Air travel with a baby can be quite exhausting, both for the adult and the baby. Particularly air charter traveling with a baby is tough.
Why is this?
Well, traveling on a plane with a baby means that you have your baby on your lap all the time unless you are two adults traveling together or you are lucky enough to get hold of a sky cot or a spare seat. It is cramped, it is hard to move around, hard to change diapers, and hard for the baby to get some sleep.
Also, the speakers are often very loud and might wake your precious baby up once you’ve made them go to sleep.
Sounds tempting, huh?
Well, it’s not all bad. I mean you do get somewhere fast! And that’s very nice when you have an infant.
If you plan for an air travel with a baby, check our list of tips to facilitate your trip. Take a deep breath and get going. Have a nice trip!
Tips for Air Travel With A Baby
At the airport
This will be of great help. You baby can rest and hopefully sleep for a while, which make a huge difference for your plane ride.
Air travel with a baby often involves a lot of luggage, and having a place to put down your baby makes a big difference.
If you can’t use the stroller at the airport, at least make sure you bring a baby sling or a baby carrier!
Well, bring one of these anyway! They are such great help.
If you are traveling alone, just imagine going to the bathroom without one…
Where to sit
Air travel with a baby is not very convenient.
The first thing you should do when you book your flight, is to ask for a seat with a sky cot/bassinet for your baby. There are usually not that many (if any) on each airplane, but if you are lucky to get one, it can be a great relief. Don’t forget to check weight limits.
If a sky cot is not available, ask for a seat away from the aisles, preferably a window seat. This way you’ll have at least one undisturbed side.
Also make sure you get a seat next to your travel companion!
If you are flexible, you could consider choosing a flight that is not fully booked. This way you might have the possibility to your baby down on another seat.
Ask the flight attendant if they can keep the seat next to you empty if the plane is not full.
Last, you can of course book an extra seat. Some airlines have very generous discounts for children, so it may be worth the extra cost, especially if you are going to fly for many hours.
When to go
Depending on how far away from the airport you live, you really should think twice before booking a flight early in the morning.
Since you often have to be at the airport at least one hour before departure, you risk both your own sleep and your baby’s routines by leaving early in the morning.
Air travel with a baby may also take some extra time when checking in since you might have a stroller or a car seat to check in too.
My experience is that flying early in the evening is the best time. If you will fly for many hours, a half-booked night flight is absolutely the best. If you can get hold of a sky cot, both you and your baby might actually sleep quite well!
Your baby’s sleep
For some babies it is very hard to sleep on an air plane. It is very noisy, and unless it is in the middle of the night, there tend to be people walking along the aisles all the time.
Also the speaker, located just above your head could wake up anyone!
So be prepared that you might have quite an exhausted and sad little baby by the end of trip.
To help your baby sleep, at least make sure you have a seat away from the aisle. A blanket that smells like home can be a great help to make your baby settle. Breastfeeding or bottle feeding may also help your baby.
If there is any way you can put your baby down either to go asleep or to stay asleep, this will also help both of you. Many babies, if not newborn, actually stay asleep longer if lying down rather than being held in your arms.
A sky cot or an extra seat is of course great if you can get hold of it.
During an air travel with a baby, the last thing you want is a bored kid.
The older the baby, the more different toys will be needed to entertain him or her. It may be a good idea to buy a few new things that will keep your baby interested for a longer time. Also hiding a few favorite things at home a few weeks before traveling and then give them to your child on the plane, is a good way to introduce “new things” during the trip.
Consider tying them together at least in pairs. It is not that easy to bend down to get things on the floor with a baby on your lap.
Also remember that the plastic cups and spoons, magazines, and people around you are new interesting toys and faces for your baby. You don’t have to pack thousands of toys to keep your baby happy.
Feeding your baby
If you don’t breastfeed, ask for help to heat the food or bottle. It may take some time, though, because air planes usually don’t contain any micro ovens. Ask well in advance.
Also, while still at home let your baby get used to have room temperate formula or food. I have done this with my kids, and it is a great help while traveling.
Bring food that you know that your baby will like. With so many new things happening around then, even quite old children may find it hard to concentrate on eating. Being served your favorite food helps.
Also don’t forget to bring baby crackers, rice cakes or some other finger foods.
In my opinion, the meals are among the most trying moments when on an air travel with a baby.
Did you know babies automatically get 6 feet long arms the moment they enter an air plane…? At least that’s what it seems like when you try to have some (usually very hot) food while holding a curious baby in your arms.
If you are two people traveling together, take turns eating.
If not, look around for someone to help you or eat while your baby is asleep.
Of course, if you have an extra seat or a sky cot, this is not an (as big) problem.
Bring fruit, sandwiches, and biscuits that will keep you going if you can’t find time to have the meal served on board.
Air travel with a baby means changing diapers in a very small area, usually in the tiny “bath room”. There, you’ll find a small changing table, about 1 foot wide.
Remember, everything works if you have to! Just make sure you hold a steady hand on your baby all the time, so that he doesn’t fall down.
Make sure to change your baby’s diaper just before the flight, to minimize the number of changes onboard.
Then when it is time, bring as little as you can to the toilet, but make sure to bring enough baby wipes for bigger accidents.
The dirty diaper can be thrown into the bin by the sink, you don’t have to bring it back to your seat and diaper bag.
Want to learn how not to do? Read this funny story shared by a fellow mom about changing diapers on an air plane.
Bring an extra top for yourself and extra pair of both trousers and top for your baby. Infants can get motion sick, the diaper may leak, and you might spill your food trying to grab something to eat…
There are many reasons to bring some extra clothes or you and your family.
Also, the temperature in an airplane can vary a lot between flights. It is impossible to predict if one particular flight will be too warm, too cold or just right. Dress everyone in layers and bring extra clothes, so being too warm or too cold will not be an issue.
Where to go – best baby vacation spots
Want tips on where to go for your air travel with a baby? Visit our section where parents can share tips among each other. You can both share your own secret baby friendly vacation spots and get ideas on places and even hotels and malls to visit with your baby.