Air travel with infants is a nightmare for most parents and it is one of those occasions where you badly want to pretend ‘that’s not my baby’ especially when the kids are unruly!
Though I cannot guarantee that flying with a baby will be a smooth experience for you, the following tips can definitely help you avoid a lot of related air travel miseries.
Before the travel
When you plan to travel with a baby, you have to keep the following things in mind.
- Get your travel checklist ready: Before the travel, you need to prepare a list of things that you want to carry during the flight with a baby. This might include mainly the baby supplies, diapers, baby wipes, medicines, baby formula – supplements, flask, boiled water, sterilized bottles, clothes, warmers, pacifiers, baby bag, pram, travel seats etc. If it is a long international travel, make sure that you know the weight limits and baby travel rules as per the airline websites
- Suitable flight timing: Try to choose an airline time that overlaps with baby’s sleep time so that less of feeding troubles you have during the flight. Also, as much as possible book a direct ticket
- Book a seat for the baby: Though babies below two years do not need a ticket, it is advisable to book a seat for the baby especially if the travel time is more than two hours or so. This can be expensive but really help you managing the baby with the right airline travel seat for your baby. This will definitely help you sleep properly as well. Please note that even if you do not book a seat for the baby, you need to get a ticket for it
- Travel accessories: The right travel accessories such as baby flight safety seat, pram, baby carrier etc should be carried along based on the duration of the flight as well as baby’s age
- Travel with a helper: Flight checking in process, X-ray screening, pushing the luggage etc while carrying the baby can be really difficult for you if you travel alone. As much as possible try to travel with your spouse or travel partner. If you cannot get one, try to take help from the airline ground staff
- Go lighter on luggage: It is very important that you pack light when you travel with a baby because your baby itself can be as good as a couple of suitcases. Also, it is important to keep all of baby’s essential stuff in one carry bag
- For breast-fed babies: If you are still breastfeeding your baby, you should wear the right kind of clothes that help you feed the baby during travel
During the travel and flight
- Be on time and wait: Try to arrive at the airport a bit in advance so that you can avoid the rush near security check and X-ray screening. Also, this gives time for you to prepare for the flight by waiting in the nearest possible seats near the gate. Please note that you may have to declare the baby formula, food items at the customs so as to avoid any security check issues later
- Feed the baby and change diapers: You may want to change your baby’s diapers and feed it once before you enter the flight. You may keep a bit of the bottle content left as it will be helpful during take off
- Know the flight’s baby features: Passengers travelling with kids will be usually boarded first and hence it gives you the opportunity to setup your baby seat properly. Also, take this opportunity to visit the lavatory and understand how baby diaper changing platform works and how to dispose the mess. If needed, take help from the stewards
- Choose the right seat: Never choose an isle seat for the baby and his travel seat. Usually any falling objects, passengers hurrying to the lavatory or sewards serving food can hurt your baby. A window seat may be suitable in most cases
- Talk to the stewardess for help: As soon as you enter, you may talk to the air hostess to understand if there are any special rules or safety measures to be taken for infants
- During take off: Due to the sudden changes in cabin pressure, baby’s ears can ache during take off. To reduce this, you may use a pacifier or feed the baby with the bottle. Same is applicable during landing as well
- On arrival: On arrival, take your time to collect the luggage and your baby along with your accessories. It’s better to wait till other passengers leave the flight as people are usually in a hurry to leave the flight as soon as the doors are open
Happy journey with your little one!