This year marks 50 years since Barbados gained its independence and with celebrations and events going on, it was the perfect time to take Ava to Barbados and meet her grandparents, auntie, uncle and cousins for the first time. We didn’t think we would make it over this year, but with some late leave granted for Andrew and some financial bonuses that we didn’t expect but were totally blessed to receive, we booked the flights and threw caution to the wind! We had a few weeks to prepare and plan, and the whole trip was amazing!
Flying with an infant:
The flight was eight hours on average, so I was understandably most nervous about this bit of the trip, especially as it was Ava’s first flight, full stop. We flew British Airways, who were excellent in easing our experience with a baby. When booking, we were able to confirm our seats and book a ‘sky cot’ immediately as we had an infant, so I knew that we had our seats confirmed way before check in. The sky cot comes as either a flat bassinet or a reclined seat with straps. Ava is pretty long for her age and sleeps on her side, so neither of these were great for her getting rest. She didn’t fit in the bassinet very well and it didn’t have straps so I couldn’t have left her unattended or got some sleep while she was in it, and the reclined seat was great until she tried to turn over on her side or front in her sleep. That said, these are great for small babies who don’t move much, or infants who are happy to stay still and sleep on their back! Ava spent most of the night flight sleeping on me- I’m not sure how much sleep any of us got and we were deliriously exhausted on arrival home, but we survived and did have a few hours at the beginning of the flight when Ava slept in the bassinet and we were able to eat and drink something. The flight there was much easier as Ava had the same daytime routine as normal, and played on the floor in front of us. She also watched some favourite programmes i had previously downloaded on my ipad and generally charmed everyone around us. For the next long haul flights, I think I’ll choose day flights until she’s a little older- gone are the days of relaxing, watching movies and drinking all the alcohol on a long haul flight- something I used to enjoy immensely!
Top tips for flying with an infant:
- Keep to a routine. I made sure I had a watch on and it stayed on English time for the day flight- I gave Ava her food, snacks, bottles and milk at the same times as they would be on the ground so that she remained settled.
- Lots of clothes changes! With extra milk, pressure changes and a different routine you can get a lot more poo’s when flying. Thankfully I packed more than enough, and even had spare to lend to another couple who had run out of vests for their little one.
- Give milk on take off and landing- fairly obvious, to help with ear pressure and pain. Descent is actually about twenty minutes before the ‘seatbelt’ signs even turn on, so ask a hostess to let you know when it starts. I delayed Ava’s normal bottle and gave her a snack instead so she had a big bottle on take off and promptly fell asleep both ways!
Travelling in hot weather-
- Shade!! We were lent a pushchair umbrella which was excellent in keeping Ava cool in direct sunlight. We also had a pram fan to keep her cooler.
- Cold water and food- I froze water and Ella’s pouches each night, and used them as ice packs for the lunch bag the next day. Then when they were melted, her food and drinks were at a lovely cool temperature.
- Routine! Heat makes babies tired and fractious- so keep them napping! We retreated for afternoon and car naps often, and Ava was a dream most of the time.
- Air conditioning! Babies are miserable when hot, even in England, so air-con in both the villa and car were a vital for us.
- RELAX! I wish now that we had done a few more evenings out, taking Ava with us. I was so worried that she wouldn’t sleep out in a pushchair, when really, if she didn’t go to bed until a bit later it wouldn’t have been the end of the world. Next time I’ll be going out for some late dinners or sights and if Ava wants to stay up, she can.
- Ear protectors- very helpful for noisy places! We used them a few times when we went out for early dinners and the music had already began.
It took a few days for Ava to get back into a routine when we got back, but she was amazing considering. We can’t wait to go back and see the family again. Thank you for having us, Barbados!