Flying with a baby: Tips and Advice

The answer to stress free flying with a baby or young children generally lies in the planning, and of course a bit of good luck along the way. Here are our top tips to planning your flight and preparing well together with some great advice from other parents. 

1. Does my baby need their own seat on the aeroplane?

Airlines classify an infant as any child under the age of 2 and they can travel on your lap. You’ll be given a lap belt to put around your baby and attach to your own. You can take a 5 point harness car seat on board, but if you do, you’ll have to buy an extra seat and your baby will still have to sit on your lap for takeoff and landing.

If you’re flying long haul, book a bassinet for the baby to sleep in.  It’s best to book this with your airline asap to ensure availability.

2. What shall I pack for my baby for the flight?

Write a list based on your normal daily routine.  As a start consider nappies, nappy sacks, wipes, muslins, spare clothes (including a spare top for you, just in case), dummies including a sterilised spare, made up bottles to add milk powder to, premeasured powder and baby food, spoons and bibs if baby is weaning/weaned (see baby milk and food rules) or spare breast pads for breastfeeding mothers. Depending on the age of your baby, pack soft books, non musical baby travel toys and teethers. Take trusted favourites that you know hold their attention.

Parent Tip
from Luci: Take a change of clothes for you and baby. Take ready made baby milk, take several in case of delays. Take lots of fruit and bananas for babies but be aware the sniffer dogs will get you the other end, so leave unused fruit on the aeroplane

3. Can I put a car seat in the hold?

Baby on aeroplaneIf you need a car seat when you get there, you can take your own. Most airlines allow you to take them for free for children under 5. You generally have to check them in first, then take them to the large baggage desk and after the flight collect them at your destination from the baggage carousel. Taking your own is more reassuring if you’re hiring a car on holiday and saves on the hire costs too. Some airlines will take travel cots in the hold, but most charge and some stipulate that you have to include the cot within your weight allowance.  For toddlers, consider these travel booster seats.

Parent Tip
from mamaJo:We made sure our daughter had her own seat and didn't take the car-seat on the plane - the car seats for both went with the luggage. The girls would have been far too restrained in their car-seats.

4. Does my baby get cabin baggage allowance?

Some airlines, particularly for long haul flights, allow infants separate baggage, but many do not. You are likely to have to carry your infant’s things in your own baggage. Check with your airline beforehand.

5. Will I be able to take a buggy or pushchair to the aeroplane?

You’ll generally be able to take the buggy right up to the aeroplane, where you’ll then leave it by the door or at the foot of the stairs. Your buggy will be put in the hold and you don't get your pushchair back until the baggage carousel. This means walking from the aeroplane through passport control to wait for your baggage while carrying your baby. A baby sling or carrier is invaluable for this time. If you prefer to use a carrier for the whole time in the airport, you can check your stroller in with your luggage.  Consider one of these lightweight pushchairs, perfect for your hols.

6. Do babies ears hurt on takeoff and landing?

We can't know for sure, but some suggest timing feeds or using a dummy for takeoff and landing as the sucking sensation could alleviate any ear discomfort that might occur. Many babies don’t suffer any problems and may even sleep through take off!

7. And finally:

We know it’s hard to do, but if your baby is crying on the flight, avoid the glances of other parents, don’t keep apologising, just try and relax. If you’re stressing, it’ll make things worse for you and baby. Concentrate on your little one and think about how you’re going to enjoy yourself when you finally get there!

B&W Photo courtesy of DougWW via