Travelling with babies can be stressful, the stress is more when the baby has started to explore its surroundings and has a mind of its own. This post targets babies between 6 months to 1 year old; the age when babies get wriggly, start to crawl, reach out for items and cry when they are not allowed to have their way. Babies within this age range also have nutritional needs beyond just breast milk and formula.The fact that these babies have started exploring and having minds of their own as well as their more increased nutritional needs make traveling with this age group a bit more complicated than with those belonging to the 0 to 6 months age group.
When planning a long-distance trip that involves air travel with babies this young , you may need to take the following steps.
- Consult your baby's pediatrician or your family doctor. Just like in all such travels, a very important step is to get medical advice and screening for your baby. There may also be need for some vaccinations depending on your destination. Your baby's medical practitioner will determine the baby's medical needs based on your destination and would offer you the needed advice. You need to know what you and your baby could be exposed to by visiting a particular region of the world.
- Inform the airline of your child's age. Most airlines classify every child below 2 years of age into a group allowed to be carried on the lap of an adult during air travel . You may need to inform them of the specific age of your child so they make certain provisions for you. Most babies within the 6 to 12 months age group are too big to fit into most airlines' bassinet. You may need to inquire about the availability of, or possibility of carrying a portable travel cot. Informing them could also make them assign to you seats around unoccupied ones thereby allowing you a little extra room. You could also make inquiries about car seats suitable for aircrafts if you desire to invest in one. If possible, choose flight times that coincide with your baby's sleeping hours, it would make things a lot easier for you as the child would likely be asleep most of the journey. Inquire about availability of baby strollers in the airport or aircraft. A stroller will make life much easier for you during boarding, transfer times and disembarking. Some airlines offer baby strollers at the airports but collect them back before boarding. Strollers aren't common in Nigeria but if you have one you are usually allowed to check in with it, submit to the air flight attendant upon boarding the aircraft, and collect back just before disembarking. Travelling with a stroller for a child this young can do you a world of good; it saves you the stress of carrying a baby on your arm during checking in, transfer times and when your trip is finally over and you need to leave the airport.
- Feeding: This can be more challenging when compared to feeding their younger counterparts. Depending on how long your flight and transfer time will be in total, you may need to take your baby's cereals, milk and whatever your child will need to eat within the travel period. You may not need to carry the entire tin of food (for foods that come in tins), you could simply scoop out smaller portions into smaller containers, or better still buy travel-size sachets for cereals that have such sizes. It is not always advisable to give your baby food offered in the aircraft especially if it is something the baby has never eaten; you just never can tell what the baby's reaction would be. You do not want a food-induced medical emergency tens of thousands of feets above sea level. It is safer to give the baby foods it is used to. Travel times are not the best of times for babies to try out new foods. Remember to carry extra supplies of baby plates and cutlery to reduce the need for washing up after each feed. You need to also plan what water your baby will drink. Parents with babies are allowed certain concessions so you may be able to carry a small water bottle or flask containing your baby's water if you don't trust the one offered by the airline . If you need your baby's food warmed at any point, feel free to request that from the air flight attendants on board.
- Your baby will be entitled to luggage allowance just like adults, use the allowance efficiently; carry extra cloths, diapers and everything your child will need including portable toys. Take a little more than what you estimate you will need. It is safer to have more cloths or diapers than needed than to run out of them while still on transit.
- Carry an age-appropriate toy in your hand luggage especially one your baby loves. If your travel involves long transfer times at airports or lengthy flying times, you and your baby will need the distraction toys can afford.
- Very importantly, you will need an extra dose of confidence and thick skin. Babies this age can get fussy and throw tantrums while on board an aircraft for various reasons that could range from boredom, being in close quarters with so many adults or the strange feeling being suspended on air can bring. You may not be lucky enough to seat near an understanding co-traveler so you may need to learn how to ignore snide remarks and be unapologetic about travelling with a baby. You should not apologize for your baby's behavior, the best you can do is reduce whatever can trigger tantrums but sometimes no matter what you do in such situations, your baby will throw a huge tantrum while on board an aircraft.
You may need to read tips from the write-up dedicated to babies between 0-6 months of age as some of their needs similar.
We hope you and your baby have a pleasant and safe trip.