Top Tips For Flying With Babies and Young Children

by 21stcenturymummy on June 4, 2010

Airbus A380

One of the biggest issues when planning a holiday with a baby or toddler is flying. Many parents decide to avoid getting on a plane because of the potential stress it might cause. However, I firmly believe having a young child shouldn’t hamper your travelling plans and there are plenty of things you can do to minimize the stress. I’ve done plenty of flying with mine and I’ve put together my top tips for flying with babies and young children.

Top tip (tried, tested, and very sneaky!) If you can’t face the thought of your baby on your lap for the duration of the flight but don’t want to pay for an extra seat, check in online before you fly. Go for a row of three, and leave the window seat empty. Single travellers tend to give families a wide berth. Also, once seated you can let your toddler play in the spare seat for as long as possible before putting them on your laps so people think it’s taken. You may be lucky enough to get a free seat, even if the plane is nearly full.

Other top tips:

  1. Book a night flight if possible. Some people prefer day flights, but I’m not one of them. I like to settle the kids, put their pyjamas on and fingers crossed they’ll sleep a little.
  2. Allow plenty of time for check in, rushing with children is horrendous!
  3. You don’t have to check in your buggy, you can keep it with you until you board the plane.
  4. If you book a bulkhead, you can get a bassinet (for infants up to 15kg), however whilst bulkhead seats have more leg room, the seat arms don’t go up on most airlines, which can be a nightmare if you have a toddler wanting to sleep.
  5. Request a children’s meal when you book the tickets. Miss C didn’t get one on a recent flight because we didn’t request one when we booked her CHILD’s ticket – go figure!
  6. Pack what you need for the journey, but don’t pack too much. I used to take so much crap with me and could never find anything! Also put things in ziplock bags to keep things organised.
  7. Take plenty of water, milk, food, healthy snacks and the odd treat, enough for the journey. My kids love fruit pouches. Remember, because of security, if you have any jars of food or juice cartons, you might be required to open them and taste them. So the best thing is to buy them once you’re in the departure lounge.
  8. A bottle of milk/juice drink for older ones is really useful for take off and landing (to help their ears). With the current security restrictions, you will have to taste the milk yourself. If you use formula cartons, you can buy them once you’re in the departure lounge. Airlines will wash bottles but they use boiling water (not washing up liquid). Some don’t carry bottle water, so bear this in mind. I often give my children Calpol before take off to avoid their ears hurting.
  9. Bring a few favourite (small) toys and buy a few new ones to bring out one at a time if your child is getting bored! Pocket books, colouring books and crayons, playdoh and stickers are useful. AND don’t forget their favourite teddy.
  10. iPods, iPads, portable DVD players are essential so toddlers can watch their favourite DVDs! Don’t feel guilty about the amount of screen time they’re having if it keeps them entertained.
  11. Take a change of clothes (more the younger they are) and enough nappies – a rough guide is 1 per hour of the journey (and take a spare top for you in case it gets covered in juice, food or even sick). It’s worth taking a nappy if you have a preschooler if you’re worried about accidents.
  12. If your baby is crying, walk around with them, it often calms them down.
  13. To minimise jetlag switch your child’s routine to the new time, even if it’s in mid air.
  14. And lastly, you will get through it!

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