The toddler and the 10-hour flight

I have learned how to prepare for long flights

In Summary

• Save for the checking in, he behaved on his first flight without breastfeeding

A plane at night
A plane at night

Alas! Our long splendid stay in the motherland came to an end, and as much as I was looking forward to being in my marital home, I dreaded the long flight ahead.

You see, my baby has flown a few times, but he always had the benefit of breastfeeding whenever we travelled. Other than calming the baby down in an unfamiliar environment, breastfeeding during flights is especially crucial in protecting babies against cabin pressure. Sometimes during take off and landing, the pressure inside your ears builds up so painfully you want to scream. While there are things for adults to do to pop their ears, there is hardly anything helpful for a baby at that point.

This time, however, the flight home meant flying with an almost two-year-old on my lap. A fully weaned tot and, not to mention, a hyperactive kid who enjoys climbing, running and moving as he pleases. Luckily enough, our flight was an overnight haul. I started preparing in advance, imagining every possible scenario in my head and dreading the unknown variables.

The most important thing to consider before having long journeys with a kid, be it in a train, a bus or a plane, is your child's temperament. Since I know my kid is extremely active, my game plan is always to tire him out before boarding. Let him run around at the airport and enjoy himself. Which is why travelling with a partner is also important. One can be in charge of the kid while the other manages the luggage.

I also know that at this age, my son has a short attention span, which is why I carry an assortment of toys and activities for him to do while he is buckled down. We spend some time doing one thing before moving to the next. The trick is to carry just enough to get you through, but not too much as to make your hand luggage too bulky. Always remember to switch from one activity to the next by keeping used toys away. Otherwise, your limited seating space will be a catastrophe and it's so easy to leave behind toys and books on the plane.

The check-in was so full and so slow that we had to split into two. My husband and I took turns running after the kid and checking in the bags. I couldn't help but admire the other children who stood patiently by their parents' sides. Even after our long and tedious check-in process, we still let him run around before boarding, which is why he slept as soon as we sat on the plane. Not only did he sleep immediately, he slept through the night and only woke up a couple of hours before landing!

It wasn't an easy flight, but it was much smoother than what we had experienced before. We still had to deal with some sleep tantrums as he was not comfortable sleeping on the lap and the cabin pressure during landing was pretty extreme. However, we survived our first flight with a non-breastfeeding baby! Which made our short connecting flight home a piece of cake!

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