Travel Essentials- Toddler Edition

Well friends, tomorrow we embark on Ava’s 16th flight in her short 13 months of life! Not going to lie- we feel like pros at this thing nowadays.. We have had seamless flights (13 hours to the states with a 13 month old who slept for 11 of those hours).. and we have had terrible flights (the 4 hour internal flight that followed that 13 hour flight where the hostess and I took turns rocking Ava and being puked on).

As Ava has gotten older flights have gotten easier and harder. We actually have to entertain her now rather than her sleeping for the duration of the flight.. but they have also gotten easier because she is pretty self-sufficient by way of feeding herself and entertaining herself for at least 5-10min at a time. She is also a very social child so she will talk to the people around her, she’ll wave at most strangers who walk past her when getting on the plane.. she’ll even go to strangers if they reach their arms out to her! Thankfully she has my husbands social traits!

Below are the essentials I’ve chalked up when flying with Ava in this toddler stage.. I’ve given an explanation on what their uses are and why I see them as essentials! Obviously this list will be customised to your child- but let me assure you- if you are thinking of taking that trip with that baby- DO IT! The worst that can happen is that your child is whingy or unsettled (the noise of airplanes are soothing to babies so you should be fine here). Generally most people we have encountered (including on the terrible internal U.S. flight) comment at how well-behaved Ava is on flights- we totally chalk that up to great parenting (haha.. okay maybe not)..no, we chalk that up to exposure! We have continually exposed her to flights since she was 3 months old so she has grown some what used to them.

Travel Essentials for Toddler1. Bento Box– these are super helpful so you can bring different kinds of snacks in the one container. Ava loves blueberries and strawberries which works great because they’ll keep her little hands busy for a few minutes!

2. Kids headphones– we are very new this purchase. In preparation for our flight to the states we bought these early to give them a test run. They are volume controlled, so great for kids. Ava’s not a fan of keeping them on her head though. Any tips and tricks would be greatly appreciated!

3. Her favourite book– when you’re trying to endure a flight you need to be ready to pull out all stops. Now’s not the time to introduce a new book or a new snack.. you’re going to want to go with ole’ faithful!

4. Her favourite toy– ditto on the above.. I stress “Soundless!”

5. Netflix and an Ipad– netflix has the capability to download movies and watch them offline, including kids movies! We have a few downloaded and ready to go!

6. Pram blanket– I say pram blanket here because they are warmer and thicker than a muslin wrap. Unless you are wrapping your baby at the moment, then go with the Muslin wrap. We have used our pram blanket for a number of things over the year:

  • A blanket for the airport and plane if Ava is cold
  • A breastfeeding cover
  • A playmat in the airport when waiting for our flight that she can sit on
  • A light cover to simulate a dark room when I am trying to put her to sleep

7. A baby carrier– I recently purchased the Ergobaby carrier because Ava is getting heavier. Previously I used a Kmart $49 one which worked great! I generally strap Ava to me as soon as we get to the airport- that way we can check the pram in with no issues and walking around the airport is hassle free and easier on the back. Again, with this one- I used a carrier with Ava since she was born so she’s used to being on me which has worked great for us.

8. Appropriate I.D.- Self Explanatory, but as an FYI you generally can’t check-in online if you have a baby with you as they need to sight I.D. at the check-in counter when you arrive. Allow ample time to que in the check-in line!

9. Water Bottle– If you baby is not using a dummy/pacifier/soother you’re going to want to give them water on take-off and landing. the sucking motion will help with their ears.

10. Favourite Snack–  Ava loves these Fruit crushers from Woolworths! They have not artificial colours or flavours and no added sugar! Each pouch is 1/2 serve of fruit so they make really great additions to her diet!

So there you have it. travelling with a toddler is not impossible (trust me).. and the flight is only the beginning of the amazing journey you’re taking!

Let me know if you have any specific questions about brands or other items I may have missed.

Travelling with a Baby Internationally

Greg and I recently came back from a trip to the States (from Sydney) for Thanksgiving. With my husbands family living in St Louis we knew we were going to be taking multiple flights to reach them! When booking the flights we opted to take a direct Los Angeles to St Louis flight rather than going via Utah (as we normally do) so we wouldn’t have to worry about getting Ava on and off more than 2 planes!

We flew Delta Airlines from Sydney to Los Angeles. We were advised that we couldn’t book the bassinet in advance and that it would be confirmed on check-in. When we checked in we were advised that there was a younger baby than Ava on the plane. I was highly skeptical…a baby younger than 3 months?? We were told that we were placed on seats that had a spare seat between them so Ava could lay down. Fast forward to boarding- we found our seats and noticed that we only had a section with 2 seats!! My husband quickly rushed out and asked them to move us so that we could have a spare seat. They moved us quite quickly, however we were already disappointed regarding the  bassinet so things were going from bad to worse. (on a side note- come to find out the baby that used the bassinet was 11 months old!!!!! I am still so upset about this and will be lodging a complaint).

We put a few pillows (to mimic a mattress) in between us and then lay a few blankets over the pillows so they wouldn’t move. I brought one of Ava’s blankets and placed it on top of the other blankets to mimic her bed and smell. Our amazing baby slept around 11 of the 13 hours! The noise of the plane was very similar to white noise so I think that’s what encouraged her to sleep.

Important things to note:

  • You can take sterilized water and formula through security. You’re going to want to take the bottles and formula out as they have a special machine which tests the water and formula.
  • You can check your stroller in at the gate rather than at check in.
  • There are no microwaves on the plane. Ways your flight attendant may heat up the bottle (if you need one):
    • Barf bag with hot water (they will submerge the bottle in the barf bag)
    • Half a cup filled with hot water, and the bottle placed in the cup

Fast Forward to LAX Airport

There are no nurseries/mother’s room at LAX.. None.. Well there is one in the Tom Bradley Terminal but it is a dingy room with a sink and doesn’t open till 10am. I couldn’t believe it!! We quickly learnt that we were going to have to improvise. I had brought some washing detergent and chux wipes so I could wash her bottles out in the bathroom. After washing them we asked a security guard if there is a microwave, he kindly let us use the microwave in the worker’s break room where we sterilized her bottles (we brought our microwave sterilizer). Once that was done we bought (yes, the coffee shops charged) half a cup of boiling water and started heating the bottles (we filled her bottles with bottled water).

I don’t know if it was because of where we were but there were no nurseries or mother’s rooms anywhere in St Louis! In Sydney, you would be familiar with clean and beautiful rooms, with microwaves and privacy rooms.. I couldn’t find one in any shopping centre, anywhere that we went. Some restaurants, for OHS reasons, were unable to heat the bottle up so we would have to do the half cup of boiling water dance. This was probably the most stressful thing of the entire trip.

We didn’t have any issues with Ava’s ears- I tried to give her a bottle/ have her suck her pacifier/sleep, on every take off and landing and it seemed to work.

Things I brought in the diaper bag for the flights:

  • Nappies (I packed a few extra just in case in her diaper bag). I also packed some nappies on one of the outside pockets of one of our suitcases so when we got to LAX I could easily grab a few if we needed them.
  • All her bottles (4) and Microwave steriliser (just in case our suitcase got lost in transit)
  • Half a can of formula (this is more than I would have needed but I wanted to have too much rather than too less)
  • Pj’s (to keep routine of changing her into her pj’s for bed and changing her out of them in the “morning”)
  • Ergo baby wrap (that is what she sleeps in)
  • Sheet which is normally on her bed (so her face is against a familiar
  • A clean top for me in-case of throw ups and just because after a 13 hour flight we all need new clothes.
  • Extra bibs (in-case of throw ups)
  • 2 changes of clothes for Ava in-case of blow outs
  • Her portable change mat

We flew Southwest airlines from LAX to St Louis. Again, Ava slept most of the flight (not before throwing up on the airline hostess and me having a meltdown).. She was desperate for a bottle (which I had held off giving her so I could give it to her on take-off), and I was doing the barf bag routine but the bottle wasn’t heating up enough and she wouldn’t take it lukewarm..

We flew Virgin Australia back from LAX to Sydney, and secured the bassinet (YAY for us)! Ava slept about 10 of the 14 hour flight. The only problem with the bassinet is that each time the seat belt sign is turned on due to turbulence you have to take your baby out and buckle her in with the baby seat belt on you. Thankfully the flight wasn’t very bumpy!

By having a stroller we were able to use the special assistance line at security at every airport (except St Louis) which worked out fantastic. I carried Ava in my baby carrier as often as possible when going through security so she wouldn’t fall asleep in the stroller as they hand check the stroller and you have to carry your baby through.

Overall our experience was a great! The airline hostess’ were amazing, the airport staff were very accommodating! Ava was 3 months when we went so she was purely drinking milk, not mobile and couldn’t play with toys.

If you have any specific questions let me know!!

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