Holidaying with a baby
Flying with a baby can be a nightmare. Luckily for you, we have all your questions answered to make your trip as close to child's play as possible.
At what age can I fly with my baby?
There's no overall rule, though most airlines require babies to be at least 14 days old to fly.
Do I need to book a plane seat for my baby?
Babies under two years are usually allowed to travel for free, so long as they don't take up a plane seat. These babies have to sit on their parents' laps, though if you have a little baby, you can request the use of a sky cot or bassinet. However, this will need to be booked in advance of the flight and you'll need to check whether the cot or bassinet can be used on any seat or just specific seats on the plane.
If your baby is too big for a bassinet, you could consider something like a SkyBaby.
When is the best time to travel?
It's advisable to aim for the first flight of the day because there will be fewer delays, either that or go at midday as these are usually the emptiest flights. The quietest days to fly are midweek, so consider Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. Avoid weekends and Mondays as these are the busiest days. However, babies all have different sleeping patterns that only the parents will know, so try to get a flight at a time when your baby will be at their sleepiest.
Boarding with a baby
It's worth asking airline staff when checking in and boarding if the flight is completely full. If it is half empty you could ask if you can have a whole row of seats to yourself. If you prefer some privacy for breastfeeding, ask for a window seat.
Most airlines allow young families to board first. However, your time may be best spent making the most of not being cooped up in an aeroplane by soothing your baby in the boarding lounge and waiting until the rest of the passengers have boarded before going to find your seat.
Things to do before you fly
Contact the airline in advance and find out what the policy is about extra baby-related baggage. Many airlines don't count changing bags as an extra piece of hand luggage and some also allow one foldable pram plus a car seat.
Prams are great for containing and navigating your baby through the chaos of an airport, however if you have a baby carrier or a baby sling, this means both hands are free to wrestle with luggage, tickets and passports.
Airlines allow baby milks on board, and they aren't restricted to the 100ml rule. Premade cartons are easy to carry if you're bottle feeding and you can take pre-sterilised bottles to use with them. You can even pre-order baby milk to be picked up from Boots at the other side of security. Baby food is also permitted.
How do I entertain my baby on the flight?
Make sure that you pack a few toys for when baby gets bored or grizzly. Anything too noisy may result in fellow passengers getting more rattled than an actual rattle. If you have a tablet, download some baby-friendly apps beforehand and hope that they do the trick.
Baby changing bag essentials
Here is a short checklist of a few essentials it is worth having in your changing bag for the flight:
- Hand wipes
- Hand gel (less than 100ml if it's in liquid)
- Food, milk and a bottle
- A change of baby clothes
- A plastic zip lock bag to keep dirty clothes separate
- A change of clothes for you (you never know…)
Lastly, to make sure that everything is ready for you and your baby to fly as peacefully as possible, contact the airline you are flying with ten days before you go to ensure that they have everything in place and are expecting you.