This time last year two of my dearest friends had just got engaged. I was so thrilled for them, especially when I was asked to be bridesmaid. I was only a couple of months pregnant so when they said the wedding would be in Cape Town I couldn't commit to going straight away, as much as I wanted to, as I would be taking my brand spanking new, 5 month old baby with me.
For months and months I stewed on the decision to go. We were desperate to go but I just didn't know how I would feel once the baby was here. Would I want to take the baby abroad so soon, how would we manage, would we be able to juggle it all, would it be safe?!
Fast forward to 3 month old Caleb and we decided to go for it. So many people told us that this would be the best time to travel when Caleb is young enough to cope with the travelling and not yet being on the move. So many people told us we were mad too. We clearly always had the intention to go though as we got his passport done when he was 2weeks old. FYI even babies don't take good passport pics!
So Caleb would have been 5 months old if he had been on time but as it happened he was 6 months old when we travelled. In the early days Caleb cried a lot, he was very fussy and took a lot of settling, we had to have strong will power when it came to routine, he barely napped and it wasn't always easy to take him places. So I can not even begin to tell you the level of stress and anxiety I was feeling about travelling to South Africa with my baby. 12 hours on a plane with a potentially disgruntled baby was making me. Freak. Out.
But 6 months came along and the Caleb we once knew had changed quite dramatically. He is such a content and happy baby now and is so much calmer. We have routine and Mr jenandcub and I sometimes, sometimes, feel like we are winning at parenting.
I have read so many blogs with travel advice for babies and asked anyone who's travelled with a baby for advice but really there isn't much you can do other than be prepared and just go for it.
Here is how it worked for us...
Preparation and organisation is key!! Thankfully I'm married to the most organised person I know so that definitely came in handy but making sure you've thought through everything is vital!
- Stick to routine as much as possible. We had a night flight so we tried to stick to routine by taking a sleep suit with us for Caleb to change into at the airport. We also tried not to let him have a danger nap so that he would be tired when it came to 'bed time'.
- Have spare errrrything! When you have a baby there is no such thing as having too much of something. My hand luggage was solely dedicated to Caleb. We had nappies galore, nappy bags, muslins a plenty, various outfit options for all the temperatures and blankets.
- Lots of dummies. My god can he launch them, even when they are attached.
- Toys for distractions, comfort, entertainment.
- Pack a carrier. I wore Caleb in the airport just before we boarded because I didn't want him being over stimulated and wide awake. I thought of he was close to me he would sleep and he wouldn't be able to see everything going on around him. It worked well. He didn't fall asleep for all of that long but he was calm when we boarded. It also meant I was handsfree to carry hand luggage.
- Take calpol just incase.
- We have recently just started to introduce formula so we took bottles of pre boiled water (100ml in each bottle) and the powder. It was easier for me to feed him myself but it was there incase.
- DON'T stress! This is the most important thing I can think of. If your baby cries it's just what they do! It will sound so much worse to you than to anyone else. Yes you are in a confined space and you will feel like everyone's heart sinks when you walk on a plane with a baby but the truth is the majority of people will have either been in your position, have had children or a grandchild like this at home or they might just take pity on you.
- Don't forget the baby's passport! Or birth certificate as sometimes you need that as proof too.
- Enjoy it! Another first for my babe.
You can also take with you, depending on the airline, luggage for baby and up to 3 other items. We took a stroller (cheap one from Argos so my mamas and papas one didn't get chucked about in hold), a travel cot and a chair bouncer. We hired a car seat out there although we could have taken that too but I didn't want to risk things get broken.
I genuinely expected the worst from our travels but hoped for the best. I couldn't have been prouder of our little man. He slept the entire way there and the entire way back with some little intervals of play and feeding.
There were lots of other babies that cried on the plane but not mine. Hallelujah!! #mummywins
I also can not thank the staff enough for being so friendly in what is a potentially very stressful situation for parents. I've never been so happy to go through security!
I look forward to our next adventure...
♡ Jen and Cub