Every new mum whose family lives on the other side of the world is dealt both a blessing and a curse: the former being that you’ve evaded the meddlings of your own mother; the latter being that you will one day have to get on a plane with your offspring and cross continents – and time zones! – so you can present your baby, Lion King-style, to the rest of your tribe.

To do this, there are several kilos of baby vests, baby gros, muslins, swaddles, bottles, toys and a new holiday wardrobe to pack. Oh, and your stuff too. Then you have to negotiate hours at the airport. And more hours – ooh, at least 18? – up in the air, in a cramped seat, surrounded by judgmental strangers, with an insatiable bundle of needs. I mean bundle of joy.

Ladyland’s Emma, Kelly and Selina have all made the long journey home with their babies, and lived to tell the tale. Here are their tips for survival:

• As you board, make peace with the fact that you will be THAT person on the plane with THAT child, then console yourself with the fact you will never see any of these people again.

• Take a spare top for yourself as well as several outfits for your baby. At some point, someone will spill something on you. By the 24th hour, you’ll be spilling things on yourself.

• Feed them from the breast or bottle as the plane takes off and lands. The sucking motion helps relieve painful pressure in their ears.

•  If you’re formula feeding, forget about measuring out white powder into sachets pre-flight. It’s labour intensive, has the potential to cause a massive mess, or make you look like a drug dealer. Instead, use pre-mixed formula cartons. But don’t get caught out by the carry-on liquid rules. Boots allows you to reserve the stuff in advance from their airside stores, meaning you can simply pick it up after you’ve cleared security. Yay!

•  Always carry travel-sized sachets of Calpol, even if your baby is fit as a fiddle. Aged nine months, my son suddenly developed a ridiculously high fever 10 hours into a 14-hour flight and it was only thanks to a more experienced mother on board that I could bring his temp down to normal.
•  If you have a layover, and you have a choice, fly Emirates. Dubai International Airport has a massive supply of Maclaren buggies available at every gate for anyone to use in transit. Literally life-saving. If you’ve ever been caught travelling solo with a baby and the many, many supplies they come with, you will totally grasp the brilliance of this!


• If your baby can sit up, pack a light blanket you can use as a mat – because there’s only so many times you and your partner can pass that critter back and forth and at some point you WILL want to just put them on the floor.

• Bring food pouches – some airlines provide infant meals, but you risk your kid turning down unfamiliar food. To spare yourself from having to open and taste your supply to get it through security, buy it once you’ve gone through (in the UK, you can pretty much guarantee there’ll be a Boots on the other side with some Ella’s Kitchen handy). Never, ever, get something very ‘squirty’, like a smoothie, even if it’s a favourite – once that little hand makes a grab for it, it’ll end up all over your top (see Emma’s tip above on bringing spare clothes).

• For the best shot at getting your baby to sleep on the plane, book an evening flight as close as possible to your baby’s bedtime. It’s a whole lot trickier trying to get an older baby to sleep on a daytime flight. And two words: sky cot. You NEED to reserve one when you book your flight, and choose the correct seating to be able to use one as they only anchor at certain points. Oh, and if your baby is pushing the 12.5kg weight limit for the sky cot, embellish the truth if you must. Do whatever you need to do to get the sky cot!

Going back for more? Look out for our tips on surviving the long-haul journey with toddlers and pre-schoolers. In the meantime, what are your travel survival tactics?