12 Tips for Flying with Babies and Toddlers

12 Tips for Flying with Babies and Toddlers

If you’re going to be flying with babies and toddlers then read on for tips on how to make the experience much easier and less stressful.

When my daughter was born I was living in Australia and when she was 3 months’ old, we traveled long haul to the UK for a month’s holiday.

I’d have to say I was pretty terrified at the thought of it beforehand having been on so many flights pre-motherhood where I’ve heard babies scream the entire journey and seen parents pacing the aisles looking pale, wide-eyed and frazzled only 30 minutes into the journey.

I was also the first of my ‘mummy friends’ to undertake such a long journey but luckily I did have friends with older kids who shared their much-needed advice and helped me prepare – mentally as much as anything.

12 Tips on Flying with Babies and Toddlers - www.lovefrommim.com Traveling by Plane with a Baby Flying with Kids Plane Travel with Babies and Toddlers

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I had 2 main fears – firstly, that my baby would scream and be in pain from the discomfort flying can cause to their ears and secondly, that I would be judged by other passengers for disrupting their journey. Of course I now know better than to be tooooo overly concerned by other people’s potential judgments but having been the judger myself in the past, I knew what the potential was. I know better now – now at the very least I offer other parents sympathetic smiles or pretend I can’t hear the commotion of another child having a tantrum so as to make them feel less paranoid! How times have changed.

I prepared and prepared and prepared for the flight and I’ll detail how in the tips below. The flight went so much better than I expected and we even had passengers pass us when they disembarked and say they didn’t realise a baby was on the plane. Phew!

Since then I’ve flown short haul countless times and thought I would share my top 12 tips for flying with babies and toddlers (no particular order):

1. Get a Bassinet Seat

For babies under a year old, I’d recommend booking seats (long haul flights) at the front with the bassinets. Now my baby hated the bassinet and refused to sleep longer than 20 minutes at a time in it but it was great to be right next to the toilets for changing her and having all of the extra legroom to store the nappy bag etc.

Be aware that these seats have hard sides rather than arm rests as the tray table is stored there so they are not quite as comfortable as normal seats but hey, you’re not really going to be ‘comfortable’ at all when flying with a baby. Also bear in mind that there is often no guarantee that you will get the bassinet seats as they seem to be allocated to the youngest babies first. Book them in advance but get to the airport earlier than you normally would to try and reserve them again.

2. Check what you can take onboard

Check with your airline in advance of flying whether or not you can take water in baby bottles if you have a formula fed baby. By the time my baby was on formula I didn’t check this and assumed that I couldn’t take water on which actually resulted in me having to mix her formula with bottled water – not at all ideal. As far as I know, most airlines will allow you to take water in the baby bottles so you can then mix the formula in as and when you need it. They will expect you to take a sip from each bottle when you go through security so overfill your bottles slightly so that there’s still the adequate amount left in for the baby.

3. Take a ‘Mini’ changing bag

Take a plastic bag with you on board in your nappy bag so that when you go to change nappies in the teeny, tiny toilet, you can take only the essentials in with you – a nappy, packet of wipes, change mat etc rather than taking in the whole bulky bag. You can hang this on the hook on the back of the toilet door and reach in for what you need easily.

We also included a spare set of PJs in this bag as my baby decided 10 minutes before landing that she would poop-splode.

4. Don’t stress it!

It might reassure you (or not) to know what your child will likely not be the only one on board so even if your angel is sleeping like well, a baby, others likely will not. For the first and last time in your life, you will welcome the noise from other people’s children to potentially drown out your own. You will never welcome them kicking the back of your chair though grr.

5. Plan how you’ll carry your baby

Check your airlines’ policy for taking a pram/stroller. We flew with Etihad first time round and they were great in letting us keep our stroller until the moment we boarded, then having it waiting for us at the doors to the plane when we disembarked at our final destination.

We could have also chosen to have it back at each destination along the way but we had a sling with us to carry her in so didn’t feel it necessary. With the amount of stuff you have to cart with you when traveling with kids, it was brilliant to have it with us until we boarded.

6.  Invest in a sling or baby carrier!

I’m a huge advocate of slings and my baby loved being in hers. For flying, it was great to pop her in it when I was trying to get her to sleep and stretching my legs on the plane. It was also brilliant to put her in when I was boarding and disembarking as it freed up my hands to carry bags etc.

Of course do not ever fall asleep yourself with the baby in the sling – hand them over to your partner when it’s your turn to get some shut eye.

7. Check your taxi has a car seat

If you are traveling to and from the airport by taxi then do double check when you make the booking that they will provide a car seat if you’re not taking your own. Also make sure that it is the correct size for your baby and which way it will face. A couple of times we’ve had issues when the taxi arrived with a front-facing car seat when my baby was too young and this has caused stress and delays to our journey.

8. Check what you can take for free!

Check how many items you can check in for free with your booking. With most of ours we’ve been able to check in 2 for free such as a stroller, travel cot, car seat etc. We’ve always chosen the travel cot and stroller and I’ve cheekily used the travel cot case as extra baggage, stuffing as many toys and clothes in as possible!

9. Have plenty of snacks

Make sure to take more than enough drinks, snacks, food, wipes and nappies on board and factor in the potential to be delayed. We were delayed traveling from Switzerland back to the UK and had already checked in our main bags with the spare nappies and wipes in. With it being the end of the holiday, we had no extra money either to buy more.

Don’t be afraid to ask the airline for help – EasyJet provided us with vouchers to by extra supplies in the pharmacy thankfully. Despite being delayed for 4 hours, my baby had another poop-splosion moments before we boarded, it’s becoming a hobby of hers.

10. Feed on take off and landing

Probably the most obvious one but worth a mention anyway but do try to feed your baby on take off and landing as them sucking will definitely help their little ears to equalise the pressure. I would add to this though not to start the feed too early – hold out for as long as you can (without them being uncomfortable of course) as the first time I did this, my baby had finished her breastfeed when we were still chugging down the runway! Luckily it didn’t bother her but it may have done.

11.  Bring entertainment

For toddlers who are crawling and walking, they won’t be as interested in sitting on your lap as babies are.  I would say that the younger the baby, the ‘easier’ it is to travel with them. When we flew to Switzerland, my baby was walking and had no interest in sitting still on our laps at all really. I was so jealous of the parents who held up iPads for their little ones! If you have the money, this is probably a great investment.

Otherwise we took in in turns to stay at the back of the plane with her so she could have a little run around there, albeit in a cramped space. Also take a few new books that they haven’t seen before as this will encourage them to keep still.

12.  Forget the routine and focus on just surviving the flight!

I spent a lot of time trying to ‘time’ when my baby would sleep on-board to help alleviate the jet lag at the other end of the journey. In actual fact, she really had very little interest in sleep once she saw the excitement of traveling on a plane, with a lot of other people, and children, and flashing lights, and noise. Really it just turned into survival and I’d go with that from now on.

Yes, of course try and encourage sleep where you can but really take it in turns with your partner so that you both get a little sleep yourselves too so that when you do land, you’re not quite as frazzled as you might have been.

This list is clearly not exhaustive and I could probably add at least another 50 to it! These are my best ones though so far and I hope they help you a little.

Please do comment below with your own tips for flying with babies and toddlers, share the knowledge and let’s help each other.

12 Tips on Flying with Babies and Toddlers - www.lovefrommim.com Traveling by Plane with a Baby Flying with Kids Plane Travel with Babies and Toddlers

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11 Comments

  1. 16th November 2014 / 4:52 pm

    i havent flown my husband has though with our toddler, I had to drive back as I was 39 weeks pregnant at the time. He dad not realise about the stroller and was stuck at a airport with a 15 month old and no stroller! I think babies on a plane are easier than toddlers anyday lol
    Thanks for joinin in with Sunday round up!

    • 20th November 2014 / 8:31 am

      Oh wow just driving at 39 weeks would be tough though! Aww your husband must have had a lot of ‘fun’!! :)

  2. 2nd January 2015 / 9:26 am

    Ahhh! flying with kids – we’ve done quite a bit of it in Reuben’s lifetime and by far the worst was when he was 18months – he didn’t have his own seat yet and he absolutely hated being strapped in! Much easier once he had his own seat, the last flight at 2 years was a dream!

    Great tips and thanks for linking up to #TheList and for you support in 2014!! Happy New Year xx

    • 7th January 2015 / 1:26 pm

      I can absolutely imagine – so much easier when they’re tinier and can’t really move! I’m not looking forward to our next long haul lol :) Thanks Hannah!

  3. 23rd January 2015 / 5:25 pm

    Such fabulous advice, I have never flown with a baby or a toddler, but if we had plans this post would help so much. Thanks for linking up to #TheList x

    • 24th January 2015 / 1:52 pm

      Thanks so much! We’ll be flying long haul with 2 babies at some point, I’ll have to re-read these tips myself then! :)

  4. 15th February 2016 / 7:29 am

    super helpful…I am terrified of flying with my LO..this helps! thanks!

    • 15th February 2016 / 4:26 pm

      Thank you! I hope all goes ok when you do fly – if it helps, it’s never as bad as I psych myself up for! x

  5. SavouryMuffin
    15th September 2016 / 9:18 pm

    Great post thank you! I flew solo from Australia to the UK with my 12m old son. He wasn’t walking but was an enthusiastic crawler and was almost too big for the bassinet. First thing to mention although the bassinet can be a great plus if there is the slightest turbulence which results in the seat belt sign being turned on then you must remove your baby from the bassinet (sleeping or not) and strap them to you with the infant seatbelt. This is terrible if you have your little one finally settled and fast asleep as it of course wakes them up and even worse if you have to repeat it multiple times on a long flight.
    I took 2 new books and a couple of soft toys but all my son wanted to do was crawl and it’s not allowed, I was told numerous times on different flights that due to the risk of injury due to turbulence babies cannot be sat or crawling on he floor even by your feet if you are in a front row (inconvenient but makes sense).
    A big win was using a handful of the mini paper cups from the toilets these were used to stack up, knock down and finally rip to shreds and throw away!

    Walking around with him was his favourite entertainment however beware little hands can reach all sorts of buttons and switches that are on the walls of the plane especially around the galley areas. My son almost stopped the movie for the whole plane which would have resulted in it having to be started from the beginning almost half way in (we wouldn’t have been too popular if I hadn’t have pulled his little hand away at the last second!).
    Another win was a tip from a friend a plastic bag filled with a load of hankies ties together I bought them at random charity shops he loved pulling them out one by one and when done I simply shoved them back in and we started again. Men’s ties will do the same thing as will a box of cheap tissues that you can throw away when done.

    The mini nappy bag as previously suggested is definitely required pop in a travel size hand sanitizer and deodorant for you as if your little one is a wriggler it can get pretty sweaty trying to change a poo explosion in such a small space!

    I have found all airlines so far have allowed pre boiled water in bottles, baby formula in the tin and in typos ware, baby biscuits, raisins and snacks on board I just make sure any opened food is not then taken off the plane at our destination.

    Finally these days almost all airlines offer noise cancelling headphones even in economy so there’s no need for grumpy passengers if they can’t stand the noise of your little one struggling then they have multiple TV or music channels or even meditation channels these days to listen to; your screaming Angel could just be mere background noise if they use them.

    Good luck!

    • 16th September 2016 / 12:47 pm

      These are wonderful tips, thank you :) You’re completely right about how annoying it is to have to remove them in turbulence – as right as it is of course :) You’d just rather not disturb them when they’re finally settled!

      • Emma
        16th October 2016 / 1:18 pm

        We’ve flown qantas and the bassinet had a “seatbelt” (looked like cargo netting not over the top)so we didn’t have to take our sleeping baby out. I think it depends on the airline / type of plane

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