Flying with an Infant – The Need to Know Info…
Your first family holiday, taking time to escape the reality of life and sit by the waters edge with your baby while you soak in the warmth of the summer sun. You watch them discover a whole new world as they play in the rocks and sand, dipping their little toes into the water. Its in this moment that you think to yourself ‘yep, it was worth it!’ When considering a family holiday and flying with a baby the response from family and friends is often “Are you serious? I couldn’t think of anything worse!” And it leaves you wondering if your about to make a huge mistake that you’ll probably never do again. So if your after some encouragement, a whole lot of information, great products and practical tips when flying with bubs then you’ve come to the right place. It is possible, you will survive and you may just do it again! Reality is many people have a reason to fly with their baby, they may have family overseas that they need to visit or the lure of not paying for an infant on a flight is too good to pass up and makes for an affordable family holiday. The trick is to have all the info, be prepared and relax.
So grab a drink and get comfy because here are a bunch of things you need to know before you take that journey and how to survive a flight with an infant. I’ve even included a ‘Carry On Packing List’ because, lets face it, everything you take for a baby needs to be accessible at all times!
Let’s start from the beginning…
Booking Flights: Airlines class an infant as a child under 2 years old. Once a child turns 2 they are then a child fare. Be aware that if your child turns 2 during your trip you will need to pay for a child fare for the return journey.
You can book a flight for your baby before they are born, just contact the airline office to make this booking and update the details once your baby has arrived.
Babies that are healthy and over 7 days old are permitted to fly. Should you need to fly within 7 days of having your baby then you will require medical clearance.
Your child will require a passport if flying internationally and if you are travelling alone with your child then it is recommend that you have a signed letter from the other parent to show they give consent to you travelling with your child.
Ensure you check the baggage allowances for your infant with the airline you are flying with as they can vary. Most airlines will let you have an extra bag to carry on for your infant.
Although you don’t pay a fare for an infant you may be required to pay the taxes for them.
Research your destination and be aware of the vaccinations that may be recommended for both adults and children. The results of this may alter your mind on your destination so it is important to know before booking. Also, be sure to check for any health and safety warnings before travelling.
Don’t book tight connections if you can help it. Trying to race from one side of the airport to another to get a connecting flight all while juggling a baby that could ‘explode’ or melt down at any moment might not be a good idea! Be kind to yourself and give yourself a bit of time to change flights to ensure you don’t miss the connection and take the stress out of it.
You may only book one infant per adult per booking.
You can request a bassinet for your child by phoning the airline, however, it cannot always be guaranteed. Some budget airlines require you to pay for an ‘extra leg room’ seat to ensure your request for a bassinet is valid. Bassinets vary in size and although they say a child up to the age of 2 can use them, often babies over 12 months struggle to fit. They also have a weight limit which is usually 11kgs (24lbs) and a height limit that varies across airlines. Check the height limitations on the airline’s website.
Packing: Most domestic flights won’t include an extra checked bag for an infant so you will need to pack their stuff in your own bag and within your baggage allowance. International flights are different and you may be allowed 1 bag for your infant up to 10kgs (22lbs). Check with your airline to confirm these allowances.
Packing cells – These make packing so much easier, especially when you are sharing a bag. Make sure each member of the family has their own packing cell and that way you can share suitcase with ease. Also pack a couple of spare packing cells to use as washing bags so that when you have the chance to wash its all sorted and ready to go.
Nappies – depending on the destination and how sensitive your child is to nappies will determine whether you take your own or buy when you arrive. If you do take them with you then think about all the room for purchases you’ll have on the return trip!
Clothes – I tend to pack 2 outfits per day for an infant. This may seem like a lot and it does depend on the type of trip your taking. If you can easily wash then don’t pack for as many days, if you can’t easily wash then pack for the whole trip. There isn’t really a formula for how much to pack, just think about the climate and how long your away for, lay all the clothes out and work backwards. Pack simple clothes like onesies or nappy covers and a top, etc. Don’t go too crazy with the cute accessories as they only take up space in a bag. Try and only pack the practical things and maybe a special outfit for a special occasion.
Pack things that are not easy to find or that your baby is sensitive to such as creams, sun cream, baby wipes, extra medication and extra dummies.
Logistics – Make sure you pack your bags in such a way that you can handle them throughout the airport. Trolleys may be available but cannot always be relied on. Practice at home to make sure you can handle everything before you leave. Don’t forget that if you have a toddler that will walk, make sure you have a hand free to hold theirs.
Carry On: (to receive this carry on list as a pdf then simply subscribe to my blog and it will arrive in your inbox!) Your trip is soon and your feeling a mix of excitement and nerves all at once. I get it, we’ve all had that feeling. Trying to get your head together to pack your carry on bag can be a challenge at this point, especially if you have other children or family members that you are packing for too. So here is my list of essentials to have when traveling with an infant that I have found most useful and necessary. Once you have these things packed then you can clear your mind and think about any other little things you know your bub will need or love. I also recommend that you pack your carry on items into different small packing cells or ziplock bags to keep some kind of order to your bag. You’ll also need to have all your liquids in a clear plastic bag for security. I like to have all nappy change items in an easy to grab pack that you can keep in the seat pocket to save you the hassle of rummaging through everything.
I like to use a backpack as my carry on bag so that I can put it on my back or on the back of the stroller leaving my hands free to push another suitcase and carry my child.
At the end of this blog you will find a bunch of small businesses that have many of the products listed in this carry on list. So if you need to re-stock, get prepared or looking for the perfect gift for a family about to set off on a trip then check out our little marketplace below and take advantage of the special offers just for The World And Kids readers.
Nappies – work out how many hours your in transit and pack accordingly and then add two more! Wipes – always have plenty of wipes easily accessible. Nappy Sacks – those little plastic bags that save the rest of the plane from the nappy smell. Nappy Cream – transfer 100mls into a travel size tube or pot for your carry on bag. If your looking for a natural nappy cream option then check out the new product available in our little market space below. Change Pad – the change table on a place is very flat and solid, pack a change pad for cleanliness and comfort. Dummy & Chain – trying to find that dummy under a plane seat in the dark is a parents worst nightmare when mid flight and you have a upset bub. Think ahead and attach a dummy chain. Hand Sanitiser – it can be difficult washing your hands well after nappy change with bubs rolling about in the change table. Have a small bottle of hand sanitiser to wash when back at your seat. Make sure the bottle is 100ml or less. Change of Clothes – for both you and bubs. Keep them light and not bulky. Make sure they are easy access clothes for nappy changes in confined spaces. Pack their pyjamas for sleep times. Socks – cold feet are never nice! If not in a onesie then I recommend long socks or tights to prevent them falling off. Check out the cute new range of kids tights and leggings in our markets space below. Bibs – Be prepared for messy food! Disposable bibs are a great option for flights so you don’t have to carry around a dirty bib. If you have a dribbley bub then a bib is perfect to use and change often to keep their neck clean and dry during the flight so the don’t get cold. Beanie – keep baby’s head warm, especially if they are young. Comforter – that special toy or blanket to help them feel secure and comfortable. Blanket or Wrap – planes can be cold and there is nothing better than snuggling up to something familiar. Sleep Suit – if this is what your baby is used to then bring it along. Baby Paracetamol – be sure to buy the 100ml or less bottle and place in a clear bag for security. Ensure you child has had all medication before you travel to make sure they don’t have any adverse side affects. Baby Ibuprofen – be sure to buy the 100ml or less bottle and place in a clear bag for security. Ensure you child has had all medication before you travel to make sure they don’t have any adverse side affects. Ear Plugs for Kids – A product we found helpful are little ear plugs that help with the cabin pressure during take off and decent. There are a couple of brands available so have a look at your local pharmacy. Neck Pillow – I find these really helpful, even for little ones. Food and Snacks – The best way to keep them entertained! Check out my food list below. Lollipop or Lolly – Another great option for those little ears during take off and descent. Find something small, you don’t want them having too much sugar. The aim to to get them to either suck or chew to help those ears pop. Bottle & Sippy Cup – No one likes a wet seat during a flight. Avoid spills and bring a bottle or sippy cup to use. Formula or Milk – yes you can take both baby formula or milk on board. If taking milk then make sure you have poured the milk into the baby bottles and have them ready to show security. You are allowed a reasonable quantity of liquids when travelling with a baby including milk, sterilised water, juice and baby food puree. Pouch Spoons and Baby Cutlery – Having a baby spoon and pouch spoon (the ones that screw onto the baby food pouches) can be very handy when on the plane. Often the cutlery provided is too big for an infant to use. Toys & Teethers – Pack their favourite little toys and teethers to help occupy them when they aren’t snacking or sleeping. If you can attach your bubs teether to them so they don’t drop it then I really recommend doing so. Make sure they aren’t squeaky though! Fabric Book – Little fabric books are great entertainers for little ones and they are so light and easy to pack. Why not buy a couple of new ones just for the trip. Tablet Device – Some older infants are able to use a tablet device and enjoy watching their favourite shows or flicking through a animated story. You can download some new episodes of their favourite shows or books to surprise them during the flight. Over Ear Headphones – I find the best headphones for kids are the over ear headphones. Be sure to buy a pair that are small enough for your little one and also check the volume level before putting them onto you child. Ear Muffs – Some babies wake very easily with that startle reflex. Baby earmuffs are a great way to help eliminate the startle from a sudden loud sound or voice, especially when in a confined space such as on a plane. Infant Birth Certificate and Passport – Don’t forget your child’s passport for international flights and a copy of their birth certificate for domestic flights. Baby Carrier or Toddler Leash – Have a think about how you are going to carry or walk with your child through the airport without a stroller when you arrive at your destination. Some airlines will bring your stroller to the plane exit for you to use straight away, others will send your stroller out with the luggage or oversize luggage. Stroller – Lightweight umbrella strollers can often be taken to the boarding gate and given to an attendant then. If you are traveling with a large pram then, more than likely, it will have to be put through oversize luggage at check in. Don’t rely on an airport having strollers to borrow as not every airport has them. Travel Wallet – Keep yourself organised to reduce the risk of loosing the important stuff – carry a travel wallet to keep everyone’s passports, documents and boarding passes together and easy to access when you need to.
Getting through the Airport: Check in – The whole family need to be together when checking in. Don’t have one parent taking the kids for a walk while the other parents heads to the check in counter. Have your documents organised and easily accessible to show the check in staff. You will be issued with departure cards that will need to be filled out before you head to the departure gates and immigration. Make sure all of your bags, stroller, car seat, etc have their bag tags with your details secured to them. Also, make sure your bags are locked with approved airport locks. If you put your stroller or pram through the oversize check in then make sure you have everything out of it! Don’t leave anything in the hood of the stroller only to remember as you watch it disappear down the conveyor belt!
Immigration – Have your documents ready for the immigration officer. They will need to see your baby’s face so be aware of that if you have them facing you in a baby carrier.
Security – Dress comfortable and wear slip on shoes to easily get through security. Avoid belts and jackets if possible too. You don’t want to have to stop, put baby down and practically get undressed just to get through security. Strollers need to be scanned so make sure everything is out of them including anything in pockets. Baby carriers will also need to be scanned and cannot be worn through the security gates. To ensure the queue continues to flow, take baby out of the carrier before you get to the security gate if you can. All liquids, including baby food and drinks, must be in a clear plastic back and put into a separate tray for the scanner. Make sure you send it through with the parent holding the child so that security know is for a baby. Have your tablet device accessible in case it needs to be put through the scanner separately. This varies between airports.
Airside – Find a place to let your little one have a run/crawl around. There is usually a kids play area or restaurant with a playground. Check with the information desk and find this spot. If you are travelling with another adult then take it in turns to have a wander around the airport alone and enjoy some child free time before the big flight. I know this works well for me.
Do a quick nappy change before boarding and check the area that you have been at to make sure you don’t leave anything behind.
Families usually get priority boarding so that you can get sorted without holding up other passengers. Take this opportunity but make sure you are at the gate just prior to the boarding time.
On the flight: Sleep – Use the same sleep cues that you use at home. This includes things like putting pyjamas on, having a bottle, reading a story, putting a sleep suit on, etc. Once this is done, relax. Truth is they may not fall asleep straight away and may want to sit up and keep looking around. Don’t fight with them, just let it happen when it happens. You can only give them all the cues for sleeping and the rest is up to them. They will sleep when they are tired. The more you panic about it then the harder it will be so keep calm, deep breaths and wait for them to nod off.
Eating – Try and feed them their main meals just before you eat yours so that you aren’t trying to feed baby and you at the same time. Keep some of the snacks for them to nibble on while your eating your meal. Hopefully this will help keep their hands out of your food! See the Food/Drink section below for food and snack ideas.
Walk the Aisles – You can walk about with your bubs but be sure to choose your times. Don’t try and wander the aisles during meal times or you’ll be trying to dodge the food trolley.
Entertainment – Only bring out one toy at a time. Try and make everything last for as long as possible! For babies who like to give those teething toys a good old chew, make sure you attach them to your bubs so they don’t drop on the floor.
Arrival: Keep calm, don’t rush and don’t stress. Its ok to be last of the plane.
Most airport staff are helpful and will try and get you through long queues as quickly as they can. However, they cannot help you with your luggage so make sure you can handle everything by yourselves before you leave.
Make sure you declare any left over food that you want to keep.
Food/Drink Ideas: Many airlines don’t provide food for an infant not paying for a seat, so be prepared and pack your own food for bubs. Think snacks – lots of little things that will keep them occupied for a while every time they eat.
Some snack ideas are – Fresh fruit and vegetables cut into small pieces. Cheerios or another small cereal. Muesli bars or oat slice – you can make your own to avoid too much sugar. Rice biscuits. Breakfast biscuits. Sultanas or other dried fruit – not too much, you don’t want to upset their tummy. Milk Arrowroot biscuits. Cream cheese and crackers. Small lollies/gummies – great for their ears during take off and decent if old enough to eat. Baby rusks.
Main meal ideas – Squeeze packs of baby food – only bring ones you have tried before and know that they like them. Try and avoid carrying glass food jars as they are heavy and could break. Cooked pasta, couscous or rice Steamed vegetable pieces Homemade food frozen – this should stay fresh for the first part of the flight (if long haul)
DON’T FORGET – Many countries require food products to be declared or discarded on arrival. Follow all signs and do what is required. Keep all food in the one place to make sure you don’t have a pack of sultanas shoved into a random pocket somewhere. Those amazing sniffer dogs will find everything, even if we can’t!
Breastfeeding during the flight is the best way to help little ones with their ears, especially during take off and descent. Babies usually start to get fussy because of their ears about half an hour before you land (give or take) as this is when the plane starts to descend and the pressure changes. The captain will usually make an announcement at this time so you’ll know when to start feeding! If your not breastfeeding your baby then give them a drink or something to suck on at these times.
Medication: There is no judgement here at all as to whether you choose to take medication with you that may make your child drowsy in a bid to get them to sleep. Fact is, some doctors actually recommend these medications to some parents. This is neither a for or against post but one thing I stress to parents is to TRY IT BEFORE YOU LEAVE! Not only can some of these medications have the reverse affect on some children and send them hypo, but they can have some bad side effects too including an allergic reaction. Your doctor or pharmacist will tell you the same thing so please take their advise and try try try first!
If your child is prone to certain things like ear infections, asthma or croup then make sure you are carrying the correct medication just in case. A quick visit to your local doctor before you leave and stocking up on what they suggest is the best advice I ever received and will always do prior to a big trip.
Prams, Portable Cots and Car Seats: Car Seats can be used inflight and is a great option for infants who sleep well in their car seat and like a secure, familiar space to be in. Some parents also prefer the extra safety of have their child secured in their car seat. However, there are some restrictions of the type of car seats that can be used AND a seat must be purchased for your child to use. Contact each airline that you are flying with and check their car seat requirements and make the booking.
All other baby items such as the pram, portable cot and car seat (not being used inflight) must be checked in and (usually) taken to the oversize baggage drop prior to you heading to the departure gates. You will need to check the baggage allowance for your particular flight but usually baby items travel free when an infant or child is booked. Beware that budget airlines may charge for these items or only allow one of them per child.
You may be able to take your stroller to the boarding gate. Confirm with the check in staff on arrival.
Wow, that was a lot of information. Hope you got through it all and didn’t freak out! It seems like there is a lot to take in and know, but don’t worry, this list is here so you can come back and fourth to it whenever you need. Save it in your bookmarks folder or email it to yourself for future reference and pass it onto friends that you think may also find this useful.
*All information included is based on current requirements and can change at any time. Be sure to check with your airline and airport prior to departure.
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This post has been sponsored by the above businesses. It has been a pleasure working with them.
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