There are many questions about flying with a baby and how to make it as pleasant a trip as possible for both baby and parents, particularly if this is your first baby or if you are traveling alone.
Here are some tips I learned from my recent trip to Australia!
1. Going to the airport:
- Leave with plenty of time to get to the airport. I left 2 hours earlier than I normally would – this allowed the extra time needed for feeding, playing, and organising my baby.
- Send luggage to Narita Airport at least 2 days before departure (check the Narita Airport website for list of baggage delivery companies). I found this a great idea particularly as I was traveling on my own with baby.
- I checked in my pram on the plane as my airline said it was too big to take to the gate as carry-on luggage (you will need a stroller such as a Maclaren that folds down into size of small suitcase if you want to take it to the gate. This rule may depend on airline though).
- There are prams that can be borrowed from the Narita Airport information desk, but you can’t take these through immigration.
- I borrowed a pram from my airline (Qantas/JAL) which could be taken through immigration to the gate, but it was hard plastic and not comfortable (not comfortable enough to sleep in, and not really comfortable for a baby).
- The pram during transit in Australia was also not appropriate for a baby and didn’t tilt back (photos attached).
- Of course if your baby is happy in a baby carrier such as an Ergo then this would be perfect for traveling.
4. Getting to Sleep:
- Try to maintain your usual feeding and sleeping routine.
- Change nappy before getting on plane and before landing, so your baby has a fresh nappy and can sleep soundly.
- Don’t worry if baby doesn’t sleep much at the airport – it is so bright and there is so much activity going on that it is often difficult for babies to sleep. Once you get on the plane baby will likely fall asleep.
- If baby is asleep already during takeoff or landing, don’t wake him/her up. You don’t have to worry too much about ear pressure – if baby has trouble with pressure in the ears, he/she will wake up naturally due to the discomfort and then you can feed.
- Here’s what happened on my flight from Tokyo to Sydney:
- My flight was a night flight (8pm departure), so I tried to keep my baby’s bedtime routine – after we went through immigration (at about 6pm), I went to the baby room and gave him a wash over with a towel and warm water, put his pajamas on, and read him his bedtime story. Then I fed him and he fell asleep. I found a comfortable sofa to lie him down on and made a little cubby house with my nursing cover to shield him from the light and noise (photo attached). He slept soundly for about an hour and then woke up again just before departure.
- I tried to make my baby wait until takeoff to feed him, but he was hungry and was starting to cry, so I decided to just feed him. He then slept soundly. I found it best to feed him and make him happy, rather than making him wait and then causing him stress. Also, I am glad I fed him, as the plane was delayed in the end and was waiting on the tarmac for about 15min before we could take off. It would have been stressful to make him wait that long!
- He fell asleep after feeding, so once the seatbelt sign went off I transferred him carefully to the bassinet and he slept there soundly for 7 hours straight. He then woke up and I changed his nappy, fed him, and he had some awake time. Then when the plane started descending again I fed him again and he again fell asleep. I just held him in my arms until it was time to get off the plane.
- On the way back to Japan, my baby fell asleep in the departure lounge before boarding and didn’t wake up again until we were half way to Tokyo! This showed that you should never wake a sleeping baby! He was quite content and didn’t even stir during take-off.
5. Nursing cover:
- I found my nursing cover invaluable. Not only for privacy, but also to shield my baby from all the noise and bright lights. He slept well under it! I had a few hours in transit in Sydney and he had trouble sleeping, so I swaddled him and held him under my nursing cover and patted him and swayed, and he eventually fell asleep.
Also see this hilarious interview on my friend of a friend’s blog called ‘The Small Folk’ – Survival Guide to Flying with Kids.
To see all Tokyo Urban Baby movies and YouTube tutorials see:
Tokyo Urban Baby channel on YouTube