We have done it, one of the most feared challenges in parenthood, to travel longhaul with an infant. It was our first trip with Cléo and flew from Helsinki to Las Vegas, Pheew! All went like a dream and now I want to share a few tips!
Pack at least three sets of clothes, one of the sets can be warmer than the other because the airplanes vary in cabin temperature. I also had a drool bib to get most of the liquids soaked up to keep the clothes dry.
Also pack some favourite toys to keep him/her distracted and lots a lots of diapers. I travelled with 24 diapers, you never know if you flight is late, cancelled or something else.
Also pack wetwipes, changing mats, some burpcloths, any liquids needed (I went light on this one and took only baby powder and no liquids). A big scarf or binkyblanket came in handy to cover up during breastfeeding, for swaddling, to cover the pram and to put on the floor as a play mat.
2) Pram or no pram
We had a pram with us, but as soon as we came to the check in Finnair said we couldn’t take the pram any further, but British Airways let us have it until the gate on the way back so be prepared, apparently it varies from airliner to airliner. I had our Baby Bjorn backpack with us and that was a lifesaver as we had to go from terminal 5 to 3 at Heathrow. But the pram is good once you get to you destination so have a travelpram with you!
3) Seating in plane
We had Cléo in our lap from Helsinki to London. I bought a babyhammock from travelbaby.com that can be attached to the tray but that didn’t work because the seats are too close to eachother. So we ended up having her in our lap and I think a three hour flight is max what I would have a baby in my lap in an airplane. You won’t be able to eat and if you are fortunate enough to have the baby fall asleep you probably don’t want to risk waking him/her by having to go to the toilet, stretch your legs, read a magazine or anything else. We booked a cot-seat on the London-Las Vegas flight. The cot fits a max 63cm baby. It is a super small box that they put on top of a large tray that is latched to the wall. The cot can only be used during the flight so they give it to you after take off and prior to landing they stove it away. Not the best system in the world but it does give you some freedom to move around. It didn’t cost alot to book it either!
Our 3.5 month old doesn’t have routines yet so she seemed fine about the 10 hour time difference. When we came home she slept through the night the first night so no problem there. Just make sure you take the opportunity to sleep when you can as you might not be as fortunate. The best remedy for jetlag is to go out in daylight!
5) Aircon, hated and loved by most. In parts of the Vegas hotel it was freezing and outside it was 35, so go layers!
6) The sun
Stay in the shade, at all times. Babies have no protection from sun yet and sunscreen isn’t good for them just yet. We went to the pool early morning and stayed until it started getting too hot. Have a swimdiaper or two with you if your baby is up for a dip in the pool. I had a cool water bottle I let her play with so she was cooling her self as she was holding on to it. I also put cool water on a towel on her head and had a white towel under her (white absorb less sunlight and does not become as warm as darker ones).
6) Local rules
Get familiarized with the rules to where you are going. In most of europe children are allowed in bars with their parents. In the states, at least Las Vegas this is strictly forbidden, no matter if I wanted to have a non-alcoholic beverage or not. Children are also not allowed in the casino area (allthough we had to walk through it to pass through the hotel) and have a curfew of 10pm. We had a nanny from Nannies and Grannies and it worked very well!
All in all take it easy, relax and take your time. If your stressed your baby might pick up on that and then its an downward spiral from there. Change diapers before take off and landing to avoid a leaky diaper when you least need it. I was told to breastfeed during takeoff and landing but managed to time it only once. Luckily our baby falls asleep after she’s had her meal so nursing her before take-off actually turned out to be a good option. We had some earplugs and chocolate for the passengers around us, knowing we’ll all have a nicer trip incase she would cry made us more relaxed.