Dad knowledge

Baby on board: surviving Sonny’s first flight

We’d been quietly dreading Sonny’s first flight ever since committing to our inaugural foreign family holiday, but in truth preparing for the plane ride was far more stressful than the actual experience.

Sorting out baby passports, packing for nine days in a hot country with a 5-month-old, booking foreign transfers with baby seats and generally fretting over everything from if our pram would emerge intact from the luggage carousel to if the airport toilets had clean baby changing facilities, was in fact far more troublesome than sitting on a plane with our happy little lad for 4 hours.

Everyone hates screaming babies on planes, and on plenty of occasions I’ve been the guy sitting a couple of rows back moaning about out-of-control infants. But now the tables were turned, I was worried. Sonny’s usually a very chilled out boy, but he’s got no problem letting us know when he’s pissed off. We can usually solve most problems by feeding him, taking him for a walk in his pram or carrier, letting him thrash around in his Jumparoo or lying him in his cot with nursery rhymes for company; but the confines of a flying tin can reduced our options drastically.

Things started badly with our flight delayed by one hour and some grumpy tears in the queue for the bag scanner (and that was just me), but we all cheered up when we found a toy shop in the departure lounge. Sonny was almost annoyingly relaxed as we waited two hours to board the plane, because we knew our good luck was bound to expire once we reached the claustrophobic prison of our seats. Needless to say, right on cue, the tears began to flow as soon as we started climbing the plane steps. Bugger.

We buckled him in, loaded our laps with everything from iPads and dummies to cuddly toys and blankets, then settled into the familiar routine of trying to entertain a miniature human with the attention span of an underdeveloped goldfish. He cried, laughed, screamed, farted, dribbled, cooed, burped, shouted and then eventually pooed himself so loudly I’m sure the pilot probably heard it. Foolishly we hadn’t booked and aisle seat so the very understanding chap to my left must have got up and down 20 times as we paced the aisle trying to settle Sonny down or rush to the toilet for an emergency nappy change. The poor guy didn’t seem to mind, but that’s something we certainly won’t let happen in the future.

After two all-action hours (it seems my days of listening to Bon Jovi and snoozing on planes are over), he finally popped off to sleep and slumbered his way through the rest of the flight, giving us and the rest of the passengers a well earned break. Sonny was far from the worst behaved baby on the plane, and although it wasn’t the easiest few hours of parenthood we’ve experienced, it was well worth it to see his cheeky little face grinning from ear to ear when we landed. The passport control officials made a big fuss of him, our pram arrived safe and sound when it was wheeled round the corner by a burly Turkish bloke, and two hours later we had our feet up in our villa with Sonny fast asleep in his pram.

It took a lot of planning (credit to Sonny’a mum for 99% of that) and there are certainly things we’d do differently next time, but it was nowhere near as tough as we expected.

Hopefully I’ll be able to say that about the rest of the holiday by the end of the week…




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