Littloo, The Flying Prodigy and Some Other Gyan
A new mother and her baby take to the skies.
I think someone’s swapped my baby. Gone is the colicky-crankpot of the first three months and, in his place, I have a calm, smiley boy. Well, unless you delay his supper, and then he’s not such a calm, smiley boy. But generally, he’s evolved into a patient baby – if babies can ever be called that. And I say this after having flown long haul with him. Oh yes, we did it. Like the champs we are! I still puff up with pride when I think of how well Littloo travelled! It helped that I’d set my expectations very low and prepared myself for the worst, but apart from a bit of crying in the very beginning of the flight during takeoff, he was Just. Bleddy. Perfect.
In a potentially dangerous move, I’d booked a night flight to India. Dangerous because while people might be annoyed with a crying baby through the morning or afternoon, surely they’d be cussing openly if their sleep were disrupted. Thankfully, I had a dear friend flying with me for technical and moral support, one who rather than be embarrassed about my singing and bouncing the baby on the flight, was sure to join in – it’s so much easier being a two-person show than just one lonely joker.
Here’s the Gyan
I’d collected loads of flying tips from friends in the weeks running up to the flight – and here’s a customised collation. You’re very welcome!
1. Carrying bubs: Go handsfree if possible. Even if there’s two of you, you won’t have enough hands. You need different pockets or preferably bags for everything from your passports and tickets, phone, diapers and baby extras. Better still, you carry the baby and your partner can carry his paraphernalia. Having the baby on you instead of in a buggy is also easier for security clearance.
2. Feeding: If breast feeding, a nursing apron will be a huge help with a cranky baby who comes on and off the breast at will – will save you plenty of blushes. Littloo was very amused with this new cloth that was suddenly draped over him and kept snaking his hand out to tweak my nose or stroke my chin as if to confirm it was still I. I also had around ten bottles (who knows what I was thinking!) of prepared formula and security at both London and Delhi was fine with me taking it in my hand luggage. I carried lots of ready-sterlised bottles too, which were a fiasco as they kept leaking. And so, remember to carry extra burp cloths/muslins with you.
3. Diapers: The advice I got was to take one for every hour in case the baby gets a runny tummy. I used just 3 or 4 but while it’s ok to have spare, you’d rather not be forced to check mid-flight whether the stewards have some on board!
4. Clothes: I find onesies most comfortable for babies – no constricting elastics at the waist, no need for socks, and the entire body is covered from the neck down – genius! Dress the baby in layers – a full sleeve vest under the onesie is what I did. Do take two change of clothes for the baby and at least one for yourself. Littloo woke up after his sleep as we were preparing to land and proceeded to throw up all over me. I didn’t have a change and smelled of rancid yogurt till I reached home and had a shower. Oh, and you’ll need a few spare plastic bags to carry the soiled clothes.
Good to Know
5. Blankets: I bought a Eucalyss blanket for the flight and for later in India – as an added protection against mosquitos and other bitey insects. You’ll need a warm blanket for the baby during the flight anyway because the cabins can get quite chilly. An extra blanket/ small sheet is handy to cover the flight bassinet before laying your baby in it.
6. Take off and landing: Try and feed the baby while take off and landing to help normalise ear pressure. I snugly covered his ears for good measure too, and he breezed through the second flight from Delhi to Amritsar.
7. Dealing with light and sound: The bassinet seats are usually near the loos, so the light doesn’t dim much and the announcements can be very annoying too. You might want to drape a light scarf over the baby’s head to shade from the light, but no easy, comfortable solution for the sound, I’m afraid.
8. A basic first aid kit: Include a thermometer, eye drops, nasal drops, paracetamol, Nurofen for babies. I didn’t need it and hopefully neither will you, but the thought of being stuck in a flight without access to a doctor is the stuff of nightmares.
9. Entertainment: Walking up and down with Littloo was enough entertainment for him and helped me stretch my legs too. Otherwise take a couple of favourite toys – the baby’s, not yours, to rattle maniacally in case of hysterical crying – yours or the baby’s.
10. Routine: This one is a bit obvious – try and keep to the baby’s routine as much as possible. It’s not always going to work, but give it a go because babies find routine reassuring.
No easy way to say this, but the airport and the flight staff from London to Delhi were much more helpful and considerate than those at Delhi and on the flight from Delhi to Amritsar. The latter are happy to smile at you and coo at the baby, but it’s as if the thought of asking whether you need any help doesn’t occur to them, regardless of the fact that you’re carrying two bags and a baby.
And the last thing you should worry about is the disapproval of other passengers should your little darling have a hysterical reaction to being cooped up and hurtled across continents. When I didn’t have a baby, I used to dread flying with babies. Now that I have one, I’ve happily swapped sides and as far as the other passengers are concerned, I’m like, whatever the f***, they can all sleep when they reach home. #runsforcover
(Simrat Ghuman is Head of Communications and Marketing at Anthemis Group in London. A former TV journo, she made a discovery last summer that she was making a baby. She is chronicling her experience in a series of blogs, titled Dealing With Being Preggers, for The Quint.)
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