Traveling Internationally 12Hr. Flight

Updated on September 25, 2008
M.N. asks from Vallejo, CA
6 answers

My son and I will be flying overseas to visit his grandparents in November (he will be 7 months by then). It is a 12 hour international flight and I will be flying alone with him. My husband is unable to leave work early so I have to do this alone. Although we will be flying back together my anxiety is going there.

How am I supposed to go the bathroom or eat? Also, he will be crawling by then how do you keep them in the seat? How long do babies usually sleep on the plane (someone told me to give him Tylenol or Benadryl not sure if that is good or not). What about the elevation won't his ears pop (someone told me just to breastfeed when taking off and when landing...will that really work what if he is not hungry)? What should I bring with me on the plane...I mean just what I put in his diaper bag now anything special I should know about. Also, the grandparents will be providing all the baby stuff ie. stroller, car seat etc...all I'm bringing is a baby bjorn.

I am so nervous about doing this it is my first time flying with my son. I wanted to change the flight to leave with my husband, but that would give the grandparents less time to spend with there grandson so I have to go early for there sake. Any advice would be helpful to elevate my stress of flying alone with my son. Thanks!

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answers from San Francisco on

Hi M. -

First, you will be fine! I have traveled from CA to France with my son when he was 6 months and again at 1 year.
First, let the airline know that you are traveling with a lap baby (I'm sure you have already) call back and ask them if they will confirm your seats in the bulk head...they usually will always try and put babies in the bulk head as that is where the bassinets and or bouncy chairs are installed during the flight. I put my son in the bassinet to sleep when I was awake as I was so paranoid that he would wake up when I was asleep and try to get out and fall out...when I slept, my son slept on me very comfortably.

My son slept really, really well on the plane, I think it is the noise and vibrations….

The flight attendants are usually very good and accommodating to moms with babies that are traveling alone. You can either take your son to the bathroom with you, or ask one of them to stay with him (esp. if he is asleep, that is the easiest time for you to get up, stretch and go to the bathroom), if your son is awake and would get upset if you left (Stranger anxiety) then just take him with isn't the easiest thing to do, but you can....
As for when you can eat...again, the attendants are very accommodating and will bring you your tray when it is easiest for you, you may need to wait a bit until he is sleeping, or playing comfortably in the bassinette or bouncy chair before you can eat.
Bring a lot of your own little snacks as well.

I would plan to nurse on takeoff and when descending. Try to hold off on feeding until you take off so he is good and hungry, if he won’t nurse, or you had to nurse him before takeoff (happened to me) then try a pacifier if he takes on, it is the sucking that helps with the ears….I never had a problem with my son’s ears hurting. My son nursed a ton on the flight, I think it was nice and comforting, so plan on that. If you are not comfortable nursing in public, bring a nursing cover as it can be difficult to be discrete on the plane ;) Also, I think the nursing cover helped keep my son from becoming distracted while nursing on the plane. If you use a boppy to nurse with, bring that for sure! Otherwise you can use one of the airline pillows or blankets to put under his head, etc.

I would bring plenty (more than enough) diapers and wipes, wipes will be your best friend ;) Also, bring a couple of changes of clothing incase he has a blow out or a diaper leak. I would just keep him in comfy PJ’s for the entire flight. Bring enough clothes, diapers, wipes, etc. so that you can make it through any unanticipated delays that might happen.
Bring anything that he loves, if he has something special, bring it. A couple of SOFT toys (they throw at that age ;).
Also, get something new and save it for the trip – New things are entertaining! My son was thrilled with the cups and straws!
If he watches any of the baby Einstein videos get a small portable DVD and bring it.

You can give him Benadryl, but I urge you to try it once before the flight as in some babies it can make them restless.

You can let him crawl up and down the aisle a bit or help him walk up and down the aisles, that will help him get some energy out.

As new moms, we tend to tense up and freak out if our babies are making the smallest fuss, which seems like the largest, loudest fuss to us, but you need to just try and stay calm and relaxed as your baby will feed off of that energy. Most people will be really helpful and understanding, and quite frankly if someone isn’t understanding or rude, then just ignore them, it’s their problem. You will be surprised at how many people will be thrilled, really thrilled to help you out…I had more than a few really great ladies asking to hold and play with my son (they can’t go anywhere with him, so take advantage of any offers of help that you are comfortable with).

Hope some of this helps and more importantly helps but you at some ease!

I know that it is scary but you will be fine! Good luck and have fun, what a great adventure!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

First of all, try to relax! I've flown with my son, now 15 months, several times and he's always done great. Nursing during take-off & landing really does work for the ear-popping. My son never turned down the breast, hungry or not, so that wasn't a problem. Going to the bathroom is a challenge on the airplane, but it can be done...just hold him on your lap while you go. Eating off and airplane tray is definitely tough wit a baby on your lap, so I would pack your own finger-food snacks to make it easier. Your son may not be crawling by then, but even if he is he may not be very good at it yet and will probably be content to sit in your lap. You can walk him up and down the aisles if he gets bored. My son loved playing peek-a-boo with the airplane windows. Make sure you bring along his favorite toys. Oh, and it's a great idea to take the Bjorn! It will make the airport a breeze. And everyone will be really helpful when they see you traveling alone with a baby. And depending on what time you fly, you can probably expect him to sleep a lot. Try to have him awake at the airport, all the stimulation should get him really tired. Then the hum of the airplane engines should really lull him into a deep sleep. Don't worry too much, I'm sure he will do great. Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Take a deep breath, relax and enjoy the fact you get to go on this wonderful trip! Your baby will be FINE!

We took my 9 month old to Paris. I was worried too. We even packed jars of baby food! Silly...... the baby food in Paris was so much better! We didn't do the drugs, but I hear that works too. Just bring your bottle, or nurse him (yes, that works... or something to suck on) a few diapers, a change of clothes, etc.

As far as going to the bathroom, the flight attendants were great. Other passengers also were helpful too. I bet your son sleeps most of the flight.

Realx and enjoy it!! Have a wonderful trip!!



answers from San Francisco on

Hi, M.,
I brought both my daughters home from China when they were babies.
Here's just a few tips to help.
The stewardess's will help hold him while you go to the bathroom. Also, there will likely be helpful nearby passengers. :-)
Get a few new toys, activities, treats, but don't bring them out until the flight.
Also a favorite, familiar comfort item or two.
Nursing should alleviate the air pressure pain on taking off and landing.
You will be busy playing, feeding and resting, but you'll both be fine.
Have fun.



answers from San Francisco on

I flew alone with my four month old and it wasn't nearly as bad as I expected. She was a bit younger nad not wanting to move around much, but I still learned a couple of things.
1. I would take a couple of his favorite toys and put them away now. When you give them to him on the plane they will be like new discoveries all over again.
2. sure, benadryl might help him sleep, but you have to decide how you feel about drugging your baby to make him easier to deal with.
3. I found that there were very nice people sitting all around me who were very willing and eager to help me out and hold my lap baby for a few minutes (she is really good with strangers, and hey, where were they going to go, right?) I even asked a stewardess to hold her once so that I could go potty, and she was more than willing.
4. Not all airplane bathrooms have changing tables! Sometimes one on the airplane does and the other doesn't, find out quickly. I had to use the toilet lid laid down as a changing table on one plane, so make sure you bring a changing pad to put down.
5. If there is an extra seat avaiable for your baby, take advantage of the space!



answers from San Francisco on

Hi M.,
Though I haven't done an international flight with my daughter, we have done many transcontinental flights (5-6 hours). At that age, I really relied on the nursing to get us through the time to provide comfort and to help her get to sleep (it helped calm us both down). And you learn soon who the baby lovers are around you. I had to trust my gut instinct about who I trusted and asked folks to hold her when I needed to go to the bathroom. The good thing is that they can't go anyway, and besides, there are many eyes around that are watching how that person takes care of your little one. I have found that there are many grandmas that welcome holding a little one which is quite a relief when your arms are getting tired.

And as far as him crawling, I sometimes let my daughter get down and move around just to give her some space. I always had plenty of baby wipes nearby to clean her hands when finished. Also, don't forget some of his favorite books that will distract him for awhile. The Baby Bjorn will come in handy on the plane so that you can get up and walk around with him and he'll love looking out at all the people -- and most of them will delight in looking back at him and getting his attention.

Good luck, B.

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