Top 10 Tips For Flying With Babies

I had no idea why G was freaking out, I figured it would all fit in a suitcase

It’s getting close to holiday season, and I imagine for many of you this involves some travelling to see family and friends. For some it’s a visit to the next suburb, for others it may require getting on a plane. Those of you who are travelling with babies know that whether it’s ten minutes in the car, or ten hours in the sky, the process is similar. Throw in as much as you can and pray for the gods of sleep to look upon you.

I stumbled across a photo today. It was taken just before we headed back to Jakarta with the first little traveller. I had travelled home to Adelaide at 34 weeks pregnant with a plan for G to fly out and meet me around the due date. While G was busy at work, praying not to receive the quick-get-on-a-plane-I’m-in-labour call, I was busy scouring the baby stores, making sure I had every piece of baby paraphernalia possible.  I was a marketers dream, I had no idea what I needed, and all the time in the world to convince myself the $20 bath themometer was an essential item. I think I still have the bath themometer somewhere? I can’t say it got a lot of use.
I was asked recently if I would give some tips on flying with babies, and I thought maybe this was the perfect time of year. To avoid major disappointment, those of you who are pregnant, make sure you have a letter from your doctor giving you the okay to fly. And if anyone is traveling without their partner, you may need a letter from them giving you the okay to fly. I know for me it gets tricky as my children have a different surname to me, recently when I flew to London unexpectedly without G, I nearly didn’t make it into the country. It’s not worth being unprepared.
I have about nine hundred and ninety five squillion tips for flying with children, but here’s ten if you’re travelling with a child or toddler over the break. 
  1. Get yourself a compact travel stroller. I know you love that big fancy one, but you’re going to need something that folds fast and flat. Try and negotiate keeping it with you until you board the plane, if the airline ask’s to take it, ask for a courtesy stroller.
  2. While you’re online checking your seats (I always prefer the window with a baby) see if you can find where the baby change rooms are at both the airport you are leaving and landing in. I know this sounds ridiculously organized but I have been the victim of so many baby poonamis (that’s when the poo explodes and ends up in the crevices of your baby’s underarms and neck) and projectile vomits that require more than a baby wipe to clean up the debris.
  3. Wear slip on shoes and no belt. Those knee high zip up boots are going to drive you crazy when going through airport security.
  4. Find a baby-sling with a zip up pocket. You can keep your boarding pass, an extra couple of nappies/diapers, wipes, visa card and some cash in there. You’ll want to keep your hands free for any paperwork, or schlepping of luggage, or better still, last minute airport shopping.
  5. If you’re not breastfeeding make sure you have a bottle ready for accent and decent on the plane, the sucking will equalize your baby’s ears. It’s also always handy to have a bottle of water, just incase you can’t get your feeding time to match that of the airline schedule. Get the water after you’ve gone through security. Unless your baby is a fan of spicy trail mix, don’t rely on the airline for snacks.
  6. Keep yourself hydrated, flying sucks the moisture out of every particle of your body, this is the same for your baby. You may find the baby requires an extra drink than usual.
  7. If you’ve flying long haul ask for a bulkhead or bassinet seat, that extra leg room, or a chance for your baby to sleep flat will be a godsend by about the third hour into your flight.
  8. Use a baby wrap to keep around your baby while they’re in the sling, this can then double as a blanket on the flight, or roll into a ball as a small pillow. Don’t forget to pack a bib, it can save you two sets of clothes.
  9. G loves to get on the plane first, but when it comes to babies/toddlers I think it’s better to get on last. What worked for us was for him to go ahead with bags and secure the space, and me to jump on later to reduce the time that we were sitting around with squirmy child.
  10. It gets cold on the plane, a pashmina may be your best friend if you don’t want to pack unnecessary clothing.
My biggest tip though, is this. Plan on everything going pear shaped. This way when they refuse to let you take your stroller to the aircraft after they’d promised you could over the phone, and the plane is delayed, and you don’t get the seat that you were promised, you won’t be disappointed. You’ll be ready. 
Okay, so I want to hear from you now. What are your top tips for travelling with babies? And yes, ordering a double upon take-off should be number one.

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