International Air Travel with One-year Old

Updated on June 03, 2008
T.P. asks from Lawrence, KS
8 answers

Hi! I have traveled on an airplane with my one-year old before, but only within the country. In two weeks my husband and I will be taking her to Poland (16 hour total trip and 6 hour time change). The longest leg of the flight is 9 hours which will be overnight. She rarely sleeps on the plane and if she does its no longer than 1 hour. How do I get her to sleep for longer? We don't have a seat for her on the plane, so probably no car seat. She normally sleeps on her stomach or rolls around a lot which makes it hard to hold her. Has anyone tried baby sleep aids? I would never normally use this (she sleeps fine in her crib), but in this situation, does anyone have any that they've used in the past that have worked (name of meds please:) Any other suggestions would be great! Thanks in advance.

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answers from Jacksonville on

I would not suggest that you give the baby sleep aids, 6 hour time difference will be hard enough on a small baby, let along a druged baby. I would suggest two things, if possiable book her her own seat, I can imagine that it cost more, but well worth it, even for yourself, you get all that extra space... I love traveling with my kids, I get three times the room, and don't mind cuddling them at all. If this is too much to afford -you only get that free seat for another year, then I would suggest a few things....
1. Contact the airline right away, and request that you sit right behind first class, typically they have "baby" racks" that will act as a crib for newborns, not sure if this would hold her, but you get tons more leg room, and may be able to put her in an umbrella stroller depending if the stewardest are cool.... (Bring extra choclate bars and offer it to them...bribery works wonders when your traveling with kids) Seats next behind first class have more room.
2. Order a kids meal for yourself, even at one you will be suprised at all the great little snacks they give you in a kids meal, I've Trecked over 60,000 around the world with babies, toddlers and kids, and have experienced that the Kids Meals are by far the best tasting and value... all sort of snacks come with it to help keep her busy.
3. Shift work... forget drugging her, and enjoy that glass of wine they offer.... When we fly with 5 we typically pick 4 seats together and 1 away... may be in the same row, but away.... one of us takes the first "leg" with the kids, while the other rest and relaxes, it also helps us "notice" if our kids are behaving the way they should on a plane... When your leg with the baby is done, swich seats with hubby put in a movie sip the wine and set back... or catch some zzzz's till it's your shift again.
I would avoid her "late" nap if you are flying a bedtime.... I would suggest bringing her in the airport in her PJ's... get her something sweet and "play" with her, some airports internationally have play grounds inside (about time) and let her burn that engery off... she will have a major sugar crash (warning, don't over do the sugar thing or it could kick back on you... Hersery Mini's are perfect! for the kids and the stewardest)
and should rest most of the way... Since it is a night flight you shouldn't have to bring a lot of toys... she is old enough to learn that it's bedtime and that even if she doesn't sleep other people are, small play doo, crayons, and other bits that she can use with her fingers is perfect.... cherrios and string to make eatable necklaces will keep her busy, and then she can make some for her friends on the flight...
Ans last but not least... REMEMBER you are not the only person that have ever brought a baby on a plane... most of the time when thoses stressful moments do pop up she is not as loud as you think.... if someone offers to help you out on the plane take them up on it.... sometimes someone new can shed a new light... they're in this with you...
Good luck and enjoy your family... Warsaw is wonderful, can't wait to fly there myself!


answers from Memphis on

I as told my a pediatrician to give my children Dimetapp to help prevent ear infection during flight. It knocked them out & they slept well. I had to wake them up when the food came.

You might express your concern to her pediatrician and see what they say.

Enjoy your trip & give yourself some rest time too. I know it's hard because you want to do & see everything while you're there, but you being rested will help deal with that precious little one much better.



answers from Fayetteville on

We are military and we just got back from living in Germany. The trip over was AWFUL! I wished that I had known these tips. But the trip back was AWESOME! Also in in airplanes they should have bassinets at the bulkheads. I would call and ask if you can have the seats next to them. They are like the dinner trays in the way they fold down from the wall in front of you. I do not know how big of a baby you can put in there. And I TOTALLY gave my children benydril (children's version, ask your doctor on the correct dosage)

Here is a list that a friend in Germany always sent her guests when they traveled abroad. REALLY LISTEN TO THE ONE ABOUT STAYING AWAKE THE DAY YOU ARRIVE ALL DAY!!!! SO IMPORTANT!!!

For Jet Lag Novices (and Old Timers too)
Some of you have never traveled across the ocean and some
of you have done it a million times. We are going to give you some suggestions that we have found help for a quick transition.
1. In the days leading up to your flight make sure you get enough rest.
2. Beginning on Saturday before you fly begin drinking
lots of water- 2-3 liters a day
3. On the Monday you fly try avoid caffeine, especially on the flight.
It is VERY important to stay hydrated by drinking lots of
water. Amazingly this will help with your adjustment.
4. Wear support hose on the day you fly
5. Once you get on the plane set your watch to Polland time (9 hours ahead of CA time)
6. Try to get some sleep on the flight
7. Tuck some Benadryl in your suitcase you will probably
sleep fine the first night, but might need a little help the 2nd or 3rd
night. I have found that 1 Benadryl does the trick.
8. On Tuesday when you have arrived you will be asked to
stay awake until after dinner. THIS ONE IS VERY VERY VERY IMPORTANT!!!!!!!!!!!!!! If you follow it should only take a few days for jet lag compared to weeks!

This will be VERY difficult, but for a quick transition it is necessary.

H. H.~military wife and mother of three small kids



answers from Knoxville on

My adventures with children on planes did not go well with Benadryl because they reacted the exact opposite-got hyper instead of drowsy. My sons ears hurt him terribly and he cried/screamed/begged for mercy the whole way. A stewardess suggested putting cups over his ears to help him out with pressure on on Also nuring seemed to help get his ears to pop. A portable DVD was a godsend when he actualy watched it and a baby sling so that he or his sister could rest there without having my arms get too tired. Of course having adequate snacks was good too. Good luck!



answers from Raleigh on

Never give a Baby anything to make them sleep.
your heart rest between beats .Never take anything to slow it dowm or speed it up.
I will be afraid the child might not wake up.
You will be in deep trouble.
and have to live with that the rest of your life.
Take a chance.Pray let God take care of it .No Drugs.



answers from Nashville on

When you get to the airline ASK FOR THE BULKHEAD! They have a bassinet that you can put her in and it gives her a little more room to crawl around on the floor. Bring lots of toys, snacks, milk.
I even brought a DVD with baby videos (baby Einstein) with little earphones when we flew home from Hawaii.



answers from Clarksville on

We did a trip from Ft. Lewis to Germany. We have 3 children and one is handicapped. We did something called Melatonin, it is an herbal sleep aide. It doesn't make your child sleepy, it regulates their sleep patterns by helping the pineal gland, it produces Melatonin anyway, bu some folks just need a little more to help them fall asleep. It's not additive or will cause any harm to your 1-1/2 year old. You can give up to 3 MG of it at one time. If you go to a pharmacy to get it, they will tell you not to give over 1 MG, but I heard from 2 doctors it is fine to give them up to 3MG. It will also help with the Jet Lag. Adults can take it as well. You can get it over the counter at any store that sells herbs or suppliments or even at a health food store. Here is a website that will explain everything about it.
I hope this helps and that you have a plesent trip. We are getting ready to fly from Germany to Ft. Campbell, I feel your pain on the international flying. Best of luck to you!



answers from Raleigh on

Hi T., that is so ecxiting,your family will meet your daughter for the first time , right?:)
I do not have any advice(just ideas:)), as I will be going to Russia(hopefully)in the fall myself,with 3 and 1 year old.(it has been 9 years for me though). Due to the ticket prices we too will not be getting our 1 year old a seat(I'd rather deal with craziness for 20 hours than pay almost $2000) and we're hoping to get an overnight flight too.
Other moms gave you a great advice, but if you will not be able to get those seat where they have a fold out beds or something...
bring a baby carrier( I loved my ergo), you can put your daughter in the front, so she can still sleep on her tummy(well kindda:)) and you can sleep to.
If my husband would be coming I was thinking about getting a bed kindda like this
and putting it on our lap,against the seats in the front,
even though it is for babies with leg side open small toddlers can fit in(and our son sleeps on his tummy with buttom up in the air).
Bring things that she likes to play with, if she will not want to sleep(our 16 months old can sit for hours in the high chair and play with plastic juice bottles(the ones with large tops that he can not fit in his mouth) and spoons...just openning,putting spoons in, closing):)
Your daughter just might surprise you with sleeping for the whole time and being an angel. And even though it will not go the best way, just remember that it's "only" 16 hours and it will all worth it at the end.(bring lots of ear pluggs to give out to crabby passengers:))
PS I hope you're bringing a car set to use in the cars in Poland(I do not know how it is there but in Russia there is still no car seats being used at all)

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