With 3 kids and a passion for travel I have had a fair amount of experience flying with babies. Although my “baby” is now 3 years old I wanted to share some tips about flying with babies of all different ages.
Book a bassinet seat
If you are on a flight that offers these put in a request. On domestic flights only Qantas have them and only on long flights (such as to Perth). Hopefully your baby will actually have a sleep but if not the bassinet is also useful for getting a little personal space from each other as long as your baby cant climb out. Bassinet seats also have great leg room which is helpful for managing life with a baby on a plane.
Note – requesting a bassinet does not mean you will be allocated on or that you will be only family wanting to use it. Once I was flying to Perth (again alone with a baby) and was seated in the bassinet row but there were 3 babies allocated to one bassinet!
Suck on this
Babies need help with managing pressure in their ears during take off and landing. Depending on the age of your baby effective ways to manage this are breastfeed, bottle feed, sipper cup, dummy, or a toy they like to chew on (or food).
Note – it is easy to tell when you are taking off and it is a pretty fast process. Descending is much slower and less obvious but can impact your baby early on. Pay attention to your own ears, if you feel them pop start taking action to prevent build up of air in your babies ears.
Don’t force routine
I used to try and book a flight that took off just after the time my baby should sleep. My hope was that by breastfeeding on take off my baby would then fall asleep in my arms. This usually worked until my babies were around 5 months old and then after that it probably only worked half the time. Go with the flow on the flight … don’t force sleep or food just because the clock says that is what your baby should be doing. If your baby is happy let her be 🙂 You can worry about routines again tomorrow.
Food is your friend
If your baby is old enough to eat pack a good supply of food/snacks. You can order baby and toddler food on many flights but I would never rely on it. Food is an excellent distraction.
Stressed parents creates stressed baby … we all know that but sometimes it is harder to do than say. Don’t worry about what other people think about being on a plane with a baby, there are usually a number of babies or small children on a flight, you don’t stick out as much as you might feel you do.
Pack a change of clothes
For you and your baby! I usually arrived with baby food smeared all over my top or pants which didn’t bother me but worse things can happen … poo, vomit, your drink kicked over by a wriggling baby.
Pack plenty of nappies and wipes
Pack more than you think you need – you just never know. You are permitted to have a piece of carry on luggage specifically for an infant that is not part of your quota so make the most of it. Have a few nappies and wipes in an easy to access bag/container that you can grab with one hand. If you are flying solo you don’t want to be rummaging in your bag with a baby on your hip trying to find what you need.
Ask for help
Whether you are flying solo or have your partner with you don’t be afraid to ask for help to manage things on the plane. Naturally airline staff are usually fabulous at helping parents with babies but people sitting around you are often very happy to lend a hand. You might need a hand putting luggage up above you, opening your meal, picking up a rattle dropped for the 10th time or simply making a trip to the bathroom.
If you have never flown with a baby before let me assure you that it is most likely going to be a better experience than you currently imagine. I have taken more flights with babies/young children in the last 7 years than I can count and only one or two of those have been unhappy experiences for me and/or my baby.
Get yourself well organised, pack a relaxed attitude and healthy sense of humour and you will arrive at your destination with sanity intact.
I am always happy to answer questions and also welcome tips from fellow travellers. I hope that sharing our stories makes getting on a plane less daunting for parents who haven’t flown with kids before.