Before I had a child I was definitely one of those people who hated having babies and young children sit behind, in front or anywhere in vicinity of me whilst on a plane. Just as you finally fall asleep on those uncomfortable airline seats, babies start to scream uncontrollably or you get a few jabs in the back from them kicking the hell out of your seat.
Well… now I’ve experienced it for myself and I will definitely say it’s not easy keeping them under control. Babies will do whatever they like, whenever they like and there is no stopping them.
Léna took her first flight when she was 2 months old. We flew to South Africa via Dubai to visit family and friends. I was absolutely dreading taking her on a plane with us, but having family living all over the world, flying is inevitable.
Thankfully our first flight was with Emirates and I must say they are great when travelling with young children. At the airport we skipped the queues and went straight through security. Most airport security checks are simple and let you take on bottles of milk, formula, pouches of food and extra bottles of water if needed. You may take a lot longer than most people going through security with the amount of baby essentials you have in your bag, but the key is not to worry about anybody else around you and keep calm. When it comes to boarding the plane, most airlines let you board first when you have children so you can get your bottles, toys, blankets, pacifiers, nappies, wipes and whatever else you need to make your journey as comfortable as possible out in advance.
I remember boarding our first flight and one lady asked how old Léna was. When I told her she was 2 months old she said ‘oh you will be absolutely fine, she will sleep most of the way. It’s when they start moving they become difficult.’ She was absolutely right. The first four flights we went on were pretty easy. We had a front row seat with a bassinet where Léna could sleep the majority of the way and we were surrounded by other parents and children, so I didn’t feel bad when she had a few small crying fits.
One unfortunate mishap which occurred was on our second flight. We had spent a few days in Dubai to break the long journey up and Léna hadn’t been to the toilet for a ‘number 2’ for 3 days. Halfway through the flight I had Léna on my lap when I felt a warm sensation on my legs. I thought to myself ‘yes! shes’s finally gone’. However, when I lifted her up to get ready to take her to the bathroom, I noticed she had sh*t all over me. I needed to take her to the bathroom to change her, but I couldn’t move before I cleaned up the pile of slop that was on my lap.
Gavin had just returned from taking a walk around the plane to find me holding this tiny baby up with poo dribbling from her bum and me covered in it. He grabbed her quickly and ran down the aisle to the bathroom carrying her like a hot potato. Once I had cleaned myself up with a packet of wipes, I walked to the bathroom to check how Gavin was getting on. He opened the door flustered, the babies legs were flying all over and poo was everywhere… I asked if he was ok and he said yes, so I returned to my seat. Five minutes later I had a random woman come to me at my seat carrying Léna and ask if this child was mine… Gavin had sent Léna to me whilst he was cleaning up the bathroom. It was not one of our finest parenting moments, but I guess it happens to us all.
When Léna was 6 months old we returned to the BVI. I flew with Léna by myself as Gavin had already returned to the island a few weeks earlier. This time was definitely more of a struggle. I decided to carry Léna in her sling in between flights which was hard work, especially with the amount of luggage I had taken with me and queues at immigration. She was also a little more alert this time. I made sure she was comfortable on take off and landing as I did before by giving her milk or a pacifier which seemed to keep her calm. However, this time we had a few more outbursts along the way. I walked up and down the aisle for hours trying to get her to sleep, we stood in the bathroom playing games in the mirror, chatted to every air hostess on the flight, ate, slept for a few hours and went through the same routine a couple of times over. Flying solo is difficult but the key, if possible, is to pack light, be well organised and it’s definitely a good idea to collect your stroller between flights on long layovers.
We decided to fly to Denver recently to visit my brother and this was another long stretch. We had two flights to catch and long layovers in between. We booked late night flights hoping Léna would sleep most of the way. At 9 months old our little girl has got a lot more energy. She loves to crawl, stand, grab everything in sight and is a lot more vocal! Unlike all the international flights we had flown on previously, we unfortunately chose to fly on a budget airline and were sat several rows back and space was pretty tight for 3 people and one small wriggling baby. Thankfully, one out of the two flights both ways were great as she slept. The other two however, were extremely long flights!! She played with her toys we had brought along for her for about 2 minutes and the rest of the flight consisted of cries, wriggling, standing, crawling between the two of us, banging on the window, walking up and down the aisle, eating the menu card and her new favourite thing… grabbing the tray table and pushing it up and down for most of the flight. Luckily we had patient people around us and Léna was very good at making friends by giving them a beautiful big smile and charming them with her cheeky laugh.
I don’t think flying with young children and babies is ever going to be easy, but I would never let that stop you booking that well deserved holiday. Just ignore the evil glares you may get from some of the passengers when boarding, keep calm and if all else fails grab a glass of wine and plug in your earphones!
For any hints and tips on flying check out this great blog I found online.
Please share below if you like what you read!