Useful advice to help make air travel with your baby as stress-free and enjoyable as possible, with information on booking, safety and what to take with you when flying.
Some parents shy away from flying with baby in tow. However air travel doesn't need to be stressful. The key is allow yourself time, be calm and be prepared. Here are a few tips which can make the journey a lot smoother.
What age is safe?
Babies can travel from a couple of weeks old, but it's best delayed till they reach four to six weeks, at this point they are less susceptible to the germs of the plane's air conditioning. Always check with your GP before flying if baby has a cold, cough or ear infection.
- Book well in advance, explain that you're traveling with an infant and ask if the airline offers anything to help. Bigger planes tend to be better equipped, so opt for a larger air-craft when possible.
- Look for flights that cause least disruption to baby's routine: night flights are great for long haul journeys.
- Ask for seats with extra legroom, these are usually at the front of the plane. Avoid seats at the rear of the aircraft, as this is near the engine and tend to be noisier.
- If you can afford it, aim to get your baby a seat, many airlines offer half price tickets for children under two. This guarantees you a bit of space which is invaluable on long-haul. Take a car seat for landing and take-off, though you can have baby secured to you with a lap belt, a car seat is safer.
- Call the airline a day before departure to double check that your requirements are on the computer.
On the day
- Only take what you need- space is limited on board.
- Pack more feeds than necessary in case your journey is delayed.
- If possible breast-feed as this is a great pacifier during take-off and landing.
- For bottle-feeding babies take a ready-to-feed-formula. These can be consumed at room temperature, which is ideal as you might struggle to warm bottles on a plane. Alternatively purchase a travel bottle warmer.
- For weaning babies consider packing home prepared food. These can be kept fresh in small containers in a cool bag. With infants over six months see whether they take to cooled boiled water or well-diluted fruit juice before flying, as these can occupy and soothe them during a flight.
- Remember to pack baby wipes and bibs, and prepare for spillages with a change of top for yourself, and a spare set of clothes for baby.
In the air
- Parents are often anxious about flying with baby for the first time. Make sure you are well rested and leave plenty of time to check-in.
- At check-in ask if the plane is full. If you're lucky enough to be on a quiet flight ask to be seated next to an empty seat or in a clear row.
- Some larger airports have play-areas in the lounges; this is a great way to amuse young children.
- Aim to change baby before you board, since the airport's changing room will be better than the on board facilities.
- Try to feed during landing and take-off to avoid baby's ears popping, otherwise allow them to suck on a dummy. This also soothes them against the noise of take-off which could be distressing.
- If your baby is restless once in the air, walk with them in the aisle. Try to keep a level head, it's unusual for other passengers to get agitated by a crying infant, but if they do, ignore it.
- Most babies cope well with flying, by keeping them fed, soothed and working with their nap times you should minimize problems. If your baby does cry a lot and you feel anxious about other passengers, try a trip to the bathroom. Often being alone and not worried about others will calm you down which makes it easier to soothe your child.
Above all be positive, be prepared, and don't be afraid to ask. Airport staff and on flight stewards are usually surprisingly helpful with parents and babies.