Flying with a baby

So you’ve taken the leap and decided to take your baby on a trip. If you are reading this I guess you are wondering what you need to know about flying with a baby. Fear not, flying with a baby is something we have done many times so here are our best tips:

Flying with a baby

flying with a baby

Booking a flight for a baby

So you have chosen your destination, what next? As a starting point I like to use Skyscanner  to search for competitive airfares. You can expect to pay approximately 10% of the adult fare for children under the age of 2. Making it all the more reason to get as much travel in early!

I suggest requesting the bulk head seats at the time of booking. You may be able to do this yourself online. If not, it is advisable to contact the airline to make a request.  The bulk head seats are situated immediately behind a cabin divider. A fold down bench allows for a bassinet or cradle to be attached when the seat-belt sign is off. The airline provide the bassinet or cradle and have different polices on their use. This may relate to age, weight or height of baby. It is important to check individual airline policies before booking. Equally if you are a nursing mother, you may prefer a window seat for privacy purposes. I know my baby often gets distracted at feed times and I end up exposed!

flying with a baby

Bulkhead with bassinet on a British Airways flight

Preparing for flying with a baby

Aim to bring as little as possible through the airport. Less to carry around, less to worry about at security.

  • First and foremost, make sure baby and whoever else is flying with baby have a valid passport and visa if required.
  • Print any tickets in advance.
  • Make sure your luggage does not exceed your weight limit. There is nothing worse than tearing into your bag at check-in when you have a baby with you.
  • You may want to combine your nappy bag with other essentials, particularly for budget airlines that can be militant on having one piece of hand luggage. Make sure your nappy supplies are well stocked up, taking into consideration any possible delays.
  • Food and drinks for baby do not have a millilitre limit at security. It is absolutely fine to bring expressed milk or whatever baby may need in reasonable quantities.
  • Some airlines may suggest checking in your buggy. It may be useful to have a bjorn (sling) to take baby through the airport. Alternatively you can take the buggy to the door of the plane.
  • When taking a long haul flight, I like to have baby in her pyjamas, comfy and hopefully mentally prepared for a nice sleep!
  • Bring plenty of toys to keep baby entertained. Books and small toys are great. Some new little toys may keep your little one entertained for longer.

At the airport

Check-in queues can be long and arduous unless you are flying business or first class. Sometimes airline staff spot those flying with a baby and will allow them to check-in using the business class desk as long as there are no other customers waiting. Many airlines will allow you to check-in a buggy, a car seat and in some cases a travel cot. You may prefer to take the buggy to the door of the plane, ,most airlines will allow this. The airline staff will take the buggy to the stowaway as you board. In some cases it may be available as you disembark or it may come out on the luggage belt. So you have checked in, what next?flying with a baby

  • You will need to pass through security. Ensure to have all of your liquids (including baby’s liquid food and drink) in a transparent zip-lock bag. Sometimes you will notice there is a secret security lane that airport staff use. Similar to check-in, if staff spot you with little ones, they will invite you to use the ‘hustle and bustle’ free lane.
  • If you have baby in a bjorn some airports expect you to take baby out passing through security. If you are travelling alone this can make it difficult.
  • Some airports have a parent room, where you can change nappies, heat food and I have seen private rooms for nursing mothers. I can not say I have seen this in all airports but it is worth checking out the facilities.
  • When it is time to board, airline staff are keen to have young families board first. Sometimes this may be inconvenient, particularly if your little one is quite active. It may be best to board last to reduce the time in a confined space.

On board

  • If your little one is under the age of 2, they will need to be securely fastened to your seat belt using an extension. This will be provided by cabin crew.
  • You will be expected to put this on whenever the seat belt sign is on during the flight. This can be heartbreaking when you have just got your little one to sleep in their bassinet. However rules are rules!
  •  If you do not have a bulk head seat, baby must be on your lap for the duration of the flight.
  • Remember, when flying with a baby, your pressure may build up in their ear during ascent and descent. Having a little drink or a dummy to hand will help. The swallow mechanism will relieve the pressure. If you are flying with baby alone, make sure to ask for help. Cabin crew may hold baby for bathroom trips and meal times.

    Eating and drinking

  • Ensure to keep yourself and baby well hydrated. The low humidity can be quite dehydrating. This is of particular importance if you are nursing.
  • Nursing on board can be a little challenging, particularly with a slightly bigger baby. I have found mastering the jockey position useful for flights (baby straddles your knee). I found there is less room for your arms when cradling baby to nurse.
  • If you need food or milk heated, cabin crew will be happy to help.
  • If baby is agitated or upset, taking them for a walk  up and down the aisle can help distract. Make sure to have your toys to hand.
  • If you need to change a nappy all planes have a changing table that folds down in the bathroom. Older planes can be quite cramped so only bring what you need to the bathroom.
  • If your little one is asleep, sit back, relax and have a wine!flying with a baby

Transit and arrivals

  • Complete your arrivals card in advance.
  • Make sure to declare baby food if necessary.
  • Some airports provide courtesy buggies for transit.
  • There are often additional security checks during an airport transit.
  • If you are in transit and have some spare time it is an ideal opportunity to give your little one a freshen-up. I am sure they feel sticky after flying, just like us!
  • Throw a blanket down on the floor in an appropriate place and let them have a little stretch and a kick before the next flight.flying with a baby

By | 2017-07-16T11:20:11+00:00 June 2nd, 2015|Travel Tips|7 Comments

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7 Comments on "Flying with a baby"

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Megan
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I just wanted to thank you so much for this blog! My husband and I are getting ready to have our first baby and right before the baby is born his parents are leaving for Guam for 5 years. We are making plans to visit them when the baby is 3-5 months old but with a daunting 13 hour flight ahead of us I’ve been alternating between confidence and confidently sure that I’m insane. Reading your posts makes me feel that it is possible to be prepared and make this a memorable trip!

Heather
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This is brilliant! Thankyou! We are expecting our first child in June; We’re from the UK, but live in India, and the grandparents want us to visit for Christmas 2017 – I am already dreading the flight! But this post has really helped to relieve my fears 🙂 We also do a lot of short-trips backpacking in India, and to neighbouring countries, while we’re based out here, and were really worried we would have to put a stop to that. Reading these posts makes me realise that is is completely do-able, without much change to what we usually do. We… Read more »
Bren
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This is fabulous – we are heading away to Asia (from NZ) next month with our 6 month old. So many questions answered! Thank You so much!

Anna
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Such great tips! We have travelled in the first 2 months of babies life so plane bassinets were a good fit although being a long baby she was nearly out of it at 2months. We are doing long haul NZ to UK when she is 16 months. What do you recommend for her getting a comfy sleep?

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