Flying with a baby (0-6 months)
Flying with an infant seems easier, as they not on the move yet and they sleep a lot, but it is hard as everything has to be sterilised and clean and babies are just not easy even in your own home. So if you are feeling a little apprehensive it’s understandable. Hopefully something I have learnt along the way can help you.
Before any trip. You need to do your research. - What luggage can you take?
- How long is the flight?
- Is there a layover?
- Can you take a pushchair or car seat?
- What can you buy at the airport?
- Try book a flight time that fits in with your baby scheduled.
- If you are flying long haul, try book a direct, night flight.
- Business or Economy. If you are thinking of going business to make your trip easier. I just want to give you a heads up. In my experience it’s not. We flew BA Business, London to Beijing and we where in the front row, but there was no bassinet, as the seats go all the way down, so I had to keep my daughter on my lap. We did another busInes flight, luckily I had two seats so it was a dream. (Note: on most airlines you cannot buy a seat of an infant, you can kindly ask for the seat next to yours to be blocked at check in, only if it is still available.
- Economy or Premium Economy, always try book a front row seat, this is where the bassinets are and they are just easier to get up and down with your baby. - Request a bassinet, if you are doing a long haul flight. The bassinet will be your saving grace. You will be able to leave your baby sleeping, whist you go to the bathroom.
NB* Always give your baby, milk or a pacifier on take off and landing.
If your baby cries, just after take off or during the decent and you can’t figure out what is wrong. It could be their ears, try feeding or giving them a pacifier. If nothing works, blow hard and fast in their face, this will force them to take a big breath. Hopefully releasing the pressure on their ears. (no judgement- desperate times call for desperate measures)
If you are breastfeeding; choose a window seat for more privacy. (Friendly note babies tend to drink more whist flying, and I personally produced a lot less milk whist travelling, remember to keep extra hydrated)
2.2. Bottle Feeding
If you are bottle feeding, it is a little tricky as everything needs to be sterilised and from most airports you can’t take liquids over 100mils or ice packs.
First work out how many bottles you will need. (Both my daughters drank every 4 hours at this age) (Friendly note babies tend to drink more whist flying) I always packed an extra bottle.
Another friendly note: if you use Dr Brown bottles with the reflex inserts. The air pressure in the airplane makes them spill out the top. The new Dr Brown bottles have a travel seal - be sure to bring it along.
2.3. Washing Bottles
Then work out if you can wash bottles, or if it’s easier to take the correct amount of bottles with you. When I flew solo I would always take loads of bottles, washing bottles whist keeping an eye on the babies was too tricky for me personally. Remember to take bottle cleaning supplies even if you are not planning on washing, there always could be a delay. If you are planing on washing. - the air hostesses will happily watch your baby for you
- pack a large ziplock bag and sterilising tablet’s, it is a great way to sterilise on board.
- try find the magic product ‘NIMBLE milk buster’. It comes in a travel size bottle and you use it instead of washing up liquid. It all natural and breaks down the milk compounds. So you don’t need hot water to wash with.
2.4. Powder Formula
Decanter the formula into smaller practical tubs. I found Tommee Tippee decanters the best. Also take 2 extra ones, babes tend to drink more on a flight and accident and spills do happen.
2.5. Sterilised Water
If you are flying out of a first world country- you could probably buy ready to use formula (for example Heathrow there’s a boots in the thermal) its worth doing some research before hand.
However if you are flying out of a third world country (Being all African countries, most of Asia and South America) take a ready made 100mils bottle of milk, and two empty bottles, once you are through sercurity, find a coffee shop and get one filled with boiling water (make sure it’s a bottle that can take boiling water and a bottle that will let the water cook down fast - I use a tin flask) this way once you are on the flight the water should be cool enough to drink. Giving your baby cooled, boiled water. The other one if for mom, keep hydrated.
2.6. Expressing or Pumping
Yes, it’s possible. If you need to express or pump on a flight, know that it is hard but can be done. Get a window seat, at the back of the plane (Where it’s the noisiest, if you are flying solo, insist on a bassinet) pack a baggy shirt. Don’t forget to bring your washing supplies And pump in the changing room just before to board. And ziplock bag, with a Miltons sterilising tablet works great For sterilisation
3. Baby Carrier/ Pushchair/ Car Seat
3.1. Baby Carrier
If you have one baby, I would highly recommend a baby carrier.
- Your hands will be free, it is practical and a fast way to get through the airport. (Don’t have to look for elevators)
- If your baby is upset on the flight you can walk around with them in the carrier. (Note: some airlines will not let you sit with the baby carrier, for safety reasons)
Most international airports ask you to take the carrier off when going through security.
If you have a baby and a toddler. I would recommend your baby in the carrier and your toddler in the pushchair. This way, they are both strapped in and secure.
Some points to think about: Check with your airline, most flights offer a free pushchair with an infant. Check if you can check it in at the gate before you bored, this way you can have it in the airport. Keep in mind most airlines only let you take smaller, easy to fold pushchair through, larger, two piece ones may have to be check it in. Also check before hand if you have a layover, will you get your pushchair back? Some airports have pushchairs for transit, but due to COVID you will need to check if they are still available.
If you are looking at buying a ‘travel pushchair’ The Babyzen Yoyo pushchairs are one of the best as they fold small enough to store in the over head compartment. They are pricy, but if you are a frequent flyer they are worth it. Else a cheap lightweight pushchair will do the trick. I have a Chinese brand one, I can fold it and put it on the scanner with one hand. This is ideal if you are flying solo and having to hold your baby. Yes, most international airports require you to fold and scan your pushchair at security, so it is ideal if you are able to fold your pushchair and lift it onto the scanner yourself.
3.3. Car Seat
I wouldn’t normally recommend taking a car seat, it‘s bulky and quite a hassle. However if you are going somewhere, where car seats are too expensive to hire or you don’t know where to hire one from. Then yes, I would recommend taking one, it is possible. I took our car seat, with my 4 month old, solo, from the UK to South Africa (11 hours direct, BA insisted I had to check it in), then we did South Africa to China (15 hours, Air China) they won’t give me a bassinet, so I insisted on a extra seat and with a bit of a fight, they let me take the car seat on the flight. I used the car seat on the return to South Africa as well and the return to the UK.
Notes: I got a set of wheels for the car seat, to pull around in the airport.
4. Clothes and Nappies
4.1. A Change of Clothes
At this age pack a least two extra changes of clothes for baby and one extra change for mom. Flying makes babies tummy a little funny. Very rarely did we had a smooth flight where my babies, didn’t thrown up or have a runny tummy and we have done around 30 flights.) Yes, mom you need a change too, it’s very possible you may get caught in the cross fire. You don’t want to sit there for hours wet and smelly. Always take extra nappies. A changing mat, nappy bags and cream. There are changing tables in the bathrooms on the airplane (They are normally over the toilet seat). If my babies nappy was just wet, I would just change in one the seat, or in the bassinet. (Especially with COVID you don’t want to be taking your baby into the bathroom unnecessary)
4.2. What to Wear
Baby: Cotton, breathable and comfortable Clothes. Whatever your baby wears to sleep at home. I personally buy cheap vest and baby grow so if they do get messed, I can throw it away without feeling guilty. I always pack a beanie and something warm.
Mom: leggings are the best, or thigh pants. airplane bathroom floors are disgusting, you don’t want you pants dropping in that. I personally wear a shortsleeve t-shirt with layers and a douwn jacket (I have an amazing one from a South Africa Brand called Kway- it folds up into a tiny bag) I travel in slip in Sketches, they are comfortable and the stretch with your foot if you get puffy whist travelling.
5. Surviving the Trip
- Have all your documentation ready at check in. - Weight your bags before getting to the airport
- Make sure all your liquids are in a clear bag at the top of your bag. (Keep them all together until you through security then you can repack- put the medicine back in medicine bag) - Keep IPads, Phones, power banks together so they are easy to take out at security. - Don’t rush at security, it will make you flustered and you will go slower. People will understand.
- Change your babies nappy just before you board.
- Have a milk ready before you board. As you might not have anywhere to put your baby down and the air hostesses with be very busy. - Keep a bottle, a small toy, a muslin cloth, and a pacifier handy. The helpful air hostess is going to help you put your bags in the over head compartment very quickly. So be quick to get your essentials out. - Make sure your pacifier has an attachment
- Take toys with strings (or one you can tire, this way baby can play and it won’t fall on the dirty floor)
- I pack a small bag a random bits (a mirror, a comb, a little box- little things for baby to fidget with)
- Pack a new toy. For that moment when nothing else is working. A new toy is a great distraction. - Don’t panic if your baby cries. For most of the time people are nice and understanding and they probably have kids of their own. Breath and remember it’s way more scary for you little one, and they are the only one you need to worry about.
6. What to Pack
6.1. Documentation (Passports)
6.2. Phone/ Wallet
> 1x 100mils ready made bottle
> empty bottle for water
> washing supplies
6.4. Change of clothes
6.5. Nappy Bag lots of wet wipes
6.6. Medicine Bag
> Teethgel (if relevant)
> Meds for mom (runny tummy, headache, stomachache)
> lip ice
5.6. Fidget Bag for Baby
> mirror, comb,
5.7. a New Toy , toys on string
5.8. Baby muslin and blankets (ones that smell like baby)