Flying with a baby: a cautionary tale. An easy guide of what *not* to do when you take to the skies with an infant:
1. Travel alone. No matter how adapt you think you are at solo parenting, wearing a baby and backpack while carrying a car seat and roller bag is ever so slightly tricky. Or however practiced you think you are at entertaining the nipper – four hours in and still not even flying means even your best Lion Sleeps Tonight rendition fails to quieten a bored howl.
2. Miss the morning nap. Keeping the baby in an overexcited, overtired state right up to the flight may have been a bad idea. He's currently a strict two naps a day lad so if he gets to 1pm with no nap it's bound to be trouble. So a fidgety, fractious eight month old wriggling, squealing and screaming on my lap made three quarters of an hour of taxi-ing a real delight.
3. Fly with a budget airline. I'm a cheap flights aficionado so I was well prepared for the usual levels of stress induced that you endure for a budget price tag. So I smuggly didn't bother with Priority Boarding or choosing my seat (apparently flying with a baby you *have* to sit by the window). But the penny pinching solution that really got my goat? No pockets on the back of seats! My whole 8 months of mumhood have taught me well that offering multiple toys and treats to a little one can reeeaaally help get you through an hour and a half of being forced to stay in one (not particularly comfortable) spot. I ended up juggling four toys: a flashing beeping one, some measuring spoons, his socks (obvs) and a cow kindly donated by a fellow parent neighbour. All the time thinking covetously of the toys, drinks and snacks I'd carefully packed for the boy to avoid just this situation – stowed just out of my reach in the bag beneath the chair in front of me. And my bag of M&Ms. God damnit.
4. Give up the hope of ever going to the loo. In the airport: negotiating the ladies with all the bags and wearing a baby carrier? No thank you. On the plane: note my previous point about where parents with lap babies have to sit…crossed legs it is then.
5. Dress wholly inappropriately. As having to layer up to survive London's poor attempt at summer makes arriving at any warmer holiday location loadsa fun (adds 'coat' to list of items carried).
6. Use this opportunity to practice your sadly neglected baby carrier wearing skills. After a caesarean having my big baby strapped back on in a baby carrier didn't really appeal in the early days…I've tried to keep up my baby wearing but the buggy almost always seems to make more sense. So when better to try out a whole day of baby wearing with basically no help? Flying of course! Particular lowlight was getting his little leg stuck flamingo-style while trying to cram him back in the carrier while we were both covered in lentils (why did I forget to put baby wipes in the bag, why!?) in the airport Pret. Classy.
Some 'dos'? Do: sit on the row I luckily got allocated – a well practiced Granny ('don't worry love I've seen it all before'), kind cow-lending family, teenage girl in the row in front who played boo with Max and the understanding, sympathetic row behind (thanks again for the multiple returning of 'accidentally' dropped toys).
Do: have a baby who (finally!) falls asleep on take off. A very useful skill inherited from his daddy.
Do: have someone pick you up from the airport with a buggy and emergency banana (thanks Mum!).
Am so looking forward to the journey home…