Ultimate Guide for Flying With a Baby
Does the thought of traveling with a newborn absolutely terrify you ?
You are not alone. As new parents, we were certainly met with a few side eyes when we told everyone we were taking our 10 week old daughter for a seven week international holiday. Traveling with a newborn can be daunting for you, or maybe its something you have never even considered, maybe that might mean its time for you to use your maternity leave for a great adventure. Traveling during those first few months of your baby’s life can be both easier and harder than flying with older children. These are just a few tips I’ve learned to make your trip go as smooth as possible. By the end of our first international trip our daughter had taken eight flights, visited one country, five states, and experienced four vastly different climates.
From the very first steps of travel when you take your babys passport photo to take off. Here is your r ultimate guide when flying with a newborn!
YOUR BABY’S PASSPORT
If you’re traveling international your baby will need his or her own passport. It can be a bit tricky getting getting them to stay still for a passport photo so make sure you leave more than enough time in advance as processing times vary. Each country has their own regulations and requirements so do your research before.
Learn more in related article: How To Take The Perfect Baby Passport Photo
WHAT TO CONSIDER WHEN BOOKING
There is a lot more to consider when going through the process of booking your first flight with a baby, from choosing a desirable flight time, knowing how to strategically pick your seat like a boss, and making special requests.
PICK THE RIGHT FLIGHT
Jet lag is REAL. If you are on a long haul flight for more 12+ hours with multiple stop overs, consider a break in-between flights. This will give both you and your baby a much needed recharge. Remember, if the time change is significant your baby’s internal clock is going to be off. You might need to spend more time than usual at your destination coping with your baby’s demands.
CHOOSE YOUR SEATS WISELY
Infants booked on flights must either sit on their parents lap or travel in a bassinet. Maybe a window seat is more comfortable, and if your baby isn’t mobile you can probably get away with it. But an aisle seat is more ideal, especially for getting up multiple times during a flight. For shorter flights I recommend getting an aisle seat near the front of the plane. On most international flights you may have the option to request a bassinet. It is much easier and more comfortable having your hands free. That being said, many parents including myself who opted for these seats end up with their baby sleeping on the chest. Regardless, having the extra leg room is worth it. Call in advance to request, they can’t always guarantee, but the agents can mark your ticket.
What About Taxis’
How do parents get around if you’re not renting a car?
Ideally you would want your baby in a car seat. Most taxis services provide car seats. I recommend calling ahead to book and make a request. Be sure you specify the baby’s age and don’t have high expectations of the car seats condition. Worst case scenario, in most cities taxis and car services are except from the states child restraint law, but often this does not include ride share services.
THE PRAM, THE BABY CARRIER, THE CAR SEAT DEBATE
Towing prams and car seats around the world is not a glamorous process. Thankfully, there are a few ways parents can minimise the hassle.
PRAMS TRAVEL FOR FREE
There are many options to weigh when considering bringing along a pram. Depending on the airline you will either have to check-in or you can leave at the gate. Airlines like Qantas provide stollers at check-in to use in the airport. If you check-in you will have to drop off at the over sized luggage area and pick up in baggage claim at your final destination. If there is not an option to use an airport stroller you might need to consider how you are going carry your baby through the airport. One option is purchasing a stroller that will fit in the overhead bin of the aircraft. Another option is baby carrying.
Baby carrying is ideal for infants. You can move around easier, conquer stairs, and walk faster. Baby carries also come in handy when resettling on the plane, and free up your hands when you’re searching for important documents.
RENT A CAR SEAT IF POSSIBLE
Like prams, car seats travel for free. You will have to check your car seat in with your luggage so I recommend placing it in a large plastic bag or a car sear specific travel bag. If you’re renting a car, sometimes it is easier to rent a car seat as well. Keep in mind it might not have all the bells and whistles as yours, but reduces that amount of luggage you have to tote around. There are also a few parents out there that have issues with the handling and care of their carseats when being transported to the plane. You could purchase a smaller, cheaper car seat exclusively for travel. Or, if you are using a capsule most airlines recommend and allow you to drop off at the gate.
INVEST IN A FUNCTIONAL BACKPACK STYLE DIAPER BAG
It is always good to free up your hands when traveling. I recommend The Fawn Design Original. Pack your bag with care, you want to be able to find what you need quickly and efficiently.
Note that most airlines consider your diaper bag as your carry on unless you purchase a ticket for your child. You bag must be the carry on requirements of the airlines.
Learn more in related article: BABY CABIN ESSENTIALS- WHAT TO PACK IN YOUR TRAVEL DIAPER BAG
Security, Priority Boarding and Customs
Look For Family Only Lines
Not always, but sometimes traveling with small children is actually more efficient when navigating through an airport. In most cases, airlines and staff go out of their way to accommodate you and your little one to get you aboard the plane as easy as possible. Always look for family only lines when checking in or passing through security. Sometimes an agent may allow you to bypass or use the express lane. On almost all flights families with children are allowed priority boarding. Its the great debate. Get on the plane early, use the overhead space for your carry on, and avoid the human traffic jam. Or, board last so you don’t have to sit in your seat with your baby for a long period of time. Either way the option is there. When it comes to passport control, look for family only control lines.
Protocol When Going Through Security
Yes, You Can Take Liquids
Weather you are flying international or domestic, when going through security you can bring a reasonable amount of liquids for your baby- breast milk, formula, and sterile water. You must notify the security officer before the screening begins. These liquids will be subjected to additional screening. Additional information about the screening procedures can be found here.
How To Avoid Ear Pain
Save Feeding For Take Off And Landing
During take off and landing most of us feel our ears pop due to changes in the cabin pressure. As adults we are used to this, “popping” them without even going through the motion. For children though it can be scary or even painful. The swallowing motion helps the air pressure in the ears re-balance.
If feeding is not an option, a pacifier can do the trick.
Surviving The Flight
Eat Before The flight
Consider yourself lucky if you can eat your mediocre flight meal in peace. Either you will have your hands full holding your baby, or you will be trying to ward off your baby’s flailing limbs smashing or grabbing anything in sight.
Use The Restroom Before The Flight
Going to the toilet in a small cabin cubical while holding a baby and emerging put together is extremely difficult.
Ask For Help
Cabin crew can prepare, heat bottles, and wash pacifiers.
No two flights will be the same. You can prepare as best as possible, but be ready to go with the flow and expect the un-expected.
Now, Take it to the sky