, let alone your car seat. Another reason to just take it with you on board!
You can check in your stroller for free as well. Yet since you will probably have quite a bit of hand luggage with you (we ALL over pack!) it’s handy to have your stroller with you while waiting for your flight, especially if you have a connecting flight somewhere!
The basic stroller rules are as follows:
‘A stroller with a collapsed diameter not exceeding 25.5 cm (10 in) and a length not exceeding 92 cm (36 in) is allowed to take as carry on luggage.’ Don’t you have a small stroller? You can easily get one for cheap on Taobao (like, 100 RMB cheap).
A stroller like this, is what is meant by a small stroller:
As soon as you enter the aircraft, the crew will take over your stroller and store it safely for you. Once you get off, you can pick it up again.
When you have a baby with you, it all becomes a little less panicky for you what you can, and cannot bring with you.
You are allowed to bring formula (we just brought an open can of formula) and water. I personally wouldn’t recommend pre-making your formula. It will take a lot of space in your hand luggage, and its not really needed! The crew on the aircraft is more than happy to help you with some warm water, so you can make fresh bottles when the need arises.
Also bringing pumped breast milk is no issue at all.
In some cases, the security check will ask you to have a sip of pre made formula/pumped milk, or let your baby have a sip. They just want to check it’s all safe, just do as you are told, and all will be well ;-).
Please bring more milk with you then planned for! Just like adults, babies can feel dehydrated in a plane, so if they drink more than usual, don’t worry, it’s completely normal!
While going through security, have your baby in a carrier. This way its easier to get checked, while getting all your jackets/bags/stroller etc thru the security.
Pro-tip: I’ve played dumb at security.. The lines were suuuuper long, and we had soooo much stuff.. So I just walked to the short VIP line, put on my puppy eyes and said ‘I believed I can also use this line when traveling with a baby… Righttttt…?’ After a little awkward look from the security guard, we were let through! Always worth a shot guys ;-).
At the gate
At the gate, again make sure you are standing at the business line, as first. We were let on the plane as firsts, with both flights! It’s true, you don’t get to your destination any faster, but it sure is nice to be able to get comfortable in your seat before the rest of your fellow travelers enter the plane 😉
Take off/ Landing
During take off and landing, the air pressure in the plane changes, hence, your ears pop. For a baby, this is a shocking (and possibly painful!) experience. The best to do while taking off or landing, is to swallow. To make your baby swallow, the solution is easy: Let them drink!
Genesis was asleep both times during take off and landing, so we tried (while stressing out for reals!) to make her drink. Fact is: when Gen is asleep, ain’t nothing waking her up.. We just gave her her pacifier (bring extras!) in case, but all was fine. So, let a baby that’s awake drink (breast feeding/formula/water) and a sleeping baby sleep!
Also, during landing and take off, you are supposed to hold your baby on your lap. They have a great little seat belt with a hoop, that you can slide over your own seat belt. So your baby is sitting on your lap, with a seat belt connected to your own!
Night flight/ day flight
So, on the way to the Netherlands, we had a night flight. And being completely honest; I didn’t even think about it while booking. But night flights are the best!!!
We took off at 1 AM, so Gen fell asleep even before take off, and landed around 6 AM European time (1 PM Chinese time). Since Genesis sleeps about 11-12 hours a night anyways, she pretty much slept the whole way! Also, since she woke up in the morning in Europe, she was right away put into the European time zone and we had less problems adjusting her.
On the way back we took of at 1.30 PM, and landed the next day at 6 AM in China. This flight she was awake most of the time, but still, no issues at all. Just have toys ready, watch some TV together and chill!
Most air crafts have a changing table in the toilets. We flew Hainan airlines, which we were very happy with, all tho the diaper change table is SUPER small. Bring disposable diaper change cover for hygienic reasons, but also to change your bubs on your chair, instead of in the toilet (worked way better for us)
Ok, lastly, your diaper bag. So basically your diaper bag looks the same as always, you just bring MORE of everything:
– Diapers; bring about 1 diaper per hour/ 2 hours with you (also counting the time to the airport and from airport home!), just in case
– Disposable diaper change cover
– At least 3 extra outfits for baby (yes, Gen had a blowout poop diaper on the plane!)
– An extra outfit for mommy and daddy
– Pacifiers (and extra’s!)
– Toys/books/play stuff
– Extra bottle
– Snacks that you know your baby loves!
And that’s about it! Remember the most important part: the more relaxed you are, the more relaxed your baby will be. Bubs will be FINE, planes are like huge white noise makers, that wiggle too! Your little bubs will LOVE this, and most probably will sleep better than ever before ;-).
And as always; check your facts. I can tell you a lot of stuff that I went through, but every airline has its own rules, so make sure to check before flying! Enjoy your flight, and your destination!