Pregnancy Birth

Libby Matthews: Top tips for travelling with a new baby

Our columnist Libby Matthews gives us her practical tips for travelling with a little one.

Naturopath, author and co-founder of the blog, Julia & Libby, Libby Matthews is a first time mum to daughter Maxwell. Over the coming weeks, she'll be sharing her progress as she gets to grips with motherhood, and all the changes it involves.

"I recently returned to South Africa after an amazing few weeks visiting friends and family in New Zealand.

And while there’s no way to completely beat jet lag, there are several steps you can take to ease the pain of crossing multiple time zones quickly, so I thought I'd share them - including the ways I kept Maxwell happy on the trip.

Stay hydrated
It is so important to stay well hydrated when flying. The inside of airplanes are dry which can make your skin dry out. Alcohol, coffee and black tea are going to dehydrate you when flying so try and avoid these beverages. I try and pack a drink bottle on long haul flights and ask a flight attendant to fill it up for me so I can sip on this and I don’t have to keep asking for cups of water.

Pack lip balm and a moisturizer to keep your skin well moisturized throughout the flight.

Avoid alcohol inflight
Alcohol is one of the chief factors that can worsen jet lag. Many people drink it during a flight to help them relax and fall asleep but excessive alcohol magnifies jet lag symptoms and the effects of drinking are increased due to the high altitude. If you do have a drink during a flight, aim to increase your water intake to avoid dehydration.

Get outside in the sunshine
Sunshine inhibits melatonin production, this is the hormone that makes you feel sleepy. Try and sit in the sun when you arrive to your destination, this will help your body reset its natural body clock.

Darken your seating area on the flight
If you are having trouble sleeping because of the sunlight on the plane, try and avoid taking sleeping pills as they can make your body even more confused. Pack an eye mask and ear plugs and close the window shutter to darken your seating area. Watch a movie or read a book to help you relax.

Relax
Easier said than done. But a long haul flight can really take its toll on your body and it will take a couple of days for you to recover. Try and plan two days for relaxation time if you can. This will ensure your body can adjust to the new time zone and give you enough time to catch up on any sleep you may have missed out on.

Flying with a baby
One of the big factors that puts me off travelling right now is having to deal with Maxwell's jetlag on top of my own. It’s definitely not easy. However, if jetlag means you are flying across the world to build lasting memories with your family, it is worth it. Trust me.

On my last trip from Auckland to South Africa, I travelled 29 hours in total with a 3 month old. The time difference was 10 hours so when we arrived in South Africa it was 5am which would usually be 3pm for us. Although I haven’t quite mastered tips to help with babies jet lag, I knew that it would take around 10 days for Max’s circadian rhythm to adjust to the time difference. I tried to get her out into the sunlight each day and keep her stimulated during the day so she was tired in the evenings.

Here are some tips to make flying with a baby a bit easier:

Feed on landing and take off
Babies ears are super sensitive when flying as they cannot intentionally pop them like adults can due to the high altitude. If they are being breastfed or sucking on a bottle or dummy, their ears can pop due to them swallowing. If you are still breastfeeding, aim to put your baby on the boob during take-off and landing to avoid them getting sore ears. If you are bottle feeding them, have a bottle ready.

Contact the airline ahead of time
It is important to contact the airline ahead of time to find out what their luggage policies are when flying with babies and children. Some allow you to take a car seat and stroller at no extra charge as well as a big diaper bag. If you have booked an infant seat, always double check with the airline when you are checking in that you have a seat with a bassinet.

Pack enough
When I flew last month I had a longer stop over as planned which meant I went through more changes of clothes and nappies. By the end of my second flight Max was down to her last onesie and nappy, if the flight was an hour longer it would have been a disaster. So my advice is - pack a few more of everything in case your fight is delayed.

Till next time,

L x"

Libby Matthews stars on the cover of this month's Good Health Choices, alongside her sister, Julia.