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LONG HAUL FLIGHT WITH AN 8 MONTH OLD BABY
This Christmas, I traveled with my husband and 8 month-old baby from Milan to Singapore. It was a direct flight lasting 13 hours. Any mother who just read that will have cringed at the ’13 hours’. I was dreading it too but at the same time, I was kind of curious and excited about our new adventure.
BABY FOOD ISSUES
I calculated, counted and recounted the amount of baby food I had to bring on this trip so that I had enough, and then some. At 8 months old, my baby was still breastfeeding in the morning, was eating baby food for lunch (cream of rice, homogenized meat/fish and vegetable broth), mashed fruit in the afternoon and baby food (cream of rice, mashed legumes or cheese and vegetable broth) for dinner. In the evening, I breastfed again.
I had enough cream of rice/corn/wheat etc. and homogenized meat and fish to bring but my problem was making vegetable broth from scratch. There wasn’t any vegetable broth at the store that I could buy that didn’t contain sodium.
When we went for our road trip to Vienna for a weekend, I brought enough broth to last us the weekend. I couldn’t do the same thing for our trip to Singapore. The solution? Ready-made baby meals by Mellin. Since I couldn’t grind up apples on the plane I also looked for fruit baby food. I found these squeezable packets of fresh fruit that were so easy to pack and didn’t weigh down my bag.
After packing all that baby food and stressing over the broth situation, here’s how the food situation went down in Singapore:
TRAVELING LONG HAUL – BABY FOOD TIPS
- Call your airline to see what kind of baby meal they provide. Singapore Airlines gave me baby food bottles of chicken, vegetables and mixed fruit. I gave up on feeding my baby ‘by the book’ and just mixed up the chicken and vegetables. He gobbled it up.
- Be prepared to breastfeed/give formula…a lot. Preparing baby meals and spoon-feeding on the go can be such a headache. With the jet lag, change of schedule and climate, sometimes my baby wouldn’t have the patience to be fed or maybe I wasn’t in a place where I could whisk up his baby meal.
- Breastfeed for take off and landing. My pediatrician told me that it helps the babies deal with air pressure changes. If you are not breastfeeding, give them a bottle or a pacifier.
- Test the baby food BEFORE you leave. So, remember those ready-made baby meals that I bought? My baby didn’t end up liking them. So, I recommend trying them out before you buy a case. I ended up throwing a few out because, after 24 hours of being opened, they go bad.
- Book a hotel with a kitchenette. This way you can buy some vegetables at your destination and make your own broth in the hotel.
- Bring water. The water is for you (breastfeeding mama) and your baby. The air gets really dry in the airplane and babies can get dehydrated.
- Bring plastic/silicone bibs. As feeding can get messy with a distracted baby on a plane, they are the easiest to wipe clean and put away.
THINGS TO PUT IN YOUR CARRY ON
- Baby carrier. Getting on and off the plane is a tight squeeze even if you only have a carry-on and a diaper bag. You need your hands-free so, wear your baby. If you are traveling alone, it’s impossible to travel without one.
- Dress in layers. Pack extra cardigans, scarves, socks etc. to easily put on or take off as the cabin temperature fluctuates.
- Moisturizer. The air in the plane gets super dry. My baby’s cheeks got so dry that by the time we landed, they were irritated and red. Slather on that cream!
- Change of clothes for you and your baby. On the long flight back to Milan, I had breastfed so much that my baby’s poop was turning liquid yellow again. I thought the days of diaper blowouts were over. Diaper blowouts were back. It happened. On the plane.
- Plastic bags. When you don’t know where to put those dirty, poop-stained onesies and pants…
- Blanket. Again, for the change in cabin temperature, you will want to cover your baby up. If you are traveling in a hot climate, make sure you have a blanket for when you enter buildings, shopping centers or supermarkets because they usually blast the AC.
- Check with the hotel if they have a crib. Test it before you put your baby in. If you are not traveling far, I recommend bringing your own collapsible crib.
- A couple of toys. Don’t load your bag with toys. They will just take up space. Babies will be entertained with such simple things like a wrapper or a box.
JUST IN CASE…SOME REMINDERS
- Bring saline solution. With the change in temperature and constantly going back and forth from air conditioned places to the humid heat outside, our baby caught a bit of a cold accompanied by a small eye infection. Our pediatrician recommended us to clean his eyes and wash his nose with a saline solution. I found everything I needed quite easily in Singapore. However, I recommend just bringing it all from home so you have it on hand when you need it.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for favours on the plane. Singapore Airlines provides teething biscuits, toys and baby blankets. They also set up a bassinet in front of my seat, which seems to be industry standard when traveling with infants. If necessary, they can also provide you with diapers.
- Be prepared to lose sleep. With the jet lag and all the changes that comes with traveling, you probably will be waking up frequently in the middle of night to feed. It was almost like sleeping with a newborn again.
- Be friendly to the passengers around you. If your baby is loud, crying and unruly, the passengers around you should understand and exercise patience. However, they will be easier to deal with if you are friendly with them from the start.
- Relax. If you are used to a routine at home, leave it at home and go with the flow. Your baby will be fine if you are relaxed and happy as well.
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