After planning your itinerary and packing, it’s time to fly! Many mama friends have told me that one of the greatest fear of bringing their baby overseas is the flight. We were thankful that C was extremely cooperative throughout all the 7hrs of international flight to Tokyo, 1hr of domestic flight to Osaka, 1hr bus ride to Kyoto and another 1hr20mins of bus ride to Keihoku on our first day. We must be some crazy parents!
I did a little research on flying with babies before actually deciding to travel with C and booking the tickets. From what I have gathered, there are generally 2 main concerns: 1. Overstimulation on the plane/ grouchy fussy baby 2. Air Pressure.
1. Overstimulation on the plane/grouchy fussy baby
We selected flights that coincide with the baby’s sleeping time, praying that she sleeps through the flight. Our plan is to latch her during take off, and she falls asleep. Prayer answered! I only latched her when the plane reversed and made its way to the runway. If you are not breastfeeding, I guess you can also feed your baby a bottle. I also packed some of her favourite and new toys to keep her entertain just in case she doesn’t sleep.
2. Air Pressure
Some parents may be concern with the difference in air pressure, causing discomfort for the baby and hence a crying baby. Just make sure that you latch or offer the baby a bottle or pacifier during take off and landing – as long as the baby is sucking/swallowing. You might like to take note that the effect seemed to be greater during landing than take off.
Our flight experience
We flew with ANA and the experience was pleasant. The air stewardess were also attentive to us, making sure we are comfortable or if we need any assistance. We requested for a bassinet for the international flights. I wasn’t sure how it worked so I called the airline and the officer told me that it is an arrangement made during check-in and he will put the request in for me. There are limited seats that can accommodate the bassinet so it is important to check in early. One perk that comes with the bassinet is the extra leg room like this:
Another part that impressed me was the baby meal that I preordered when I booked the tickets. The baby meal was beautifully packaged. It consists of food for babies between 6 months to 2 year old. So you might like to select whichever that is most suitable for your baby. For the meal on our flight home, there is a packet of juice, baby biscuits, yoghurt, jarred sweet potato dessert and the mains (stew in tomato sauce and broccoli in cream sauce). On both occasions, C was sleeping when meal was served so we brought the food down and fed her when she woke up.
What to bring on board
I picked a large roomy bag to be brought on board rather than a diaper bag. We throw everything we need in the diaper bag which makes it heavy and cumbersome. We usually use it when we have the car. When traveling, you would want to bring the essentials and travel as light as possible. Pick a lightweight bag (preferbly waterproof) and I compartmentalize the items in smaller bags and ziplocks. Here is what I brought onboard:
1. Nursing cover, especially if you are still nursing. It can also function as a blanket or a really small pillow when folded for the baby.
2. Extra t-shirt for yourself – just in case baby vomits and such
3. Essential bag with diapers, extra clothes, handkerchief and wet wipes
4. Familiar item – I picked her bunny
5. Toys in ziplock bag
6. Feeding bowl, fork and spoon, and “scissors” in ziplock bag. If you are bringing an actual pair of scissors for cutting food, please remember to check it in.
Her toys are mostly non-toys items. She likes things that allow her to make sounds with or are textured. We packed in a cactus hello kitty which tickles her all the time, a pink fabric flower, bottle cap, container cover, improvised shakers and coloured blocks. You can consider packing a variety of items that your baby likes.
So these are the preparations we did prior the flight. And of course coupled with lots of prayers! Most important thing is to observe your baby. All in all, we had quite an enjoyable flight and I am sure babystingrui enjoyed her first flight experience too!
Next up, I will be sharing some miscellaneous logistics that you may be considering such as whether to bring a stroller or use a baby carrier, breastfeeding and changing stations.