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The Ultimate Guide to Taking a Baby on a Flight

Holiday time is coming up and we need to get ourselves ready to take our little ones for a change of scene and us for a bit of a break! If you plan to fly with a child less than one year old, you’d better get prepared and gather your courage. Though you can’t entirely control what happens in-flight or at the airport, you can plan ahead. How can you best keep to your normal routine? What calms your child if they start to get ratty or won’t stop kicking the seat in front of them?! We have all been the person with the child in the seat behind us…now we are the parent responsible for them, what do we do? Read on for our ultimate guide to taking a baby on a plane.

1. Make a Checklist

Here’s a general list of necessities:

Bring a nappy bag with a waterproof lining and a shoulder strap.

Tuck away an extra outfit or two for your baby – and an extra top for you just in case!  If it’s a night flight, it’s great to have a sleepsuit and even a baby sleep bag.

Pack each set of ‘things’ in to individual bags (food bag, toy bag, spare clothes bag etc) to go inside your main hand luggage bag – it makes it so much easier to find things when you are raking around.

Nappies and wipes (enough for travel time plus 24 hours extra in case of delays or lost luggage)A couple of cosy blankets – they’re great as nursing cover-ups, for naps, for keeping your baby warm, and for keeping your clothes protected.

Breast pads and shields if you’re breastfeeding.

Formula and bottles if you bottle-feed – again, plan for travel time plus 24 hours to be safe.

Pacifiers, if necessary – always bring a couple of spares.

Favourite books and toys (I always find a new toy has some added attraction!). Don’t bring everything out at once – keep things hidden so they stay amused for longer and don’t end up all over the floor!

Depending on the age of your child and the length of your flight an ipad or similar device that you can load their favourite cartoon on to can really help!  My little one loves watching movies and photos of himself and the family and this can keep him amused in long queues and journeys.

A sling or a baby carrier.

Baby-friendly snacks – I love the individual pouches of fruit, yoghurt etc to prevent the need for spoons!

A couple of zip plastic bags – they come in handy for storing snacks and keeping soiled clothes separate in your change bag.

Infant paracetamol (individual sachets are great), teething gel or aides and any other medicines they may need both on the flight and extras in case luggage goes missing or you are delayed.

Grace enjoying a flight! 

Grace enjoying a flight!

2. Prepare Your Bottles

If your baby is bottle-fed, you need to think ahead. Security rules against traveling with more than 100ml of liquid don’t apply to baby formula and juices. Instead, you must have your baby’s formula tested at security. To avoid causing a delay at security, you could prepare bottles with powder only or you can also purchase single-serving packs. That way, you only need to add water once past the security checkpoint or decant straight in to a bottle. Ask the flight attendants for warm water – they usually have plenty on hand for coffee and tea.

3. Breastfeeding

While breastfeeding on a plane might not be as comfortable as breastfeeding at home, it’s completely doable.  Obviously you can also express milk and bring it on the plane in bottles if you prefer – security simply scan the milk with a hand-held device and sometimes you have to drink a bit. Breastfeeding on the plane can really help to calm your baby too and help their little ears adjust.  Opt for a window seat if possible to help give you some elbow room and prevent your elbow and baby’s head being knocked by the trolly or people walking up / down the aisle.

4. Decide on a Car Seat

If your child is under the age of two, you don’t have to purchase a ticket. This can save money, but it also means your child has to sit on your lap for the entire flight.  The bigger they get the harder this becomes and it’s nearly impossible to get your tray down!

If you purchase a separate ticket for your baby, or if there are extra seats on your flight, you can bring your baby’s car seat on the plane and use it the same way you do in the car. Traveling with your baby in a secured car seat is the safest way to do air travel with a baby. However it can be a hassle having to carry it around, particularly if you don’t get a spare seat next to you! A sling is good as it’s so portable and keeps your hands free to do other things easily!

You can also opt for a travel system if you’re determined to bring along a car seat and you don’t want to drag it with you through the airport. A travel system allows you to snap the car seat onto a stroller base, which you can then easily detach during boarding. It’s the best of both worlds when both mum and baby need their own space.  Always check with your airline what their policy is on carseats and extra hold luggage when travelling with an infant.

If you are hiring a car at your destination it’s also great to have your car seat (or a seat you know the history of).  These can usually be put in to the hold on the flight if you don’t want to use it during the flight.

5. Buggy

I love having a buggy in the airport. It always allows the little one to have a rest while you sprint from gate to gate, and it’s good to hang your bag onto too!  Also, most airlines can check your buggy right at the gate. Be smart about the stroller you use. Make sure it’s one that collapses easily and isn’t too bulky. Also I would recommend one that you done mind being thrown about a bit through all the travel and definitely one that collapses with one hand, which saves fumbling with it, and baby, and bags etc.!  If travelling alone with a young baby it makes life easier to take them from the buggy straight in to a sling so as you can still manage to get yourself and your bags etc on to the flight.  Some airlines are more helpful than others…

6. Prepare for Takeoff

If you’ve ever been on a flight with babies on board, you’ve probably heard them wailing during the takeoff and the touchdown portions of the flight. That’s because the pressure can cause major pain for babies while flying. If you’ve got a little one, prepare to offer a pacifier, a bottle, or the breast during takeoff and landing. The sucking motion helps relieve pressure so there’s fewer tears.

7. Love thy Neighbour!

As you have probably seen, babies and kids aren’t always the most welcome passengers on planes. But a little friendliness and consideration goes a long way in making sure other people are comfortable.  Make a point to be extra nice to the flight attendants, who are then more than happy to grab some warm water or dig up snacks or help. I find that when neighbors see me doing my best to keep things under control, they’re more likely to lend a hand.. As long as you’re courteous and conscious of the strangers you’re traveling with, you’ll be welcome and have a better overall experience.

Have fun!

The journey can often seem like a chore, but make it fun and don’t waste the first day of your holiday stressing out!  The Neckerchew is an ideal travel companion as it stays attached to your baby you won’t spend half your journey trying to retrieve it from underneath the seat in front of you!!

Remember to take your camera to take some memorable shots of your trip! While you are there why not take a photo of your little one chomping on their Neckerchew for June/ July‘s competition ‘The happiest travelling chomper’ and win a new Neckerchew of your choice…  Bon Voyage!  xx

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