4 June 2015

How to have an easy flight with your baby (under 1 year old)

Flying with a baby does not need to be a nightmare. In fact, it is perfectly possible to have a nice and successful flight with a baby, without resorting to pulling your hair out mid flight. Here are my 10 top tips on how to make flying with a baby easy (or at least easier). 

By the time my baby was one year old, she had had over a dozen flights. Mainly short ones, from 30 minutes to three hours, with several layovers. We have flown with my husband, and I've also flown "single", with just my baby. Her first flight was when she was but three months old, and beforehand I was extremely nervous and was prepared for pretty much anything. As a disclaimer I do have to say my little one was a pretty chilled little flyer and got lots of compliments from people for her relaxed demeanor, from the flight attendants to fellow passengers. Despite that, there are some things that do help in making the flight a (as much as possible) stress-free experience for yourself and your baby.

(And if you have a toddler, check my tips for an in-flight activity pack for toddlers!)




1. Pack just one bag

I always found packing light helped when travelling with my baby. You already have your baby to carry, and then a bag, and it all just gets too much if you have multiple things to worry about. So invest in a good nappy bag, preferably one that looks nice, has multiple pockets so you can separate all the baby items for easy access. Mine is a Storksak, and I have been loving it. Alternatively, a backpack might work as well, and Pacapod do some great looking ones.


2. You should pack these items in your (one piece of) hand luggage

  • Nappies (1 nappy per 1-2 hours of travel, depending on the age of your baby) 
  • Baby wipes (1 full pack) 
  • 1 change of clothes for your baby 
  • Dummies (pacifiers) if your little one likes them
  • A dummy steriliser (I loved Milton Mini steriliser)
  • Baby foods, finger foods, and formula if your baby is weaned / is bottle fed, 
  • Bibs/muslin
  • Your baby's favourite toy / sleep blanket
  • In-flight entertainment pack (see next sections for ideas!)
  • Whatever you personally need.
I have never needed a change of clothes for myself, but some people do swear by taking an extra shirt for the parents too. I used to pack a tank top and thin leggings for the just in case emergencies.


3. Prepare toys, finger foods and a tablet/smartphone for in-flight entertainment

An in-flight entertainment pack is a great idea to prepare - ideally this should include something for yourself and for your baby. Their favourite toy, or the toy they can't sleep with should be there. My personal favourite toy to bring is a hand puppet, as that provides lots of entertainment (moving and talking toy - pretty exciting for any baby). In an emergency the safety cards will do - they are colourful and laminated so won't break.

Finger foods, like little biscuits, are also great for preoccupying your baby.

A tablet with an hour of Peppa Pig (or any baby friendly TV programme) will also do. As a plus point, once your baby has (hopefully) fallen asleep, you can watch your own film or read a book on it.

4. Consider what to pack for food for your baby

For weaned babies food, and for bottle fed babies formula. You can take as much food and (commercially packaged) formula as you want and need for your baby. You can buy these really handy disposable formula bottles and teats too, which will save you some room in your luggage as you can just chuck them away after feeding your baby.

That said, you can be requested to open the packages if they are over 100ml, and the food may be tested or you asked to taste it. You can just scrape a little bit of the pureed foods off the lid, or spill some formula on your hand, if you are requested to do this.

Now, I have NEVER been asked to open or test or taste any of the food or formula I have brought to the airport, no matter the size of the container. But it could happen (it is in the rules). The problem is, IF you were asked to open the formula bottles / food jars the sterilisation process breaks.

If you are very worried about this you could either try to buy the food / formula at the airport. Most large airports have stores that stock nappies, food and formula. You should be able to order in advance (at Heathrow you can call Boots 24 hours earlier and request they stock a particular brand of formula if you need it). Or alternatively, you could pack the formula powder, lots of empty bottles, and mix the milk after the security control. Just request boiling water from any cafe inside the airport.


5. Take a baby carrier or a collapsible pram to carry your baby

By far the easiest option, especially if you are travelling solo with your baby, is to invest in a good quality baby carrier. You may have to go up and down stairs, or go on an airport bus, all the while dealing with your hand luggage. If you have a tight layover, packing your little one in the baby carrier on the plane and then legging is much easier than trying to speed walk your way through to another terminal with a babe in (literally) arms.

My favourite is Stokke MyCarrier. It is very comfortable and when used with the frontal bag (baby on your tummy side) it goes through metal detectors without a beep. 

If you aren't a baby carrier type of a person, then consider a collapsible pram. No personal experience of these, but Quinny Zapp and Stokke Scoot are models that should collapse in small size enough to take as hand luggage. I would still prefer a baby carrier if you are travelling solo, but a collapsible pram might be a good option if you are travelling as a family unit. Then at least you would have another pair of hands to negotiate stairs and carrying the rest of the hand luggage.

 



6. While waiting at the airport, try find a secluded area

If you have time to kill at an airport, try to find a secluded area. This will help in calming your baby before the flight. A luxurious way to do this is to go to any of the business lounges - check your tickets if you have access to them, and some credit cards have lounges too.

Many large airports have family lounges and play areas now as well, which aren't luxurious, but might have a soft play, some toys and comfortable seating. If you are flying from Heathrow be sure to check their family lounge out (located near Ted Baker).


7. Give your baby a dummy (or a bottle) during take-off and landing

Baby is supposed to be facing away from you, sitting on your lap, in his/her baby seat belt. You often get told that breastfeeding is good to do during take-off and landing as that helps to keep the baby ears from popping and hurting. Can't really do that though can you if your baby is facing away from you?

So give your baby a dummy (pacifier) or a bottle. Problem sorted.
 
8. Change your baby's nappy right before boarding

Because it is really awkward to change a nappy in the tiny toilets in a the plane. And you can guarantee there will be some turbulence just as you've taken it off. Always.

9. Ask for a pillow and a blanket (and if long haul, bassinet)

Most airlines (except perhaps not the budget ones) stock pillows and blankets, which both can be lifesavers during a flight. Prop your baby with some pillows, and cover yourself with a blanket when breasfeeding, makes for a much more comfortable flight.

For long hauls, you can request a bassinet (do this well in advance the flight) so you won't have to have your baby in your arms the whole flight.

And again, relax. If you relax, your baby is more relaxed, and your flight will be much easier. People generally are very friendly and helpful when you travel with a baby, and especially when you are flying solo, you will get lots of offers for help. Take them and thank them.

10. Try and relax 

The most important thing is... to relax. Take a chill pill, breathe deep, and think zen, all will pass.

It really doesn't matter what the other passengers think of your crying baby. Everyone has been a baby once, everyone has been a crying baby once, and everyone has been a royal pain in the butt once so now is payback time. And anyway, the cries of your own baby always sound the loudest to you - we parents are hard-wired that way. With the loud engines and all, other passengers will hardly even register the meek little cries a little baby does.

Most importantly however, babies feed off their parents, so if you are stressed and harried, so will your baby be. So relax. 

Good luck on your flight, hope you will have a nice and easy one!

(And when your baby becomes a toddler, check these tips for an airplane activity pack for toddlers!)


Do you have any top tips on how to fly with a baby?
 



34 comments:

  1. Hand puppet is great! I used to have one in my bag for Roscoe. It's fab because it takes up very little space but provides so much entertainment.

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    1. Yeah that's why I thought too. That was always my favourite way to get t baby to be quiet as she was in so much wonderment of this moving and talking toy :D

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  2. This is great! We're planning on going on holiday this year so I'm bookmarking this. The biggest thing I'm worried about is her wanting to get up & walk around. Sitting down for that long isn't easy. :-S

    Chloe
    x

    #thelist

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    1. Yeah, especially if she is at that age when all they want to do is toddle... I try to let my little one loose before the flight so she gets rid of her energy at the play area at the airport - then just hope she will fall asleep on the flight. Good luck!

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  3. We've flown a lot and can totally agree with your suggestions here :) It's distraction, distraction, distraction..... ;) #TheList

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    1. Yep, and you can use so many different things to achieve that - iPhone, tablet, toys, food, boob, dummy...

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  4. Great tips!! You are so right about making sure you relax... Babies pick up on it - and not to worry if they cry - just makes it worse. Baby carrier or sling is a must. I always carry some calpol and carry a rucksack rather than shoulder bag - helps balance me with the carrier. Somehow I always managed to blag breast feeding on take off/landing - no one ever said anything about it!! Haha. #pocolo

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    1. Yeah a rucksack would be better (when you have your baby on the front-loading baby carrier) - for some reason I've just always taken my normal nappy bag, and it can be a drag sometimes.

      Calpol too a good idea - we've never needed it, but it might come handy if their ears hurt.

      Hah, can't believe how you managed to do that - I was finding it really difficult. Luckily dummy did the same job of keeping the passageways between nose and ear open so there was no earache :)

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  5. Baby carrier and boobs - we would've been lost without them when flying with little ones!!!

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    1. Yep, very important ingredients in a successful flight. It does make it easier if you are able to breastfeed, as then there is that element of bringing the bottles and formula removed. I took formula on flight just in case I wasn't able to breastfeed (at the time I was finding it quite difficult) but luckily didn't need to bother with it in the end.

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  6. Great tips - the baby carrier is a must and a bag of tricks! #PoCoLo

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    1. Having a baby carrier does make it easier - and a bag of tricks, snacks and toys is much needed whenever they throw a strop!

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  7. totally agree - baby wearing is the best thing for flying, especially when you have more than one! Make sure to bring snacks like raisons, carrot sticks etc for toddlers, things that take them ages to pick up and get through, it kills a fair bit of time! #thelist

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    1. That's a good idea too :) Little finger foods are brilliant as it keeps them occupied, and little fingers out of mischief :) I find those magnetic drawing boards brilliant as well for toddlers as that can keep them amused (or at least my little one) for ages! And it is zero mess too.

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  8. Agree. We're travelling often between three different countries (country we live, mummys country and daddys country) and it's working just fine when you just take it easy. Our little boy got 32 take offs and landings before he got one year old, the first one was when he was 12 days old (to go home from the hospital town). The child is happily following the happy parents!

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    1. Wow that is one amazing globe trotting baby! 32 flights is quite unbelievable, you must be well used to flying now and I bet you would have a good bag of tips and tricks up your sleeve too :)

      Yeah, I think the most important thing is really jut to try and take it easy and not stress yourself out. Stock up on essentials and do your best. Can't do any more than that so no point stressing about it either.

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  9. What a fantastic bunch of tips - definitely useful and hope they will come in handy for me one day. Thanks for linking to PoCoLo x

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    1. Thanks for hosting :) flying with older kids is a different kettle of fish isn't it, in some ways easier and some ways more difficult. Might make another post about flying with a toddler soon :)

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  10. great tips, I agree with them all. I've done numerous flights from Sydney to the UK with my now two-year-old and have learnt a lot of these the hard way. She was not a good flyer and found it really hard to get to the sleep, but I realised after a while that rather than try to get her to sleep when I think she's tired, put the ipad on or let her play until way past her normal sleep time and she would eventually nod off rather than fight it.
    x #thelist

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    1. Yeah it can be really difficult sleeping on a plane as an adult (all the noise, the light and the strange surroundings) so it must be even more stressful for little ones who aren't too sure what's happening...

      I do the same thing, the rule book goes out of the window and she can eat what she wants and sleep when she wants and watch as much Peppa as she wants. Flying is not your average day so you shouldn't try to follow your normal rules too rigidly either.

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  11. Great tips. I've done lots of travelling with my now two year old, and found the carrier to be invaluable, especially when it's just the two of us! As he's got older a good selection of snacks, books and travel-friendly toys has helped too. And a couple of his movies on the iPad... x

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    1. The iPad is probably the biggest and single most useful entertainment toy for kids during flights. You can fit loads of kids films in it, and some entertainment for parents too in the off chance that the little monkeys nod off :) and it just mesmerises every child so you can have a relatively relaxed flight.

      Baby carriers are fab too, don't know how you would do it without one, makes everything so much easier!

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  12. Great tips! A baby carrier is definitely the best to use when flying. I used the Ergobaby for my then 19 month old when we flew to Hong Kong. Very handy when you also have an older child in tow! #TheList

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    1. Yeah, they are handy even after the baby stage, I still use mine when flying with my toddler and just have her on my back. Hong Kong, that must have been quite a long one!

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  13. I have never flown with my baby's as i have been to worried but this is a great set of tips for if i ever decided to x #thelist

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    1. There is really nothing to be worried about, lots of people fly with their babies and toddlers no problem. I am a nervous flyer so I can fully empathise with being worried about flying, but if you prepare well having your baby with you isn't too bad :)

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  14. I have never flown with my babies but you have given people some great tips, I can see them being very helpful for them. I admire you traveling so much with her.

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    1. Thanks :) I don't really have much choice in the matter - part of my family lives outside UK so if I want to see them and my daughter to get to know her heritage I have to travel. But it is not too bad as we love going there :)

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  15. Perfect tips for flying with a baby. My Son and Daughter who are now 1 and 3 have done 8 flights between them, between 3 and 9 hours long. Your first tip, is really important along with planning ahead. If everything is organised and all eventualities planned for, there's no reason why it can't be easy flying with babies can't be easy :) x

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    1. You've had quite a lot of experience too! All my flights are quite short, 2-3hours, 9 hours would be pretty tiresome. But manageable definitely if you just chill :) Much of it is just good organisation and not trying to do too much, just the necessary bits :)

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  16. I've flew alone with my first son a lot of times between Germany and Ireland and then with him as a two year old and his baby brother. I definitely agree that a carrier is the way to go for babies. As for travelling with a toddler and a baby, I found having the baby in the carrier and the toddler in a fully collapsable pushchair worked really well.
    Breastfeeding during start and landing worked fine. The baby has to be on your lap with his own seatbelt on (attached to yours) but you can turn him to feed him. It really helps the baby deal with the air pressure. I have flown with Ryanair, Lufthansa, Air France and Aer Lingus. All of them allowed me feed during start and landing.
    At least once I was asked to taste the baby food that I was bringing on board.
    For any first time flyers your tips are great.
    #brilliantblogposts
    Fionnuala from www.threesonslater.blogspot.com

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    1. Thanks for these tips - I've seen other people use that combo of a pushchair and a carrier for the baby, and it does seem like it would work well. Knackering though I bet, taking care of a toddler and a baby on a flight... Very impressive :)

      Many people commented here that they have breasfed during takeoff and landing so it obviously can be done then :) Maybe I am just awkward but it just didn't seem feasible to me. My lil one was a difficult eater so I tried to avoid it on planes if I could anyway.

      Thanks for these tips, they are a great addition to this post :)

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  17. Great tips. I have a flight coming up with my youngest. She will be five months old then and it's just a short one so the only thing I'm really worrying about is her ears popping. We'll be taking boob, bottle and dummy! :)

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    1. I found a dummy was really useful when my baby was little :) Good luck on your flight, I am sure it will go well :)

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