Is taking the first flight with your tiny baby giving you jitters? Do not fret! If I can survive it with two infants , you will definitely too.
Here I enlist a few (or maybe a little more than few) pointers, tips and tricks to make flying with baby easier for you.
- Know your airline and their baggage allowance policy
Always read about the airlines you are taking and their baggage allowance policy , including their check-in and cabin baggage limits. Whether their is a cap on stroller weight? Whether they count stroller and car-seat in your baggage or allow it separately?
- Know your seat
Make sure you ask for a seat with a bassinet facility available ( if baby has not yet developed head and neck control) or choose an Aisle Seat with babies 6 months and above. Choose a seat close to the bathroom for easy access.
Never choose a middle seat.
With a toddler , aisle seats are a boon as they provide ample space for them to move around in case they get irritable.
Also, aisle seat provides you with some space to manipulate your diaper bag/ carry-on bag.
A seat up front may have enough leg space , and also the bassinet facility, but if your child does not require one, it is better to avoid it. As most of the time the child can play on the meal table attached to the seat in front , also sit on it at times, front seats are not always the best option.
If you are lucky, they may provide you with a vacant seat next to you.
- Call and check that infant has been added to your seat ticket
Make sure that your tickets mention ‘INFANT IN LAP‘ or else you might have to rush to add one while checking in, and with children that can be quite cumbersome and time consuming.
- Carry Birth certificate/ Passport
For Domestic Flights, always carry child’s birth certificate and for International Flights, carry the child’s passport.
It is important as the flight crew may confirm the date of birth , as children < 2 years of age (Lap Child) fly for free/ reduced charge.
- Wear your baby
If you are travelling as a small family/ travelling alone and would require to manage your baggage and papers on your own, Do wear your baby in a baby carrier or wrap for the hands-free advantage. It also helps you access the washroom without bothering to park the stroller unattended.
If you have a lightweight / umbrella stroller, then it can be taken all the way to the flight gates. A few airlines require you to get the stroller’s security check separately.
If you have a heavy /double stroller , you are required to check-in the stroller (get it wrapped in plastic , if you are worried about damage) and it is handed over to you separately at baggage claim on arrival destinaton.
Some airlines have limits on stroller weight even while checking-in.
Always check the stroller instructions of the airline you are flying.
- Synchronise flight with sleep timings
Always prefer direct flights over the ones with halts. A little extra money will save you from much inconvenience.
Prefer a destination within 6 hours of your city , if you are still pondering over the vacation destination.
Try to fly during the hours your baby is usually sleepy. An evening flight (5pm to 9pm) can be a difficult one as your baby is neither fresh nor sleepy.
- Pack and prepare carry-on bag
Make sure you take a backpack for carry on for it’s obvious hands-free advantage. For what to pack in your Carry On/ Diaper Bag , check our Travelling with Baby : The Checklist.
- For Security Check
Baby food and water for formula milk / expressed breast milk are allowed in carry on baggage.
Keep any other liquids <100 ml.
Remove your baby carrier before security check and strap the carrier to your backpack for later use. Baby wearing is not recommended while on flight.
If you are carrying your stroller to the gate , get it checked separately under supervision.
- Change diaper before boarding
As soon as you reach the boarding gate, change the baby’s diaper as you will get more room for that on airport than in flight.Use diapers with good soaking ability. I prefer Pampers Active Baby.
If on a long flight, change diaper while in air after 4-6 hours . The on-flight washrooms with diaper changing board usually have a sign of the same on the door. The board is usually placed above the flush faucet and can be pulled down.
Make sure you carry your own Waterproof Foldable Changing Mat to be spread over the diaper changing table to maintain hygiene. Buy the changing mat here.
Just take a diaper, wipes and changing mat and head to the diaper changing room. It is an acquired skill but not difficult.
- Prepare milk at the gate . Use Formula dispenser.
While at the boarding gate, prepare bottles with water and milk for feeding the baby on flight. But do not feed here. Just equip yourself. Feed only on flight.
Use a formula dispenser with already calculated formula amount for ease. Buy it here.
- Feed. While takeoff and landing.
To avoid discomfort , feed your baby while take off and landing. You may carry ear plugs, but they are mainly for the in-flight noise. Feeding the baby is the recommended method to ease ear pain. You can also breastfeed / give pacifier .
You can give the ear plugs to the passengers sitting around for future inconvenience (Just kidding ! )
- Entertainment : new toys and screen
Take a new set of less noisy and compact toys for baby. Attach a string to them if needed and attach to the meal tray knob in front, to avoid frequent throwing and picking up of toys.
Also include teething toys, books and if your child likes videos, take an iPad(or any other screen) with loaded offline videos.
- Don’t feel embarrassed
Though mostly your flight will go fine, but even if you experience some hiccups, do not feel embarrassed. Everyone has been there where you are or invariably be there in future. So do not feel anxious if your baby throws tantrums. Just be patient and try to soothe him by your tried and tested method. If everything else fails, walking around the aisle with the baby, definitely helps.
Even if your baby is not used to a pacifier , you can try it on flights as a way of soothing.
- Extra outfits , toddler snacks and disposable bibs
Make sure you carry 2 extra outfits ( I prefer onesies) in you carry on bag for any mishaps.
Toddler snacks like Ready to eat purees (Buy them here), banana, parantha , baby biscuits (Buy them here) are a must. Carry them in a ziplock bags. Take a plastic (travel friendly) container and spoon for feeding. For Travel Meal Ideas : Click Here !
Use disposable bibs on flight. (Buy them here!)
- Board late and Tire Them Out
Choose to board late and not early . Let your baby roam around and play at the airport so that they tire themselves.
Do not let them sleep before boarding .
Children do not like compact spaces and hence it is better they enter flight as late as possible.
- Dress them in layers
The temperature in flight can fluctuate , hence it is advised to dress them in layers with a light hoodie over the outfit.
Avoid shoes for infants , one hassle less.
- Keep Diaper Bag accessible
Keep the Diaper bag in the space below your front seat and not in the overhead space . You will be needing it a number of times during the flight.
Flying with twins
Having two lap children on flight has entirely different dynamics.
- Seats in different rows
As per air safety guidelines , two lap children(< 2 years without their own seat) cannot be seated in the same row due to unavailibity of two infant masks in a row.
So, as a rule, parents of twins are seated separately.
Choose an aisle seat in two successive rows on opposite sides for easy access (diagonally) and communication between the two of you. It is easier to manipulate the diaper bag essentials this way.
- Wear your baby and check-in your stroller
Always choose to wear your baby, as being hands-free with twins is even more difficult without them.
Check-in your stroller , as invariably , double strollers are usually heavier.
Keep carry on luggage to minimum. Opt for backpacks , again for hands – free advantage.
Other than that, you need to follow the same things as above, just the amount of carry-on essentials will differ.
- If travelling alone with twins
Avoid travelling alone with twins as it is extremely difficult.If it is unavoidable , Choose to buy a seat for one of your twin infants and carry a car seat. Check the car seat compatibilty with airlines.
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Do have a look at our Travelling with baby : The Checklist to know what to pack.
For travel meal ideas for infants and toddlers : click here !
For Recipe of homemade Instant Cereal for babies (Travel friendly ) : Click here!
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