Ten great tips for travelling with a baby on a flight. Must read for all moms before planning a journey with their little ones.
If you are reading this article then I am sure that you are planning to travel with your baby soon. So first of all “Happy and safe journey” and secondly “Don’t worry”.
“It is not as difficult as it seems”.
Based on my experiences I have jotted down the below tips to help you plan a travel with your baby. Before you continue reading just remember one golden rule for a seamless travel – Try to plan your journey and more importantly remain open to changes in those plans.
So here are my tips for travelling with a baby on a flight.
1. Start arranging your and baby’s documents well in advance
Apply for a passport for your baby as soon as possible. Keep in mind that these activities take time and the time taken is out of your control.
If you are applying for Indian passport for your child then here is the link for starting the application process. Apart from going through the FAQs also please go through the annexure information on the site. You will need annexure F if you are applying in Tatkaal even though this information is not mentioned in the list of documents in passport application form. Also it is recommended to take all possible documents (along with their originals) in order to avoid scheduling another appointment.
If you are travelling to another country and VISA is required then apply for it well in advance.
2. Choose a kid friendly air carrier and reserve a carrycot/child seat position on the aircraft
Before booking your tickets, check the air carriers website to understand their policies to avoid surprises later. For e.g. some air carriers will have carrycot, some will offer child seats. Few will be able to provide you with warm water for baby’s milk. So research this information and plan accordingly.
When booking your tickets, reserve a seat with carrycot or child seat positions in the aircraft in advance. These seats are available on first come first serve basis only. Also there is no charge levied for these seats so they are taken up very fast.
You will be able to see these seats in the seat map. These seats usually called bulkhead seats are usually aisle seats and do not have any seats ahead of them. Your baby can rest in the carry cot during the journey (except take off and landing of-course). And you will get enough leg space to relax. Also this space is perfect for storing the diaper bag.
Note – Diaper bags will need to be kept in overhead cabin during take off and landing but for most of the journey you will have things easily accessible to you.
If for some reason you are unable to book these seats then request for an aisle seat rather than a window seat as you may have to get up and around many times during the flight. Also during check-in, request airline staff to place you next to an empty seat. Usually the staff is helpful and if there is an empty seat they will be more than happy to help you. Nobody wants a cranky baby on a flight.
3.Think you will need “What” and “When” and pack accordingly
Packing a luggage for you and baby is an art that you will master with time.
But for starters – notice what are the items that you need everyday as part of your daily routine and jot them down on paper. This will help you in creating a packing list which is unique to your baby.
Also place items based on – “When” you will need them. You don’t want to be fumbling around for items with your baby in one hand.
Needless to say pack light. Even though you have an allowance to carry two bags (one for you and another for baby) on the flight, I suggest take only one diaper bag (especially if you are travelling alone).
Do not forget to carry some toys or books for your baby. Carry few that are familiar and few that are new to keep him occupied. Also, you can load his/her favorite music or nursery rhymes in your mobile. Carrying familiar music and playing it to soothe my baby is something that has always worked for me.
4. Carry your own Baby food
Check your airline’s website before travelling to know what support will they be able to provide to you. And plan what to carry accordingly.
Few airlines may have packaged baby food available but do not rely on them and carry your own food. As your baby may not take to the taste of packaged food available on the aircraft.
Usually common baby food items like baby formulae is allowed to be taken in an aircraft but rules are different at different airports so do check. You may be allowed to carry sterilized bottles with boiled water at most of the airports. But you make be asked to taste what you are carrying so always pack a little extra. You may also be asked to remove and place all food items in a tray during security check so pack them accordingly.
Some airlines may be able to warm milk for you but most of them don’t. So it is a good idea to get your baby used to milk at room temperature before you travel. If you have started feeding semi-solids to your baby you can carry packaged curd/yoghurt.
5. Decide clothes for you and your baby
Though what to wear is a personal decision. Here are some suggestions.
Wear something which is comfortable, which has pockets and in which you can nurse easily. Always carry a scarf as feeding rooms may not be available everywhere. Also you may not have time to find a feeding room when your baby is hungry and shouting.
Avoid wearing belts, shoes, watch or any such items that will require to be removed during security checks. Easy tasks like removing shoes seem tedious when travelling with a baby specially if you are travelling alone.
Dress yourself and your baby in layers so that you can add or remove a layer easily. Temperatures in flight are usually colder so carry your own shawl or stole. As your baby will be more comfortable in your shawl rather than blankets provided by the airline.
Carry at least one pair of extra clothes for you and the baby.
6. Carry a Baby Carrier
My experience is that a baby carrier or a sling is a must when travelling with a baby. Reason – Baby is happy as he/she is close to you and you have your hands free.
Usually airlines allow you to carry a push chair or stroller till the aircraft door (where its folded and stowed away) and then you can collect them while de-boarding or along with your checked-in luggage (based on where you are flying to).
In case if you are travelling alone my suggestion is to avoid carrying a push chair. As that will mean more things to carry and take through security. Yes. you will still have to remove all items from the push chair basket to take it through security and fold it when handing over to the airline staff when boarding.
7. Look for signs that can help you
When travelling alone with a baby, try to keep your eyes open to any help signs and in case of doubt please ASK.
At immigration and security there may be a special queue.
Even during boarding you will have an option to board first. Though my personal opinion is that you should not board too soon. Usually babies get cranky in closed spaces and as it is he/she has to be in the plane for few hours so let your baby enjoy at the airport. The airports with its lights and colors are more appealing and interesting.
You will find baby changing rooms and in some cases baby feeding rooms and play areas at the airport. To make your life easy look for them.
Change diapers at the airport before you board rather than relying on the changing tables in the aircraft. Reason – Changing tables in the aircraft are really small and you will have very little space to move around.
At some airports you can also request for a cart if you are unable to walk around with the baby. So if required please do ask. In worst case your request may be declined and you may have to walk. But if you do get a cart then your life will be easier.
8. Always plan to have extra time in hand
Reach airport earlier. Reach departure gate much before time. As you may not be able to run around with your baby in case if you are delayed.
Remember – when travelling with an infant anything unexpected can happen to delay you. So always plan to have extra time in hand.
9. Ask for help
If you need help then ask for it, please do not hesitate. It is OK and most of the people will be more than willing to help you.
You can request people to hold your baby for a while or you can request the flight attendants to serve you food out of order so that you can eat while your baby is sleeping.
Most of the people love babies so don’t hesitate. Again in worst case scenario somebody can refuse to help you and the end result will be that your situation remains unchanged.
This is the most important of all tips – “Relax”. Remember – If you are in a good mood then your baby will reflect that.
Consider the trip as an adventure and give it your best shot.
If your baby is cranky then try your best to soothe him. Do not get anxious due to the stares you may be getting from people around you. Remember you are not going to see these people again so focus your attention and try your best to distract your baby.
Well the last tip for today is, if nothing else works then remember – “It is a day and this too shall pass”.
Also You may also want to read- 6 Important Steps To Prepare A Toddler For Daycare
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