This blog I am focusing solely on babies as I felt there is so much information to share otherwise for toddlers and kids.
First of all, I hope you really like this blog post. It literally took me ages to write. Damn WordPress didn’t automatically save a whole days worth of work a few times for me and reluctantly froze with automated saving…so I had to rewrite large chunks so many times. errrrggghhhhhh!!!! I’m a new blogger so It’s a learning curve for me.
Flying with a baby can feel really daunting, especially for an experienced parent. There are so manyÂ moving pieces… booking flights that don’t leave you going through security during the middle of their naps, ensuring you packed a spare set of clothes after your baby has had a diaper explosion all over you and themselves, andÂ ensuring that all your luggage fits in the cab at the airport. Let alone making sure you know everything expected of you at the airport or on the plane for a smooth trip.
My first flight with my son was when he was 3 months old. I spent so many weeks obsessing with googling every internet page about it to find every nugget of gold I could to make my trip easier and finding solutions to any issues I think I may encounter like pumping on a domestic leg on a plane with no power-points.
I guess I could call myself a well-traveled mother. From a baby to a 12-month-old my son has clocked up over 100 hours flying back and forth between America and Australia and a few other long domestic and international flights.
From my countless obsessive research online and from my first-hand experience, here are the best-consolidated tips on the internet for flying with a baby. This is a step by step from booking your flights to dealing with jet lag at the final destination.
I will address each concern below in the same order so that if you only want to know the answer to one topic, you can scroll to that topic and not waste your precious mommy research time on reading this entire blog. I get it.
I will group my tips so that you can scroll to that particular topic.
Tips for everything you need to know and prepare before you fly
- Do you need a passport for a baby?
- What are the costs of flying with a baby under two?
- Does flight times make any difference to your baby?
- What are the sleeping options for an infant and an older baby on the plane?
- How choosing a particular row and seat can be game-changing to your comfort on a flight with a baby?
- What preparation should I do ahead of time before our flight?
- Some great tips to ensure you do not get stranded without your luggage.
- Portable scales can make all the difference to ensure your luggage can go on the plane.
- The essential list of what to prepare in your diaper bag for a flight with a baby.
- Prepping tips for your bags to ensure a smooth operation on your flight.
- You’re on the way to the airport… don’t leave without making sure you read this.
A master list of what to pack in your:
- Diaper bag
- Carry on suitcase
- Babies suitcase
- Your suitcase
- Your gate check bag.
Tips to help you through the airport
- The most ideal way to dress you and baby for a long haul flight.
- Tips for handling the massive amount of luggage you have through the airport while having a baby.
- Don’t feed your baby right before the flight! Here is why…
- Everything you need to know about going through security with a baby.
- The best things you can do for yourself before boarding the plane
- Transporting your baby through security and to and from the plane.
- Is it better to board the plane first or board last with a baby?
Tips to help your flight run smoothly.
- Relieving air pressure.
- Cleanliness on the plane.
- Diaper Changes,
Tips to help you at your final destination
- When you have more baggage than hands
- Why do double check your baggage before you leave the airport
- Jet lag remedies for babies
- Finding baby friendly accommodation
If you have any other tips that you think I have missed or any question about this post, please leave a comment in the comment box at the very end of this page.
Tips for everything you need to know before you fly!
IS IT BETTER TO DRIVE OR FLY?
I guess it depends on how far you are going?
A short flight under 1-3 hours may be too disturbing to the sleep of a baby (with constant stimuli, being taken out of their stroller going through security, boarding, sitting up on your lap during landing, collecting baggage etc.) In comparison, a baby could have a nice long nap in the car.
Flying is great for longer trips because your baby can have a long sleep on the plane and you guys can move around the cabin when you need to, without having to stop and pull over.
For long flights that follow another connecting flight straight after, my family has made the smart decision to stop at a hotel and continue flying the next morning. When we first flew from Los Angeles to Australia it went well. But an hour later we were on another 4-hour flight and my son cracked it as soon as we walked on the plane. You could see his expression thinking “Oh fuck, not this again“. Stopping for the night allowed our son to get a better sleep, some proper play time while not being handled and to give everyone a break.
WHAT IS THE EARLIEST A BABY CAN FLY?
I personally don’t think newborns should be flying until they have had their first round of immunizations. There are so many germs in the airport that could get your newborn very sick. Most airplanes are only superficially cleaned between flights and you don’t know what flues or such are going around. Most airlines have a minimum of 7 days old as the pressure of an airline cabin is a primary health concern on an infants lungs.
Planning trips across the world to visit family or have a holiday is so much easier before your baby can crawl and more active.
DO YOU NEED TRAVEL DOCUMENTS FOR A BABY?
- Name: When booking tickets, the babies name needs to be on the boarding ticket. If you book these flights before the baby was born, you can add their name in later but prior to your flight.
- Passport: Make sure you have a passport for your baby if you are flying internationally!! Enough said!
- Birth Certificate: It is also a good idea to bring a copy of your babies birth certificate for proof of age. Clearly, your baby is under two, but some staff likes to be a pain in the butt and be “official”.
- Permission letter: If one parent is traveling solo, you may need to bring a permission letter with you from the other parent with their contact details on it. This may be checked to ensure that you are not in-fact stealing the baby away from the other parent. It’s scary to think that divorced or fighting parents have don’t this and why this rule is imposed.
- Travelling Visa: My husband and I are Australians but moved to America for work where our son was born. We had to get him a birth certificate and then a USA passport first, which took about two months. Flying to Australia with us meant that he could only stay for 90 days total as he was a tourist.
WHAT ARE THE COSTS OF FLYING WITH A BABY UNDER TWO?
For children under 2: You DO NOT have to buy a seat as you are allowed to carry them on your lap. The cost is free for domestic but you can expect to pay approximately 10% in fees plus airport taxes. Making it all the more reason to get as much travel in early!
DOES FLIGHT TIMES MAKE ANY DIFFERENCE TO YOUR BABY?
- I would time the flight so that either going through security, boarding the plane or an hour before the flight would not run into any nap time. Your baby has to be in your lap on descent strapped into a baby seatbelt and not in a bassinet or infant carrier, so if they are sleeping they will most definitely be disturbed.
- For long international flights: (e.g. 10 hours+) you don’t want to be juggling a baby the whole time. Book a flight that takes off a few hours after their night-time nap. Your baby will more than likely sleep most of the flight and therefore you can get more rest instead of entertaining a restless baby for most of the duration. If your flight is delayed a few hours, you have those buffer hours and your baby can sleep in your arms with some milk upon ascending. Avoid going through security in the middle of nap time as this is a recipe for disaster.
WHAT ARE THE SLEEPING OPTIONS FOR AN INFANT AND AN OLDER BABY ON THE PLANE?
Babies under two can sit on your lap and sleep in a bassinet allowing you to free up your hands or get some sleep yourself. Once they outgrow the bassinet around 5 months+ you need to start being a bit more creative on ways to make it comfortable for your bigger and more alert baby to get some shut-eye and save your sanity.
- BASSINET: “Most” international airlines provide bassinets for babies free of charge on long flights.
- Availability: You will have to check with your airline if they provide these on your international or domestic flight. Some planes have the wall fittings for it but not store bassinets on the plane. You can put your flight number into Seat Guru to see how many bassinets are installed on the aircraft and the layout of the plane.
- Position: You can only use the bassinets if your sitting in the bulkhead seats. These are behind the wall to the kitchen/gallery, toilets, or cabin divider is in front of you. “Some” business and first class cabins have their own special shelf where the bassinets are fitted into.
- Booking: Don’t just assume you will automatically get to choose the bulkhead because you’re wanting a bassinet. Bulkhead seats are sometimes restricted to an extra cost as they provide more leg room than other passengers may also want. For the international flights I have been on, luckily this has not been a problem. The trick is to be active on the phone to the airline directly after booking your seats to request your seats and bassinet. The airline will either put a note down or simply tell you to check in early for your flight and secure one on a first come first served basis. (Also don’t forget to Double check the requirements for the bassinets). If they noted your request, call back a day before the flight to confirm and make sure that no silly rep has moved your seats or taken away your bassinets. It can happen! Nothing is ever guaranteed until that boarding pass is in your hands! If you miss out online or on a call to their airlines, you can always go to the check-in and service desk at the airport before your flight and let them know of your issue. They will usually have more power to either swap people around who have not checked in and specifically requested those chairs or they will page other passengers at the gate before the flight and see if there are people willing to swap. This has worked wonders for me as its harder to do this online. Even if you have to sit separately to your partner to get a bulkhead seat and bassinet- it’s a good thing. If your baby is too big for the bassinet, see if the service desk can move you all to a spare row.
- Bassinet Set up: These are set up after ascent when the seatbelt sign has been turned off and taken down around an hour before landing as part of cabin preparations.
- Restrictions: Don’t be caught out relying on the bassinets, these things are usually tiny. My son completely filled Virgin America’s bassinets by 5 months old. Check with the airline their limitations with their weight, height, and age. If your child will fit, request one online or by contacting the airline. It’s not ideal for them to be too big for it because the mesh cover must be done up completely over them while they are in the bassinet to stop them bouncing out if there is an unexpected turbulence. So bent knees and bums all need to fit in. My son was not a fan of being confined like this so we would keep the mesh over his face undone. Some airlines luckily have a tummy strap so they can get around this.
- Bedding: Bring spare blankets that your baby is familiar with (sleeping bag, lovies or muslin blankets). The bassinet will come with a mattress and a blanket.
- Turbulence: It breaks my heart (for me and the baby) when the flight has turbulence while my baby is sleeping in their bassinet! Even if your baby is fast asleep, you have to take your baby out of the bassinet, and sit the baby on your lap with an infant seat belt around them. The flight attendants always check on the babies and enforce this rule. There is not getting out of it with light turbulence!
- Cover: Sleeping near the bulkhead can be distracting with lots of foot traffic. If you want a more uninterrupted sleep for your baby while in the bassinet, there is an award-winning product called CozyCo. It’s a breathable lightproof cover that fits all strollers, bassinets and airline cots that sells for about $99AUD.
Once your baby outgrows their bassinet, I feel that is where the real panic of flying with a baby sinks in. You’re expected to have a babysit and sleep on your lap for a solid 14 hours??? Huh? There is no waaaaaay. I thought. Never mind my son crying and disturbing other passengers, what about me? I might burst out crying myself!!!!
SLEEPING ON YOU: I tried my best to make it as comfortable as possible for my son to sleep on me with blankets and the pillows provided. (Packing spare blankets are great to hold up your arms to support their head and not have a hard armchair digging uncomfortably into you). Or you can be creative with inflatable neck pillows, swaddles, etc. My son got hot sleeping on me so I squeezed myself on the floor and gave up my seat.
If you have a spare seat next to you, or you booked a seat next to you here are some options….
- CAR SEAT: If you can’t get a bassinet or your child doesn’t fit in one, some airlines will allow you to bring in your infant car seat if you can afford a seat next to you. Note: Your baby “should” be 6 months before booking their own seat. Your baby is also obviously safer in these being buckled in that is secured on the airplane car seat.
- LAYFLAT BEDS: Another option is to turn their chair into a lay flat bed and put their lower half on the sleep aid. The Bedbox is a (ride on) suitcase that that sits level to the end of your chair and comes with a mattress for comfort. Or you could get an inflatable pillow version ($21) and I recommend getting two inflatable pillows as I don’t feel they take up the whole chair space when you have it up against the window wall.
- CUDDLE UP: If you have a spare seat next to you (or you decide to book one for your baby) you can put the armrest up and have your baby spread between the two seats and cuddle up with their head on you. (Note: Bulkhead seats don’t have raisable armrests so you will have to look into a row further back).
THE BEST PLACE TO SIT ON A PLANE WHEN YOU HAVE A BABY
- ROW: I suggest booking the bulkhead seats (situated immediately behind a cabin divider) as these are where the bassinets are set up. If you don’t have this option, call the airline ahead of your flight or check in early to the airline desk (or your airline lounge) and request it there as some airlines have a first come first served policy at the gate. They will then try to move other people around on the flight to accommodate you. It’s fantastic. Being in the bulkhead means you will have more floor space in front of you but no place to tuck your carry on items during ascent and decent. But during the flight, you can have your bags stored on the floor. Make sure you pull your TV out before they set up the bassinets as sometimes the TV will not be able to be pulled out from the armchair rest as the bassinet will be in the way.
- Avoid the seats in front of an exit row or the last rows as the chairs don’t recline normally and you don’t want to be sandwiched in a tight spot for hours on end. (Most airlines won’t let a child under 16 sit in exit rows anyway).
- Another benefit of sitting in the bulkhead is that the TV swivels up from the side of the chair and can be angled for your baby to watch a kid-friendly program. If you are sitting in a regular chair, the Tv is too high for their view on the seat in front of them and all they see is a black hue on the screen.
- SEAT: When choosing seats, I recommend choosing an aisle and a window seat (for you and your partner) leaving the middle seat open. Those are the last seats taken as nobody wants a middle seat. If your flight is not full, there is a good chance your seat will remain empty therefore giving you more room to spread out. If someone does end up in your middle seat you can slide over and they will be happy to score an aisle or window seat. My aunty Tina said, “Be aware, on some flights I have seen grumpy flight attendants in my day not allow babies to lay on other seats that you have not booked and that they are supposed to be on your lap the whole flight”. Shoot me if this is still the case!!!!
- If you love sitting in the aisles, sit in a row of 4 in the middle of the plane, you will have aisle access and not have to deal with people climbing over you sleeping baby as they can get out the other side.
- If one parent is sitting in the bulkhead with a bassinet, have another parent sit in an aisle seat further back so you can hand the baby to each other or sleep when you need a break.
- Car seats and sleep aids like the lay flat beds can only be used in the window seats (and “sometimes” in the middle seat of the middle row) so they don’t block passengers in the case of an emergency.
- When flying alone, I like to sit by the window for privacy and not have strangers crawling over my sleeping baby to use the bathroom.
- For short flights with your partner, it may be helpful to just get two seats on opposite sides of a row so you can get up quickly, move around more and pass your baby back and forth while the other one still gets a small break.
MILE PROGRAMS: My family is signed up to the Virgin Australia mile program which opens up another level of seat selection options and other status perks on our flights.
WHAT PREPARATION SHOULD DO AHEAD OF TIME BEFORE OUR FLIGHT?
- Make a list of everything you think you will pack 2 weeks before so you can order anything that you need in advance. (e.g. breast pump power converters). I have made a list below that explains what I packed in each bag.
- Make sure in advance that your ride to the airport and at the final destination can accommodate all your luggage, strollers, car seat, baby gear and all the passengers. (We usually hire an extra large UBER to take us to the airport and hire an SUV at our final location.)
- Some mothers make goodie bags for the other passengers around them- as an in advance “Sorry if my baby cries and bothers you the whole flight”. But keep in mind that you should not have to apologize for your baby. I find
SOME GREAT TIPS TO ENSURE YOU DO NOT GET STRANDED WITHOUT YOUR LUGGAGE
- Write your name and contact details (in your local and final destination country) on your luggage, car seat, stroller and gate check bag so that if you get separated from your luggage, people can easily contact you to return them. I always see at least 30 strollers that have been lost and left at the oversized luggage with no tags that probably arrived late.
- There are great tracking tools that you can get so you can always know exactly where your suitcase is.
- A GPS Tracker is perfect for a holiday. The Optimus 2.0 connects to an app and you get real-time map updates and can create alerts when your tracker goes outside your geo-fence area. The battery lasts 2 weeks between charges. So what are the costs? You can activate for free and it its costs $25 a month (for the internet charges I presume) and cancel it without any charges. The Optimus 2.0 is great quality and price in comparison to others GPS trackers on the web and rates 4.5 stars by reviewers.
- I do NOT recommend TILE or other Bluetooth trackers. I have these and they work by the proximity of your app and the Bluetooth of the device. I have had these in the same room and they can still not locate each other, let alone locating luggage at the airport. It’s terrible.
PORTABLE SCALES CAN MAKE ALL THE DIFFERENCE TO ENSURE YOUR LUGGAGE CAN GO ON THE PLANE.
- I always bring a portable luggage scale so I know what my bag weighs before I get to the airport to avoid extra charges. Especially if I have bought a few items on my trip.
BAG PREPPING TIPS TO ENSURE A SMOOTH OPERATION ONBOARD YOUR FLIGHT.
- Before you fly, pack your diaper change items into a small bag (a waterproof bag with a zip) for easy accessibility. In it have a cushiony change pad (as change tables are hard), 3 diapers 3 diaper bags and the wet wipes. Put the rest of your diaper supplies in your hand luggage for back up. Having easy accessibility near your seat will be a god-sent, especially with a poo explosion.
- I also fill up a ziplock bag of ice (make sure it has a zip) for any breastmilk I am bringing and an insulated bag.
YOU’RE ON THE WAY TO THE AIRPORT… DON’T LEAVE WITHOUT READING THIS!
- TAKE PHOTOS OF YOUR BAGS: Some moms like to photograph their bags and strollers in case they are damaged or lost from poor handling. If they are damaged, you can make a claim at the airport and if they are missing, you have images to show put on the report. I do this while my bags are lined up at the door ready to go in the car.
- FEED BABY: Feed your baby while you are on your way to the airport. You want them to be content and happy going through check-in and through security and you also want enough time between then and when you board your flight for them to build up an appetite before your flight takes off as it is essential for your baby to drink a bottle then. (It is the change in cabin pressure that puts pressure on their ears and is painful for them. They do not know to swallow so drinking milk is a great way to help them. It breaks my heart when I hear babies screaming in pain on ascent and descent and mothers not knowing the simple way to fix the issue.
- PUMP MILK: I also breast pump milk in the car just before I arrive at the airport because it’s going to a ‘minimum’ of an hour before I will be able to pump again after checking in and going through security.
A master list of what to pack.
Here is my well thought out checklist of everything to pack in each suitcase and hand luggage item grouped by carry-on luggage and checked in luggage.
- PASSPORTS: Yours and babies. I like to keep them in either my diaper bag or in a passport security wallet ($9.99) that hangs around your neck under my t-shirt with a spare pen to fill out the customs forms. The last thing you want to do is accidentally leave it on a chair somewhere while nursing or dealing with a crying baby crisis. (Bring a copy of your babies birth certificate, just in case too).
- BABY CARRIER: (you don’t actually need to put the baby carrier in your hand luggage as you will be carrying your baby through the airport and then you can put it in overhead bins when you’re on the plane.)
- I was given an Ergo 360 baby carrier ($160) and an infant insert ($38) and I cannot recommend it enough. My son loved snuggling into my chest to take a nap when we were out. (I remember having dinner with him fast asleep on me at 11 months old in a restaurant in Byron Bay.) I definitely think if you’re going to get a carrier, get a 360 as when they grow they will usually want to be facing outwards to look around when your walking.
- *GREAT CARRIER TIP: The Ergo does not come with any pockets but it has a small zip to hold a shade insert. I roll that up tighter and squeeze in a spare diaper and a few wet wipes in a zip lock bag so I am never caught out without one and when I don’t feel like bringing a baby bag with me on a walk).
- The Lumiere UNIVERSAL carrier is also a wonderful quality carrier without the big brand price tag of the Ergo. It also does not need an infant insert and comes with an extra 2 years warranty on the Ergo brand. This carrier has a pocket to also hold your phone.
- I was given an Ergo 360 baby carrier ($160) and an infant insert ($38) and I cannot recommend it enough. My son loved snuggling into my chest to take a nap when we were out. (I remember having dinner with him fast asleep on me at 11 months old in a restaurant in Byron Bay.) I definitely think if you’re going to get a carrier, get a 360 as when they grow they will usually want to be facing outwards to look around when your walking.
Get yourself a “backpack” diaper bag that has stroller velcro straps or get a diaper bag hook for your stroller. It will save your shoulders (then having all the weight on one side) and is easier to attach to strollers that are already jam-packed with other stuff. Click here to see the one I bought on Amazon which I love.
On most planes that I have flown, you can take 1 piece of hand luggage and 1 handbag/briefcase. I usually double up my diaper bag as my handbag with all my “essentials” in it and the things I know I will use or need easy access to.
FEEDING YOUR BABY ITEMS:
- FORMULA: If your baby is on formula, Mixie bottles are a godsend. You pre-pack all the formula into the dispensers and push the bottom and shake to combine the water and milk when you are ready to feed your baby. No mess!!! Amazing! (Or you could pre-prepare the right amount of formula in a dry empty bottle and simply fill the bottle with bottled water and shake when you’re ready.) I also store extra formula in a strong ziplock back (so it saves more space in your bag than a container) with the scoop in it. Even if your child has transitioned to cows milk, bring some formula just in case you need immediate access.
- FOOD: If your young baby is starting to dabble in food, bring a few food pouches enough to cover the necessary meal times (plus a spare in case of delays) to avoid a cranky baby. Your babies food is NOT subjected to the 100ml/3-1-1 liquid rule. (See what food to feed your baby on a plane under Tips when flying in the air).
- Keep in mind that so many of the baby food pouches are extremely high in sugar. The companies do this so that the baby won’t refuse the pouch making their brand look bad. I always look for pouches 7g and under. Here are some pouches I buy: Plum Organics: Strawberry, apple, rhubarb & oats (5g), Plum Organics: Pear, Green Bean & Greek Yoghurt (6g), Plug Organics: Peach, pumpkin, carrot & cinnamon (5g), Plum Organics: Apple, cauliflower & Leek (7g), Plum Organics: Sweet potatoes, apple & corn (7g), Organics: Organic apple, butternut squash & Spinach with quinoa (6g), Organics Happy Baby: Purple carrots, bananas, avocados & Quinoa (6g), Organics: Organic Apple, Carrot, & Kale with brown rice (6g).
- If your baby prefers to feed on a spoon than a pouch, you can buy a baby food dispensing spoon This may be a great idea if you plan on feeding your baby infant cereal without making a mess.
- Bring a few snacks bars for yourself too- but nothing liquid to avoid hassles through security.
- Another mum mentioned she occupied her teething baby for 30 minutes by letting him gnaw on an apple. But remember that not all food can come off the plane at the other end of your flight. Countries like Australia will not let you bring any fresh produce in and many food products must be declared in certain countries. Always look at the customs card and if in doubt, bin it or declare it.
- Make sure that the food is all in a ziplock back with easy access in your bag to go through security at the airport. You will need another ziplock back of ice to keep your milk cold. Then put all the milk and ice in a leakproof thermostat bag which fits wonderfully in your bag when traveling.
- Some long-haul flights will have puréed baby food pouches for babies under 2 if you request a baby meal when booking flights, but I think it’s best to bring your own to be on the safe side. Don’t bring meals that require storing in their fridges or microwaving as you may be sadly disappointed.
- THE ESSENTIALS: I had so many small toys with me so he never got bored. When he was quite young I brought things like link chains, crinkly fabric and texture books, rattles, a flexible mirror, pull & vibrate toys, rattle socks, etc.
- If your baby is old enough to appreciate it, download some baby videos onto an iPad. (We don’t let our son watch any TV under the age of 2 but on an airplane is the only time we break this rule). My son would instantly rip off his headphones, (which is ok as he was just as focused watching the screen without sound) but if you want some great baby headphones in a cute animal themed headband you have to try these CozyPhones
- HANDMADE TOYS: When he got a bit older and was throwing and dropping things I decided to handmade a few toys that I didn’t care if they got lost. (I will make a longer post on this in the future but for now, here is one that I will share….) I got a formula container upside down (or any type of container with a lid) and made a hole big enough to fit any type of lids that I started collecting. I would put masking tape over the edges of the cut plastic so my son would not cut himself on the sharp edges. Sometimes I would draw a picture of an animal on it with an open mouth so he felt like he was feeding the animal. I also made another variation with a smaller hole and he would try to fit the popsicle sticks in the slit. This slit I also would tie a few different colored ribbons together to make one big long one and stuff it in the container. I would encourage him to pull it out through the slit and watch the colors change.
- DIAPERS: Some other blogs say “Bring one for every hour” but I felt that that is too much. We didn’t need that many. Time your babies diaper changes a few days before and that provides a good estimate but bring few spares.
- BABY WIPES (& Sanitizer wipes/bottle to wipe down all the surfaces on the plane as these only get superficially washed between flights.)
- DIAPER BAGS to discard dirty diapers.
- DIAPER RASH CREAM: Travel size.
*GREAT TIP: Pre-prepare a few disposable diaper bags with a diaper and a few wet wipes (in a small ziplock bag) in each. The toilets are tiny and there is not enough room to go in there with a big diaper bag.
- PACIFIER (and clip to hold onto baby) if your baby uses them.
- SLEEPING BAG & LOVEY: Bring some items to let your baby know it is time to go to sleep.
- SALINE NASAL SPAY & SNOT SUCKER: If your baby has a blocked snotty sinus area, they will get a build-up of pressure in their head causing pain.
Get a lightweight suitcase with four rolling wheels. Trust me, you do not want to be carrying more weight than you need to, especially with a baby.
- BLANKETS: Take lots. You will need them to keep your baby comfy when they want to sleep on your lap on the descent. They can prop up your arm, fill in the gap between your seat and armchair and all sorts. I also used one travel air pillow to shove between my lap and the armrest to make a larger surface area for my baby to sleep on. Using the airline’s blankets you never know how clean they really are. I use the airline’s blankets for a base sheet, an overhead cover to help them sleep. My son would get distracted by lights and people walking around and these blankets are quite large.
- CHANGE OF CLOTHES: Bring a spare set of clothes (and underwear) for you and your baby: Accidental spills, blow-out diapers, and spit ups are likely. Keep in mind some planes are freezing or overbearingly hot so it is always a good idea to dress baby and yourself in layers. If the airline loses your luggage and you have to go a day without them and you brought a spare set, you will also be very grateful. A pair of leggings, a spare t-shirt and underwear can roll up quite small.
- MUM SLEEPING: Its ok to wear earplugs. The first flight with my baby I struggled to sleep because a man was snoring nearby and sitting near the bulkhead meant that you get banging sounds, people talking etc. It was annoying but I didn’t want to wear earplugs in case I could not hear my baby crying. But when my husband woke up, I put the earplugs in and it was great. It drowned out all the noise but I was also able to hear my baby wake up because he was close to me.
*AT HOME SLEEPING TIP: At home, I sleep some nights with one earplug in the ear that is not normally on my pillow. It drowns out the sounds of cars on the street and other stuff and helps me fall asleep hearing my breath. Through my free ear that is on the pillow, I can still hear my son crying through the wall. I can simply lift up my head to hear noises better or if I need to talk to my husband.
- BREAST PUMPING EQUIPMENT: If you are an exclusive pumper like me you’re going to need to bring your electric pump on the plane. Ideally, a Willow breast pump would be the most ideal breast pump to take with you because it is super discrete, cordless, tubeless, and bottle-less. You simply sit these motorized pumping cups into your bra and it pumps milk directly into a sealed bag inside. This product was not out when I was breast pumping so I had to convert my Medella Freestyle Breastpump into a mobile unit with some travel accessories… Here is what I got that you can do too if you have the same pump.
- POWER ADAPTERS: Powerpoint cords of the country you are going to (9V). They are relatively cheap. You could buy a surge protector power adapter but have I heard this burns out the motor of your breast pump so you have to weight up if it is worth the risk.
- TRAVEL BATTERY PACK: (some planes don’t have power points especially on domestic leg flights) with lots of batteries (bring in the hand luggage only), so you never get stuck.
- CAR CHARGER: power cord is great while traveling in the car.
- FREEMIE CUPS: These are discrete cups that replace those flanges and bottles sticking out of your bras so you can literally pump in public without anyone noticing. I wear these with T’shirt bras as they support them in there much easier than normal bras. Or you could simply get yourself some Willow pumps that are pumps that fit in your bra without any cords, tubes or external pieces.
- MILK STORAGE BAGS:. (just take enough plus a few extra for the flight and enough to get to your final destination)
- INTERNATIONAL POWER ADAPTER– even better if they have a USB cord in them to charge your iPhone.
- SPARE PUMPING TUBES: The last thing you want is to lose a cord, get milk in them or whatever when bending down to grab something. Having a spare is just a “Thank God” moment if anything happens to them. Just cut the attachments off the ends as you don’t need them. Also buying an extra set, you can use the Freemie adapters to extend the length of your tubes so you have even more mobility.
(This list of items are baby related items. (You should know what “personal” things to pack for your trip)
- SPARES: In your own suitcase, you may want to sneak in a few extra parts or items to last your trip or until you will be out buying more supplies again. e.g. Diapers, Milk storage bags, formula etc.
- PLAY MAT: I was not sure what the surface of the places I would be staying in was going to be like (e.g all hard floorboards in the living room) so I brought my own soft surface for him to play on. It is also nice to not have him laying on high traffic area rugs. There are great soft playmats online from IKEA ($29) and foldable waterproof extra thick playmats from Amazon ($70).
- TOYS: I packed his bigger toys in this suitcase and kept his smaller toys in his hand luggage.
- BOTTLES & ACCESSORIES: Bring a spare milk bottle or two, Bottle cleaners and microwave sterilizer bags if you will use them.
- BABY MONITORS: Instead of bringing baby monitors, you can download an app that does the same thing as long as each phone (one being the baby monitor and the other your phone) have internet/wifi. There are some really good ones out there but
- My favorite for an iPhone is Cloud Baby Monitor ($3.99 for each device). This application can be easily used to turn your iPhone, Mac, Apple TV, or iPad into a secure Video Baby Monitor. You can watch your baby from your device from the other side of the world as long as both Apple devices have wifi. You can even remotely talk to your baby, turn on lullaby music and turn on a nightlight. But don’t just take my word for how great this app is, It’s rated 4.8/5 on iTunes with 4.9K reviews.
- SOUND MACHINE: Instead of bringing a sound machine, download an app. Be aware that you can’t use your baby monitor app at the same time. But if you use the Cloud Baby Monitor ($3.99 for each device) it comes with a white noise and music.
- CLOTHES: I usually take 4 of the following: T-shirts, Onesies, Pants/Sweatpants, Shorts, sweaters, singlets, socks when I know I have access to a washing machine. When I am staying at a hotel, I will pack 2 outfits for each day. Sometimes I will pack them in a vacuum bag to make plenty of space. When I don’t have a vacuum, ill use my body weight to push all the air out and then seal up the bag.
- TOILETRIES: Get yourself travel size toiletry containers and fill them with baby wash/ shampoo/ moisturizer.
- CAR ACCESSORIES: (optional).I bring my:
- Car mirror so I can see my baby in the back seat when driving.
- Car visor shades for the hire-cars backseat windows if your traveling to somewhere sunny (optional). It makes it cooler in the car and less direct sun (great for sleeping and not getting burnt). You can even have these on while the window is down. They fit on any car type.
You are allowed to bring a baby bed free of charge. It does not form part of your luggage or weight allowance for a flight.
- BED: If your final destination does not provide a crib, there are light travel cribs options. I used this Fisher-Price travel bed ($87) as it was light and my baby could grow with it from an infant to a full grown toddler. It’s free to bring a travel bed for your baby!
- MOBILE: I also bought a travel arch activity bar ($23)and clipped it onto the travel bed to use instead of a mobile and to keep my baby entertained as we were not taking a floor activity mat as it just took up too much room.
- SHEETS: I put a crib sheet on the mattress base and brought 1 spare in the bag as most places won’t supply crib mattresses.
- BLANKETS: I also shoved all my extra toys and blankets in any spare room left in the bag. Once he outgrew the infant bed, I was able to store so many things in there instead.
You are allowed to bring a car seat, car base, and a stroller all free of charge. It does not form part of your luggage or weight allowance for a flight. These are free to check-in with your luggage or free to bring all the way to the gate before you board your flight then. You can then choose to have them put directly under the plane before you board and they will be waiting for you on the bridge outside your plane when you land so you can take them with you to go through customs and collect your luggage. It is much more comfortable for a baby-TRUST ME!
If your baby has outgrown an infant carrier and is in a regular car seat, I would check your car seat through with your luggage unless you want to use it on the plane if you bought your baby a seat. (Check with your airline before the flight if your car seat is approved to be on the plane and ensure your child is sitting in a window seat so the car seat is not blocking anyone is-case of an emergency. Otherwise, they won’t allow it on.)
HERE ARE SOME CAR SEAT & STROLLER RECOMMENDATIONS:
- INFANT: When our baby was in our Chicca infant car seat ($200) we would take that and our snap and go stroller base ($38) through to the gate and we would check in its car seat base. If your looking for a great infant car seat, the Doona Infant Car Seat and car base ($675) is a fantastic travel companion as the stroller is attached to the infant car seat.
- When our baby outgrew the infant carrier seat, we bought our-self a Gracco 4-in-1 car seat ($240) and a fold-down Graco Modes stroller ($147) and only brought these with us.
- I have been in love with the GB Pocket stroller for some time now though. The claim to fame for it is that it is the “world’s smallest folded stroller” It’s small but very durable perfect for traveling on buses, jam-packed cars, airplanes and fitting into tight restaurants.
- Suitable from a 6-month-old baby to a child up to 55lbs.
- Dimensions when folded: 12″ x 7″ x 20″ (30cm x 18cm x 51cm).
- 4.5/5 stars from reviewers on Amazon.com.
- Want to learn more about the features of the award-winning GB Pocket Stoller? See this video.
- Reviews and further details about the GB Pocket stroller here.
Buy a strong protective bag or Gate Check bag or to put your infant car seat and stroller in so they don’t get damaged or wet when they go under the plane. It’s the last thing you want when arriving at the final destination tired and eager to get home. If you are gate checking an item, ask at the check-in counter if you collect the tags to go on your bag there or at the gate as it is different depending on the airline. Just DO NOT forget to put your gate check bag with you in your stroller when you are checking in your luggage. We have almost left it in our suitcase.
- For people bringing their own car seat onto the plane: I would check in your stroller and buy a strap to hold your car seat onto your hand luggage suitcase so you can wheel the baby through the airport easily if they need to sleep. Or buy a fold up the trolley for it to sit on.
- For people not bringing their own car seat onto the plane: I would check in our car seat for the final destination (with a protective car seat travel bag with wheels for easy traveling).
For strollers not being gate checked- get them shrink-wrapped to protect them.
Tips to help you through the airport
HOW TO DRESS BABY AND YOU:
- Baby: For long-haul flights have your baby already in their pajamas so they are comfortable. You can swaddle them with blankets if the flight is cold.
- Mother: My most ideal way to dress on a plane is to wear:
- light comfortable pants (like leggings),
- a dark colored singlet top or nursing top. (They are more subtle at hiding pumping cups or a dirty top).
- A zip-up dark jacket (as is easier to get off or open with a baby on you when your feeling hot. You also have easier access to your breasts for feeding).
TIPS FOR HANDING LARGE AMOUNTS OF LUGGAGE AT THE AIRPORT:
- If your lucky to have someone there with you at the airport, I always get one of us to get one or two trolleys while the other one unpacks the car. Instead of hiring one, I usually just go inside where the check-in desk is and there is usually plenty there. Once all the luggage is unpacked, I will bring the baby out of the car.
- Knowing what to bring and carry is a bit of an art-form my family have mastered. We found it is best to check in your luggage going under the plane, car base (if you have a snap and go) and travel baby crib. Carry your baby in your baby carrier and stack all your heavy hand luggage suitcase on your stroller and your diaper bag to free up more hands. That way you will only 1 item to push. Make sure you bring your Gate Check bag with your stroller as you will need to put your stroller in this bag just before you board the plane so it will not get damaged.
DON’T FEED YOUR BABY RIGHT BEFORE THE FLIGHT! HERE IS WHY…
- Feed your baby as you arrive at the airport as it gives you enough time for your baby to build up their appetite again for take-off. You need them to be hungry enough for take-off as it is swallowing that helps relieve the pressure in their ears as they cabin pressure changes. If they have a full belly you will have a very hard time encouraging them to swallow milk and you will have a screaming baby on your hands and it is heartbreaking to watch them in so much pain. (NOTE: You also need to feed them as the plane descends).
EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT GOING THROUGH AIRPORT SECURITY WITH A BABY.
- Go through the security screening for special assistance. It’s for families with small kids also. This line is always much shorter.
- Most airports (like LAX) you can continue to carry your baby in their carrier through security. But some airports (like Australia) require to x-ray the carrier even if your baby is sleeping in their carrier, so be prepared for that.
- Wear easy slip on and off shoes as you will have a lot to handle on top of carrying your baby.
- I feel its easier to put all your bags up on the bench, then put your stroller through the x-ray “first” so you can set that up first before you start stacking all your bags onto it. If you’re on your own, I would ask another person around you to lift the stroller up onto the belt if you have your baby strapped to you so you don’t hit your baby’s face.
- Put all your liquids and electronics in a very easy place to get them out and put them back in your bag through security screening to make this process quick and easy. Medically-required liquids such as breast milk, formula, and baby food do NOT have to abide by the 3.4 ounces in a quart-size ziplock bag rule. Place these in a separate plastic bin for screening. Be aware that milk, water, or unsealed baby food may be opened for testing. (I never had any issue bringing ice packs to keep my milk cold either. )
THE BEST THINGS YOU CAN FOR YOURSELF BEFORE BOARDING THE PLANE:
- If I was still pumping milk for my baby I would pump milk so I was not having to deal with this for the first few hours of the flight.
- When my son had moved on to formula, I prepped two Mixie formula bottles. (Formula in the chamber and water in the top section. When they were ready to be used I simply push the bottom of the bottle to combine the formula and water and shake. So easy and quick!). The first bottle was to give him on take off and the other was ready to go if he woke up early and stirred and needed more milk. The last thing I want is to hunt down busy flight attendants and wait forever when I need it NOW!. Even when my son had moved on to cows milk, I always kept a Mixie bottle on standby in case I needed to feed my son ASAP.
- I always make sure we got food and were well fed before a flight. You never know what crappy small meal they will dish you.
- We take our baby to an empty or quiet terminal nearby to let him look out the windows, have some tummy time (on a blanket), stretch their legs and burn off some energy. When he could stand up he would have lots of fun pushing around my hand luggage suitcase. It used to get so many people adoring over him.
- Before we prepare to board I will give my baby a nappy change. If it is a night flight, perhaps I will put him in his sleeping bag.
IS IT BETTER TO BOARD THE PLANE FIRST OR LAST WITH A BABY?
- TRAVELING ALONE: The airlines give parents the option to get on the plane earlier to get settled. I prefer to be on last with my child (unless I have a baby who is almost about to fall asleep). I find waiting on a plane creates a restless baby and there are more spare hands around me that can help lift our suitcases. The only issue with this is that sometimes the overhead bins above your seat are taken and you have to find any remaining spots which are not always close to your chair.
- TRAVELING WITH A PARTNER: Have your partner board the flight early while the other waits until the flight are almost boarded. Have them gate check your stroller (at the end of the bridge near the plane) and set up things up.
- e.g. milk bottle, blankets and a little toy on your chair.
- snacks, headphones, earplugs etc in the front pocket.
- Inflatable travel pillow down near your feet.
- If you have a purchased a spare seat next to you and the airline has approved your car seat model- have them set that up before the baby boards the plane.
Tips for when you are flying
- Don’t forget to take memento photos of your babies first flight. My husband and I took a fun picture of us standing in the check-out line with the crazy amount of luggage to remember our first big journey to Australia from Los Angeles. We also came back and revisited the same spot in the airport lounge and each photo you can see the progress of our son from doing tummy time to being a full walker.
MEDICATION GONE WRONG
- Do not what so ever drug your baby for the flight!!!! I heard really bad stories about how it went wrong for them in the air. Scary! Approved baby pain relief like Baby panadol are great for a teething baby.
THE SEAT BELT SITUATION FOR BABIES
- Your baby has to be sitting in your lap during take-off, landing and when the seatbelt sign is on during a flight (e.g.turbulance) with a seat belt extender around their waste and it joined to yours. They can’t be in their carrier strapped to you which is strange because I feel that it’s much, more safer during turbulence. It was completely heartbreaking for me during one of our first flights when we hit light turbulence when my son was fast asleep in his infant bassinet and the flight attendants made me take him out and sit him up to put a seat belt around his waist during his middle of the night nap. Awwwww.
HOW TO RELIEVE PAINFUL AIR PRESSURE FOR BABIES
- During takeoff and landing, give your baby milk to relieve the pain caused by the change in pressure. Babies don’t know how to pop their ears like adults do so sucking and swallowing helps them. Descending is much more painful for babies so it is especially important to save a feed for this. It usually starts an hour before you land on an international flight. If my son was not hungry, I would bounce him on my lap and offer the bottle in his mouth and it seemed to entice him or distract him to take a suck when the pressure was building up. Other things you can offer is your pinky for them to suck on.
- SLEEPING: Here are some tips in case you don’t have the bulkhead baby bassinets (which are really small by the way- my son completely grew out of the Virgin America ones by 6 months) or a car seat.
- If your baby will be sitting on your lap for the flight, I recommend to prop them with lots of blankets to let them lay flat as best as possible (with the baby belt around them).
- My son got sick of being handled and was crying because he wanted to sleep in his bed so I recreated it by laying out some blankets across my seat and i sat on the floor. Desperate measures!
- Some airlines let you use an inflatable travel pillow that fills the floor gap between two economy seats so your child can lay out flat or a product called BedBox if you had brought one.
- Or you could try putting your baby back in their carrier after the seat belt sign is off.
CHANGING DIAPERS IN SMALL PLANE TOILETS
- If you are flying alone, and you need to go to the toilet, you can either put your baby in your carrier or ask the flight attendant to help.
- Not all planes have change tables (e.g old planes and some small domestic planes).
GREAT CHANGE TABLE TIP: If you get caught out like this simply use your lap as a change table. I learned to do this when a restaurant had no changing table. Or for bigger babies, you will need to do the stand-up change. To wipe between their legs simply lift up one leg.
- You don’t need to bring your whole diaper bag in the toilet. There is never enough bench space room for a bag. Simply bring a pre-packed disposable diaper plastic bag, a ziplock with a few wipes inside and a diaper. I also bring in something sanitary like a disposable change pad or just your jumper to lay my baby down on.
ENTERTAINING A BABY FOR A 14 HOUR LONG HAUL FLIGHT
- If you’re going to fly long haul flights-see my tips about flying through the night so you are not stuck entertaining your baby most of the flight.
- If your baby gets cranky from being seated for so long on the plane, some of the things that helped us was to:
- Change the scenery- go walk the aisles, look out windows near the gallery or say hi to the flight attendants.
- Sometimes a simple stranger can be exciting for them to meet.
- Sometimes they just want to stretch their legs or do tummy time on their chair.
- Offer up new toys or books, especially ones that they have not seen before. Stay away from loud annoying toys. Some great suggestions are:
- I would hand make a few toys for the flight pre-hand and discard them when we left the flight. That way I would not be worried about every toy that fell deep under the chair or got lost.
- Some simple things on the plane make good toys. Be creative. I would open and close the blinds, turn lights on and off, fan my baby with a magazine, play with ice in a cup, play with the remote, pull the armrest or tray table up and down, put some rubbish in a water bottle and use it as a sensory rattle.
HELP! MY BABY WON’T FALL ASLEEP ON THE PLANE OR IS GETTING CRANKY AND DISTURBING OTHER PASSENGERS.
- Each time that we flew we found it harder and harder to get our boy asleep because he had such a structured sleep routine in his crib for all his naps. Here is our experience at each age group.
- At 3 months old he slept like a baby all through the flight and getting him to sleep was easy after some milk. We sat in a bulkhead seat with a bassinet in front of us. Once seatbelt sign was off, the flight attendants set it up on the wall. During turbulence, there was a mesh covering that zipped over the top of the bassinet to contain the baby if there was turbulence.
- At 5-6 months old my son was still not too bad falling asleep. We did notice that he was needing to scrunch his legs up in the bassinet and this was an issue now that he was wanting to sleep on his tummy more often than not. He also did not want to be zipped up
- At 8 months old my son slept in my arms during take off but was getting restless being held. You could see he wanted to sleep flat. I resorted to squeezing myself on the floor and let him take my seat.
- Between 11-15 months old we flew lay flat international business class twice and my baby was way more alert and fussier going to sleep on the plane. The first trip was absolute hell. We never wanted to fly again with him ever. He stayed up 5 hours past his 7pm bedtime and cried till he fell asleep in my carrier from exhaustion. He did not want to be held or looked at by the flight attendants because he had just become more aware of strangers. Once he was asleep he cuddled up with him on a lay flatbed.
- The next few flights my husband and I were better prepared. We knew with all the extra stimulation on the plane mixed with the confusion of his set bedtime routine he would be up longer. My husband would take the first shift and fall asleep for the first 6 hours of the flight and I would do quiet activities with him in our chair and cuddle. We would also walk laps of the plane, hang out in the empty business class bar area and play with his toys on a blanket on the floor. When he started getting tired, I would play him a kids movie on the TV (without sound) and he would peacefully focus on that till he eventually drifted off to sleep. My son never watches TV, but planes are a special reason. When he fell asleep, I would cuddle up beside him and swap places with my husband when he woke up.
- On a 15-month-old economy international flight, we knew he would be too big to fit across the chair so we got ourself the inflatable pillow that sits between the seats to make a lay flatbed. It was a bit of a pain in the butt because I had to anchor the inflatable pillow against the chair with long ribbons from my bag, otherwise, it would very easily just tipped forward or created a big gap between the pillow and seat any time my son moved his legs. Also on another flight my son freaked out about the pillow not being wide enough when he went to roll over onto his tummy and his leg hung off the edge. He thought he would fall off and then refused to sleep there. I reluctantly had to hand him to my husband who was flying business before a big business meeting. His next flight he will be two so he will have his own seat. I will buy two inflatable pillows so he does not get freaked out about the gap and I will also make or buy some kind of thin foam mattress that runs along the chair and pillows.
- If your baby refuses to sleep at their normal time, just remember that it’s exciting and new on a plane with lots of distractions and it’s just a matter of time that they can’t keep their eyes open anymore.
- Babies have a super-power that can sense stress. If they see you stressing out, they will be even more unsettled as they look to you for strength. If you need a break, honestly give yourself one. Ask a flight attendant or another mother of older kids looking adoringly at your little baby to help give you five minutes. When my son was 11 months old, a mother of 5 kids was more than happy to help soothe our son when both my husband and I were just struggling. She had him soothed and fast asleep in her arms in ten minutes. We were gob-smacked and just so grateful.
- Another thing I picked up myself as a more experienced mother is to not underestimate talking to your child and explain what is going on and help them understand.
- If they are not having any of it, I find putting my baby in his carrier and standing away from all the other people and stimulation (e.g. near the front or back door) and have your baby face the wall or window and rock side to side with a nice soft swaddle and some milk can really do wonders. Your baby can sleep in the carrier on your lap when you move back to your chair but when the seat belt sign is on, you will have to take your infant out and sit them up on your lap with a seat belt around them or have them secured in their bassinet.
- Whatever you do, do NOT get caught up in what other people are thinking of you or your baby while your baby is cranky. You will be surprised how many people don’t actually mind or will simply request to move seats before the flight (like Australian Singer Anthony Callea did). There is plenty of white noise on the plane and the choice to wear plugs or white noise earphones, so people may not even notice. The deal is, most people won’t care as long as you look like you are putting in some form of effort to comfort your child. If they still get upset, they are the ones that are assholes, not your baby! Some mothers online mention they sweeten the deal for other passengers by handing out a little “pre-sorry” goodie bag to other passengers around them. I just don’t think that it is necessary.
WHAT SHOULD I FEED MY BABY ON THE PLANE?
Babies and toddlers under two are not catered for on flights with a meal. They sometimes provided a food pouch.
There is not that much that a baby can eat from the cabin meals. I will sometimes try request toast, watermelon fruit cups, rice/couscous, or some sliced chicken and break it up super small.
On the plane, you will not have access to a fridge or microwave. The flight attendant can offer you a cup of hot water to warm up milk.
Here are some food and snacks that you can bring to feed your baby once they begin solids.
- Fruit. Some countries like Australia will not let you bring fresh produce into the country, so you must leave them on the plane.
- Banana: (For younger babies, mash it up with some milk first). Keep in mind that bananas stain, so bring a bib.
- Chopped up grapes, blueberries, raspberries, and clementines are a pretty good snack to pack also.
- Puffs and/or Cheerios cereal: Avoid spills with a snack container. Slowly snacking on these can keep a baby occupied for ages. You can store these in Skip hop, Munchkins snack catchers.
- Pouches: Have them suck directly from the spout. For younger babies, you can squeeze a little into their mouth when they are ready. These are great for containing mess but have a spoon or wipe on hand in case they spit out any food. Make sure you bring your own pouches as your baby may not prefer the flavor they provide. Try to buy some that are under 7g of sugar per pouch as you don’t want them to get a sugar high and then crash.
- Cubed, roasted sweet potatoes: They are healthy and can be stored room temperature.
- Sandwiches: Grilled cheese sandwiches cut into fingers. They can be wrapped up and eaten any time on the flight.
- String Cheese: These are mess-free and can be stored out of the fridge.
HOW CAN I DISCRETELY PUMP ON THE PLANE?
The only way I know how to discretely pump on a plane is to have the right equipment. I am going to be doing a BIG post on pumping in public places in the near future so this post will be quite short. The very first place I ever pumped was on an airplane… well multiple times.
- But in a nutshell, you will need to get yourself a pumping cup (like Freemie) instead of the bottles and flanges that come with most traditional pumping sets so you can collect milk inside your bra, rather than having everything so public in front of you.
- Having a loose dark t-shirt on, you can slip these under your t-shirt and into your bra without anyone seeing anything.
OTHER NOTE-WORTHY TIPS:
- The spew bags are really amazing at keeping ice for really long periods of time and are water-proof. I would store my breast milk in a few bags for the next feeding. The cabin crew can give you more ice to top you up but they usually start to run out three quarters into the flight on long-haul flights so stock up halfway through.
- The flight attendants are great at washing baby bottles with the really hot water they use to make coffee with.
- Do not use water in the toilets for washing!!! Tea, coffee, and water from the sink should be avoided. Drink only “bottled” water onboard. There was a scandalous study in the Wall Street Journal in 2002 reporting that the number of bacteria in water samples from 14 of the most popular airlines was hundreds of times higher than the established standard. Today’s situation hasn’t changed a lot, so it’s better to drink only bottled liquid onboard.
TIPS FOR YOUR FINAL DESTINATION:
WHEN YOU HAVE MORE BAGGAGE THAN HANDS:
REUNITING WITH YOUR STROLLER: Sometimes the strollers take a really long time to come to the gate (frustratingly, sometimes the whole plane has got off and left) or sent it to the baggage claim. In that case, having your baby carrier with you in a god-sent! My son is 20 months old writing this and can still fit into his Ergo 360 baby carrier.
- PORTERS: You can ask the cabin crew on your flight to arrange ground staff to help you carry bags and be of assistance. It is best to ask them mid-flight. Avoid asking before take off, meal service and landing as they are usually busy.
- Domestic Flights: They can meet you at the airplane to assist you the whole way through or meet you at the baggage carousel and help load up your trolleys if you just need a help with luggage.
- International Flights: They are not meant to come through customs with you but can provide the same service from plane-to-customs or baggage carousel-to-the arrivals hall. At LAX airport there are plenty of porters hanging around the luggage area to help anyone who needs it. Although they are paid to be there and always say it’s not necessary to tip, we still do.
You can also ask in advance (before the descent) if one of the flight attendants can help you get everything off the plane if there are more bags than your hands.
WHY TO DOUBLE-CHECK YOUR BAGGAGE BEFORE LEAVING THE AIRPORT:
- Before you leave the airport double check your stroller (and luggage) for any damage. If you do this while still at the airport you can claim those damages under insurance to have it replaced or repaired. Simply go to the airline information desk and get an incident number. If you have taken a photo of your luggage before you left, it will be very helpful.
JET LAG REMEDIES FOR BABIES:
- Jet lag can be a real bummer but take it easy and allow a few days to adjust. When we are traveling to Australia from America that had a 17+ hour difference our son would stay awake for a few hours around midnight wanting to play. We just let him have a fun play and then go back to his bedtime routine a little less than his usual awake times during the day.
- To help your baby adjust, you want your baby to be awake as much as possible during the day and sleep as much as possible at night. In order to do this, have the room bright and sunny (or blue light) as soon as the sun comes up and spend lots of time outdoors with lots of stimulation during the day. Let your baby have their usual naps but don’t let them exceed their usual time by an extra hour. Your baby will eventually get tired in the evenings.
- An extra short nap in the afternoon may help if they are struggling to stay awake until their bedtime.
- If the sun is too bright during a scheduled day nap and you want your baby to sleep, it doesn’t hurt to tape some newspaper or foil to the windows if your blinds are not doing the job making it really dark.
- Bedtime routines are really helpful. If your baby has a bath as part of their routine and they don’t have one in your hotel, the sink or shower (with you) is sufficient.
FINDING BABY FRIENDLY ACCOMMODATION
The criteria dramatically change for accommodation when you have a baby. Pre-baby we usually stayed in hotels but now we find hotels to be too confining (with one bedroom) and they don’t offer enough amenities for their price point, compared to Airbnb.
Airbnb is an “online marketplace which lets people rent out their properties or spare rooms around the world to guests”.
When we book accommodation through Airbnb we try to filter our places to have:
- 1-2 bedrooms minimum. We want to be able to move around the house and be comfortable while our baby sleeps in the bedroom. Preferably their own.
- A washer and dryer. There is nothing worse than having to handwash poopy pants or bagging up stinky clothes in your suitcase.
- Baby-friendly furniture: Some homes come with baby-friendly furniture like a crib and a high chair when you search for baby-friendly homes. I usually bring my travel high chair that clips onto any kitchen table so I always have to closely look at the tables in the photos to see if the bench is too thick or the base is not on four legs to use it.
- A bath: My baby has a bath almost every night as part of his bedtime routine so its important to examine the bathroom photos to ensure they have one.
- A microwave: One accommodation we stayed at last year didn’t have a microwave and that’s when we realize how much we really rely on one. We could not quickly heat up leftovers, defrost food and cook certain foods.
- No stairs: There is nothing worse than stairs in a house when a baby is learning to crawl or walk, so I avoid places that have them. I also closely examine the photos to ensure that there are no more than 3 stairs to the front door. It just makes it a pain in the ass carrying strollers, heavy suitcases and groceries up and down stairs.
- Parking: For the same reason as above, I like the property to have off-street parking. Parking on the street blocks away is no fun when you have heavy things to carry to and from the house.
- Location with a baby in mind: I like to book quiet back street houses. Busy streets are noisier and have a higher chance of emergency vehicle sirens blasting during yours and babies sleeping times. So annoying! I also like to try find a place close to a playground and a supermarket.
Read the reviews: Check the past guest’s reviews for any concern areas not mentioned on the listing. You want to pay attention to notes about the noise levels, cleanliness and accessibility complaints. If a property does not have any reviews yet, use caution when booking them.
I really hope you enjoyed this blog. If you did, please subscribe and share this post with your friends, family, and parents with babies.
For traveling with a toddler, watch out for my UPCOMING blog
“Cool tips on getting fussy toddlers to sleep on planes”.