When you are a new parent, taking the first trip with your baby may seem quite daunting. Will you be one of those parents, allowing their child to cream and run about the cabin whilst wearing headphones as if the child is nothing to do with you? B gives you great advice on successful flying trips with your baby and how to have a happy baby or toddler with you on a flight, even quite a long one, so that you can enjoy flying to your holiday destination or to visit family overseas without the stress.
Preparation is key
Work out what equipment will be at your destination, so you know what not to pack. See our feature for more tips here.
Great products to help you travel with your baby
A lightweight, small, fold-up pushchair that you can take up to the plane’s door. Remember to remove all bags, baby gear etc. from it before travelling!
A baby carrier.
A changing bag that can double as your cabin baggage. Check the dimensions your plane’s operator allows.
Travel sterilising equipment. The easiest for packing light is some travel sterilising tablets. You can get water at your destination. Do some internet research to find out if they are available at your destination, so you could pack fewer.
Toys, books and electronic devices. If your baby is very young, a soft, colourful toy to hold on the plane or a mobile in the car seats will probably be enough, or a cloth or board book. As thy grow and need a little more stimulation, an electronic toy with lights and colours can be great – just beware that you might not be popular if you play this over and over again on a plane. Quiet toys are best in publically shared spaces! Don’t forget teething toys and bibs – plus a few handy muslins too.
Keep little tummies happy with feeds on the go. If you’re still breastfeeding, this can be done wherever you are. If your baby is starting to eat ‘real’ food or is well on with their weaning, pack some snacks in small boxes and offer them when your baby seems hungry.
Be aware of restrictions to the amount of liquid you might be able to take through security. Check this before you fly in case there have been any changes. If you take expressed breastmilk, be prepared that you may be asked to taste it to prove it’s what you say it is!
Ways to comfort your baby
Hold them. If you take a baby carrier with you, you can enjoy the benefits of baby wearing at all times. On a plane, you will be expected to have your baby on your lap for take-off and landing (the plane’s stewards will provide a baby seat belt) and for the rest of the time, have them on your lap or if they may need to sleep on the flight, ask about an extra seat and a baby bassinette. In the car, they have to be in their car seat but take frequent breaks to let them stretch, have a fee and a cuddle.
For take-off and landing, and when the air pressure changes, make sure your child is swallowing to equalise the pressure in the middle ear. This is easy if you can breastfeed while taking off – though this might be tricky with the seat belt in place. Alternatively, offer a drink of water or if they are old enough, a sweet to suck.
What to wear
We all start thinking about what to wear on a flight and it should be no different for your baby. Dress them in layers so that you can add and remove clothes to keep them comfortable. Planes can get very cold with the air conditioning, so make sure you have an extra layer packed or a blanket. Be prepared to take layers off quickly if the weather is hot at your destination. Keep checking your baby is cool enough in the car seat, too.