Flying longhaul to Hong Kong With A Baby

Contemplating flying longhaul with a baby? With siblings in HK and Singapore, it wasn’t long until we took the plunge and went long haul with our 10 month old. I flew out on my own to HK and was then joined by my husband for the flights on to Singapore and then back home to London.  Here’s what we learned along the way:

Booking your seat: Long haul isn’t a million times more difficult than short haul, you just have to be well organised, especially if you are flying solo.  If you can prebook the bulkhead seat,  make sure that you do – I’m not sure if I would have coped with holding a child on my lap for 14 hours. In flight comfort: Our 10 month old was too big for the bassinet, but BA offered us a car seat which was absolutely fine.  My Morrck baby hoodie (www.morrck.co.uk) was invaluable, as it straps directly into the car seat so I didn’t have to worry about blankets falling on the floor.  You have to hold the baby on your lap (with an infant seat belt) for takeoff, landing and also (unfortunately) in the event of turbulence.  You will be woken up and you will need to hold the baby and they are pretty strict about it.  It does explain why you always hear a crying baby when the seat belt sign goes on!  As we took a night flight, she slept most of the way and I didn’t really need toys.  During occasional bouts of wakefulness I sat her on my seat, sat on the floor and half-heartedly played with her while looking for tired signs.

In flight meals:  I took a mixture of cartons (preordered from Boots at Heathrow) and powder (made up with boiled water from coffee shops at the airport and then from stewardesses on the plane).  Take as many bottles as you can, at least one each for takeoff and landing plus several for night feeds even if your baby usually sleeps through.  We were automatically assigned a ‘baby meal’ which consisted of a selection of Ella’s pouches which was very handy, although I made sure that I had plenty of snacks.  We didn’t try buying any formula at HK airport, and at Singapore airport I didn’t see anywhere selling baby formula.  

Feeding on holiday:  In HK and Singapore, Ella’s pouches are readily available although they are pretty expensive.  We used a mixture of pouches and ‘grown up’ food as by this stage she was happily eating most things.  You can easily buy Western brands of formula in Asia but Aptamil and other UK brands are not necessarily readily available (although I think that there are some places that import it specifically for expats but there was a shortage when we were there).  If you’re happy to switch brands for holiday, contact the manufacturer of the formula that you use as they can often advise you on which foreign brands will be closest in composition to the one that your baby drinks.

Nappy changing: I must admit that I did put two nappies on our baby (something I have done before when she has had the runs) and it was great for peace of mind in case of *leakages*.  There is usually at least one toilet that is slightly bigger for disabled access so use this one, although actually I found the compact toilets quite easy for changing as she couldn’t move very far.  Don’t forget a change of clothes for yourself in the event of any unwanted explosions.

Car seats/Buggies on holiday: We took our Baby Jogger City Mini buggy which is perfect for travel as it’s light, comfortable and easy to fold.  As our flights weren’t too full it was kept in the cabin so we didn’t have to wait until baggage reclaim to pick it up, but I had the Ergo baby carrier with us as well, just in case.  We didn’t take a car seat with us, so we held the baby in the baby carrier during taxi journeys.  This is not something that I would recommend, and would never do so in the UK, but we felt that it was the norm to do so on the short journeys that we were taking.

Jet lag: When you are dealing with such a big time difference there isn’t much that you can do to prepare.  If possible, put the baby (and yourselves) straight onto local time as soon as you land.  We had two nights of waking before she returned to business as usual.  

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