24 June 2016, by Joel Chng

Baby’s First Flight

My first destination wedding was also the first time Ezra travelled out of Singapore. At nine months, my son is probably too young to remember any of it, but it was definitely unforgettable for my wife Petrina and myself.

It took about two and a half hours to get from Singapore to Bali, and we picked a Saturday afternoon flight. Pre-baby, I always looked forward to flights. This time, I was a bundle of nerves!

My main concerns:
– How would Ezra react to the change in cabin pressure during takeoff and landing, and will nursing help to alleviate the pressure in his ears?
– Ezra usually falls asleep while nursing, but will he still be able to do so during the plane’s ascent?
– How do parents of infants who do not have their own seats cope during the meal services?

My fears were unfounded. Ezra started nursing once we boarded and promptly fell asleep, only waking up after the plane had reached its cruising altitude. During our return night flight, Ezra slept in Petrina’s arms from Bali to Singapore.

So I thought I would share with daddies some tips on ways to have a smoother travel experience with your baby:

1) Select your seats.

I checked the aircraft seating plan when booking the flight, and topped up a small amount for ‘Economy Comfort’ seats. This gave us 1.4m of legroom and extra recline. We were fortunate to get the whole row, so Ezra had a seat of his own and thoroughly enjoyed his first flight. Where you sit can make or break your experience, and you will need as much space as you can get.

2) Be the last few passengers to board the aircraft.

At the boarding gate, airlines usually announce for families travelling with children under two years old to board first, but I do not recommend it. It is better to spend as little time as possible on the plane, especially when travelling with infants.

3) Take turns to eat.

The return flight from Bali was full so we could not put Ezra down on an empty seat. If he had been awake during the meal service, Petrina and I would have taken turns to eat (one eats while the other holds the baby).

4) Ignore the stares.

During our return flight, between boarding and takeoff, Ezra refused to latch and took some time to settle down. He was not the only baby in the plane, but it sure sounded like it! Petrina and I got anxious, but we quickly composed ourselves – sometimes babies are just grumpy and there is nothing one can do about it. Try not to take it personally; instead of feeling apologetic toward the other passengers, realise that you will probably never see them again.

It is important to be well-prepared if you are travelling with your baby for the first time, as babies and small spaces are never a good combination. All in all, Ezra flew well for a first-timer, and it helped that we went on a short flight. I remarked that perhaps Ezra was born to fly, and Petrina reminded me that he will never be this age again – our next flight will be a new experience all over again!

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