The thought of flying with a baby or children is enough to put many parents off flying. Travelling with a small human can be hard, however it shouldn’t stop you from seeing the world. With a little bit of planning, you can give yourself the best chance of surviving, with your sanity intact at the other end.
When Max was 2 months old, I flew from South Africa to New Zealand return. Then when Max was 5 months old we did that route again and recently we flew from South Africa to America. Each way is around 25 hours, which is hard enough to do solo, let alone adding a small child (or children!) into the mix. Now I am no expert when it comes to flying with children, but I do have some tips that worked for me, and may just make your trip that little bit easier.
- Contact the airline ahead of time to ensure you have a bassinet booked. Certain airlines have a “first in first served policy” (Qantas), meaning you will only find out if you have a bassinet when you check in which is a real pain (speaking from experience). Some airlines allow you to take a car seat, stroller and baby bag at no extra charge (Air NZ). Again it is best to check this pre airport arrival to avoid having to pay extra for luggage costs, which can be expensive!
- If you cannot book a bassinet, consider paying for a seat with extra leg room. Depending on how far you are flying, and with what airline, it can only be a little bit extra cost wise, however it will be much more comfortable for you both so is worth every penny.
- If you are breast feeding, feed on landing and take-off, and if your baby is bottle fed, make sure you have a bottle ready. Babies ears are sensitive when flying as they cannot force pop them like adults can. If babies are being breast fed or sucking on a bottle or dummy, their ears can pop due to them swallowing.
- One of the things you need to accept is that there are going to be people that will roll their eyes as soon as you step onto the plane with your baby, or give you a smile but then whisper “oh god” to their travel companion… my advice, ignore them! When flying economy, you are almost guaranteed a flight with a baby on board so people just need to accept this. We were all babies once, and we all cried and screamed, some people seem to forget this. A lot of people are accommodating and there is usually someone that will offer to help, whether it’s getting your luggage off the carousel, holding your baby while you go bathroom or putting your bags in the overhead compartment. Every little bit helps, and if you are one of those people, THANK YOU!
- Going to the bathroom while holding your baby takes multi-tasking to the next level. Don’t feel asking for help from a flight attendant if you need to go bathroom, most of the time if they are not busy, they will welcome your little one with open arms.
- Pack light (is that even possible when you are travelling with your mini me?). When packing for a long haul flight with your child you may think you need to pack everything. The last thing you need is to be carrying your baby around AND hauling a heavy hand bag and carry-on bag that are both filled with items that you won’t use. For some reason I carried my laptop with me, thinking I could do some work on the plane. I couldn’t even play a game of solitare on my phone, let alone open my laptop. This was so unnecessary to pack and such a pain having to get it out of my bag going through customs.
- Essentials I packed:
– 3-4 change of clothes for baby. You can never be too prepared for the explosions that may occur. I like to used footed onesies that have a zip so they are easy to get on and off and your baby will stay warm and comfortable.
– Nappy wipes, these can also be used for wiping up baby food, spew or sh*& that ends up on you.
– A change of clothes for yourself. Being a Mum, sometimes you forget about your own needs but don’t forget a change of clothes for yourself if flying longhaul. I made this mistake and had to fly with breast milk from my leaking boobs over my top and baby vomit all over me. Make sure the tops you do pack, aren’t white!
– An eye mask that blocks light from television screens and reading lights (if you get the chance to sleep that is!)
– New toys for your baby that they haven’t already used. This can be a great distraction for them.
– A trusty front pack that is easy to get on and off and that your baby can sit comfortably in.
– High protein snacks are great for travelling with, especially if you are breast feeding and need to keep your milk supply up.
– An empty drink bottle that can be filled up once you are on the plane. Again, if you are breast feeding you need to stay well hydrated and even more when flying as it can be so dehydrating. During long haul flights you are often only offered small cups of water, which isn’t enough.
– At least 2 swaddles, these can be used as blankets, to wipe up any mess, breast feeding cover and used as a changing mat.
– A plastic bag in case you need to store away any dirty baby clothes.
– Some babies can experience sensitive ears when taking off and landing. Remember to pack some pain relief incase this happens.
You shouldn’t have to be put off travelling because you have a little one. The flight can be tough but its 1 day out of your life that is hard. Babies feed of their Mother’s (and Fathers) energy so make sure you stay as calm and relaxed as possible, and look forward to the final destination, where hopefully a large glass of wine is waiting for you!
What are your tips when flying with a baby?