The thought of travelling with a baby on a plane can be daunting for any parent. To avoid spending long, disagreeable hours in the air here are some simple tips for a smooth flight when travelling with a baby that could make your journey a more pleasurable/less stressful one.
Things to know before leaving
- A baby can make a short flight up to 6 hours as early as one week of age, and at 3-4 weeks, it can make a medium or long distance flight – anywhere from 6-25 hours. If your baby has a cold, it is strongly advised not to fly as pressure changes in the cabin can cause discomfort for your baby.
- All children travelling overseas, including newborns, need a passport. Most countries require all passports to have at least six months validity from your planned date of return to Australia. Keep a photocopy of your passport, itinerary and travel insurance documents separate from the originals and leave copies at home with someone you can easily contact in case of an emergency.
- When you reserve your airline ticket, be sure to mention that you will be traveling with your baby. Certain airlines have specific seats for parents who are traveling with very young children.
On the plane:
- To limit the effects of a change in cabin pressure when taking off and landing, it is recommended that you ensure your baby has something to drink, preferably something they usually drink. The act of swallowing and sucking will help alleviate ear pressure.
- A pacifier can also relieve stress for your baby.
- In addition to your traditional carry-on luggage, you’re allowed to take your baby’s nappy bag with you into the cabin including any food and medication your baby may need. Powdered milk formula is also allowed but you’ll have to ask the flight crew to provide you with spring water heated to the right temperature to prepare your baby bottles. Most airlines have free checked-in luggage for infants, up to a certain weight. They may also have a stroller available for use once you have checked-in your own personal stroller. Check with your airline for specific information.
- Prepare for emergencies by packing your nappy bag as you normally would with extra clothing, nappies and baby wipes – opt for wipes instead of cleansing lotions, which have to meet air safety standards: they cannot be over 100ml, and must be placed in transparent plastic bags and presented when you go through security for international flights.
- Blankets provided by the airlines may not be sufficient for your little one. Include warm, comfortable clothing (bring along your baby’s usual sleeping bag and a cap) because the flight might be long and the temperature is often kept quite cool inside the plane.
- Depending on the length of your flight you’ll have to plan for appropriate meals for your baby. Try to keep feeding times as normal as possible.
- Be sure your baby drinks a lot during the flight. Infants become dehydrated much faster than adults due to the dry, pressurised air.
- Parents’ biggest challenge during a long flight is to keep their baby occupied. This should be taken into account when you book your tickets. Consider trying to book a flight that coincides with your child’s naptime or even a night flight. You may be able to reserve a baby crib directly with your airline (these cribs are for children who weigh less than 10 kg and are less than 70 cm in length). Otherwise, you can try to recreate a cosy, familiar environment with your baby’s favourite soft toys, books and games.
- And here is an unexpected tip for getting your baby to sleep during the flight: taking along his car seat might help him drift off more easily because it’s familiar to him. Check with your airline in advance as you may need to reserve and purchase an extra seat. Depend on seating availability, and the size of the car seat this may make the trip more comfortable.