Most of these tips for flying with a baby I’ve picked up as a flight attendant and I have used them on over 20 occasions when flying with my junior frequent flyer. Thanks to Jaime-Anne (Flight attendant and mum to a frequent flyer) for the tips.
Pillow and Blanket
1. Take a small pillow and blanket. Budget carriers don’t provide these and plane air conditioning is often cold!
2. When checking-in, ask if you can get a spare seat allocated next to you if the flight is not full (this will be free of charge). It can’t always happen but there is no harm in asking.
3. Board the plane early (Virgin offer a Pre-board system for elderly, parents of small children etc). This way you can get settled in before everyone else starts jostling for their seats and trying to stow their luggage away.
Sit at the back
4. I recommend sitting in the back few rows, and strongly recommend and aisle seat. This is for a few reasons (and even more so if your travelling alone with bub!) : you are closes to the toilet and baby change table, close to cabin crew if you need help, and sitting in an aisle seat means you don’t have to climb over people to get in and out if you need to get up and down!
Ask for help
5. Don’t be afraid to ask cabin crew for help (especially if you’re travelling alone with bub). Many crew love the chance to sit and have a cuddle with babies, and mums and dads are entitled to a toilet break too!
Feed during take-off and landing
6. Try and feed bub on take off and landing, or offer a dummy, water, or, if old enough, small snacks. This helps the air pressure in their ear adjust while the aircraft pressure system is active and returning to normal air pressure. If you need a bottle heated let the crew know when they give you the infant seatbelt.
7. Make sure you pack an extra bottle (even if it’s empty) and some extra formula just incase of delays etc. You can always ask the crew for boiled or bottled water to fill it.
8. Have a ‘grab bag’ for nappy change times. Just a packet of wipes, a couple of nappies (you don’t want to have to duck out for another nappy if bub has a mid-change wee!), nappy rash cream and hand sanitiser. Aircraft toilets are very small and the floors are often gross, and there isn’t really room to put anything down. Try to find one with a long handle so you can sling it over your shoulder and across your chest so you can reach everything with one hand, and tuck it out of the way behind your back when you aren’t reaching into it. You also don’t want to spend too much time in the toilet as bub and you are unrestrained and it can be dangerous if there is sudden turbulence. Also, always use the bathroom to change bub, as people are often uncomfortable if its done on the seats and most airlines have a policy against this for health and safety reasons.
Change of clothes
9. Have a change (or two or three) of clothes ready for bub (and if they are a spewer one for you!). If an accident happens during the flight you and/or bub can get changed when you arrive at the airport. Also remember to pack a plastic bag to put any soiled clothes into – you don’t want to throw them in your bag o clean clothes! It is also a good idea to have an extra change for bub in your carry-on bag in case your luggage is misplaced – it doesn’t happen often but if it does you don’t want the worry that bub won’t be dressed adequately.
10. Have some toys to keep bub occupied, even little bub’s attention can be drawn to toys to settle them- don’t rely on in flight entertainment!
Extra luggage allowance
11. Check with your airline, but most infant tickets include a portacot, pram/stroller and carseat in checked in luggage. Bub’s clothes, however, normally have to be included in your checked luggage allowance.
Take only necessities
12. Only take the necessities on board. Although mums and dads are amazing, you’re not an octopus. Having lots of stuff to carry, as well as a child, is just a nightmare when trying to squeeze down the narrow aisles.
Get off the plane last
13. Be patient, sit tight, and get off the plane last. People these days are always in a rush to get off and you don’t want bub to get squashed or kids to get lost! Although you may be eager to start your holiday/get home it’s not worth the hassle. If you wait to the end you can also get off the front and you won’t have to worry about going down the stairs, across the hot tarmac and then back up more stairs into the airport.
Take pram to the gate
14. Check with your airline, but most allow prams to be taken right up to the gate and checked in from there. Some will offer a loan pram for in terminal use. Baby carriers are great in the airport (gives you free hands and less worry going through security and having to collapse down your pram).
Drink lots of water
15. Make sure you drink lots of water as flying can be very dehydrating especially if you’re breast feeding!
16. Airplane air conditioning can be quite cold – keep this in mind when deciding what you and the kids are going to wear on the flight, but keep in mind your destination as well.Layers will allow you to adjust to temperature changes easily.
Take simple snacks
17. If taking snacks for kids make sure they are easy to manage and ready to go.
18. And probably the most important tip – Try to relax and remain clam so bub doesn’t feel your stress. Enjoy the flight and take lots of pictures, especially if it’s bub’s first flight!
Jaime-Anne is a flight attendant and mum to a frequent flying child. She is currently on maternity leave.
What are your best tips for flying with baby, comment below?
Here are some tips from parents on flying with kids based on their experiences.