I couldn't remember what made me decide to travel with an infant during our trip to UK a few weeks ago. My friends asked whether we're going to leave Zarif with relatives, I told them NO and they all looked very worried.
I had no experience travelling with an infant, so I asked around. A few of my friends brought their babies on even longer flights. The tips they gave me were really useful. I also went to see Zarif's paediatrician at SJMC. She was very supportive when I told her that I was going to bring the baby for vacation.
So here's a few pointers that I'd like to share with you, hope these will benefit us all:
- If you think you'll be travelling or you really love going places, never let your baby sleep in the 'buaian'. Yes this is the traditional Asian cradle I'm talking about. Usually, babies who are used to sleeping in the cradle will have problem falling asleep on matress/bed/comforter/sleeping bed/floors. They would cry and cry until you put them in the cradle and rock them. Carrying the buaian around is no easy task. They're bulky, heavy and certainly not allowed in the cabin.
- When you book your flight tickets, make sure to mention your baby's age and request for the seats where the cabin crew could hang bassinets. The weight limit for the bassinet is 10kg and your baby's length shouldn't exceed 65cm. Otherwise you might risk the bassinet to fall off or your baby won't feel comfortable if he is too long that his legs are hanging out.
- Plan the holiday only after your baby has taken most of the compulsory vaccinations. The cabin, the airport, foreign countries and even the airport limo are full of germs. New places could mean new germs/virus that your baby is not yet immune.
- 48 hours before flight, feed him moderately. If he overeats he will poo-poo more often and it's not really convenient to change diapers in the cabin/toilets.
- Buy a new toy a few days before the flight. The baby will be playing with his new toy with great interest during the journey.
- It's okay to give him some flu medicine about 30 minutes before the flight so that he won't have much problem falling asleep. (This was the advise given my Zarif's paediatrician.... hehhehehehe...)
- Pack his bottles, formula, diapers, pacifier, lotion, wipes, cereal in one hand luggage and make sure it's easily accessible to you when you're seated in the cabin.
- Feed the baby with formula milk (if he's not breastfed) before you enter the gate (about 30 minutes before departure). It's a common thing in airports now that passengers are not allowed to carry 100ml of liquid. If the bottle is 100ml or more but half filled, you will be asked to either drink or throw it away. Toothpaste, shampoo, shower gel, ointment, cream, moisturizer and even expressed breast milk (should neither of you drink it there and then) will be thrown away.
- When the plane is about to take off, give your baby his pacifier or prepare his formula so that he would be sucking something when the pressure changes. Some babies become upset when they feel the change of pressure in their ears.
- Once the seat-belt sign is OFF, and the baby is sleeping, you can put him on the floor in front of you (if cabin crew advised you that the baby is too heavy/long for the bassinet). Ask for more blanket an pillows so that your baby feels comfortable. (In Zarif's case, he slept for 10 hours on the floor.) Whenever the seat-belt sign is ON, you must hold the baby in your arms and put his belt on. The cabin crew will teach you on how to secure the baby.
- If the baby is up and becomes restless, carry him around in the cabin while you take the opportunity to exercise your numb legs.
- Distract him during landing (especially if it's a rough one) by singing or playing with him.
Well, Zarif is a happy baby, so he didn't cause us any problem during the long haul flight (to and fro). Other babies might have different experiences. For instance on our way back, I was seated next to an Indonesian couple with a 4 months old baby who's constantly on her mom's tits. She would just sleep for awhile, and then woke up and cried. While Zarif slept soundly, I was wide awake throughout the journey. I could almost memorize the mom's Indonesian lullabies.
However, Alhamdulillah the UK weather really suits Zarif. His usual problems (mild fever, diarrhea, rashes etc) were non existence during our vacation. He was excited every time we went out and happily played with his cousins when we stayed indoor. I think he'll grow up into an adventurous man. He likes new things, new places and most of all---- new toys.