Prior to travelling I spent quite a bit of time looking online and reading 'flying with a baby' tips so I felt it only fair to share my own trip.
Firstly, when we told people we were going to Jamaica many were surprised we were taking Ava, and wishing us good luck with the flight. I took those wishes of good luck, as honestly I didn't know what to expect, but I replied truthfully that I was just planning to 'wing it'.
Pete and I want to travel with Ava and get her used to it from a young age, and importantly why not fit in a lovely Caribbean trip while she is under two and therefore free!! Also before we have overpriced school holiday times to contend with.
So here is how our 9 hours in the air looked like....when you board that plane and feel like 'the ones with the baby on a plane'....
I packed 'bags in bags' in my hand luggage....this was fab as I had a small bag with my essentials in that I could pull out with my purse and phone for example.
I filled a tote bag with all Ava's changing stuff in so that was all together for nappy changes. This was my Selfish Mother tote below....it then just stayed as the changing bag for the holiday as it hooked easily onto the pushchair.
Food and snacks were all in a bag. Then there was an 'entertainment' bag.....which I talk about in a bit.
Also I pre pack all liquids together for ease at security.
In my mind our flight took off at 9.30am linking it (hopefully) with nap one of the day for Ava after the excitement of the airport tired her out.
She isn't a cuddly baby so we knew this maybe an issue, she was soon restless and wanted to not sit on my lap. We entertained her with grapes for take off, to help her swallow for her ears and it was then as the plane took to the skies she was instantly entertained randomly waving to the window.
It took a while to get her to nap, she was restless but fairly ok. She then got overtired so the tears started and that made her just pass out into sleep....phew!! She slept across us for over and hour, in that time Pete and I enjoyed some 11am wine and both started watching some films.
She woke for food, which eating entertained her for quite a while. As she was on our laps and without a seat she didn't get a meal. However I packed a good amount of sandwiches to last the day which was perfect. A tip I would highly recommend as she had round two prior to landing as her 'dinner'. Also....the tubs I had used for sandwiches and snacks were simple take away style ones and they were so helpful on holiday. Staying im all inclusive meant I could fill a tub up with snacks for Ava when needed from the buffet.
Back to the flight...after some walking up and down the aisle as she waved to fellow passengers and a few nappy changes, a bottle of water with a straw was great drinking entertainment and key to keeping her hydrated. It was time to try to get her to nap, she was starting to understand the limited space she was in and happily just lay on me for nearly two hours chilling cuddling and chewing one of her bedtime toys.
We didn't get her to have a second nap but a two hour chill out seemed to help and she was full on smiles and giggles for the last few hours which involved eating again, being fussed by fellow passengers and some walking and errr dancing in the aisles.
I made a little bag for her for the plane, filled with a book, a few small toys, crayons, a puzzle and some snacks. There was a sticker book too but that ended up in the bottom of Petes hand luggage so we never got it out. I read stickers were a top tip for flying with children, this may have won us some entertainment time but she sure has had fun with the stickers whilst on holiday. (Stickers were used for the return flight - a winner!!)
This bag was actually mine when I was at school....how cute!! Ava loved it as she is already a Minnie Mouse fan too.
The puzzle not so successful, a tip I had read, but it ended up with the pieces on the floor in seconds.
I also packed a small tuperware box with dried fruit, cherrios, rice cakes and a few of her biscuits. Another tip I read to help keep her amused as she looked through the tub for what she wanted to snack on.
She isn't into TV much but the screens we had on the back of the seats provided some slight entertainment as Spongebob was on repeat at times throughout the flight for her.
When we landed it was her bedtime UK time but six hours behind in Jamaica it was just gone 1pm. Highly recommend a baby carrier for an airport!! We have never really used ours with her but it is so much easier to have her in as you go through immigration and get your pushchair off with your cases.
She luckily had an hours sleep on the tranfer to our resort but as we got to our our room she was clearly exhuasted, that moment when you feel like the worst parent!! She was so upset but we managed she settle her in the cot for a lie down and she perked up in about twenty minutes so we freshened her up with a shower and all totally dazed we headed to grab some dinner quickly.
We wanted to then try to put her to bed as close to her normaly bed time but in Jamaican time....she settled well that night and slept till 6am. It then took a few days of early morning naps but she adjusted super quick.
The return flight home, I prepared the same as the first flight but as this was a night flight I also took her sleeping bag to snuggle her im to help her associate her sleep as a bedtime one. A small tip but she got 4 hours sleep so that was great. We were super lucky on the flight home as we had a lovely air hostess who offered us a row of seats to ourselves as the plane wasn't full - win win!!
As we landed back at Gatwick the baby carrier was helpful again. They do provide pushchairs that you return at baggage reclaim which is fab....we knew that was an option too if needed.
What I have learnt....you can't predict a flight and how it will be for yourself let alone a baby!! Just go with the flow, my top tips above definitely helped us feel prepared with food and entertainment so I hope they might help anyone reading this planning a flight with a baby.
Holiday was at Sensatori in Jamaica via Thomson.....it was totally fabulous, simply perfect....