Travelling to Italy with Baby
Now that you’ve stumbled upon the lovely, child friendly Villa Pia, you’re likely wondering how on earth you will get here in one piece! Having travelled countless times with my two children (now 7 and 8), I know all too well that travelling with a baby can feel like a very unique sort of torture. Especially if, like me, you have an incredibly active and inquisitive child who only eats white or beige food. With a bit of planning, however, it doesn’t need to be painful. Below are my top 3 tips on stress-free travel with a baby or toddler – I hope they help!
What time should you fly?
In my experience the baby falls asleep in the car on the way to the airport and ends up well rested and full of beans in the departure lounge and on the first part of the flight. My advice is to just accept it and work around it by planning the flight time so that you can travel to the airport during their usual naptime, then get them to eat a good hearty meal at the airport. By the time you actually get onto the plane they will have worn themselves out a little so will be a bit more inclined to sit calmly with a touchy-feely book or, if you’re lucky, they might even sleep!
For my children, evening flights worked best because I could use their regular bedtime routine to calm them down. As soon as the seatbelt sign went off, I changed them into their PJs, brushed their teeth, read stories and so on – just as though it was any other evening. Then they snuggled up with their favourite lovey, stared into space for a while and eventually went to sleep.
What about eating on the plane?
If you’re bringing baby food, you’re going to want to prepare yourself for a pretty interesting challenge…. And it’s not what you think.
At airport security, we were asked to open and taste (taste!!) all of our jars of baby food. My first recommendation is that you rapidly and quite mysteriously develop a food intolerance – one which happens to be exactly what you brought for the baby. Yes, absolutely, you are definitely allergic to cold beef and apricot lasagne puree. This means that your other half will have no choice but to taste it instead. This is a win-win situation as they get the chance to earn serious Brownie points from what feels like near-martyrdom while you get to avoid having baby food breath.
Now a new problem arises. You still have an hour or two before your flight, and all of your now unsealed baby food is slowly going off. The best way to prepare for this is by 1) putting the baby food jars in the fridge at home so they don’t go off quite so quickly at the airport, and 2) asking the flight attendant to store them in the fridge the very second you get on the plane.
About 30 minutes before it’s time to feed the baby, ask the flight attendant to warm the food in the microwave. In my experience you will absolutely need those 30 minutes – the microwaves on the plane are not like the weedy ones at home, so even if heated for 5 seconds it can take 20 or 30 minutes to be cool enough for baby to eat.
If baby is into finger food, make sure you pre-order a special meal. Plain pasta goes down pretty well and keeps them busy for absolutely ages while you enjoy your own meal.
A note about baby formula
If you’ve made the switch to formula or feel uncomfortable breastfeeding the baby on the plane, you’re going to need to do a little planning beforehand. As with the baby food, baby formula will go off pretty swiftly, so you need to prepare accordingly. My trick was to bring along pre-measured powdered formula in a dispenser – enough for at least 2 extra feeds in case of spillage or baby fussiness! – along with freshly boiled water in sealed baby bottles. When the time comes, all you need to do is mix one up and you’ve got fresh formula cool enough to drink. If you’re made to pour the water out at Security, just ask the flight attendant to fill the bottles with boiled water as soon as you get on the plane so they have time to cool before baby gets hungry.
Keeping those chubby little hands busy
Babies are curious little creatures… if your little one is awake for the duration, the flight will feel very, very long indeed as they try and escape to explore the plane or play with fellow passengers’ shoes.
The trick is to get up and explore the plane whenever it’s appropriate (and safe, obviously), and to make sure they have enough to keep them occupied and interested when you’re meant to be sitting down and belted in. Bringing activity books, touchy feely books and small toys seems like the obvious solution, but when was the last time your baby played with the same toy for more than 10 minutes? My top tip is to bring completely new and unfamiliar toys and books – you can borrow them from a friend or go out and splurge pre-holiday. Baby will be absolutely fascinated and will enjoy them for at least 5 or 6 times as long as something they know from home.
Guest author Janis Curry is mum to Mads (8) and Danger Boy (7), and runs ReallyKidFriendly.com, an award-nominated website packed with ideas and inspiration for places to go and things to do with the kids.
Photo by LeviLily Photography for Villa Pia