Travel Tips for Flying Solo with a Baby CoziGo and Clutch

Travel: Tips for Flying Solo with a Baby 

Some things that worked for me flying 22 hours alone with a four-month-old baby.

There are a lot of things I have done this year that I didn’t think I could. The two main ones? One: give birth, and the second: fly on my own on a long haul flight with a newborn.

Before heading off on the flight with bub I had asked as many parents as I could about their tips for flying. Most had flown with children a good six months older, so although helpful, the tips weren’t entirely relevant or translatable. A common response was that flying with a newborn is a really good age to fly because they can’t really move around and they apparently find the sound of the plane soothing (I took the second response with a grain of salt).

For most parents flying, the two main concerns are feeding your child, and sleep – both theirs and yours, so close to the departure date I started tracking my daughter’s feeding and sleeping times so I could get a rough idea of her cycles once we left for the airport, how they would work on the plane flight, in transit and the car ride back to our new home. I had to calculate how much formula I would need to top up breast feeds or in case the stress affected my milk coming in, how I would carry the formula, sterilise bottles and the list goes on. To make matters worse, Melbourne Airport’s security rules were changing the night before I flew out, and they specifically related to carrying powders! (You can read more on that here).

Lists are my specialty (friends and family nod), I wanted to make sure I’d covered all bases so I could make the flight as smooth as possible and to be honest it helped me a lot. Below I’ve compiled my list of essentials for the flight, no two airline companies are the same so it’s best to call and speak with them even after you’ve booked your ticket/checked their website to triple check how they operate with babies on board. Most importantly however, I’ve included the things that helped me survive the flight, and things that would have made it smoother – i.e – what I’ll do next time.

Good luck with your flight and let me know how you go!!

Jen x

 

    • BOOK A BASSINET – If you have a newborn or baby, a bassinet on the plane for a long haul flight is essential otherwise you will be stuck holding them the entire time! Airlines only have a certain amount of bassinets available so book as early as possible and request one and get it in writing on your booking.Tip: There are often lines for bathrooms on planes, if this is the case when you need to change bub, just do it in the bassinet standing. I didn’t even bother with the change tables in the airline toilets. Just pop your travel change mat underneath, have your carry-on mini change bag at the ready (more on this below) and go!

 

    • SEATING – If you are flying solo with bub, when booking your flight make sure that you are seated in the middle row or an aisle seat. I took two planes, and on the first flight (14 hours) I was placed at a window seat which meant that every time I had to go to the bathroom, eat or get something out of my bag in the overhead, the couple seated next to me had to get up. Incredibly frustrating for everyone involved except bub – she had everything done for her.

       

      Travel Tips for Flying Solo with a Baby Clutch Toy Passport, teether rattle toy by Fern (launching soon by a friend), and my favourite travel change mat clutch

       

    • CARRY-ON MINI CHANGE BAG – If you book your flight in an area that can be fitted with a bassinet, you ‘may’ have leg room but you won’t be allowed to store anything under your seat during take off and landing. Also note, that on my flights with Emirates, the bassinet had to be packed away both at take off and landing (you have to secure bub to you with a special seat belt during those times). So suddenly the small storage folder in front of you that is usually filled with airline magazines, the menu, flight safety information, etc becomes prime space! One of the best tips I received was from a woman in my Mother’s group in Melbourne who said her friend took a mini change bag with her that could go over the small storage area or in it. If you have a relatively slim change mat clutch this can work too. Fill it with a few nappies, a travel sized wipe pouch and anything else you can squeeze in if you have room (like small nappy bags). This way you don’t have to keep grabbing things for your bub from the overhead. During transit top up the mini carry-on change bag with what you used.

 

    • FORMULA AND BOTTLES – I bought some Milton Sterilising Tablets for the plane but didn’t end up using them as the plane staff sterilised the bottles for me using boiling water. I took an entire tin of Formula with me (unopened as this is how you will get it through customs in Melbourne) and just measured what I needed each feed – I did this with the airplane staff while bub slept or I would get our seat neighbours to keep an eye on her.Tip: airplane staff are very busy, try to inform them a good 30-45 minutes before feeding time when you need bottles sterilised or bottles filled with water. Also, as I mentioned earlier you can’t pop anything under your seat during take off and landing. To save room, and frequent use of the overhead compartment, ask the plane staff to store your formula for you during the flight, as well as your bag with bottles. I had a small insulated Sistema bag that I brought with me with a slim freezer block and pre-sterilised bottles, teats, etc.

 

    • BREASTFEEDING – One main thing to note – airplane seats are not made for breastfeeding (no surprises there). To breastfeed properly is challenging without elbowing the people seated next to you. Nonetheless, wear a loose-fitting top to make things easier. If your bub gets restless/disturbed by take off and landing breastfeeding is a great distraction and the sucking helps alleviate the discomfort. If you find this too tricky or the plane staff are asking you to fit bub with the baby seat belt then pop a dummy in their mouths.Tip: Keep a shawl/small towel at hand that you can cover yourself with while burping bub – a great two-in-one!

 

    • BABY CARRIER – In transit this is your life saver! Although some airports provide free strollers like Dubai, if your bub is a newborn or baby this is totally unhelpful and your pram will be checked in so a carrier will be your saving grace as you will have your hands full with your passport wallet/boarding passes and carry-on.Tip: If you haven’t used the carrier with your bub before flying do so to get them used to it. It took my daughter 3-4 goes to not cry every time I put her in. By the time we left she felt very comfortable in it, one less thing for me to worry about! Note: there are some prams that are travel size and can apparently be carried on board but you will need to check this with your plane carrier! During an airport drop off a few months before I left, a Qantas staff member gave me some great advice. She said when flying long haul, if you can, buy a good quality pram bag and use the extra space to pack extra nappies and clothes for bub. I didn’t do this but thought it was quite a good suggestion.

       

      Travel Tips for Flying Solo with a Baby CoziGo CoziGo and zip up case

     

  • SLEEP – Apart from feeding your child, sleep or trying to get your baby to sleep is the second most important thing you will be focused on during your long haul flight. One of the best tips I received from my friend who had flown long haul with her 13 week or so old, was to get a CoziGo. I’d never heard of one before she mentioned it but it has quite a following amongst parents. In fact, on our second flight the woman sitting next to me also had a CoziGo, so our bassinets were matching the whole the flight. My CoziGo was an invaluable asset for the flight, it is essentially a pop out cover for airline bassinets (see image above). It is super light and packs really compactly in a round zip case. Once your baby has had a feed and play/on their way to showing tired cues, you lay them in the airline bassinet and pop the CoziGo over it – which has two clips each side, as well as zips and a little peep patch so you can check in on bub during sleep. CoziGo blocks 97% of the light, is 100% breathable and fits universally across airline bassinets. Without it I doubt we would have survived the 14 hour flight. She was able to have two sleeps, as well as play calmly throughout the flight in between feeds. What I also like about the CoziGo is that it doubles as a pram cover for summer or bright outdoor spaces, so I can use it more than once. I’ve also used it clipped over our portacot, which also helped my daughter sleep on a day that she was particularly unsettled. If you can, I would highly recommend investing in one and thank you Niki for the amazing tip!

     

Travel Tips for Flying Solo with a Baby CoziGoThe CoziGo in action on the plane – Image credit: CoziGo

 

  • CARRY-ON – One final tip, it may seem like an oxymoron when you’re flying with a baby, but try to pack your carry-on as light as you can. A medium sized backpack is ideal, I had one that was a little too small so last minute I had to borrow a bigger backpack. It wasn’t in the best condition and broke during the second flight, adding stress I didn’t need. Be as minimal as possible with what you decide to take on board, so that when you look through your backpack you can find everything you need easily and if possible, that almost everything is in sight. Also make note of anything you give to the airplane staff and check that list before you exit the plane so you don’t forget anything. Things I didn’t use were a light blanket, extra nappiess (I took heaps on board in case there was a delay). If you have time between flights, just top up/buy nappies at the airport you’re transiting in or buy them as soon as you land at your destination. There were also heaps of toiletries both for myself and my daughter I didn’t use, so my advice would be to just take the essentials, things that you could ideally use/apply sitting in your seat as getting to the bathroom regularly isn’t always an option.