When friends first heard of our plans to take Titus along with us to Japan for our Spring vacation, most had something to say.
Some complimented our bravery while others advised against it, saying he’s too young to survive the seven-hour flight and would make too much of a fuss onboard (and annoy other passengers is what they are really thinking haha).
We had our fears too – many months ago. But we realised that everyone has to start somewhere. Awesome Husband and I love travelling and discovering new sights. We want to continue our adventures even after we’ve become parents. And we love Titus too much to leave him home while we had fun; we want to share our love for travel with him too!
So we put aside our fears and made sure we got prepared for it well in advance.
The most crucial thing to do when travelling with a little creature, is to purchase your flights way ahead to make sure you get the highly coveted bassinet seat. I realised that flights from Singapore to Tokyo are often full of young families, and the fight for the bassinet seat is real.
Bassinet seats are so useful because they come with plenty of legroom, a precious space that you can use for your child to play in. Titus spent a large part of the journey on the floor, watching his music videos on the tablet and playing with plastic cups and his toys.
And when he was finally sleepy, I brought him up onto my lap, gave him his bolsters and sung him to sleep. Then I placed him into the bassinet where he’d continue sleeping until the next accursed turbulence which would then require me to take him out and belt him in on me. That usually woke him.
We also made sure to bring everything that would soothe him onboard.
Here’s my list to give you an idea. You’d know what soothes your little one.
- His two favourite bolsters
- A tablet packed with his favourite Hi5 and Mary Poppins music videos
- A new picture book
- A magnetic drawing pad
- A selection of his favourite snacks
- A couple of pacifiers to ease the pain in baby’s ears when air pressure changes during take off and landing
- A meal he’s familiar with (a full-service airline will provide infant/child meals but be prepared that your child will not fancy it)
- And a truckload of optimism
If you want a happy flight, you need to believe that it will turn out so. Being optimistic translates to happy thoughts and expressions, and baby will sense it.
Now, if you are planning to fly with babies and toddlers and have done your homework by reading up all the available tips online, the above will seem familiar. So, here’s a bonus one from me: you need to plan for your comfort too.
Caring for a baby or toddler onboard is exhausting work. Your little one will fidget a lot and if he/she is already mobile, like my Energizer Bunny, be prepared to work plenty of muscles and not be able to eat in peace during meal service. Experienced aircrew will offer to stagger your meals, by serving mummy first so daddy can watch baby while mummy eats in peace, and when mummy’s done daddy gets to stuff his face.
I’ll tell you that this does not help much. Your toddler will want to eat your food too and suddenly you – with your inflight meal – are your toddler’s favourite parent and he/she will want nothing else in the world but to sit on your lap (and there’s no space between you and the food tray!) and dig into what you are having.
So my tip to you is, fill your belly before you board. If you have a long flight and expect to get hungry again before you land, bring onboard a sandwhich or anything that you can unwrap and eat conveniently in your seat while baby is asleep or playing on the floor.
We were lucky on our Singapore-Haneda leg because Titus fall asleep just as lunch was served, so we were able to enjoy our meal in peace.
For a grand total of 15 minutes though, because of turbulence. We had to remove him from the bassinet and strap him in on my lap. Which meant I had to surrender my food tray. I kept the beer though. I know my priorities.
And with that, we survived the flight with flying colours. Of course, we are also be lucky to have a very cooperative toddler.