Specifics for traveling with a baby
Flying with a baby has many challenges but may actually not be as hard as you envisage, especially in the first 6 months. All of our children had their first flights by the time they were 12 weeks, the youngest at just 3 weeks old. This part of the website details specific aspects that require consideration when you fly with a baby – up to about 12 months old.
Babies can travel well!
Many parents can be nervous taking their previous new bundle of joy with them on a flight. It is often the first time the parents have travelled on an aircraft with a child and this adds natural apprehension. The reality is that babies are often good flyer’s, especially if you are well prepared. Young babies in particular sleep a lot, providing rest for the parents. The more challenging time is when you have a toddler with you as well – more on toddlers in another section – click here for details.
Preparing to fly with your baby:
As with all successful trips with kids, a lot revolves around your planning, preparation and then conscientiously putting your plan into action. Of course, not everything will go smoothly, that is flying but with good planning and preparation you have a good chance of making the most of any challenging situations. Here are some planning tips:
- Plan and Book wisely. Getting the cheapest & shortest route may not be your best choice. Check out our advice here.
- Prepare well, ensuring all your paperwork is in order. Check out our advice and tips here.
- Pack what you need for the flight and the trip. Check out general what and how to pack here?
Traveling with your baby requires many specific considerations.
- Should we book a Bassinet for the baby? This has a number of pro’s and con’s, and is discussed in detail here. Be aware that your baby is considered an infant and does not have its own seat. On some airlines, there is still a charge for an infant – often around 10% of the adult fare, while on some they are free.
- How much should I pack? Advice: do not under-pack on baby items as you will regret this later. These days you can replace your books with a Kindle to sae space & weight but you can’t easily find another baby bottle if one gets lost or destroyed.
- Should I take a car-seat and stroller / buggie or just hire them or hope?
- How much travel can my baby handle?
Getting your baby a passport:
This will be different in various countries but the key issue here is that your baby will almost certainly need their own passport with a photo that complies with passport regulations. This is often not as easy thing as the baby must have eyes open, ears visible and no smile or not crying (or similar). This is just a note to allow yourself plenty of time and to have patience. One of our children had to have it done at a professional photographers as a passport place just could not get it done. The Professional Photographer allowed mum to hold the babies head and he then photo-shopped mums hand out of the picture!
Packing for baby:
There is a lot of packing information under What to Pack or in the Check-lists section. The items below are a list of extra things to take if you are traveling with a baby.
- 2x Baby Bottles (if not breastfeeding)
- Formula (if not breastfeeding)
- Formula carrying / dispenser container – check out our shop to purchase one. These are superb to travel with.
- Nappies (Diapers) – calculate how many you require for the length of your journey – from departure accommodation to destination accommodation. Once calculated, add a few extra as reserve. If needed, add a couple extras to each bag. There is nothing worse than running out of nappies / diapers when your baby picks up diarrhoea or similar!
- Nappy (Diaper) Change Mat – can be very useful to use on the floor, in bathrooms, on airplane seats or anywhere as you travel.
- Wet wipes – again just ensure you have plenty
- Barrier cream / Sudocream / Vaseline etc for babies bottom
- Plastic (Nappy/Diaper) Bags for wet / dirty nappies/diapers
- Travel Tissues
- Hand Sanitiser
- Paracetamol (100mls or less in your hand luggage) and syringes for easily giving medicine if required
- Changes of clothes for baby – enough changes to cope with them getting wet or dirty but also enough for various weather conditions you may have enroute. We always made sure we had plenty of good one-piece suits packed.
- Change of clothes for you in case the baby is sick or wets you.
- Enough baby food for the journey plus 1-2 extra.
- Crackers, rusks or similar
- Dummy / Pacifier if your baby uses one. Have at least one spare in your hand luggage and perhaps another in your checked-in luggge
- Baby’s special toy if they have one – and a means to secure it so it does not get lost in your travels
- Some type of cloth nappy / blanket or similar to keep your clothing clean when cuddling / burping baby or for placing on the floor if baby is lying / sleeping on the floor
- Simple baby toys to entertain – books, rattle, rings, stickers to do with baby
- Teething ring / toy for chewing
- Extra Formula to refill your dispensing container
- Additional nappies / diapers for use at your destination and to refill your carry-on bags if you can not buy more at your destination
- Swimming nappy / diaper so you can use a pool with your baby
- Extra baby-food
- Extra medicine and first-aid supplies
- Portable Baby Seat / High Chair – buy the fisher-price high chair here if you don’t have one.
- Portable Travel Cot – buy the light and easy phil & ted portable cot here if you don’t have a suitable one.
- Extra baby clothes so you have plenty until you can wash again and also for the various conditions you may encounter.
- Additional toys, books, games and activities that you could not carry on in your hand luggage.
- Car Seats – consider if you need your own or you can borrow? Is it required at your destination and your type of trip?
- Buggie / Stroller – make sure they are securely wrapped to avoid damage.
- A baby carrier can be very useful while travelling so you can have your hands free. We used a front pack with our first two and then did without for our second two after a minor scare on a trip to Australia. Other options may be a baby sling or similar.
- A light baby stroller can be used at the airport and then folded and carried on the plane, although we always felt this was more hassle than it was worth and just used airport ones if they were available.
- Check out and perhaps purchase items at our store flying with kidz.com online store
Timing and Routine with Baby:
One element of being successful when travelling with your baby is timing of things that need to be done – the most important are feeding and changing.
It is very important to try and feed your baby during take-off and landing, whether this is breastfeeding or a bottle. The reason is to try and have them sucking and swallowing so it helps their ears balance the pressure as you ascend and descend. The outcome is simply to minimise any discomfort and pain they may feel in their ears through unequal pressure. This is most important when landing.
On an International Flight or larger Domestic Flight, the descent normally starts about 35 to 30 minutes prior to touch down. Ideally, you want your baby sucking for a good portion of the descent.
On many Domestic Flights, on shorter routes or smaller planes, the descent may start 10 – 20 minutes prior to landing.
Another key aspect is to ensure nappies are changed prior to your descent as it can be quite some time before the next opportunity becomes available.
Some countries insist on babies being in car seats at all times, even in taxis. We have faced challenges when travelling, particularly in Australia, trying to get taxi’s to transport us from the airport to our hotel / accommodation. Taxi drivers were simply unwilling to take us with a baby not in a car-seat and it took them a long time to organise a suitable vehicle – once we waited 45 minutes at 2am in the morning in Perth, until a grandmother taxi driver took pity on us and helped us! Carrying a car-seat would help in this case but must be weighed up against how much you need it at your destination as carrying a car-seat or multiple car-seats can be very difficult.
It is helpful to be aware that babies and toddlers from the time they start to crawl until they are perhaps 18 – 24 months old seemt o take the most effort when traveling. Young babies are normally easier as are older children with a greater attention span. From the moment they start to crawl, a lot of babies just want to be on the move – not easy when you are in the confines of a plane, often for many hours. Likewise, the 15 month old just wants to be walking. They do not have the attention span to sit and read for any great length of time or watch a dvd for long. They also want to be moving.
Here are a few tips to assist you being prepared:
- Make sure you are mentally prepared that you will need to work for the whole flight.
- Have a large variety of activities available so you can change regularly
- Be prepared to walk up and down the isle of the plane many times. Keeping them active when the seatbelt sign is not on is vital.
- Make regular visits to the cabin crew – it provides movement and also other interaction, giving you some light relief
- Give them little jobs to do to keep them busy