If the thought of air travel with baby fills you with trepidation, read through these useful guidelines for a fuss-free flight!
Generally, it’s best to wait until your baby is at least 2 weeks old before you consider travelling by air.
This is not because flying poses a greater danger for a younger baby, but because by 2 weeks both you and he will have recovered sufficiently from the birth and have overcome any early difficulties, such as problems with breastfeeding.
It’s always a good idea to seek specific advice from your doctor first, however, and to check with the airline you’re flying with that they have no lower age limit.
Contact your airline
When planning air travel with baby, telephone your airline or visit their website to find out what facilities they offer for parents of young children.
Make sure you are adequately insured
Air travel with baby can be unpredictable and certain conditions may prevent him flying – ear infections and notifiable diseases such as measles, for example.
Assemble and pack your baby first aid kit (many items, such as scissors and tweezers, will not be allowed in the cabin of the plane and should not be packed in your hand luggage). See our main travelling with baby page for more travel essentials!
Carefully check your baggage allowance – air travel with baby obviously requires extra luggage and you don’t want any nasty surprises at the airport!
Always allow yourself plenty of time at the airport when travelling with your baby – remember that everything will take longer and you may have last minute nappy/diaper or clothing changes to contend with!
Some airports offer fast-track customs or immigration points for families with very young children – definitely worth looking out for!
If you have not booked an extra seat for baby, ask if the flight is full. If not – and if you are lucky – the airline assistant may keep the seat beside you empty, or offer a seat next to a vacant seat. That extra room can make all the difference!
That elusive empty seat …
If you haven’t booked an extra seat and the seat beside you is occupied, ask a member of the cabin crew if there are any spaces on board and whether it might be possible to move next to an empty seat.
In our experience, other passengers can be quite helpful and may offer to move themselves, to give you that extra room. Perhaps they just don’t want to spend 10 hours sitting next to a baby on an aeroplane (though I can’t imagine why not!).
Baby’s seat belt
If you do not have a car seat, you will be given a mini seat belt for your baby – this goes around him, then attaches to your seat belt.
The changes in pressure on take-off and landing can cause ear pain, so breastfeed your baby or offer a bottle at these times to encourage sucking.You may also like to try the Baby Banz Hearing Protector Earmuffs (from Amazon), which are also useful in particularly noisy environments.
This has never been a problem for any of our children, though – in fact, my ears seem to hurt more than theirs! Beware of existing ear infections, however – flying can increase the pain quite significantly and air travel with baby should really be avoided in this situation.
Feeding tips for air travel with baby
See our main travelling with baby page for tips on feeding your baby during your journey.
Passing the time
There’s no doubt about it, though, long distance air travel with baby can have its trying moments – older babies, especially, can grow restless and fretful.
Occasionally, your worst nightmare may come true and your little one may cry inconsolably … and noisily! This isn’t much fun when you’re cooped up in a relatively small area with a group of strangers waiting for you to somehow “stop that baby crying”!
If this happens to you, then put on your thickest skin and ignore any nasty looks or – worse still – comments. Most people will sympathize with you – we’ve almost all been in this position – but you may come across one of those less tolerant people and their unhelpful remarks!
Don’t let them get to you! Stay calm, bite your tongue and count the minutes until you touch down at your destination!