Hello Bill and team…
What do you recommend about our flight back from Kiev with our babies? The KLM airline told us that economy and premium economy have bassinet areas but they are not guaranteed (ie if other passengers with babies are there first, etc). First class flights are on the high side and not really within our budget ($5500 per person). Also do you have any thoughts about traveling around town with the baby? What’s your experience?
— Manuel & Kassie
Good morning Manuel & Kassie,
When we flew back to the US with our newborns, it was the easiest flight of my life. In general newborns do really well on airplanes — the droning background noise makes them sleep even more than usual. The cabin crew also loved the babies and were happy to go above and beyond to get us anything we needed.
That said, we made some helpful preliminary preparations. Definitely reserve your flight and let the airline know you have two babies traveling with you. Typically the bassinets fit only on certain seats. So the airline needs to make sure those seats are available for you.
(Expect that every grandmother on the flight will come to visit you and offer congratulations as well! Don’t be alarmed if an elderly Eastern European woman spits at your baby — it a customary blessing.)
While waiting for your passports, there are quite easy-to-find bassinets that double as car carriers, and this is what I used when taking my babies around Mumbai (several years ago). Obviously you won’t want to take your babies out for a driving tour of Kiev, but to go to/from the hospital and airport, this is perfectly secure.
If you’re taking the baby out fr a walking tour, consider a sling or Moses basket for longer outings. Otherwise the basket/bassinet is good for a quick transport.
While I’m on the subject… Here is my list of what you need to bring with you when picking up a baby from overseas. Almost all of these things can be bought while abroad — but a lot you should bring with you so you don’t spend the first few days of parenthood in a panic over trying to find “just the right” brand of formula or style of onsies.
• Formula – My pediatrician suggested we not switch the baby’s formula often as it can cause a short discomfort during the transition to a new food. So we looked into formula brands that were available both through markets both in the US and overseas. Nestle has several brands that are marketed internationally. We brought some cans with us so we didn’t have to spend the first few days in a panic looking for necessities. But once we were settled we found the same brand and continued with feeding as before. Everyone was happy.
• Diapers / Nappies – allow 10 per day minimum. You can buy Huggies Newborn in almost any supermarket supermarket . There are other cheaper brands as well, but these worked well for us and were easy to find.
• Bottles – at least 5 x 125ml. We used the Dr. Brown’s brand, which were more expensive and complicated to clean — but we were splurging at the time. Avent brand is cheaper and available in most supermarkets and large stores worldwide.
For the flight, we sterilized these before leaving, added the formula powder to each one, and kept them in a tightly closed zip-lock bag. When feeding time came, we only needed to add water and serve.
• A small kettle to boil water for formula. The best solution is to boil water daily, and have a thermos nearby that will keep the boil water warm and clean. Which brings me to…
• Two vacuum thermos bottles – These re cheap, and they’ll keep boiled water warm for hours. We had two.. one for hot water and one for cold – so we could always mix them to get the right temperature of the formula.
• Bottle Sterilizer – I recommend the cheaper microwave version — which is so much better and convenient than an electric type (which I had for years and never took it out of the box, even at home). I never saw any need to use tablets. Just make sure your apartment has a microwave.
• Baby clothes – Even in the middle of winter you can get by with singlets and a wrap, Plus a couple of nicer outfits for outings. Assume at least 6 singlets, 4 swaddling wraps, 2 blankets, 3 hats (of the beanie type), 4 all long sleeve onsies, 6 large burp cloths, some small face washers.
And some nice-to haves…
• 2 changing mats (or you can use the towels provided)
• Brushes, Palmolive antibacterial dish washing liquid to wash the bottles
• Wipes, Curash cream, Sorbolene cream, Cotton balls
• Antibacterial hand gel and antibacterial wipes to clean surfaces
• Hair brush
• Alarm clock to wake up at feeding times
• A nice diaper bag to carry all of it.
You can bring all of this in a large suitcase, which will be full on the way over, but empty on the way back.
I hope this is useful. Good luck!
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