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Flying with Babies for First Time Parents

Flying on Lufthansa’s B747-400 with 14-month old baby Athena for the first time is quite an experience. For starters, taking off involves using the following cool contraption.

Baby seatbelt

YES, there is actually a safety seatbelt for babies on planes (this is for all you first-time parents out there).  How does it work? Essentially, it enables you to seat the baby on one’s lap. See the middle loop there? Thread your own adult seatbelt through the loop, and belt up baby and yourself. The Lufthansa people will offer this before take-off.
Worried about pressure changes resulting in blocked ears for babies? Would advise that you start feeding the baby as the plane is moving onto the runway and/or approaching the destination. Apart from clearing blocked ears, the comfort afforded by drinking or eating milk/food is added assurance for those easily disturbed by machine sounds. Baby Athena cries from hearing vacuum cleaners, but it was a wonder she wasn’t bothered by airplane engines and slept through most of our 11hr-long flight from Singapore to Frankfurt!
If you don’t see the baby bassinet upon boarding or sitting down, don’t gan chiong! After taking-off, it will be brought in for you. The perks of bringing babies on planes? You get decent legroom even for 1.8+m folks like me. For those who have never seen baby bassinets on the planes and wondering where could they possibly find space to place the bassinets, they are attached to the walls so that you have all the legroom to cross your legs, stand up without stepping on your baby.

Legroom!

Leg room is not completely without tradeoffs though. It is compulsory for you to put carry-on luggage in overhead compartments instead of under the seat in front of you (what seat!?!).
Lufthansa’s bassinet can hold up to 14kg (note to self: some airlines can only hold up to 10kg, best if check beforehand). If your baby is taller than normal, it is probably still ok as babies sleep with bent knees half the time. Are you the constantly worried about the worst-case scenarios of flying?  Like what if the plane goes through turbulence and your baby is flung to the ceiling? Never fear! There’s even a very comfy belt that you can use to secure the baby.

Baby Bassinet Belt

There’s even a cover that helps block out the light if you’re needing to read or write on the plane.

Cover helps shield baby's eyes from reading lights!

Does one need to buy an extra ticket for a 14-month old baby? The answer (at least in Lufthansa’s case) depends on the age of your baby during the return flight – if he/she is older than 2-years old, there is a need to buy a ticket, although it will be subsidised rates (50% I think). In any case, I think it is a welcome relief (small luxuries in life) to have an extra seat. If you’re bringing a big carry-on that needs to be put in the overhead compartment, it is advisable to still have a smaller, handier one that holds just enough supplies for the occasional feed, disposable bibs, diaper change or toys that keep them quiet.
If your baby is already on solids, bring those powdered things that turn gooey upon mixing in hot water for consumption. Alternatively, I highly recommend those very cool Japanese instant-ready-to-eat porridge-in-a-pack that can be consumed just by heating it up by placing the whole pack in hot water or simply microwaving it before consumption… Yes you heard me… microwave safe packets! Only the Japanese can come up with it lor! There are two such packets in each box, i.e. each packet costs S$4+, portions are small by adult standards but they taste absolutely fabulous (Ok ok, I admit I have entertained thoughts of bringing these to the jungles during reservist military training). The one in the picture is seaweed flavour and I highly recommend it – Singaporean palates are hard to please and if I say it is good, it is reaaally good.

Tasty Baby Porridge from Japan

Don’t get stressed if your baby cries and you’re worried about waking or traumatising the rest of the plane. Most of the passengers will likely be too zonked out to notice, plus you might get extra food or toys from the air stewardess as a result. Hohoho! Enjoy your flight!

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