Five tips for flying with a baby, from security to seating to packing for the trip
Taking your baby on flights can be challenging for you and your fellow passengers. To avoid conflict and ensure a more relaxed trip, here are five tips
Babies travel too. If you plan to be up in the air with a new member of the clan, here are five tips to consider.
1. Pick the right flight
Depending on the distance you’ll be travelling, consider choosing a flight that falls over nap time. That way you know your little one will be more likely to snooze. If a non-stop itinerary is not possible, avoid short layovers.
Who wants to sprint to the next gate with baby and gear in tow? Give yourself plenty of time between connections. Also know that morning flights are less likely to be delayed. Plus, you’ll have more time on the other end to settle in at your new destination.
2. Plan and pack precisely
Create a packing list in advance so you’re sure to have what you need in the airport and on board. Plan for delays and the unexpected while keeping your load as light as possible for ease of movement. Dress all family members in layers. Flights can be chilly or steamy.
Bring healthy snacks and drinks and dole out goodies to older children in advance to lessen the likelihood that everyone will need something at exactly the same moment once on board.
You’ll be able to check your stroller at the gate and later pick it up as you leave the plane during connecting flights or for the long trek to baggage claim.
3. Seat selection
Experts suggest that the safest way to travel with a baby weighing less than 18kg (40 pounds) is strapped into a car seat in his or her own aeroplane seat. However, if an extra seat is not in the budget, consider booking a window and aisle if two are travelling. If travelling solo, an aisle will give you greater access to help from a flight attendant as well as the option for a stroll to calm the baby.
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The bulkhead is also a great option. If not available at the time of ticketing, check again at the gate for the best last-minute option. Most airlines will allow families to board early, enabling your clan to get settled with less pressure.
4. About security
Give yourself plenty of time at the airport, keeping stress levels to a minimum. Transport security officials will allow you to bring enough formula or breast milk for the trip but they may open the containers and scan them for security purposes. If you travel with powdered formula, buy bottled water at the gate rather than relying on in-flight water.
You’ll have to put strollers, backpacks, toys, breast pumps and car seats through the scanners so don’t be shy about asking for help. You can carry your baby through security, but slings or other carriers will be inspected or sent through the scanner. Children under 12 do not have to remove shoes or light jackets.
5. Managing the ups and downs
Changes in pressure can wreak havoc on travellers of any age. Often the pressurisation begins earlier than you might expect so ask the flight attendant for a heads up so you’ll be prepared. Spare your baby the discomfort by nursing or offering a bottle during take-off and landing. A dummy or your own pinky are good backups. Baby-sized earplugs can block the potentially scary sounds of jet engines and other unusual noises.
Most planes have a changing table in the bathroom. Few flying companions or flight attendants will appreciate a quick nappy change on a spare seat or your tray table.
While there has been a fair bit of publicity about cranky passengers and airline personnel being unfriendly to travelling families, why not lead by example? Be respectful of fellow passengers and crew and you are likely to receive their kindness, compassion and cooperation in return. Many have been in your shoes.