Sonshine and I have recently arrived in England after our second international journey together, just the two of us. Flying solo with a baby is a very daunting prospect. I flew from Heathrow to Nagpur with a peaceful ten week old, last week I returned with an energetic 11 month old.
What a huge difference our 9 months in India made!
Long story short; I found that it was much easier flying solo with newborn than with an almost toddler. It wasn’t too bad though, promise.
Flying Solo with a Newborn
Last summer, once the weather in Nagpur had cooled down and I received the passport and visa displaying the most precious photographs of my tiny person, we booked our tickets to return home to India. The decision to fly to England during my third trimester to give birth was one of the hardest my husband and I have ever faced. I wrote and later deleted several hundred words on the complexity of our decision and the reasons why it was the best choice for our family. Instead of rambling about that, I will simply say that an international relationship or marriage comes with some difficult choices, especially when you have children.
The first weeks of my baby’s life on Earth were very special, we were able to make some treasured memories, surrounded by a the scenic English springtime. It felt so wonderful to see my family enjoy precious time with their nephew, grandson and great-grandson, who would soon be living thousands of miles away in India. As I attempted to soak up all those precious moments with my English family, I was eagerly awaiting the reunion with my husband and to introduce our baby to my Indian family.
There were so many emotions whirling around, I didn’t really have time to worry about flying to India solo with a tiny baby. I took some short train trips to meet friends and family to practice, just baby and I. I carried him in a stretchy wrap, a light diaper bag, and soon became a confident babywearer. My Sonshine would fall asleep immediately in the stretchy wrap, reminding him of the snug womb, and babywearing meant I was hands free to rummage through my bag or use the toilet.
Saying goodbye at Heathrow airport was heartbreaking, I took a deep breath and walking through security. I knew that we would visit again soon and that a long awaited reunion was only hours away. The butterflies started to flutter in my stomach again, my small person snug on my chest.
My 10 week old baby slept most of the way to Mumbai, I fed him during take off and landing to help reduce pressure in his little ears (there were two other nursing mothers in my row). He settled in his bassinet after throwing a couple of smiles to the other passengers. We were sat between a huge Marathi family on their way to visit family in Mumbai, and it wasn’t until we landed that the air hostess realised I was on my own! I was so relieved that my son was comfortable on the flight, there were a lots of babies on the aeroplane and they slept most of the way (this may have been because it was an evening flight).
We were at baggage claim in Mumbai and I had just asked a French gentleman to pull my luggage off of the carousel when I my husband surprised us. He had explained our situation and was allowed through to help us. I felt as if I was almost sinking into him with relief, our little love between us. I took our baby out of the wrap and handed him to his father and let them have some time alone, while I went to find our car seat. It felt great to home in India, together in our little family (including Alfonso).
We made it!
Tips for Flying Solo with a Newborn
- Take some practice solo trips before you leave
- Make sure you have reserved a bassinet
- Feed on take off and landing
- Don’t be afraid to ask someone for help
- Let the cabin crew know you are traveling alone (they might be more helpful)
- Be aware of the location of a paediatrician at your destination, just in case
Flying Solo with an Almost Toddler
Nine months later, we have returned to England to attend my sister’s (Sonshine’s maushi) wedding and to visit family and friends! We have taken four overnight trips on Indian Railways, which he loved, so I wasn’t worried about flying.
The stretchy wrap I used almost everyday since he was born (and on our flight to India) had started to get uncomfortable as they are best suited to small babies. It was also impractical for an active little person who enjoys hopping in and out. We graduated to Soul full buckle carrier. It was so emotional packing the stretchy wrap away but this carrier is much more comfortable for a toddler, and so easy to pop in and out of! As it’s buckled instead of wrapped, it’s also so much cooler and more suitable for summer.
At 11pm on the night before our flight, he took his first step. The next day my Sonshine was so determined to practice this whole trying to walk thing that he did not want to be in arms, at all. He also didn’t want to sleep, at all. Up and down, and up and down, exploring is now on the top of the agenda!
We flew from Nagpur to London, via Qatar.
So determined to practice walking, he shouted during check in. He shouted during immigration. He shouted at the gate. It was 3am when he fell asleep and slept all the way to Qatar.
In the middle of our travels, we waited in the Middle East. Between our two flights, between our two families. Tears of sadness, tears of joy. The worst part, the best part. Leaving home and going home, in one exhausting journey.
My Sonshine loved the airport in Qatar, he bear crawled around in the play area and made some international friends. It was really lovely as someone recognised me as the English Wife and came and said hello to us, so Mummy made some friends too!
Our flight to London was nothing like our flight from London nine months ago. As he didn’t get a goodnight’s sleep, he was grumpy, and I am certain he missed his Daddy. He fought sleep for almost four hours, wanted to play constantly and “helped” me eat my meal before falling into a deep sleep on my lap.
Mouth wide open, snoring.
I was exhausted! I ended up being awake for 40 hours straight (even though our journey was only 18 hours).
It feels great to be home in England, especially during spring. Blackbird’s song, blossom’s scent and the mild sun’s warmth. This time last year I was here waiting for our little Sonshine to arrive, even the daffodils are making me feel nostalgic!
We made it!
Things to bring when traveling with an Almost Toddler
(I collected all these tips from you lovely readers via Instagram, thank you for packing my flight diaper bag with me!)
- A couple of brand new toys to keep baby entertained
- Don’t forget the favourite toy or comfort blanket
- A variety of snacks!
- Bring extra clothes and diapers, just in case. Toddlers can get messy! (I used three changes of clothes!)
- Remember to pack some destination weather appropriate clothes
- Cosy blankets
- A big pack of baby wipes
- Baby’s regular medicine (paracetamol, teething gel etc.)
- Download favourite music videos onto your phone so you can watch them using flight mode
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