With school holidays on the way, many of us choose to take a trip and visit family. However, the mere thought of taking your baby on a flight can be enough to bring on a panic attack. Fear not, preparation is the key to a smooth journey.
Making the Booking
- On a long haul flight, book a stop over half way – it gives everyone a break
- When booking your flight request a meal for baby – theirs come out first so you can feed your bub before your meal arrives.
- If your baby is very young, book a seat with a bassinet – usually a bulk head seat.
- Ask your airline if they can arrange a free “meet and assist” on your flight, especially if travelling alone with kids. You will have a staff member meet you as you come off and help you through immigration and getting bags.
- If you have to fly through the day, try to fly at the time your baby normally sleeps. Otherwise it can be easier to fly at night – you may be lucky enough to have your bub sleep the whole way!
Preparing for the flight
- Shift your baby’s sleep pattern gradually for three days before to manipulate it so they will sleep during the flight.
- High visibility dressing will help you spot them in a crowded airport
- Try to fit your baby’s luggage into your own suitcase so you only have one big bag to manage. Otherwise backpacks are a great option.
- Important! If travelling with another adult, split your baby’s belongings and feeding items between 2 bags in case one bag doesn’t turn up at the other end. This happened to me with my 3 month old. Alternatively pack a few necessities in your carry-on luggage.
- Make sure you read the airline’s policy on checked baggage and hand luggage (you may be able to take an extra bag on board for a baby etc)
- Buy or borrow a baby carrier so you can have two hands free to handle luggage, find tickets and manage older children. This is also handy if you don’t want to take a pram with you.
- Don’t forget about your child’s car seat! Most airlines will let you check it in for free, but you will need to be competent to fit it at the other end. If you can’t bring it make sure you’ve organised one at your destination.
What to pack in your carry on for a flight with babies & toddlers.
- If you’re not breast feeding, have a bottle ready to go for take-off and landing. The suckling action helps clear pressure from little ears.
- A spare set of clothes for bub and a clean top for you…just in case
- A favourite comforter or toy ( maybe 2 in case one goes AWOL at the airport)
- IPad or iPhone with suitable apps loaded
- Food – zip lock bags with snacks and small container for sandwiches and fruit.
- Water bottles for him and you
- Baby paracetamol – just in case
- A small blanket and a little pillow (unless you’re taking a coat or jumper you can roll up for one.)
At the airport
- A small fold-up stroller is very useful in long queues, especially if you are not using a baby carrier. Most airlines will check them in for free. Australia is the only place you can’t take them all the way to the plane door.
- Write your contact details and flight information on a tag and attach it to your child’s pants or shirt pocket
- A harness can be useful for tear away toddlers
- When checking in ask to be seated next to empty seat if possible
- Put some money in your pocket for easy access in case you have to buy food or drinks on the plane
Tips for when you’re on board the flight
- Don’t be afraid to ask for assistance or anything you need from the flight staff, it’s their job!
- Try to have everything you need well organised in a bag that fits under the seat in front of you. It’s a real pain having to get out of your seat to get things from overhead luggage.
- Don’t let your child’s feet touch the floor in the plane. Once they know they CAN get out of the seat, they’ll want to run up and down the aisle during the flight.
- Make it clear that kicking the seat in front of them is NOT on. Apologise to the person in front in advance and afterwards for any feet kicking!
Tips for nappy changes on flights
- Pack double the usual amount of nappies in your hand luggage
- Have a change mat clutch bag packed with wipes, 2 nappies, nappy sacks and spare pair of pants. Keep it in your seat pocket for easy access when you need to do a nappy change.
In flight food & snacks
- Lollipops take a while to devour and the sucking will help release pressure in their little ears on take-off and descent.
- Don’t load them up with junk food. Grapes, sultanas and bananas are great snacks and won’t make them hypo.
- Don’t take messy foods with you
- Make sure you take some food and water for YOURSELF! If Mamma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy!
Let’s face it, with all of these preparations in place, you’ve done the best you can to make the trip as smooth as possible. In the case of a meltdown (either you or your little one…) Most people will show some understanding as many will have been in your shoes before.
Wear your best apologetic smile and you will no doubt receive a few sympathetic ones back.
Try to relax and have a happy holiday!