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Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Crossing hemispheres on a plane with a 13 month old baby

Well, I would not have dared to go to the other side of the world with a 13 month old baby, if I hadn't had to.
Thanx God, we managed to travel from Istanbul to Singapore and from Singapore to New Zealand with our baby safely. I guess travel was not as difficult as I thought it would be. Once we set off, everything was more settled. It is only the stress really that makes you tired (more than the trip itself).
We flew with Singapore Airlines. We booked a bassinet seat for Miss Delfina.
Delfina sleeping in her bassinet provided by the Singapore Airlines
Why Singapore Airlines? Well, we bought our tickets in July 2011 when Delfina was 8 months old. Singapore Airlines offered the shortest flight time (1-2 hours shorter flight time). But more importantly, their maximum bassinet seat weight was 14 kg, whereas other airline companies had a limit of 11 kg. Considering that Delfina was already almost 11kg by her 8 months, we had to go for Singapore Airlines despite the fact that it was almost 400 Euros more expensive in total. For six months (before the fight date) I kept on panicking about whether or not Delfina would be heavier than 14 kg. Well she was almost 14 kg by the time of the flight but it was ok cos on the bassinet seat, it said "max. 16kg". God, it was a relief!!! But God knows how much I feared for six months in case they said 'no we can't give any bassinet seat for your baby'!
Was I satisfied with Singapore Airlines?  They were not too bad, but they did not give me what I expected for the amount of money that they charged. Before flying with a baby, I had read many baby sites, blogs etc. and they all said 'do not worry about entertaining your baby, on the plane they provide toys, crayons etc.' =>They only provided one hand puppet for Delfina at the second leg of our journey.
They served post-weaning baby food in plastic containers with plastic cutlery (!) Baby food contained sweets (!) The fruits they provided were almost off (!)
I have flown many long-haul flights with different airline companies such as Emirates, Turkish Airlines, Korean Airlines. But either they provided more food than the Singapore Airlines or because I am now breastfeeding these guys could not feed me well! :) But I guess it's the latter.

What to take with you on the plane?  I picked up non-noisy toys: her stacking cups, one small book, some wooden toys, balloons [as long as you don't let your baby pop it by giving her a pen at the same time like someone did (!), it should be fine :)].
Of course

  1. Nappies, 
  2. An extra change of clothes, different layers [on the way to Singapore, the aircraft temperature was quite hot, but on the way to NZ it was quite chilly, so make sure you take a jacket with you], 
  3. Baby bottles,
  4. Extra food [just in case your baby does not like the aircraft food; Delfi liked the post-weaning menu],
  5. Ocean water and a nasal aspirator [if your baby's nostrils are blocked, it causes more pain in her ears while taking off and landing. So you may need ocean water to clean up the nostril and the nasal aspirator to suck the snot],
  6. Fennel seeds [to make tea in case your baby develops tummy pain; luckily we did not need it],
  7. Baking soda [Delfi is teething; rubbing baking soda on her gums relieves the pain],
  8. Paracetamol syrup [in case she had fever on the plane because of teething, just in case]

Some useful advice for fussy mothers:

  •  Every airline company provides fleece blankets, if you are a fussy mother like I am, you can put one of them on the floor so that your baby plays on it, but of course not while landing, taking off or during turbulence
  • Delfina had a top with some shinny glittery sequins on it and when they turned most of the aircraft lights off for landing, the shinny stuff on her top reflected some light onto the wall and when she was in a very grumpy mood, she spent some time trying to figure out what those shapes were on the wall. So if you have anything like that, I recommend that you wear it or make your baby wear it.
  • As a mother, I always find it useful to wear some earrings, bracelets, rings etc. My baby, when she does not have anything to play with, plays with my accesorries. It works for my baby; it may work for your baby!
  • Grab one of the newspapers they give when you first get on the plane; if you're a hygiene-fussy mother like I am and if you don't trust the hygiene of that tray,  you can put it on top of the nappy-changing tray in the toilet. To tell you the truth, that tray was far too small for my baby. Unfortunately, we had to change her nappy in sitting up position :(
  • I don't know any long-haul flight that does not have any interactive screen. If you go to 'Kids' section, and if you are lucky enough you can calm your baby down by making her listen to some "Wiggles' songs". We were very lucky to have 'Wiggles' on the list. She did not want to watch cartoons but she watched the 'Wiggles' maybe six times from Singapore to Auckland.
  • Ask hostesses to bring the baby food and your food at different times. It becomes problematic when you have two trays in front of you and a messy baby. I know it from experience ;)  
  • As you get on the plane, take everything out of the magazine pocket in front of your seat, then you can use those pockets to put your babies stuff, when you don't know where to put them in a moment of rush.
I hope I gave some useful advice to other mothers / parents and I hope we can have a trouble-free, safe and easy flight back home to Istanbul. Fingers crossed ;)


  1. This was big help for me! Me and my son he is 15 months will be traveling from Norway to USA in 2 weeks. This will be our 2nd time. but now he is alot more mobile than he was when he was 3 months! We will be traveling with KLM, i know they have basinets for babies too, i dont know how the weight limit is on theirs thou. my son is 80 cm and 10kg :)

  2. Thanks for this - very helpful. I'm traveling KL to NZ on Singapore in 5 weeks. My baby girl is 8 months and 1 week. I've been panicking that she won't fit length ways. I think by then she'll be about 74-76cm long. Did your little girl fit okay? How long was she when you flew?


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