Cotton sleep sack by giggle, $29; Monkey Wubbanub pacifier, $12.95; and Dario the Dinosaur musical stuffed animal (his favorite!), $32.
We just got back from a three week trip with Baby Ever. First to NYC for a week and then on to Paris and Provence for two weeks. That means: one 5.5 hour flight to NYC from LA, 7 hours from NYC to Paris, and then the doozie, 11 hours home to LA from Paris.
It is safe to say I had major anxiety leading up to these flights! Although he has flown before and well (to St. Bart’s which was a major journey and then to my home town, Washington, DC), he’s older now and more alert/active and the flight to Paris was a red eye. Some moms swear by the red eye, I personally hate them and try to avoid them at all costs so the thought of one with my infant was loathsome. Unfortunately, there was no other option. I read as much as I could about how to manage, chatted the ears off of my mom friends– some suggested Benadryl for kids– I didn’t do it although my doctor said it was fine.
Off we went for the flight– I had three bottles ready to roll (with the right amount of formula in them, just add bottled water you buy after you go through security), several food pouches, diapers, wipes, toys, a change of clothes for him and a fresh shirt for me in case, his sleep sack, his pacifier– it was a lot of stuff! We flew Air France and sprang for the Premium Economy cabin which could almost (almost) be compared with some airline’s business class. It is in its own small cabin with bigger seats that recline further, have foot rests that swing up, better meals, much more room, etc. And the great thing about Air France with a baby is that they provide you with a bassinet that attaches to the bulk head. You must request the bassinet ahead of time and make sure your baby is under the height/weight limit. This is brilliant as it gives you a place to put the babe without having to buy a seat. As much as I love my little man, I did not want to be holding him for 11 hours!!
For the red eye, we played with the little guy, and when it was his normal bedtime, we gave him a bottle, zipped him in his sleep sack, deposited him in the bassinet with his pacifier and out he went. Only to be awakened by some idiot two seats over with the loudest, most gruesome cough you’ve ever heard. Troubling on so many levels. And that one hour was all Ever slept on that flight. He didn’t cry but he was exhausted and we were exhausted. Again, never going to do another red eye if I can help it!
On the way back (the 11 hour flight), he did great– took two naps but only for an hour or so each, no crying, but it was a lot of hands on action for me and Napper. We wound up taking turns so one of us could relax a bit, watch a movie, etc for an hour at a time.
So in short my notes for long flights with babies:
1. bring lots of bottles and food pouches (Air France does have baby food, but nothing too filling, mostly just applesauce) in carry on
2. try to avoid the red eye when if they don’t sleep, you don’t sleep
3. bring more diapers and wipes on the flight than you think
4. bring small toys, books, and ziploc plastic bags in carry on for messy used wipes, food pouches, etc.
5. bring the pacifier on the flight for their ears on the way up and down — helps equalize their ears. And I know some moms do not believe in pacifiers, but I believe in them to quell a noisy baby on a packed plane! Soothing for your baby, you and your planemates!
6. Think about taking shifts with your partner so you don’t both have to be “on” the whole flight. Which would lead me to advise against flying solo with your munchkin if you can avoid it.
7. There are shorter, special security lines/boarding lines, etc for families– ask if you’re not directed and be bold– most people are nice and helpful.
8. Make use of airport lounges for long layovers– you may qualify for access if you have an AMEX card. Or sign up for a Priority Pass. The lounges can be quiet, clean respites with food, drinks and nicer bathrooms.
And the bottom line is, no matter what happens, know that it will be over in a few hours!! Happy travels.