By Wong Meiling
Contrary to popular beliefs that travelling with a baby is troublesome, many parents are bucking that trend AND travelling while the baby is young. This is because infants spend most of their time sleeping. If you nurse the baby and own a baby sling, travelling is a breeze, especially with airlines, hotels and car rental companies being so accommodating towards family travel.
Nur Diana brought her daughter on her first overseas trip when she was 8 months old. She informed the hotel where she was staying that she was travelling with an infant and “they provided steriliser, baby tub, cot (on request) and complimentary baby toiletries.”
Another mother of 3, Juliana Lim took her first-born on a road trip to Kelantan, a 9-hour journey from Singapore, when she was 8 months old. When her twins were born, she took them on a similar journey when they were 6 months old. “Travelling at night is good for families with young children, especially during a long journey as the children can sleep through the night,” she said.
Considerations for travelling with baby
There are certain issues to take note of if you intend to bring your baby on a trip.. While there is no official minimum age for travelling in a plane, Jane Chang, Marketing Communications Manager from Chan Brothers Travel said that she would advocate that a baby flies after 2 months at least.
As long as your baby is healthy and you have clearance from your child’s paediatrician, your baby is free to travel. Most airlines observe the rule that all infants (8 days to 23 months) must be accompanied by an adult passenger aged 16 years and above. Infants do not have their own seat and have to sit on the adult’s lap (one infant per adult) during the take-off and landing.
“Parents should always consider the health condition of their infant prior to flying and if the trip is really necessary,” said Ms Chang. As a mother of a 6-month old, she has flown when her baby was just 6 weeks old on a 14-hour flight to Israel to visit her in-laws.
“If you help your baby to sleep before boarding, he wouldn’t know what’s happening around him,” advises Jo-Ann Hernandez who travelled with her 3 month-old son from Philippines to Singapore. In the event that he is still awake, “let him suck milk or chew something to alleviate the air pressure” during take-off and landing, she says.
Ms Chang also offers these tips when travelling with infants below 6 months:
- Book your seat way in advance and do not skimp on the bassinet for long flights.
- Go online to try to find in-flight photos of the carrier and call the airline to eliminate any possible inconveniences or disturbances to your infant, for example, bright flashing lights directly over the bassinet or a seat that is too far away from the nearest diaper station.
- If no bassinet is available, consider buying an extra seat for your infant so you can pop in the car seat for long flights; and everyone can get some rest.
- Bring a variety of small toys for the infant to play with but introduce them only one at a time so that the infant would not get bored easily.
- Pick baby-friendly destinations like Australia, USA or all-in-one Club Med resorts around the world which offer baby clubs.
- Get travel insurance. Annabelle Ang recalled how her 8-month-old son fell ill on their second day in Hong Kong. “He had a bad flu, vomitted and coughed. Luckily we had friends there and managed to get a good paediatrician.” The travel insurance covered all medical expenses for her son.
While there are some restrictions when you travel with a baby – scuba diving or sea sports may not be such a good idea with baby in tow and your night activities may be curtailed –these limitations should not stop you from travelling together. In fact, exploring the world with your baby will yield many wonderful memories for the whole family.
Packing list for the trip
Diapers - general rule of thumb is 5 diapers per day. Always throw in a few extras.
Change of clothes and pyjamas per day – include an additional set of clothes for each day of your trip in case baby has an accident.
Socks, shoes, booties – bring extra of each unless you intend to shop overseas.
Plastic bags for your soiled diapers or clothes.
Wipes and Tissue
Baby bath, shampoo, lotion
Inflatable baby bathtub
Water or milk bottles, sippy cups (observe aviation rules on liquid when you are flying)
Feeding utensils and baby food
Extra bibs, teethers or pacifiers
Baby’s medication – paracetamol for fever, medication for tummy upsets and cough syrups
Sling or baby carrier
Travel toys – bring a few of your child’s favourite toys to make him feel comfortable on the trip
Portable, preferably light weight, collapsible stroller
Car seat for safer travel by car or plane
Breast pump if you are still nursing
Storage bags (for breast milk)
Plastic bags (for dirty clothing, etc)
Packing list for your travel bag (enroute to your destination):
Diapers – one for each hour of journey
Changing mat (lightweight)
Extra clothes, socks and shoes
Long sleeve sweater or long pants – in case the weather turns cold
Diaper rash cream
Wipes and tissue
1-2 favourite toys to entertain your child
Milk powder, bottles for water and milk
If you are nursing, a sling or shawl
A copy of Baby’s health booklet