Flying with a baby? Read this before boarding.
Snakes on a plane sounds scary, but flying with a child can be pretty daunting, too.
It can be unnerving realising that once that plane heads for the clouds there’s no turning back.
While travelling with a baby or young child can be a challenge, it shouldn’t deter you from embarking on an adventure. After all, holidays are often responsible for creating some of your happiest family memories.
To help you out, our mates at The Bub Hub have put together this comprehensive guide to flying with children.
Tips for flights with babies and young children
Tips for booking your flight
- If you are going on a long flight book a stop-over; it makes it much more pleasant!
- Try to book a flight that isn’t full so you have a chance of being able to take over another seat.
- Make sure to order a baby meal when you are making your plane bookings if you are on a long-haul flight
- Think about how your child travels in the car or pram…do they sleep? If so, they’re more likely to sleep on the plane, so night-time is a great time to travel. If not, they probably won’t sleep on the plane and will be overtired and grumpy.
Tips for preparing for your flight
- Change your baby’s sleep pattern the day before and manipulate it so they will sleep during the flight.
- Dress your child/children in bright colours so you can spot them easily if they wander off at the airport.
- Think about your luggage – can you carry what you have and manage your child? Backpacks seem old-school when everyone has suitcases on wheels, but their advantage is they leave you with two free hands.
- Buy or borrow a baby carrier so you can have two hands free to handle luggage, find tickets and manage older children.
- 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.)
- If you’re thinking of weaning your baby soon, consider holding off until after your flight. A quick feed will help to comfort them and reduce the air pressure in their ears on take-off and landing.
- Don’t forget about your child’s car seat! Most airlines will let you check in yours for free, but if you can’t bring it make sure you’ve organised one at your destination.
- Think about how you’re getting to the airport. Parking at the airport or close by can sometimes be cheaper and less of a hassle than a taxi or asking for a lift – especially in a capital city.
What to pack for a flight with small children
- Spare clothes for the kids and a fresh top for you – accidents happen.
- A small blanket and blow-up pillow
- A lunch box with sandwiches, snacks and treats (more snacks than you think) and their own water bottles.
- Pack the baby paracetamol in your hand luggage just in case.
- Don’t forget any comfort items your child might have.
- Small toys, books, computer games (with earphones). Nothing too noisy, too precious or with too many pieces.
Tips for when you’re at the airport
- A small fold-up umbrella stroller is useful – especially in long queues. Most airlines will allow you to check them in for free. Australia is the only place you can’t take them right up to the plane door.
- There are temporary tattoos you can get to put your contact details on your child in case they got lost.
- Write your details on a luggage tag and attach it to your child’s pants.
- If you’re travelling with another adult, agree in advance who’s watching who – airports can get busy and are huge.
- Don’t be afraid to use a harness if it will keep your child safe.
- When checking in ask to be seated next to empty seat if possible.
Tips for nappy changes on flights
- Pack double the usual amount of nappies in your hand luggage.
- Also take a small toiletries bag that will fit in the seat pocket. Pack it with two nappies, a small pack of wipes, nappy bags and a fold-up change mat. Much easier to take that to the plane’s toilet than an entire nappy bag.
- Change tables in the back toilets are usually bigger, so try to get into those toilets.
Ideas for keeping children entertained on flights
- Buy a few new toys from a cheap shop and wrap them like presents. Don’t give them all out at once.
- Wrap food like a pass-the-parcel with lots of layers of paper so it’s a surprise when they finally get to the popper, cheese, biscuits, etc. (it’s a little thing but helps pass the time!).
- Load your smart phone with toddler apps and take child-friendly headphones so they don’t annoy other passengers.
- Plastic animals are a good toy to take – they are good to stand up on the tray. Also good are sticker books, colouring books, mini Magnadoodles and even a little pot of playdough (depending on the age of the child).
- Let your child have its own little backpack.
What food to pack on a flight with kids
- Lollipops are a good treat and the sucking will help their ears ‘pop’ on take-off and descent.
- Looks for snacks which aren’t too messy; you will thank yourself later.
- Don’t load them up with junk food. Grapes, sultanas and apples are great snacks.
- Take more food/snacks than you need in case of lengthy delays.
- Make sure you take food for yourself!
Tips for flying longer distances with babies/children
- Assume that you will be awake all flight and that you will be wearing an apologetic smile for most of the flight!
- If your child is under two consider booking a seat for them if flying long-haul.
- Don’t assume your child will sleep on an overnight flight.
- Settle your child in to the environment before trying to settle them to sleep.
- Take your own food – your child might be asleep at meal times, and jars and small tubs are much easier and less messy than a tray of food for a wriggly toddler.
- Pack disposable bibs so no soggy bibs to carry around.
- If you pack a full-size pillow your small child can sleep on it, on you.
- If paying for two seats, ask for the seats up the back (last three rows) as little one can look out the window, and you aren’t blocked in by someone in the aisle seat.
Tips for when you’re on board the flight
- Breast or bottle feed your baby at take-off and landing to alleviate ear pressure (older kids can suck on lollipops or lollies).
- Be sure to ask for assistance or anything you need from the flight staff. It’s their job!
- Ensure you have everything you need in a bag that will fit under the seat in front of you – and keep it well organised! There’s nothing worse than having to get out of your seat to get something 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 aisles for the whole flight.
- Remind your child that they mustn’t kick the seat in front of them. But maybe apologise to the person in front in advance and afterwards just in case!
Do you have any tips for flying with children or any amusing flight-related stories to share? Please leave a comment below.
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