First flight

I’ve never had a fear of flying, but flying with a brand new baby – now THAT did send some very cold chills down my spine.

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You see, I’m a frequent flyer – a traveler who has the art of flying down to the tee – the person who smiles knowingly at other frequent flyers when a newbie fumbles in their bag trying to retrieve a boarding pass that somehow managed to find the Bermuda triangle halfway between the security checks and the boarding gates. And, up to now, I’ve been that traveler who avoided babies like the plague. I would board the plane and walk past that first row of seats with the bassinets and sweat-browed parents preparing for take-off and smile to my travel buddy noting proudly that I had booked our seats FAR away from any little people.

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Now, I’m THAT sweat-browed parent, or rather, I was that sweat-browed parent when my mom and I flew with my son to Johannesburg for a work engagement last week. I’d read enough blogs and websites to know that preparation was key when flying with a baby. Thus, the night before our flight, I managed to pack, repack and quadruple check that we had everything. Essential was packing a change of clothing for our boy, 4 nappies (they recommend one per hour of travel time – excessive, but just in case), the nappy changing paraphernalia and a bottle of expressed milk so that he could be sucking on take-off and landing (my son doesn’t take the dummy – and THAT’s a story on its own! I longingly look at parents with dummy-sucking babies all the time).

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We packed the car seat (essential if not renting a car with a baby seat and free to check in when traveling with babies – as are prams and a travel cot on BA, not sure about other airlines yet) and managed to get away with well-packed hand luggage so that we were not frazzled when walking through the terminal. By arriving 2 hours before our flight (in my past life, I would whizz in 40 minutes before my flight with my boarding pass I’d printed at home and only hand-luggage – gone are those days!), we managed to be calm before and had time to do a feed in the lounge and change his nappy before boarding. I carried him in my baby carrier all the way which meant that he was asleep when we boarded the plane. I braved the “Ag nee, please don’t sit next to me” looks from fellow travelers and my mom and I sat next to each other quietly praying that my boy would stay calm. I was calmer having “Glam-Ma” by my side as my “wingman”. I left the baby carrier strapped on (keep a scarf or muslin over baby to avoid him being over-stimulated in the airport and plane or baby admirers over-exciting little one) and fastened my own seat belt – this was recommended by the crew as there are no bassinets any longer. My boy slept through his entire first flight! The next day, our return flight was more eventful with my boy crying at boarding, but after managing to breastfeed on the runway, we managed another rather peaceful flight. I did pace the aisle once doing the baby slow sway to settle him and after that, peace reigned inside the cabin again.

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Moral of the story – calm mommy – calm baby. Preparation is key! DO NOT pack just before flying. Have a bottle handy or something for baby to suck on for take-off and landing but if they’re asleep, let them sleep. I’ve heard flying gets harder as they get older, but for now, at 2 months and a few days old – he is mommy’s perfect wingman!

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25 Comments

  1. Hayfah Isaacs
    Mon, 26 May 2014
    Reply

    I am a recent new mom, and it is really great to hear your stories :).

  2. Mon, 26 May 2014
    Reply

    I’m so glad it went relatively well! Thanks for sharing.

  3. Murchell
    Mon, 26 May 2014
    Reply

    Ahhhhwww sweet ……..:-)

  4. Kim
    Mon, 26 May 2014
    Reply

    Oh me oh my! What a story! People never pre-warn you about the 5000 things that you would need to take with on a trip with a baby. The prams and cots and baby chairs and and… They also get much more difficult to fly with once they are active and about. It’s sad how limiting the space is in the economy seats. When they get older it’s also difficult to change them on the plane with that tiny little change area for the babies. When we went to Cape Town recently we rented a pram, car seat and cot. What a cool idea instead of packing the child’s whole room. You are 100% correct plan in advance and you will be okay! Plus having gran or hubby with makes all the difference.

    • Mon, 26 May 2014
      Reply

      It’s a crazy new approach to traveling but so worthwhile 🙂

  5. Fati
    Mon, 26 May 2014
    Reply

    I love your posts. Its so helpful and true. I’m a new mum to an 8 month old baby boy 🙂 they really become your life. Thanks so much for this post, I’m going to be travelling to nigeria in three weeks time! I’m so nervous and don’t know what to expect. I’ll keep the “calm mummy-calm baby” approach 😉 pray all goes well 😉

  6. amanda
    Mon, 26 May 2014
    Reply

    lol…boys don’t like dummies especially if you breastfeeding. My first few flights were bliss but at age 2 he was quite vocal could not hear due to the altitude and chatting up fellow passengers. Quite entertaining but very cute 🙂 It does get better when they a bit older but you need to pack the crayons, colour books and i guess in this day and age the IPAD most important lol. Have fun they grow up so fast!

    • Tue, 27 May 2014
      Reply

      Boys and the boob fascination 😉 Boys of all ages! LOL!

  7. Adêle Bonita Scheepers
    Mon, 26 May 2014
    Reply

    It seems like the first flight went well… Safe travels for you both in the future! God bless

  8. Mon, 26 May 2014
    Reply

    Hi there

    I am so glad your flight went well 🙂 You should be happy he doesn’t want a dummy TRUST me, my first child had a dummy until he was about 3, and complete strangers would come up to him and pull it out his mouth and tell him and I how “poofie” it was and how we should throw it away. The fact that a complete stranger would do that made me so mad, so trust me you are so much better without a dummy. My second child Ella is now 9 months old and also never wanted a dummy and its wonderful !!!

  9. kerri
    Mon, 26 May 2014
    Reply

    Joanne, what carrier are you using for bubba?

      • Nicole
        Thu, 29 May 2014
        Reply

        It’s great that you’re carrying your baby; however, the carrier that you’re using, while ‘top of the range’, is not the best in terms of comfort and support for your baby. A simple stretchy wrap is much better at this stage (Moby Wrap, Noonoo Pie, etc – or make your own), and as he gets older you have a world of carriers to choose from, from our favourite Asian style Mei Tai (soft structured), to woven wraps, Ergo / African Baby Carrier style, etc.

        We seasoned babywearers call the Baby Bjorn and other similar carriers (the kind you find at retailers) CROTCH DANGLERS (Google it!) – because baby is literally dangling by his crotch, unsupported where it matters. A bath towel used as a carrier, African style, is preferable to one of these. Baby needs to be supported from knee to knee, or at this early stage, in the ‘froggy’ leg position. If you would like more information, here’s a good place to start:
        http://babywearinginternational.org/

  10. Anastacia Seals
    Mon, 26 May 2014
    Reply

    Lol I love the ‘Glam-Ma’ bit! Who knew so much prep goes into taking a little one on their flight? I’m an aunt, so it’s nice to just pass my nephews to their mom’s when things escalate

  11. georgina
    Mon, 26 May 2014
    Reply

    Well done modern mommy – preparation is key!

  12. Mon, 26 May 2014
    Reply

    Sweet! I’m also a new mommy blogger, great to read your stories… (link)

    • Tue, 27 May 2014
      Reply

      Good luck with your blog and thanks for commenting 🙂 x MM

  13. Omi Nair
    Tue, 27 May 2014
    Reply

    I flew bck home to Durbs frm OR T with mY daughter n 5 wk old grand daughter in April. Wat a lot of luggage one little person has. We had a problem as the AVent Milk Bottle did not fit in the polystyrene milk warmer n had to get a spare slimline Nuk bottle just to carry a bottle on the flight. It became a schlep to pour frm 1 bottle to another @ the airport. On take-off n landing she had the bottle n she was so gud. Going bck home she battled with the pram as baby wanted to b carried. Security wld not allow my son-in-law to cum n help her with the luggage off the conveyor n had to rely on sum really gud fellow travellers for their help.

    • Tue, 27 May 2014
      Reply

      Fellow travellers can be amazing – I absolutely agree 🙂 We also had people onboard being so kind helping us with our luggage and offering a helping hand where needed. All the best with future flights 🙂

  14. Sandy
    Thu, 26 June 2014
    Reply

    I’m not a new mom or should I rather say “an old mom”my son is turning 7 next month,but still I haven’t taken him flying,I get this knot in my stomach just thinking of it,but you on the other hand are doing a fantastic job on your blog,I enjoy reading up on all your wonderful adventures,keep it up!

  15. Patience
    Thu, 26 June 2014
    Reply

    Nice article, now the task is trying to convince my mum a3month old baby is old enough to fly:)

  16. Wendy ngxumza
    Thu, 26 June 2014
    Reply

    i have never flew….i cant imagine how freaked i will be when not only it be my 1st but my baby’s time too…oooh il need 5 wingmen….thankx for the prep advice Jo..

  17. Dezlin Jacobs
    Tue, 01 July 2014
    Reply

    Really enjoying your blog! Thanks so much for sharing! I’m a first time mom to 7,5 month old boy and have two older foster sons. I completely identify with the longing stare I give mommy’s with little ones who take a pacifier! My husband and I joke that if we have another one… pacifier is the word from day 1. Also really appreciate the fact that you’re not sharing pics of your son. I had to do quite a lot of “please-explain-why-we-can’t-share-pics-of-the-young-master-on-social-media” with my family and the fact that another modern mommy is doing so, in my own mind at least, strengthens my reasoning. Abundant blessings on you and your family!

  18. Tshepiso
    Thu, 05 May 2016
    Reply

    This is an old post which I only managed to read today. However it definitely brought memories. I remember when I travelled by plane with my son who was one month. shuuu I definitely packed and prepared the day before as well. I PRAYED & PRAYED & PRAYED for the trip to go well. I told myself I have no choice but to be calm. I remember my fiancé took us to the airport and made sure we were fine. Well until I got to the boarding gate where they requested his birth certificate . OOHHH BOY, I didn’t have it. It was those ladies with an attitude of some, there is nothing you can do sisi, we want the certificate. You can imagine at that moment I was sweating because I thought I had everything covered as far as the traveling is concerned. Then I explained to them that my fiancé will bring it ASAP to the airport but they understood and let us go through the gate. Fortunately I had booked a flight to Lanseria where its less busy. My sweat boy slept right through , no hassles during the duration of the flight. I still get nervous at times but im much better than the first time.

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