Six genuinely useful tips for flying long-haul with a baby

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Caroline Corcoran just got back from Miami with a five-month old and survived. She brings news from the other side

When we arrived in Florida on a three week visit to see friends last month, they asked us what we wanted to do while we were there. I looked at them blankly because in the six months since we’d booked the trip, I hadn’t thought about anything other than how we would feed Sonny on the flight, how Sonny would sleep on the flight and how the other passengers would look at me on the flight. I packed jumpers because I didn’t look at the weather forecast; I was an idiot. But look! I made it! We all made it! And we actually had a bloody brilliant time. Here are my tips for flying long haul with a tiny one...

1. Get OCD about your carry-on

When Sonny did an it’s-even-on-his-shoulder poo (known by my friend Charlotte as a s***uation ™) in the tiny airline toilet, I had never been so happy for the Panic Bags (TMing that myself) that I’d put together: individual plastic bags with one nappy and one change of clothes so all you have to take with you out of the massive changing bag (suitcase) you’ll have to take on the flight with you is one of those, wipes and a mat. Also came in pretty handy when we were sleep-deprived at the other end and just needed to locate the key stuff in a sea of tiny cute sunhats from H&M and an in-hindsight excessive number of tampons (not Sonny’s.)

2. Be annoying about the cot

I mean, we got to Heathrow so early, we had about three meals in the airport but I didn’t care because the on-board cot - AKA the holy grail, allocated on a first come/ first serve basis which set my natural planner nerves on edge and became my obsession for months - was confirmed. Sonny didn’t sleep on it because he preferred our shoulders but still, apart from anything it was a pretty handy table. Oh and on the night flight on the way back: invaluable.

3. There are ways to sterilise that don’t require a microwave

Sterilising tablets are brilliant, obviously, and for if you’re out at the beach and don’t want to take a massive steriliser out with you, these are awesome for dummies.

4. If you’re bottle-feeding, take more feeds than you think you’ll need

It may be true that we took eleven feeds for the journey home and used, erm, two, and we possibly went too far but on the way out to Miami, Sonny had three more feeds than he would normally because he was shifting time zones. Basically, it’s better to be weighed down by bottles of Aptamil than weighed down by the panic that your child will starve 40,000 feet above the Atlantic.

5. You can order formula (and other baby kit) from the airport Boots

This is a serious game changer. Do it ahead of time, skip the hassle of security, collect it and swan onto the plane like you’re Jennifer Aniston on that advert where she flies on a very fancy-looking plane. Voila.

6. Oh god, bloody enjoy it

The doom-mongers all shook their heads and muttered at me when I told them we were flying to Miami four months after we had our first baby and although I’d been confident about it, the more they said “you’re brave” (sounded suspiciously like “You’re a naive idiot”) the more I let some nerves sneak in. But you know what, being away with a baby - as long as you plan a bit - was even more fun than being at home with a baby. And it taught me to roll with it a bit more. There was no bottle prep machine and the world didn’t fall apart and if Sonny dozed in his pram until 10pm while we drank margaritas and ate pizza, his sleep schedule wasn’t ruined forever. Life went on, and knowing that travelling also goes on post-baby was an awesome lesson to learn too. Disclaimer: Sonny can’t crawl/ walk yet. That may be a major factor.

@mushmums @cgcorcoran