Decided to take your baby on a plane? Well done! Life doesn’t end when you have a baby and parents with little ones need to travel too. It can be daunting but with a bit of preparation, you can take to the sky with baby in tow.

First-time parents probably have many questions when it comes to bubs and planes – do airlines allow you to bring your own stroller? Are there different rules for liquids (ie, breast milk) when travelling internationally? Do parents need to book a seat for babies? So, here are our tips for making your flight with baby as smooth as possible, and the tricks Philippa Christian, child carer to the stars and author of Nanny Confidential, uses when she travels the world with her young charges.

What to do when booking

  • Consider flight times – it might be cheaper to fly later in the day, but if your baby gets tired and grumpy in the afternoon it’s worth it to pay the extra and have a cheerful baby en route.
  • Infants booked on flights aren’t assigned a seat and must travel in a bassinet or on their parent’s lap. If you do want a seat for your baby, make sure you request it when you book.
  • Parents can now choose a Seat with Bassinet when booking international flights (excluding those operated on 737 aircraft) . The child must be less than two years of age and weigh less than 11kg. There could be related costs and depends who you are travelling with. It’s generally free for customers travelling in international First, Business or Premium Economy cabins.
  • Request a baby meal when you’re booking; Airlines provides a limited range of baby food, milk, bottles, cereals and rusks but advises passengers to bring products they know their baby will consume. You can also inform your Airline of any special dietary requirements or allergies your baby might have.

Have identification ready

If you’re flying internationally, your baby will need his or her own passport. There’s nothing trickier than trying to get a baby to stay still for a passport photo so make sure you get it well ahead of time in case you need to have more than one shot at it.

What to bring in your carry-on

  • “Invest in a backpack with a number of dividers,” says Christian. “This is the best way to keep your hands free to cuddle your baby until you are seated on board.”
  • Babies come with a lot of baggage – strollers, capsules, nappies, bottles – so it’s important to check what you can and can’t take on the plane. You can bring: a reasonable amount of baby milk – breast milk or powdered formula and sterilised water; juice; baby food in liquid, gel or paste form; and disposable wipes.
  • Pack your carry-on with care – the last thing you want is to be rummaging around your bag trying to find the nappies during a mid-air nappy emergency.
  • Always pack a change of clothes – yes, for the baby but just as importantly for yourself, too. Actually, make that several changes of clothes.

What about a stroller and bassinet?

  • Double check your baggage allowance for little ones to see if they include a collapsible stroller and collapsible cot, bassinet or baby capsule. The easiest thing to do once you arrive at the airport is check your stroller in and use one that’s available free of charge from the airline. A staff member will collect it from you at the boarding gate.
  • Bassinets provided on most airlines flights are approximately 71 centimetres long, 31 centimetres wide, 26 centimetres deep, and have a weight limitation of 11 kilograms.

Time your feeds

Some people are lucky to avoid the ear pain that can occur when the plane begins to ascend or descend, but others, including babies and children, find it very hard to deal with. Sucking on a bottle for babies can help,” says Christian. “Where possible, try to time feeds for take-off and landing.”
If feeding is not an option, Christian recommends a dummy.

Ask for help

Cabin crew can prepare, heat and wash bottles or dummies. Baby changing tables are available in selected washrooms but bring a plastic changing mat with you as well.

 

Dress babies in layers

“The temperature in the plane is usually quite a bit cooler,” says Christian. “Rug up a little with layers that can be removed if required. Go for tops and bottoms so nappy changing is efficient, and make sure nothing is too tight.”