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International travel with small infant - NEED ADVICE!

  1. #1
    evgreen is offline Registered User
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    International travel with small infant - NEED ADVICE!

    So I'm going to New England next month for 2 weeks with my now 3 month old. I thought about bringing my helper at first, but the likelihood of having her visa rejected are very high (she is a new contract employee), and the fact that I will only be gone for 2 weeks makes all the trouble for getting her a temporary visa seem pretty daunting.

    I will be visiting my in-laws and will be traveling alone with my baby (I'm meeting my husband there). I'm a first time mom and I really have no idea what to expect when traveling internationally with a young infant. I'll be flying direct from HK to NYC on CX and then there's another 3 hour road trip up to Connecticut (I won't be driving thankfully, my in-laws will be picking us up). I need all the advice and tips I can get! Going thru security, what to pack for the flight, how to best handle checking in baggage, going thru immigration, etc. How helpful are the flight attendants if I wanted to say, step away for a minute to go to the toilet? How helpful is a stroller at the airport? Is a sling more appropriate and easier to handle instead?

    Btw, I am breastfeeding so no bottles needed. That's one less thing to worry about at least.

  2. #2
    alfa is offline Registered User
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    You will be fine- I flew on my own many times and everyone in HK was super helpful. id take at least 3 changes of clothes for the baby( probably more tho;) and one for yourself, nappies, baby bjorn or whatever carrier you use, burping cloths, light baby blanket and a rattle or other small toy he/ she likes to play with, also a number of pacifiers if you use them My daughter at that age skept pretty much thru the flights. Request a basinet now to make sure you get one on the plane. If you arebreastfeeding then liquids are not an issue . I also found very usefuk the disposible changing mats from Babes to Babes- made by pampers- the are big enough to spread on the changing table in the toilet. Antiseptic hand gel will come useful for you. babies love the white noise and there is plenty of it on the plane.Good luck!
    satay sue likes this.

  3. #3
    CMD
    CMD is offline Registered User
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    It'll be a breeze. My now 6 1/2 month old girl has done several international flights. Nurse her when you are taking off and landing (or give her a pacifier - I'm not pro paci but it helps with the pressure). If the baby is asleep, no sweat. From my experience our girl did just fine whether awake and nursing or asleep.
    In terms of dealing with the airport - check in everything possible! I always wear the baby (bjorn, sleepywrap or ergo), the stroller is a good idea in theory but a pain at security if you don't have any help.
    What to pack for the flight? I suggest 2 extra baby outfits and 1 extra shirt/outfit for you (along with all the other diaper bag essentials). This could be the time your sweet lil'baby decides to spit up for the first time (it happened to me - and it was everywhere, thankfully I had an extra outfit). Since it is the baby's first flight you never know how their little system will react to the pressure.
    As for using the bathroom, as helpful and caring the flight crew are, I have always worn my baby while "going". Might not sound awesomely hygienic but I just didn't feel comfy leaving my baby with a "stranger".
    Overall, our baby sleeps for the majority of flights. She just can't compete with the constant white noise.

    By the way, where are you headed to in CT?? I grew up in CT. Enjoy the winter (although it has been unseasonably cold)!

    Happy travels!

  4. #4
    CMD
    CMD is offline Registered User
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    Oops, I meant unseasonably warm!

  5. #5
    AngieO is offline Registered User
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    The good news is you won't have to pack too much for your baby on the flight at this point! I recommend a spare set of clothes and/ or pyjamas. If your baby usually sleeps in a sleeping bag take that, or blankets, or whatever you usually use to keep your baby warm. Flights can be pretty cold. If the baby has a favourite toy or blankie take that too, and whatever you would use to keep him/ her occupied at home. Also pacifiers if you use them. Oh, and a muslin blanket or breastfeeding cover if you have one - in case the person next to you is uncomfortable with the breastfeeding.

    For a 3 month old a sling is definately the way to go. If you need the stroller at the other end you can take it, but it can be folded up and put on the trolley with your suitcases. Having attempted to push a trolley and a stroller at the same time by myself, I can reliably inform you that it is near to impossible!

    As for immigration and security, not much to say really. If you are lucky you will be directed to the courtesy line, but in my experience that can be completely random even in the same airport. I have never flown to NYC so can't comment what is likely to happen there.

    Cathay are usually helpful on the flight. Make sure you phone in advance to get a seat with a bassinet. That can make a big difference when the baby is small. Also, other passengers are often very helpful when you have a baby, both on the flight and with collecting bags from the carousel.

    Make sure your in-laws have the appropriate car seat in the car for when they pick you up.

    I hope you will be pleasantly surprised about how easy it is to travel with a 3 month old. It is good to breastfeed on take off and landing if they are not asleep (don't wake them if they are asleep!) as it helps with the ears.

    I imagine the most difficult thing will be adjusting to the time difference. You will probably find you need to feed more often during the night for a few nights, while the baby works out what is going on.

    Can't think of anything else off the top of my head.

    Good luck, and enjoy your holiday.

  6. #6
    Liquorice is offline Registered User
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    Hi evgreen,

    At 5 months I took my baby to the UK for a couple of weeks on my own. A 12 hour flight, 3 hour layover and 1 hour second leg. Not as far as you are planning but still a slog.

    I actually think it is easier when they are very little because you can just pop them in the bassinet to sleep, so for a lot of the journey you can have your hands free and time to yourself. I'm not sure what the flight times are for you, but if you pick a night flight then hopefully your little one will sleep for a lot of the way.

    It is much harder for me now (at 1 year), but at 5 months my son slept for 7 hours of the flight on the way to the UK (during the night portion) and then I would put him down for a nap every 2 or 3 hours after that and he would sleep.

    The most important things we learned were about bassinets (on CX, I have found other airlines better) and strollers...

    If flying CX, take some luggage straps or something to tie your baby into the bassinet. I've flown Cathay long haul twice with my baby now and they have open bassinets, which makes them effectively useless because, although the bassinet is pinned down, your baby isn't so if you hit an air pocket they will fly out. Not safe at all I don't think. For this reason, on our first trip, I wouldn't use the bassinet on the outbound leg. On the return leg we bought two luggage straps and tied them around the bassinet so that there would be two restraints in case of unexpected turbulence.

    If you can use the bassinet, then you can nip to the loo or something while your baby is sleeping. I find most of the cabin crew are helpful in general.

    Regarding the stroller, I think it depends on your baby. My baby won't sleep in a sling unless I am walking, but he sleeps in a stroller beautifully so it was really important for me to take one. Our every day stroller is a huge one though, and heavy, that comes apart into two pieces, and I have to say it was a bit of a nightmare trying to put it in the bag at the gate, whilst holding my baby and struggling with all the carry on. I found the ground staff (at all three airports I went through) particularly unhelpful and would just watch me struggle. I even asked the woman in HK if she would hold my baby while I sorted out the stroller but she wouldn't. After that we bought a cheap, second hand, stroller that is very light and easily collapsible, just for travelling.

    Overall though, I think its fine. I'm doing it again this year with an 18 month old which no doubt will be a lot harder! Enjoy your trip!

    Edit: just read one of the other posts, and yes, it is difficult to push the stroller and your trolley (though it can be done)... If there are porters at each end, or if you have someone to take you and meet you at the airport then it is manageable, but otherwise tough. I checked my luggage all the way through. My husband dropped me off and my parents picked me up from a small airport where someone at the carousel had given me a hand with the trolley.
    Last edited by Liquorice; 01-13-2012 at 02:40 PM.

  7. #7
    elle is offline Registered User
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    Quote Originally Posted by alfa View Post
    ..id take at least 3 changes of clothes for the baby( probably more tho;) and one for yourself, nappies, baby bjorn or whatever carrier you use, burping cloths, light baby blanket and a rattle or other small toy he/ she likes to play with, also a number of pacifiers if you use them My daughter at that age skept pretty much thru the flights. Request a basinet now to make sure you get one on the plane. If you arebreastfeeding then liquids are not an issue . I also found very usefuk the disposible changing mats from Babes to Babes- made by pampers- the are big enough to spread on the changing table in the toilet. Antiseptic hand gel will come useful for you. babies love the white noise and there is plenty of it on the plane.Good luck!
    This is all great advice and pretty much exactly what I did with my little one (about 4 months) on a HK - NY flight by myself. Breastfeeding will really make it easier as cleaning or carrying enough bottles for a long haul is one of the worst parts. Definitely recommend the larger sized disposable changing mats and at least 3 changes of clothes for baby.

    I didn't find that the flight attendants were helpful with bathroom breaks - technically they cannot look after the baby while you go, so I just took baby with me and made do, which isn't that bad. I have friends who have found either another mother or helpful person on the flight who would hold their baby for a few minutes while they used the toilet, so with the right people on the plane that will work.

    Honestly, while it isn't a cake walk, travelling with a little infant is easier than a little toddler and you will be fine! Its a long flight, but as long as you're prepared to be a little tired you'll get through it. Also, if you have the bassinet, there should be some longer stretches of time for you to just relax while the little one is napping.

  8. #8
    meimeid is offline Registered User
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    I agree with most tips of above posters. Just to add:
    - if your baby is born in HK and has permanent HK resident status and foreign passport, bring the original birth certificate for immigration, saves a lot of time
    - I did like a stroller, especially since I used it with the maxi cosi. If there happens to be a seat available next to you, you can ask if you can bring it on the plane as well (if you have one). Also security was very easy, the baby can stay in the stroller (at HK int airport at least)
    - I went to the toilet during my baby's sleep without problem. If he would've start crying it's just for a few minutes. Buy in practice he slept for ten hours out of the twelve.
    Have a good trip!

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