Flying with a Baby – Top Tips on Everything You Need to Know
Congratulations for embarking on this huge adventure with your baby or children. I know from experience it can be a stressful time trying to arrange all the details of a holiday or long-haul flight, I’ve been there, many times! I want to share my top tips and experience on how to make it easy, enjoyable and part of the holiday experience flying with a baby.
Flight preparation for baby
There’s plenty you can do before getting to the airport to help streamline the process of flying with a baby, my tips below should help you feel more prepared and in control when you arrive at the airport.
- Passports, birth certificates and Visa’s – Ensure all in date and details correct.
- Vaccinations – Do you require any before flying?
- Print tickets or boarding passes before you leave for the airport.
- Check baggage allowances for your flights, weigh bags before you leave home ensuring they aren’t overweight – You don’t want the hassle at the airport
- Baby nappy bag preparation – make sure you have a bag especially for baby, I always made sure I had nappies, baby wipes, a range of different toys, snacks and finger foods, milk and my breast pump all ready in one main bag for baby. I always took extra just incase of delays with my flights.
- Bringing your pram – I always traveled with a pram, all over the world. I could keep it with me until boarding the planes steps, when checking in your bags you’re given a label for your pram, you will usually get the pram back right after getting off your flight. I never had an airline tell me my pram should be checked into the planes hold.
- I’ve never had my pram counted towards my check-in luggage – When I first started flying with a baby I was worried the pram would count as check-in luggage, it never was but my carseat did count as check-in and I always ensured it was bagged up in a protective bag.
- Bring a baby carrier – I also took my baby carrier on the flight just incase my pram wasn’t ready at the steps when getting off my flight, I also found it handy to hold baby while gathering up my cabin luggage and baby bag.
- Baby clothes – Take at least 3 changes of clothes for flying with a baby on short-haul flights and 4 for long-haul. I’ve had baby poop all over her clothes twice on a 60 minute flight before. Muslin cloths and burp bibs should also be taken in abundance.
If you’re pregnant and preparing the travel see my advice on traveling while pregnant.
If you’re flying as part of your cruise, see my advice on how to pack for a cruise.
So you’re all prepped before flying with a baby, time to make the journey to the airport on time ready for check-in. I like to arrive at the airport nice and early for my flights but this hasn’t always been the case.
I’ve cut it fine getting to the airport on time for my flights at least twice, it’s a stressful feeling knowing your running out of time. Early morning flights can be significantly cheaper but the hassle can sometimes be more than it’s worth.
Arriving at the airport for departure
The adventure is happening, you’re well on your way now. Head over to baggage drop making sure all luggage is labelled correctly, keep your luggage stubs safe, most airlines place these inside the lead passengers passport. I prefer to keep them there along with our tickets once we’ve completed the check-in process.
When queuing at check-in most airlines will take travellers with children and especially small babies aside as a priority to save you standing for long periods of time. I however like to get on last as it takes a while for everyone to be seated. I prefer the extra time to move about before a long flight when flying with a baby.
- Ensure passports, luggage stubs and tickets are kept safe – I like to keep mine in a zipped pocket or in my backpack.
- If you’re traveling with your pram – you would have it with you up until you board the plane, you will be asked to fold it up before you get onto the aircraft.
- Security process – Going through security has always been an easy stress free process for me while flying with a baby. I’ve had security staff help me with my bags and even holding my baby while I put my shoes back on and grab my bags and laptop.
- Taking liquids onboard – You can take 1 large bottle of water on the aircraft if it’s for the baby during the flight and milk whether prepared or in powder form when flying with a baby.
- Taking your breast pump – I always took my breast pump on flights, I never had an issue.
- The bulkhead seat – Bulkhead seats are usually near the front of the plane, it allows for extra legroom and a baby bassinet to be firmly attached to the wall in front of your seat so baby can have a place to sleep during the flight. Most people will advise booking the bulkhead seat when booking your flights. I never pre-booked this because there was always a surcharge when doing so. All long-haul flights I flew would upgrade my seat to bulkhead for FREE once all passengers have boarded. I’ve never had to pay extra this way when flying with a baby.
On board the flight with baby
Well done for making it onto the flight, by now things should have gone smoothly and will continue to do so. You have got this, it’s all part of the big adventure flying with a baby. You’ve just arrived on the plane and taken your seat, what next?
- Once onboard the flight the stewards are there to help in anyway they can, most would assist me with placing my bags in the cabin compartment while I get comfortable.
- Baby seat belt – once everyone is seated the crew will come over to give you a baby seat belt, it’s an extension of your own seat belt that will hold baby safely on your lap during take off and landing.
- Breastfeeding a baby on a flight – Feeding your baby on a flight will keep baby well hydrated, calm and full. I mastered the art of breastfeeding on a flight by having a light muslin cloth over myself and baby so I was covered discreetly and comfortable while flying with a baby.
- Bottle feeding on a flight – If you need milk made up from powder during the flight you will find the crew helpful, they will help you with hot water and washing your bottles.
- Snacks during the flight – Make sure you have snacks for yourself and baby during the flight, these can include crackers, cheese nibbles, rice cakes, fruit and baby food in a jar for weaning babies. On long-haul flights kids meals are usually included, I’ve had baby food in a jar provided flying with a baby.
- Meal times during the flight with a baby – Meals times with a baby on your lap during a flight can prove a little tricky. If baby is sleeping I ask the crew to keep my food warm until baby is awake but in most cases with a little skill it’s far easier to eat while baby sleeps. If baby is awake I ask for 1 part of my meal at a time to make it easier to manage. If your lucky enough to have a helpful stranger seated next to you they may offer to let you use their fold-out tray to hold your meal.
Tips for managing a fussy baby
- Remember babies ears are more sensitive then ours – Feeding and sucking can help alleviate the built up pressure in the ears, feeding during take off and landing is strongly advised because it works.
- If baby cries and can’t settle – Get up and move about, take a walk up and down the isle, go and chat to the cabin crew, it will take your mind off any stress and anxiety flying with a baby.
- Needing the toilet while flying with a baby – Don’t worry, ring the cabin crew bell, tell the staff you need to pop to the loo, they will be more than happy to hold baby.
- Changing a baby on a flight – Ok so the first time I needed to change my 4 month old on a flight I had no idea how it worked. I asked a member of staff to show me how the changing table folded out so I could rest baby on to change her.
- Everyone is sleeping and my baby cries – Oh the woes of flying with a baby and the one mums worry about the most. Firstly babies cry and usually your not the only one on a flight with a baby, the airline tends to bunch the babies up together in the middle of the plane (for all my short flights with AirAsia worked this way). It was great, you had another parent to relate to and if needed a helping hand. And remember, if anyone gets annoyed about a crying baby they will look 100 times worse if they make a fuss about it, smile, keep calm and carry on mamma!
- Here’s another article giving 20 useful tips for single parents traveling with young children.
Flying with a baby – Multiple connecting flights
There’s one thing flying with a baby but what about connecting flights with a baby. I’ve done several multiple flights with my baby and we survived that too.
The most memorable was from Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand to Bangkok then over to Hanoi in Vietnam. I flew with AirAsia, the process was easy and someone from the airline was there to meet us once we got off our first flight, the member of staff took us through the airport where we needed to catch our connecting flight to Vietnam. Totally stress free.
Here’s my top tips for managing multiple and connecting flights when flying with a baby:
- Take the opportunity for a good walk about with baby – I usually find a quiet space to set down my bags and let baby have a crawl around on her blanket or a walk around when she learnt to walk.
- Freshen up – We all like to feel fresh after a flight, take the extra time you have to use the bathroom and freshen up before your next flight. Wipe baby down, clean face and hands and if possible a nice fresh set of clothes.
- Courtesy prams – During several connecting flights I found airports offering prams to get around easier. My pram would still be in hold and not usually provided for transit flights.
- Stock up – If you need fresh water nows the time to grab a fresh cool drink and possibly a snack to keep your energy up flying with a baby.
- Currency and ATM’s – On all my connecting flights I never had access to an ATM which sucked, I made sure I had USD and local currency if possible while in transit.
- Arrivals cards – I always complete these in advance when I get a quiet moment either during the flight or transit.
- Additional security checks – When transiting you’ll have to go through an additional security check, these tend to feel easier and more straightforward then the previous.
I think you’re more than prepared flying with a baby now, I know it’s a stressful thing to envision but you will make it through just fine. Being a single parent while flying with a baby was a great experience, it made me stronger.
So whether your a single parent or not I hope I’ve helped you feel better about your up and coming flight with a baby. Feel free to share with other parents preparing to fly with a baby.
Happy travels flying with a baby, Tina and kids x
If you would like to join our online community you can here at our Single Mum Travellers Private Facebook Group.
If you’re pregnant and preparing the travel see my advice on traveling while pregnant.
If flying is part of your cruise, see my advice on how to pack for a cruise.
Traveling as a large family? Advice here on excess baggage and alternative ways to manage it when travelling abroad.