Flying with a baby

Flying with a baby can feel like organising a tiny, unpredictable VIP's tour. Here are 10 tips to help you and your baby have a smoother journey, wherever you are heading off to this summer.

From ensuring your baby's comfort to managing their needs in the confined space of an airplane cabin, flying with an infant takes preparation, planning and a good sense of humour. Here are 10 tips to help you and your baby have a smoother journey, wherever you are heading off to this summer.

Book the Right Seat

When flying with a baby, consider reserving bulkhead seats on long-haul journeys. These seats typically offer more legroom and are located near partitions that separate different sections of the plane. Most importantly, bulkhead seats can accommodate a bassinet (baby cot), which airlines often provide on international flights.  Think of it like reserving a first-class cot for your little one (minus the champagne).

Reserve a Bassinet in Advance

Bassinets on planes are almost as popular as the last piece of chocolate cake at a party — everyone wants one, but there often aren't enough to go around. Its therefore crucial to reserve one ahead of time if you are flying with a baby, especially in peak travel periods. Check with your airline on the specifics of securing a bassinet when you book your tickets, as each airline has different policies and availability.

Pack Essential Baby Gear Two Times Over

Pack your changing bag as if you're preparing for a small-scale invasion with twice as much as you would usually think you need – nappies, wipes, extra clothes for both baby and you (because accidents happen on both of you), feeding supplies, and comfort items. Don’t forget extra milk (if you are bottle feeding) snacks for older babies and any comfort toys or blankets that may help to settle them on a flight. Failing to prepare is to prepare to fail and you can guarantee that if you’ve forgotten something like a clean breastfeeding top for yourself, (these bamboo tops are ideal for flying) you baby will be sick on it!

Dress Your Baby Comfortably

If you usually love to dress your little one up in outfits, don’t for flying. Comfort is key for all of you when flying with a baby. Dress your baby in comfortable, layered clothing to easily adjust their temperature with the changing cabin conditions. Baby-gros are perfect and small to pack in to your changing bag too. It’s also a good idea to have a hat and socks for your baby, regardless of the season, to keep them warm if the cabin gets chilly. Think of it as your baby’s travel uniform, only cuter.

Feed During Take-off and Landing

Feeding your baby during take-off and landing can help ease ear pressure and reduce discomfort associated with altitude changes. Whether breastfeeding, bottle feeding, or giving a dummy, make sure your baby is sucking on something to get the swallowing action going and their ears popping to prevent crying and pain (for both of you!)

Navigate Airport Security Smoothly

Remember that if you are flying with a baby, you can carry a reasonable amount of liquids for babies, which includes expressed breast milk, formula, and baby food, through security checkpoints, above the usual 100ml limits. Inform the guards that you are carrying these items, as they might require additional screening.

Use a Baby Carrier

A baby carrier is like having an extra pair of hands and it makes navigating through the airport with a baby SO much easier. A carrier frees up your hands while allowing your baby to feel close and secure. Perfect for when you need to juggle tickets, passports, and a coffee airside, and when you are inevitably walking them up and down the aisles to keep them calm or entertained on the flight.

Manage the Flight Schedule

Try to book flights that align with your baby’s sleep schedule. It’s like aligning the stars, but for sleep (and to be honest the chances of the baby actually sleeping are similar to the chances that the big win forecast in your stars will happen!) That said, evening flights or overnight flights can increase the chances that your baby will sleep through a good chunk of the journey at least.

Consider getting a car seat that fits in a plane seat

You may be lucky and your baby happily plays in the aisles or they fall fast asleep in the bassinet, but be prepared that when there is any turbulence, or the seat belt sign comes on, you will need to take your baby out of their bassinet (sleeping or not) and have them on your lap. If you are lucky enough to have a spare seat next to you, or can afford to pay for one, a baby car seat that is narrow enough to fit in the plane seat is ideal – they can sleep at a reasonably comfortable angle and are strapped in comfortably and more safely. And worst-case scenario if your baby is crying, they aren’t fighting against you, making it a little easier to deal with (especially for older babies).

Stay Calm and Flexible

Try to stay calm and go with the flow. Your baby can pick up on your emotions, so staying calm can help your baby remain relaxed throughout the flight. Things might not always go as planned, but maintaining a flexible attitude will help you manage any situation more effectively.

Traveling with a new baby by air can actually be filled with memorable moments (and only some of them involve crying). With the right preparation and a playful attitude, your journey can be surprisingly pleasant. And at the end of the day remember this important advice – if you have a total disaster with a baby the screams the entire time, you will never see the people sitting next to you ever again!

Here's to a flight that's as smooth as your baby's bottom!