Wondering how to fly with a baby? Flying with a baby for the first time can be a daunting thought for a new parent. Everything is a new experience for both parent and baby and you feel like you are just getting into the swing of things when the next challenge comes along, teething, sleep regression and starting solids can seem enough to deal with. But flying when your baby is young can be a great opportunity.
If you were a keen traveller before bubs came along getting out into the world may be just the break you need.
Maybe you want to visit friends and relative and introduce them to the newest member of the family.
Babies under 1-year-old are often the easiest to fly with and under 2-year of age, babies can fly for free on some airlines.
HOW TO FLY WITH A BABY
I share the 15 top tips I’ve learnt from families that travel.
I share more advice over on my facebook page, please share your own tips and experiences with me over there or in the comments below.
Follow these tips on how to fly with a baby for a stress-free flight with your baby:
1. CONSIDER THE TIME OF THE FLIGHT
Consider the timing of the flight and your child’s routine. When asked when to fly with a baby? Many parents will have a different preference for this and it depends on your individual child’s temperament. For us travelling around nap time worked best, the noise of the engine would lull the kids to sleep. Other families prefer early morning flights and having a happy bubbly baby awake rather than a cranky sleepy one.
2. RESERVE A BASSINET ON THE PLANE
Check the airline website to find out about the procedure for booking a bassinet, sometimes this requires calling the airline or arriving at the airport early to check in. Check the weight and height limits of the bassinet to ensure your baby will fit. Even if your baby doesn’t sleep in the bassinet having somewhere to lay them for a bit of a stretch while you eat is a bonus.
3. BOOK BABY A SEAT
Book baby a seat. Many airlines will allow babies to fly on a parents lap for free. But If it is within budget booking your baby their own seat can be much more comfortable. Travelling in their own seat in an approved car seat or a CARES harness is also the safest way for them to travel. I’ll be writing a detailed post on car seats and the CARES harness for plane travel, sign up to my mailing list to be advised when the post is live.
4. ARRIVE AT THE AIRPORT WITH BABY EARLY
Arriving at the airport early to check in may be a necessity if you don’t have reserved seats and want to get a bassinet seat or even be seated together as a family. Do online check-in if it is available to avoid queues and leave plenty of time to get through security and repack your carryon nappy bag. Get to the gate with plenty of time to allow for emergency nappy changes and for a pre-boarding toilet stop.
5. CHECK THE AIRPORT WEBSITE FOR BABY-FRIENDLY SERVICES
Check the airport website for family services on offer. Many airports have special facilities for families. Airline staff don’t always know about these so check out the airport website before you arrive.
Complimentary strollers may be available to use after security or the airport may provide gate checking for your own stroller so you can use it throughout the airport.
Parents rooms with baby change tables, somewhere to sit and feed the baby and even with a small kitchen and play area are now available at many airports.
6. YOU CAN TAKE MORE THAN 100ML OF LIQUIDS WHEN FLYING WITH A BABY
You can take more liquids with a baby. Which will be a relief for those parents wondering how to fly with a baby who is on formula. Babies are not restricted to taking the usually maximum 100ml of liquids. The 100mL liquid restriction still applies to adults but children under 2 or 3 (dependent on the airport) can take in water, juice, milk and baby food in larger quantities. Be prepared that you may need to open a packet to be sampled at security. When my daughter was taking formula I liked to take a combination of powder already measured out and ready made cartons. Having a carton I could open myself and give her was really handy if she wanted milk now and the air stewards were busy or the seatbelt sign was on. I also found it hard to get water added to the bottles that weren’t boiling hot, so bear that in mind, when asking for water to make it clear how much hot and cold water is needed.
7. FLYING WITH BREASTMILK: check the local regulations
If you are wondering how to fly with a baby that is taking breast milk this is for you. If you are travelling with frozen breast milk check the airport TSA regulations, this is a changing area. When leaving the USA items that are frozen solid are not classed as liquids and therefore not restricted. But leaving from the UK frozen breast milk is no longer allowed in hand luggage in any quantity. Gel cold packs are allowed to be used to keep the milk cold but frozen milk will need to be placed in check in luggage.
8. ENCOURAGE SUCKING DURING TAKE-OFF AND LANDING
The change in pressure during take-off and landing can be a difficult time for babies. The decent prior to landing is usually the most troublesome. Infants don’t have the skill to clear their eustachian tubes and reduce the pressure within the inner ear. Sucking and swallowing can help with this so offering a pacifier, clean finger, bottle or breast will help to ease the pressure build up. Crying also helps to relieve the pressure so this wouldn’t be the preferred option for most parents and fellow passengers.
9. TAKE SPARE CLOTHES
Take spare clothes for the whole family. Maybe it’s the change in pressure or just Murphy’s law that poo-splosions tend to happen at altitude. Don’t get caught short. Take spare clothes for baby and anyone else that might be caught holding the baby when mess happens. Don’t worry about fashion, choose some clothes that can roll up small and be stuffed to the bottom of the carry-on.
10. TAKE ZIPLOCK BAGS
Take ziplock bags or a wet bag. Ziplock bags and fabric wet-bags can come in handy. Ziplock bags can be used to keep leftover snacks fresh and contained. No time to finish your meal before they whip your tray away, throw a couple of items into a ziplock bag to eat at a more convenient time. Use ziplock bags or a wet-bag to transport soiled or wet clothes.
11. USE A NAPPY COVER
Use a nappy cover. Whenever we travelled on a plane or a road trip I would put a nappy cover on the baby, disposable diapers often leak up the back, and a cloth nappy cover elasticated around the waist and legs gives an extra layer of protection. We used covers that we already had from cloth diapers, but you can also purchase these separately. A cloth swim diaper also works as well.
12. TAKE FAMILIAR AS WELL AS NOVEL ITEMS
Take some familiar and some new items. Take a combination of new and familiar items. Having some comfort items like a favourite soft toy or blanket and familiar books help to provide a comforting environment. A new toy with some different textures and colours to explore can also provide some distraction when needed. Expensive toys aren’t needed at this age simple items like pipe cleaners, straws and paper cups can provide entertainment.
13. DON’T FORGET PACIFIERS AND COMFORTERS
If your baby uses a dummy or pacifier remember to pack a few extra already sterilised for the trip in case one get’s lost or dirty. Also, don’t forget to bring the special blanket or toy that baby always sleeps with. Clip comforters to a dummy chain and attach them to clothing to stop them needed to be constantly retrieved from the floor or risk them getting thrown out of the stroller when you aren’t looking.
14. TAKE SOME EXTRA SUPPLIES FOR YOUR BABY
Take extra nappies and clothes, you are likely to go through more than you would at home and you want to keep baby dry and comfortable throughout the journey. Delays and lost luggage, unfortunately, can happen so have enough milk to get you through a few extra hours. If your baby is already eating have plenty of snacks, don’t rely on them wanting to eat any airline food and expect they will want to graze more. Also pack some nutrient dense snacks for yourself like nuts, trail mix or bliss balls.
15. REMEMBER ID AND PASSPORTS FOR YOU AND YOUR BABY
Don’t forget ID or Passport. If you are flying internationally remember that you will need a passport for the baby, allow plenty of time to apply for this before your flight. Be sure to also check the expiry of your own passport. If you are flying domestically you will need some form of ID for your baby as well. This could be a birth certificate or insurance card depending on the country and airline.
If you talk to other families that have travelled with their young babies they will often tell positive stories. Remember it is just a short period of time and all flights come to an end. Focus on the reason why you are travelling and try to stay relaxed and calm. Visualise arriving at your destination and the fun that you are going to have or the look on your families face when they see your gorgeous baby for the first time. On the return journey tell your baby about the favourite parts of your trip and start planning your next one!
HOW TO FLY WITH A BABY THAT IS DIFFICULT TO SETTLE?
Now some babies are just more difficult than others, if you think your baby falls into this category and you’ve read the article above and you are still not feeling confident, don’t despair, I’m talking to all my Mummy traveller friends and colleagues and putting together a special post for extra tips on travelling with a difficult baby. Sign up to my email list to be informed when it goes live.
What are your experiences with flying with a baby? Please share them below.
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