10 tips for air travel with a baby or toddler

Posted on 26 February 2024 By Savanna Douglas

Flying with baby on board? Every parent knows the anxiety of catching a flight with a little one in tow. If it’s not a temper tantrum or a toddler on a rampage, it’s a screaming baby and the judging eyes of fellow passengers that get your tummy in a knot.

Luckily, there are tips to follow that will make travelling with a baby or toddler smooth-er sailing! Here’s what you need to know:

Fly direct, and in business class (if possible)

If you’re bringing baby on board an upcoming flight, it may be worth considering flying direct (layovers complicate matters) and upgrading to business class, if possible. Business class gives you and your brood a little more ‘breathing room’, privacy, and extra assistance from the crew.

Check airline baggage allowance for babies

Before you pack your bags, make sure to check your airline baggage allowances to be sure that your stroller or car seat is allowed on board free of charge, and to check if your infant may have any extra baggage allowance, too. Travelling with an infant or a toddler often requires hauling the necessities with you, so the more allowance there is to do so, the merrier.

Plan nap and sleep times around the flight

Look, it’s not a guarantee that your little one will follow regular sleep and nap times, especially in a new environment with loads of excitement around. However, it could be worth considering the timing of your kids’ naps and booking a flight accordingly. Alternatively, you could book a nighttime flight, with the hope of baby sleeping right through.  Don’t count on it, though!

Visit the restroom before you board

This is an obvious one, but it’s always less of a hassle to visit the airport restroom before boarding to avoid any smelly nappies and tricky changing scenarios on flight. Inevitably, though, there will always be a big poo on the horizon, and you’d need to prepare for that scenario while up in the sky.

Pack an extra change of clothes

Packing an extra change of clothes that’s easily accessible for both you and baby, is a must. Especially if you’re flying for the long haul. This will save you in a spillage scenario, or worse.

Prep for ear pressure

If you’re bringing your baby on board and they’re not breastfeeding, it may be wise to pack a dummy for them to suck on during take off and landing to help equalise the pressure in their ears. If you’re bringing your toddler on board, have a dummy or suckable sweet on hand, for the same reason.

Avoid any explosions

If you’re bringing water bottles or baby food in pouches on board, be aware that these items tend to build in pressure with the climb in altitude, and may ‘blow up’ when opened. To be safe, pack your food and snack essentials in Tupperware that doesn’t pose the risk of covering you (and your neighbouring rows) in the aftermath of a baby food blow up.

Pack a ‘grab bag’

It’s important to have all that you need – including nappies, snacks and toys – on hand and easily accessible during the flight. Pack a bag of simple essentials to keep at your feet for easily grabbing when needed.

Be sensible with the toys you pack

One of the most common suggestions when travelling with a baby or toddler, is to pack at least one of their favourite toys to keep them busy. Don’t bring anything that poses the risk of a tiny explosion, though. Or anything that makes noise – fellow passengers will complain. Think sticker books, colouring books, triangular crayons that don’t roll away and peelable window stickers.

Don’t pay the stink eye any mind

If passengers are staring you down after your baby or toddler has thrown a tantrum or is making noise, don’t feel pressured to react to them directly. Everyone knows – or will one day discover – the woes of air travel with a little one. The best you can do is to try distract your child – with a new toy, snack, or by changing a nappy – so they can calm down.

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