The idea of a long haul flight with a baby might not sound like heaven, but hopefully the holiday at the other end will make it all worthwhile.
Whether you’re flying to visit family or to spend two weeks relaxing on the beach, a flight may be unavoidable.
The idea of a long haul flight may be daunting, and even a short flight can give new parents fear.
One of the great things about babies is that they’re pretty portable.
He won’t miss his friends or his creature comforts.
In fact, as long as you’re there, he’ll be perfectly happy.
Tips For Flying With An Infant
There’s no need to put off that dream vacation or delay that visit to your far away friend. All you need are these helpful tips to help your baby fly like a pro.
#1: Preparation Is Key
As with everything to do with babies, preparation is key here. Find out as much as you can about the airline’s rules and regulations before you take the flight. Each airline has minimum age guidelines for babies, so make sure you meet the airline’s criteria.
Until the age of two years, your child can sit on your lap during flights. An extension seat belt will be provided for safety reasons. In some regions, you also have the option to purchase an additional ticket, so your child can sit in an airline approved child safety seat.
For long haul flights, you may be provided with a carrycot to allow your baby to sleep on board. There are only a limited number of these available so you will need to request one at the time of booking.
#2: Pack Wisely
Traveling light isn’t really a concept many new parents are familiar with. If you end up taking everything but the kitchen sink with you when you pop to baby group, you may be wondering how on earth you’re going to back for a holiday.
In short, it won’t be easy. You’ll need to make sure you pack enough without packing too much.
Some airline providers allow a nappy bag as additional hand baggage, though for others you may have to combine. Make sure your bag is packed well to allow easy access to things you might need. Be sure your nappies and wipes are within easy reach so you won’t need to rummage through your things before each nappy change.
Don’t forget to check the restrictions for carrying liquids. You are usually allowed up to 100ml in liquids, and these must be carried in a clear bag. Your liquids include nappy creams, baby lotions, sun lotions and any other products you may be taking.
The liquid limit does not apply to the milk or food you’ll need to take for your baby. You can carry expressed breast milk, formula (and boiled water in a bottle to make a feed) or other milk for your baby. Your baby is likely to drink more than usual during the flight, thanks to the air conditioning. Your baby may also want to suck for comfort.
Make sure you pack extra milk and food to allow for any flight delays. Some airports offer a reserve and collect service for formula, allowing you to collect formula from the departure lounge before your flight.
#3: Seating Arrangements
With a young baby, you’ll want to try and get good seats. If you can choose your seats when you book the flights, do this. If not, be sure to select your seats as soon as you are able to.
An aisle seat will allow you to move around easily without disturbing other passengers. A bulkhead seat (the row with no seats in front) are a favourite for young families because of the extra leg space they allow.
#4: Board Last
Some airlines allow families and others to board first. However, it can sometimes be better to board last, especially if your baby is awake.
Once you're on the plane, you're stuck in your seat. You then have to wait for everyone else to board, the safety demonstration, the safety checks, taxi'ing, and then you take off. It's quite a bit of extra time that you're sitting in your seat, especially with a little person who has a short attention span. The less time you're stationary the better, in order to help prevent your baby becoming bored with his surroundings.
#5: Dress To De-Stress
It can be hard to work out how to dress on a flight, especially if you’re traveling between two very different climates. The key to ensuring your baby’s comfort is layers. Thin layers can be easily removed or added depending on the temperature.
Make sure your baby is dressed in comfortable clothes that he can sleep in. You could also pack a baby sleeping bag to allow your baby to snuggle down and catch 40 winks on the flight. You’ll need to pack some spare clothes too, just in case an outfit change is necessary.
Do the same for yourself – have layers of comfortable, easily removable clothing. Spills, vomits or poo explosions are no fun to deal, with but do happen. So make sure you pack a spare outfit for you too.
#6: Inflight Entertainment
If you have an older baby who might appreciate some entertainment, bring a selection of toys to keep him busy on the flight. Choose a couple (and no more!) of his favourite small toys or teddies from home.
It may also be worth investing in a couple of new items too. These will hold your baby’s attention for a little longer, simply because they’re new and need to be fully investigated (or chewed, depending on how old your baby is). For an older baby, you can even wrap the new toys so he gets to unwrap them. Unwrapping can take a while, so you’ll buy yourself a few extra minutes of peace.
#7: Pack Medicine
In the past, parents used to deliberately medicate their babies before flights for an easy journey. Don’t do this. You may still hear this advice from well-meaning family members and older friends, but it’s terrible advice. You should never give medication to a child who doesn’t need it.
You should carry medicine, however, just in case your child becomes unwell during the flight. Ear infections can appear without much notice, so it’s always worth carrying a sachet or two of pain relief medication just in case.
#8: Don’t Forget The Sling
A sling or wrap is a great way to transport your baby around the airport. You’ll have your hands free to drag your suitcase, you’ll be able to kiss your baby’s head whenever the urge takes you (all the time) and your baby will be happy snuggled up against your chest. The sling or wrap may also be useful for helping your baby to fall asleep on the plane, and you’ll have your hands free to read a book or magazine on your flight.
You could take a fold-away pushchair as well, these can be used right up to the gate. The staff will store them for you and then return them at the end of the flight. You’ll need to make sure it has a luggage tag attached with all of your details on it.
#9: Soothe Those Ears
You’re probably familiar with the ear pressure associated with flying. As you take off or land, the change in cabin pressure can affect your ears, causing them to pop. This can happen to babies too, and may leave your little one in distress.
If your baby uses a dummy, sucking during takeoff and landing could alleviate the pressure. Breastfeeding your baby, or giving a bottle if you formula feed, will have the same effect. So try offering your baby a feed at these times.
#10: Feeding And Changing Your Baby
Most airplane toilets have a change table installed. It might not be the most luxurious, but it will save you getting dirty looks from the other passengers if you try to change a poopy nappy at your seat.
Find out in advance whether your airline will reheat your baby’s milk or food. Some airlines carry baby food jars that can be preordered for inflight meals. Breastfeeding on a flight should be relatively easy, and you might be able to watch an inflight movie while you feed your baby.
#11: Keeping Your Baby Happy
Try not to feel stressed about the flight, your baby may pick up on your mood. Try to stay relaxed. The engine noise may even lull your baby to sleep as soon as the plane takes off. If not, your baby will have plenty to look at during the flight. If he becomes restless, take him for a walk around the cabin. There may even be a small amount of space where he can explore the floor if the cabin crew say it’s okay.
Traveling with babies is certainly a new adventure. With the right preparation, attitude and support you might find the joy of traveling outweighs any of your fears.
If you’re flying with a toddler, check out BellyBelly’s tips for surviving a flight with a toddler here.
Be sure to check out Around The World + Kids for more travel tips and ideas.