Air travel with your baby

Published by Baby Bunting on Monday, January 28, 2019

Travelling anywhere with infants can be testing, but nowhere is the struggle more real than on a plane. It's dark, it's boring and it's super cramped – uncomfortable enough for adults let alone infants. But there's no reason you can't come prepared and, particularly for long haul flights, a little preparation goes a long, long way

Booking your tickets

Each airline has different requirements for travelling infants, so it's best to either book through a travel agent or contact the airline directly. While most airlines don't charge for infants under two, they will still need a ticket registered in their name.

Choosing your seats

As mentioned, infants under two are not usually charged for flying. However, this is because they share the seat with you. You'll decide whether you want to pay a child's fare and book the seat next to you – probably preferable for a long haul flight.

In this situation, seat choice can make or break your comfort. Provided you've booked early enough, you should be able to exercise some discretion. Seats at the bulkhead (with no seats in front of you) provide extra leg room and mobility, while those in the aisle ensure you won't be disrupting others if moving about frequently.

Also keep in mind that seats forward of the wings tend to be quieter and experience less engine rumble. Again, it is a good idea to contact the airline directly to see if they can offer further assistance or advice.

Packing your baby essentials

Your baby will have a baggage allowance to cover all the requisite nappies, wipes, blankets, clothing changes etc. You will even be able to bring baby food, formula, bottled milk and juice – an exemption from the restriction airlines have on fluids over 100mL. Your pram will have to be security screened, and you will probably be able to take it right up to the gate, but it is unlikely that you will be able to take it on board the flight due to cabin space restrictions.

It's a good idea to check with the airline what their procedure is, along with their allowance for bassinets. And remember: it always pays to pack extra essentials in case of annoying delays!

Boarding

For some reason, everyone is always rushing to get on the plane. This of course leaves passengers awkwardly waiting in the aisle while someone tries to shove their check-in sized suitcase into the carry-on overheads. Annoying, right?

Most airlines now call passengers with young children to board first. If you are travelling with a partner, family member or friend, ask the attendant whether you can have them go ahead and set up shop while you hang back. This has the added benefit of keeping your baby out of harm's way of falling bags during the boarding process. Remember, everyone's seats are allocated, so no one's missing out!

Take off and descent

Changes in air pressure during take-off and descent result in that uncomfortable and sometimes painful sensation in our ears. For infants especially, it must be a frightening sensation as they cannot yet rationalise that sensation. The best thing you can do to help your little one is to get them swallowing. Whether through bottle, breast, solids or a teether, counteracting those pressure changes can help keep your baby calm.

Changing and feeding in-flight

Although aeroplane toilets are cramped enough for one, let alone two, most of the major carriers feature change tables. Jumping into one of these to change your bub affords you privacy and a moment away from the cabin. When it comes to feeding time, airlines are unlikely to give you access to the galley – make sure you come with any food pre-prepared. However, if you ask them, cabin crew are generally happy to heat up any food or milk for your baby.

Accept the situation, be polite and keep calm

It may not be possible to entirely avoid tears on a flight, so do the next best thing and accept them. If you treat the situation with good humour and you acknowledge your fellow passengers with a smile and a 'Sorry, everyone!' you will go a long way to diffusing the tension.

If the tears do start, get up and go for a walk and a little rock with your bub. Introduce a new toy. Maybe even introduce a new person. The key is having your strategy ready and accepting that the situation is only temporary.

Remember, your mood is likely to affect your baby's and even that of those around you, so don't sweat the small stuff; keep calm in-flight and carry on!

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