Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Toddlers on plane

Well, boys and girls, after this brief intermission, I am back on air. It has been just one week since we left the warm, comfortable womb of the US and so much commotion has already happened. Among the highlights--cops stopped the Diplomat for speeding, Son made excellent friends with a vicious German shepherd, we are constantly gassed out by hordes of smoking Bulgarians, the Diplomat bought two excellent male suits for pennies, Son threw magnanimous fits in variouos parts of Bulgaria, including its air space, and we drove 8 hours in each direction to the Bulgarian coast.
The plane ride to Europe was OK. Hands down, the best airline to travel with children in coach, whether babies or toddlers, is British Airways. If you travel with a baby, upon booking your ticket, ask for a cot reservation. If you travel with a toddler under two, ask for a Britax carseat reservation. When you check-in, ask for bulk-head seats. Behave generally as a martyr, hold your child in your arms and look tired and defeated. You will get anything you want. The bulk-head seats are the first-row seats in each section, and give you excellent leg room as well as access to the baby cots/carseats. The cots (or bassinets) are perfect for babies and you do not have to hold your precious one in your arms for 8 hours. The Britax seats are a new thing and exist only at British Airways--they resemble bouncy seats and tilt to give your crazed out toddler a semblance of a bed. The only problem with both is that you are close to the kitchen and it is a bit busy. the good thing--you can ask for drinks all the time, regardless of the dirty looks of the air hostesses (btw, since when we can't call them stewardesses???)
When you fly with kids remember that: strollers, pack n' plays, car seats, bathtubs (you will be amazed at the things people haul abroad) and any other baby paraphernalia travel free! Nowadays, even good ol' airlines like BA have limited luggage on international trips to one suitcase so it is neat to know you do not have to pay to carry your precious baby cargo. I swear that limitation came after I managed to trasport two Persian carpets in my suitcases last year. Oh well, no more carpets for me. Btw, the free baby items is valid also on domestic flights!
Armed with tickets with bulkhead seats, we got on the plane. Son was not amused. After more than 2 hours of trying to engage him into an oddly riveting book about what a certain catepillar ate (which made me horribly hungry), we were finally up in the air and could stuff him in the Britax. I demanded that he fall asleep immediately upon which he stuck his legs in the air, scoffed and handed me his binky (unheard of act of rebellion, never to be repeated again). A naive German youth, sitting toweringly beside me, remarked how precocious Son was and tried to engage him in a game of peekaboo. I nearly strangled him and in my best reserved tone asked him to leave Son to sleep. The naive youth shared that he loved kids and he himself would have plenty soon. I wish him well for he looked like a good fella.
Son suddenly fell asleep and I managed to watch Valentine's Day--boy, was that a waste of my sleep time and serious star power. It was a truly awful movie. And it portrayed McDreamy as a bad guy and McSteamy as a gay guy (none of which can be taken seriously). We finally arrived in Sofia.
Here is also advice on how to deal with jetlag for kids: switch the time while still on the plane when going Eastward to Europe. It's quite easy since typically flights start in the evening, when it is time for kids to go to bed anyway. Around 9 pm EST, they are ready and do fall asleep from the rhythmic motion of the plane. You arrive at your destination 5-6 hrs later, in the early am, upon which time your kid might or might not even wake up. Carry them off the plane and let them sleep as much as possible. It won't be much and they will end up waking up around 8-9 am European time max. That way, rather than 12 hours, they have slept around 5-6 for their night sleep. By the time the afternoon nap time rolls around, your kiddo will be so tired from new impressions, little night sleep and all, that he will go down for his nap without much fussing. And that's it.


  1. Nice to know that u are back at your passion for writing! It is nice to learn about the various techniques of managing toddlers. it is also surprising to learn that european airlines are so considerate to mothers with toddlers! wish you a pleasant holiday in Italy!

  2. Thank you, Appa!!! Italy is amazing, we will call once we are back! Hope all is well.