Flying with a Baby: Tips to Help You Survive a Long Flight [Guest Post]
Chelsea from Moments A Day has plenty of advice to give about flying with a baby. Having done the trip between Australia and the US East Coast multiple times, she's gone the routine downpat!
"I can't believe you flew by yourself with the baby from Australia!"
I heard this many
times from American passengers after doing a long haul flight on my own with a
baby. Each time I visit my parents, I not only have the long 13-hour flight from Brisbane to Los Angeles but three more flights to get to my hometown on the East Coast as well. It is usually over 28 hours by the time I get
from my house in Australia to my final destination.
It is true that flying internationally with a baby can be tricky and exhausting. But if your family or travel destination is far away, preparing ahead of time can make all the difference to ensuring a happy flight experience for both you and bub. Here are my tips to help you survive a long flight when you are flying with a baby...
Tips to Help You to Fly with a Baby
1. Get the Passport Early
Apply for baby's passport as soon as you know you are going abroad. It can sometimes be a more complicated process than you predict, and you do not want to be stuck at the last minute without the right paperwork.
2. Book a Bassinet
You may be able to travel with baby in your lap if he is under two years old which makes your trip a whole lot cheaper, but this also means you have much less space on the flight.
Therefore, if you can, ask for a seat with a bassinet in front of you. It can be used for sleeping, and also as a space for baby to play and to change diapers.
Be aware that check-in procedures are sometimes a bit different with a child on an infant-seat ticket. For example, one time we could not check in using the electronic machines, so you may not want to waste your time waiting in line for one unless you're sure it will work.
3. Learn about Your Luggage Requirements
Find out all the extra luggage requirements when travelling with a baby. Most of the time, you can bring a stroller (size requirements vary) and a car seat free of charge. Plus baby usually gets a carry-on bag as well.
Remember you will have to carry whatever you pack! Each airline is different though, so if you are travelling on multiple airlines, make sure you get the details for all of them.
4. Look for Quick Lines
Look out for expedited lines you can enter, such as when you are going through security or passport checks. There are sometimes special areas for the elderly or families to use so their waiting time is a bit shorter than the rest of the passengers.
5. Bring Plenty of Toys
Keep in mind that your travel time will not all be on the plane. You will also have layovers and a lot of time waiting in lines. Bring a few toys and books (preferably washable since they may touch many an air plane floor!), and if your baby is not sitting yet, a small blanket you can use on the floor in the airports.
6. Try to Be Well Rested
Make sure you are well rested before your long haul flight, especially if you are not sure if your child will sleep well on the plane.
7. Be Prepared / Pack Early
Do all your packing ahead of time so you are not stressed the night before you leave. Wear comfy clothes and your most comfortable shoes, and be sure to dress in layers.
Air planes are usually colder on short flights but on longer flights they sometimes turn down the air when it is "night time" so make sure you don't wear something too warm.
Also, you may be holding a child, which will keep you warmer as well. I usually found it best to wear a light, short-sleeved shirt and then use a blanket.
If you are flying with your baby alone, be sure you can remove outer layers one-handed since you will likely be holding baby the whole time too, so button downs are better than over-the-head sweaters.
Carriers are great for airports, however, keep in mind that when you go through security, they generally make you take your carrier off to put it through the x-ray.
It can be useful to practice putting on and taking off the carrier while holding baby. If you have trouble doing it all on your own, remember you can always ask the staff for help.
8. Get the Bub to Sleep - and Yourself
Plan for when you think your baby might sleep and do a regular bedtime routine beforehand. Changing into pyjamas and reading a little book can be great cues for a baby to know it's time to sleep, even though they are in a different location.
I have also been known to wear baby in a carrier while he slept if the bassinet was not working out so that I could get some rest and still feel confident bub wouldn't fall off my lap.
On that note, if you need to hold baby while he is sleeping, get lots of extra pillows and blankets beforehand to cushion yourself into a comfortable position way before he wants to go to sleep. You might be sitting like that for a few hours so visit the toilet beforehand, as well!
9. Bring the Munchies
Bring lots of snacks to keep yourself awake and feeling nourished. Keep them within reach while you are sitting down and make sure they are in easy-to-open and not-too-loud packaging, so that baby doesn't get woken up if he is sleeping in your arms and you get hungry.
Also, bring a water bottle which the stewards can fill up for you. Make sure it is one you can open with your mouth or one hand since you will likely be holding baby! Remember to drink a lot on the flight, especially if you are breastfeeding.
10. Be Prepared for Toilet Breaks
Not all air planes have change tables so be prepared with supplies to do it in the chair or on the floor if necessary.
Don’t forget you need to go to the toilet too! Often times the steward will be happy to keep an eye on baby for a minute while you visit the restroom.
11. Bring Back Up Supplies
Bring a few extra pairs of clothing for yourself and bub in case drinks get tipped or other unforeseeable accidents occur. You don’t want to do a day's travel in wet or stinky clothes! And of course, pack plenty of extra nappies and wipes.
12. Eat Early and Bring Extras
Depending on the timing of your flight, you may like to have your in-flight meal as soon as possible so that you can concentrate on baby.
Ordering a special meal (i.e. vegetarian) means your meal will be delivered first before everyone is served via the regular system. This also means you can eat before all the carts come through, and most likely visit the restroom without having to wait behind the stewards for other people to be served.
In regards to food for baby, different airlines provide very different things. I personally think it’s best to make sure you have enough of your own food for baby for the whole flight - even if they say they provide it - because you cannot be sure your baby will like it on the day or they may have a limited supply.
13. Baby Tears? Don't Panic
Many babies cry during the last half hour of the flight because their ears are hurting from the change in elevation. Drinking or feeding during that time period can sometimes soothe them and because it's actually the chewing or sucking movement in the mouth that helps, a teething toy can be useful as well.
Remember that the trip will end at some point. If things are going sideways and halfway through it, you are regretting your trip already, count up the hours you have left until you have reached your destination, and remember that you will get there eventually and everything will be okay.
Don't get stressed if your baby cries or if people give you funny looks when you are walking an overtired baby up and down the aisle. Just do your best and know your baby is doing his best, too. Travel is hard on everyone, especially the littlest humans who are experiencing everything as much larger than life.
What other tips do you have for travelling with babies? We'd love for you to share them in the comments section. Or if you're looking for some soft, warm socks that will stay on your baby's feet to keep them warm throughout the flight, check out our range of soft soles today!