Travelling with an infant!

From: Jemma Jermy, Co-Vice Chair and Norwich & Outskirts Host

Travelling has always been a passion of mine, and I didn’t want that to stop when Nathan was born. In his 16 months of life, he’s been to London, Birmingham, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Tokyo. At five months his first flight was 16 hours. The first question I got asked was whether we were taking him with us. Yes. He might not remember these experiences, but we will, and we want him to be part of them. Breastfeeding is great for traveling, it lessens the number of things you must pack, and I am all for the easy life!
I will admit I’m a laid-back person, but I do my research and planning, and let other people do the worrying. Babies are all over the world, you’ll never go somewhere where there aren’t babies. 9 times out of 10 there’s nothing you can’t buy in your destination. It may not be what you usually use, but still what you need, so don’t worry about packing everything you need for your entire stay. Unless you have the room and the weight limit. We had a 32kg each weight limit, so we could go crazy if we wanted. We packed a 32 pack of nappies, some baby food, clothes, UV travel cot, foldable high chair, a couple of packets of wet wipes, baby toiletries and his clothes. In hindsight we didn’t need the high chair. While out there I had to buy nappies and wet wipes. I recommend googling shops before you go.

If you’re planning a long-distance flight with a young baby, I recommend bulkhead on the plane. This way you can have the bassinet for baby. Giving you space to relax and eat that amazing airplane food. Nathan slept most of the way to Taiwan and people commented on how they didn’t even realise he was there. For take-off and landing your baby needs something to suck on. I simply breastfed. It makes sure that their ears pop and they have no pain with the change in pressure. This is easy to do even with the seatbelt on. Different airlines allow different luggage for babies, this information can be found on their website and is a must check. His pushchair went with us to the gate then went in the hold. We didn’t bother with a car seat it was too much bulk to worry about and we weren’t planning on using many taxis. Also know that the allowance for liquids does not count for baby food/milk.

For women whose last name is different to the child’s, if you are traveling alone there is other documentation you will need to take to prove the child is yours. If you have split from the other parent, and dependant on custody, you may need other documents as well. If you’re traveling with a partner who has the same last name as the child, make sure they take them through passport control. When I landed back in England I was asked before handing over our passports if we had the same last name and how I was related to Nathan.
The trip itself was amazing, Nathan, Luke and I had a lovely time in Taiwan. It is an incredible country and I would recommend it anyone. They were so accommodating, and we felt so at ease. It is a whole different experience travelling with a baby, better in my opinion. You get talking to people you might not have spoken to if he wasn’t there. I even got talking to a teacher from Singapore in one of the breastfeeding rooms. We don’t realise how lucky we are to have the maternity leave we have.
After Taiwan Luke went home, leaving myself and Nathan to head off to Hong Kong and Tokyo just the two of us. We did have a friend in Hong Kong who was our tour guide for the time we were there, we got some interesting looks when he was carrying Nathan. However, in Tokyo it was just the two of us, and honestly, I felt just as safe as I did when we were with other people. I was stopped, my bags searched and sort of questioned at security on my way into Tokyo. That was, I’m pretty sure, because Luke wasn’t there. However, the security guy was very polite, and the only thing I was worried about was missing my train. People there seemed to go out of their way to help us, from making sure we got the right train to the hostel, speaking to a restaurant owner to make space for my pushchair and to entertain Nathan so he smiled in pictures!

On to the breastfeeding aspect. I had no issues with breastfeeding while in any of the countries I visited. I did use the breastfeeding facilities available quite a bit, mostly in the underground stations where there was little seating. When feeding in public I never felt uncomfortable and if anyone felt uncomfortable it is not something I noticed. It is always worth checking cultural norms on breastfeeding in your destination.
If you’re going to travel with an infant plan ahead, don’t worry and enjoy every second!