Nowadays baby in the airplane or train is nothing strange. We can often see even newborns on their first voyages. In our times it was a bit different. I spent my first holiday at the Baltic Sea at the age of four. My the first time abroad took place when I was fifteen. Classmates had such a trip earlier or later – but I didn’t hear that anyone was taken abroad as an infant.
Bibi had her first flight, when she was four months old. If it wasn’t for family matters, this journey would probably take place later. You know, the Parent who is fully responsible for the child is worried about whether their Toddler will bear the flight well. Fortunately, most of babies don’t have any problems with travels – they sleep the bigger part of journey, they play or you manage to calm them down quickly when they cry. However, the anxieties of the parents are often fueled (even if the expedition is necessary) by elder members of family, friends or other people, who don’t have such an experience and they don’t hesitate before sharing their doubts.
So, I decided to write an article about what parents often hear before their first trip with their several-month-old child. The sources were collected on facebook groups, during conversations in airplanes or from personal experience. We’ll figure out when the mentioned advisers may be right and where myths should be overthrown.
1) Isn’t he/she too small? – hard to say. I saw tourists in airplanes with less than a month old babies. I also met parents who were waiting for the first birthday of their child to go on a first trip. Some of them don’t travel at all, they don’t need it and probably their child will go out of town during a school trip. Airlines do not allow boarding with a newborn baby who is less than 10 days old. Besides, getting a passport usually takes some time (waiting time in Poland is approximately 2 weeks). Although doctors aren’t against flying with babies after their first month, the most recommended time for the first journey is when your baby is three months old and I totally agree with it. From my own experience I know that the younger your toddlers are, the fewer problems they cause – they sleep more, less bother other passengers and we dont’ have to run after a few months old child. I wouldn’t take a newborn to Asia or any long journey, but I think, there’s nothing against taking a few-months old baby for holiday in Europe. Just listen to yourself and your child.
2) What if your baby will start crying? – infants cry and it’s completely normal. They don’t speak, so they show their needs in this way. You’ve probably heard about this many times. Bibi cried many times during walks. Does it mean, I should have stayed at home with her, when the weather is nice? Should I also avoid doctors, because my baby gets crazy seeing stethoscope? No. That means, you must listen to your child, try to figure out, what he/she wants to “say” and try to solve the problem. The same principle works in airplanes. Make sure, if the reason of cries are clogged ears, tireness or typical boreness. And then try to solve it and don’t hesitate to ask the cabin crew or other passengers for help. Don’t be afraid of the toddler’s crying – closing yourself at home with a baby isn’t healthy neither for you, nor for infant.
3) Don’t go with baby to ********* (name of the country or continent), otherwise he/she will get ill and, God knows, what else – it really depends, where you exactly go. You can go to Africa or Asia and in one country the standard vaccinations taken in Europe are quite enough, in another one you have to get a series of injections and in different one, it’s better to give it up. In the first place, you need to look at the pages of embassies in a specific country and also visit a CDC webpage to check, if there’s no epidemiological warnings. The countries where the plague or war is taking place must be absolutely removed from the travel list! If your destination isn’t marked with any warning, but you are going to another continent or to a place where there is a different climate, re-enter the mentioned site to find out about additional vaccinations you should take. Proper insurance is more than necessary to buy. I’ve described all of this in the article “Preparations for Holiday – formal part”. Another case is the current weather. Of course, you shouldn’t take your baby to places with extreme temperatures. Going to warmer countries it’s better to choose the date before or end of season. In this case you need to prepare proper cotton clothes, cosmetics and obviously first aid kit (never be sure about the avability and prices abroad). And if someone is afraid, during a three-hour flight to a similar climatic zone, Toddler will get cold or worse illness… It can happen during walk in the park or on shopping, especially when we stay longer at home. Overprotection usually does more harm than good.
4) Don’t go with your babies to ********, because that family can kidnap them! – one of my “favorite” sentences. They are most often heard by people who have spouses from the Middle East. As a wife of Turk, I’ve heard the similar advice during classes at the birth school. Unfortunately, because of some reasons, countries inhabited mostly by Muslims are quite infamous in European and North American mass-medias. This is often harmful to ordinary citizens of those states. When my pregnancy hormones decreased, I realized, most of those warnings use to be told by people who’ve never been in any Middle Easten country and their knowledge comes from other people or from medias. They do this usually because they care about others and they think they do well saying those advices. Note, that information channels are usually intended to trigger sensationalism, and nothing takes more attention of the environment than human dramas. Obviously, I don’t deny parental kidnappings here. They, unfortunately take place, we must pay attention on this and react. But it’s not the domain of ANY nation. It happens in Poland, Turkey, in Switzerland, Egypt, USA, Japan… Everywhere! The only only thing I can advise is to listen to yourself. Beside parents, no one knows your partner better than YOU – neither your friend, nor auntie and even more so the neighbor. Every relationship should be based primarily on trust. Grandparents have the right to see their grandchild. But if you really have doubts about your partner’s intentions, not only extend the journey but think well, if this relationship makes sense.
5) You throw your money! – if you can afford it, your money shouldn’t be the object of interest of third parties. But to the point! If you’ve planned your desired vacation some time ago, you are the parents of a happy baby and you’re going to take him/her with you, it won’t make any difference on your budget. Children up to the age of two have 90% discount for flight tickets. So, if your ticket was 200 euro per person, you have to pay 20 euro for baby.
6) They won’t even remember anything! – maybe not. But does it mean, that after the months of hard work, parents have to avoid holidays for a few years? Of course, not! Why? Firstly, travel agencies often present various cost-effective offers for families with attractions for kids and the care of a qualified animator. Getting rid of routine time to time isn’t only beneficial for parents, but also for children. Secondly, people who travel from the early childhood often have more knowledge about the world because they are more interested in it. They’re more empathetic and open-minded. They’re more critical towards stereotypes and have more developed linguistic skills. Thirdly, maybe paradoxically it will be this “unforgettable” journey, your the toddler will be mentioning to the grandchildren in the future? I make a photo book with my Husband every year. You surely can imagine, what a wonderful souvenir are the photos taken from various places in the world? 🙂 Furthermore, we keep in touch with some parents met on holidays – maybe regular contacts between toddlers will turn into long-term international friendships? 😉
Dear Parents. Don’t get angry when you hear those suggestions, especially from elder people. They mostly do this caring about you. Our parents and grandparents didn’t travel as much as we do – most of them wasn’t even abroad (and obviously, didn’t take their children). Not only due to economic matters, but also we didn’t have so-called “open borders”. And the lack of experience always causes some worries. Now tourism is much more developed. Thanks to various discounts for flights, inexpensive hotels (or friend’s hospitality) and obviously proper preparation of Toddler, we can arrange really nice, low-budget holidays 🙂
I know, many of the things your beloved ones say, have expired at least ten years ago. But sometimes, they can be right stopping your enthusiasm, eg. in case of going to not the safiest places.
Finishing my elaborate, I’d like to add, sentences above aren’t the only ones you can hear from your friends or family. Before the first flight to Turkey I also heard: “Nice – your Baby will visit grandparents”, “I respect your bravery”, “Bibi will be more open-minded in the future”, “Changes won’t be later a problem for her”, “Super! You will have better weather”, or “Finally, you will rest a bit” 🙂