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Tips for stress free air travel with your baby

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.
  • 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.
On the day
  • 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.
In the air
  • 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.
Author : Jane Dawson

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my husband travelled with our daughter to Africa when she was only 6mo and they were fine [this was 8yrs ago], i'm travelling with my lo in July, he'll be 9mnths then. I'm getting stressed already, coz they've still got this 100ml max. liquid rule. we're travelling to Africa, I hope they'll accept the ready to feed packaged milk in my hand luggage when we're coming back
by afeni 3rd Mar 2011, 5:05pm
I really don't believe in taking babies on flights, especially long haul. Sometimes it just can't be avoided but we waited until our daughter was 3 before taking her on holiday on a plane and will do so again with our new baby.
Not only is it stressful for the parents and other passengers to listen to a screaming baby for hours with no escape, I think it's totally unfair on the babies. They don't scream when they are happy, they scream because they are frightend and often in pain as their ears aren't developed enough to cope with the air pressure changes.
by KT1980 13th Sep 2010, 9:52am
I have a one year old son and a cute girl 3 monts she we live in sweden and we frying to Los Angeles Usa .
by VanessaAngela 12th Aug 2010, 10:47am
I have a two year old and i am expecting in august again, I am hoping to go to Thailand in October with all the family for my dad's 50th birthday. I am looking for help and advice on wither this is a ggod idea or not. I understand there would be plenty off planning to be done in advance, can anyone help make up my mind as my midwife said this would be fine and my doctor is saying it is a no no.
by Weeickle 14th May 2010, 5:10pm
Sounds simple eh.... planning to fly to spain in may and aready stressing but this has been helpful- thanks X
by supernurse 14th May 2010, 3:17pm
We live in Asia and our family lives in Europe and North-America. Consequently we have been travelling with our baby boy on a 14hrs flight when he was 6 weeks old to introduce him to my in-laws. Even though we were slightly nervous whether we packed sufficiently and how our baby would respond to the long journey it worked very well. He slept most of the flight! After this trip we have been travelling on 1 more long haul and 2 short hauls and he is now 6 months. We do experience that our boy is getting more active and he sometimes has a moment, but we are very conscious of the fact that there are many more people on the plane and regardless whether it is your own baby or not or you have children or not it is nerve wrecking to have a crying baby on the plane. We have listened carefully to our doctor and friends with babies and have different ways to ensure that he is entertained and he does not get painful ears. We are lucky to say that our boy is a very easy traveller.
Memmawizz; thank you for the tip on the website. I just had a look and we'll definitely look at the possibilities next time we will travel!
by cmbdh 15th Jan 2010, 4:27pm
im planning on goin 2 america with my lil one next year she will be over one then i was meant 2 go this month but she is only 5 months and i panicked and put it off til next year but becoz of the long journey i can feel already i will b putting it off til shes about 10 lol ne1 help shud i stay shud i go i dont kno xxx
by taiyatai 6th Aug 2009, 10:25am
I have used a company called who deliver all your baby products direct to your hotel bedroom (or other accommodation). They were fantastic and because I didn't have to carry jars, nappies etc. I had more bagage allowance for toys, books and games which kept my 1 year old entertained through our 2.5 hour flight. Baby Holidays also had loads of useful information and FAQs which really made me feel better about flying with my baby. What a great idea for parents and babies!!
by Memmawizz 19th Nov 2008, 9:10am
am thinking about travelling in march am 35 week pregnant so my baby will be 4 months pregnant and my flight will be 7 hours on plane so i dont know if i could go for this step or not although its not just a holiday so wat shall i do?
by yasa9 3rd Nov 2008, 10:16am
My comment is directed at one particular response where the viewer thinks that parents should be apologizing or unnecessarily smiling at everyone on the plane for travelling with thier little ones or stop taking long haul flights for three years. I have travelled around the world with my littleone and the only country where I was shouted at was in America, thats because most of the passengers on the plane were either single or old. If travelling with kids was a crime plane authority would already have passed the rule banning it, but to some selfish peoples dissatisfaction its very much encouraged. Why should someones life come to a standstill for 3 1/2 years because they have kids . My argument would be directed that if someone is soo scared of travelling with kids they should check the airlines beforehand and cancel their holidays and spend somewhere nice and warm in the UK.I think we should learn from the latino culture or the asian culture where people are very patient with young ones .
by sanjivini 23rd Sep 2008, 8:53am
We lived in Germany, I´m British my partner is portuguese, and I have flown with my now 3 mth old twice, He was 11 wks the first time, and he slept the whole way, second time was awake but fine, I think the best thing to do is try to feed at take off and landing, then their ears wont pop. But I think its easier with small babies than older children. It is annoying for other passengers if there is a crying baby, but unfortunately thats what babies do, although I appreciate that it doesnt do any harm to smile and apologise to the othe passngers, who generally are fine with that!
by ymillin 29th Aug 2008, 9:18am
As a single parent why should I have to put my life on hold or in fear of doing what I used to do a lot (travel for example) because of my baby. The way I see it, she'll never get used to flying etc if keep putting it off. Also I will never see my family if I go by rule 'Sticking to short haul and UK holidays until your child is 3yrs+'

Yes babies cry. And I expect parts of the flight will be a nightmare for me and everyone else, but we all have bad days, and all you other passengers can be grateful that when you get off the flight you can get away from me and my little girl.
by lovelyalex 4th Aug 2008, 9:11am
'Sticking to short haul and UK holidays until your child is 3yrs+' ...that's a nice idea but some people have to travel long haul for reasons other than a holiday such as visiting family overseas, weddings, funerals etc
by Chickpeasweet 24th Jun 2008, 8:44am
"it's unusual for other passengers to get agitated by a crying infant, but if they do, ignore it."

I think this article is really useful but I really disagree with this point - as a baby-free air passenger for several years (I am now expecting my first child) I have to say that a screaming baby, especially on long haul flights IS really agitating for other passengers, and parents who pretend it is not happening I think make the situation even worse.

I appreciate that sometimes the flight is necessary but having recently spent an 8 hour flight on the row in front of a baby who cried, well screamed, for pretty much the whole journey, I can honestly say that I started my holiday feeling really stressed. I was utterly speechless when I heard the parents on the cruise ship the next day telling another couple that they had dropped off their kids for a week in the onboard creche so they could enjoy their cruise - so that poor little baby had spent 8 hours in misery for nothing. I thought this was totally unfair and selfish.

My husband and I have been to all the long haul destinations we desperately wanted to go to before we conceived - as we felt it would be better to stick to short haul and UK based holidays until our own children are older 3+).

I think if you find yourself in the situation where your baby's crying is agitating others on a flight, then offering a brief apology or giving a little smile to them would help difuse the situation a great deal. I believe it shows a level of sympathy towards them that they have to sit there and listen to the crying and I think that they are more likely to be sympathetic in return then than just ignoring it.

Is it just me that thinks that? So many friends I have spoken to agree about babies and flying but then the odd person has said they don't care and that they are as entitled as anyone else to seems that opinions are extreme on the subject either way! All I know is it is going to be Eurodisney, Cornwall and Centerparcs for us for the next couple of years anyway......
by Varisha 11th Jun 2008, 8:44am
We flew to South Africa in January with 7 month old twins. Flying was much easier than I thought it would be. We requested cribs and had night flights and both slept pretty much the whole time. The most stressful part of the experience was going through security at Heathrow as they pulled us from the queue and let us go through the staff line which was nice of them but we felt rushed and we weren't prepared and hadn't got the babies out of the buggy or our phones out of pockets etc. When we came back we were much more prepared and had collapsed the buggy and had everything ready before we joined the queue. Our biggest mistake though was using a company called Tiny Tots Away which offers a service of sending nappies, formula and food to your destination so that you don't have to take it yourselves. Sounds brilliant but we were let down by them and instead of our supplies arriving on Monday they didn't arrive until Thursday afternoon which pretty much ruined our holiday.
by katweddle 12th May 2008, 12:39pm
i will be in your shoes when mne comes along too.

i travel a lot back and forth to spain and often see babies on flights so i am not worried too much about it.

are you both scottish?

my boyf is spanish and am flyin out to see him in 3 weeks. so excited as i have just found out
by somoslagente 17th Mar 2008, 8:39am
hey every1.
i am living in glasgow at the moment with my boyfriend and family until our baby is born in may. My boyfriend and i live in gran canaria with his family for most of the year and was wondering if anyone has travelled with a baby around 6 weeks old. im feeling a little anxious about it but really want to leave scotland when the baby is born.i'd be grateful for a little help! thanx ,Alana x
by Lala19 29th Feb 2008, 5:23pm