25 Tips to Get You Through a Flight with a Baby

For many young children and infants, there is no more exciting way to travel than by air. They love to watch the carts, trucks and aeroplanes at the airport. Even better, they may get to ride on moving walkways, trains and trams, escalators and lifts – all that even before boarding. On the plane itself, there are the endlessly fascinating tray tables, window shades, and teeny tiny bathrooms to explore, again and again.

Parents, of course, may long wistfully for the days when air travel was more pleasant and glamorous, or at least less crowded. But a child's enthusiasm is often hard to resist.

With a little preparation, air travel with your baby can be a pleasant adventure for the whole family. These tips for baby travel will ensure that those first few outings go as smoothly as possible.

Booking and Other Preparations

1. Opt for an evening flight. If possible, try to fly in the evening to increase the chance of your little one nodding off. Try to have everyone get a good night's sleep before your travel day and stick to routines as much as possible.

2. Allow plenty of time between connecting flights. Make sure that you have enough time between flights if possible. Layovers between flights can be beneficial, as they give the children a chance to walk/run around a bit and expend some energy. If you do have close connections, ask the flight attendant for assistance; if you ask in advance, there should be a cart waiting to take you to the next gate.

3. Select seats before you board. If you can, select your seats in advance to benefit from the most options. By reserving a seat early, you may be able to sit in the bulkhead area and benefit from extra space. With a child, you won’t be able to select an exit row and should avoid sitting your little one in an aisle seat due to reduced safety, particularly during mealtimes.

4. Purchase a seat for your baby. If you can afford it, purchase a seat for each child, especially for long flights. For information on using a child safety seat or other approved child restraint system, contact your airline.

5. Make sure you have all the documentation you require. Before travelling, be sure to check that your little one has all the valid documents required to travel to the destination. This generally includes a passport and tourist visas. You can find out more by checking the government travel advice for the country you’re visiting.

6. Get any prescriptions filled in good time. If your little one requires certain medications, make sure to fill the prescriptions in advance in case you aren’t able to get them at your destination.

Preparing for your flight

7. Bring your approved car seat. Many airlines in Europe and around the globe will allow you to use the infant seat you’re already using in your vehicle on the plane. It’s advisable to give the airline you will be flying with a call before your flight to check if they will allow your child to be seated in an approved car seat. 8. Pack carefully. You can never go wrong packing extra nappies. Other key essentials include a nappy-changing pad, a blanket, favourite toys, extra formula or breast milk, dummies, extra clothes, plastic bags for dirty nappies and baby wipes. Keep in mind that you'll be carrying everything you pack. 9. Bring expressed breast milk (if needed) or formula. When travelling with a baby, you’re allowed to take all the baby food, milk and sterilised water you require for the journey. Individual containers of breast milk must not exceed 2,000ml and each container will be screened at the security point. Check out government advice for more information. 10. Pack things to occupy your child. You may need to take things to help your baby get through their travel experience. Having a few books on hand or breaking out a toy they haven't seen in a while can make a world of difference. 11. Pack earplugs for your baby. Planes are noisy places, especially during take-off. Pack a pair of earplugs, cotton balls or noise-cancelling headphones to protect your little one’s ears. They may also help your baby doze off. 12. Dress your child in layers. Temperatures often fluctuate significantly on planes, so it’s a great idea to dress your child in layers. Opt for layers that are easy to put on and get off, like trousers with elastic waists and jumpers with zips, for example. 13. Check-in online. Forget standing in a long queue to check-in at the airport. Nowadays, most airlines offer online check-in before you arrive at the airport, or use automated self-check-in kiosks at the airport. Take advantage of this timesaving option to avoid potential tantrums.

Navigating the Airport With Your Baby

14. Use a child carrier. A child carrier is good for carrying infants or toddlers through airports and allows you to keep your hands free. It does need to be removed before going through airport security, however. 15. Use a pushchair. Check in the pushchair at the gate instead of at the luggage drop off so you can use it to get through the airport rather than carrying a child. 16. Take advantage of pre-boarding perks for families. Gate attendants usually offer families with small children the opportunity to enter the plane first. Take advantage of that so you don't have to fight through the crowds to get to your seats and get everyone settled. Exit last for the same reason unless you have tight connections. 17. Don’t be scared to ask for help making a connection. Don't hesitate to ask the flight attendant or the person sitting next to you for help, especially if you are travelling as a single adult. Many other people have been or will be in similar situations and don't mind lending a hand if it helps you deplane or get through the airport quicker to make your connection. 18. Change your baby’s nappy before boarding. The plane bathrooms are tiny. Even with a fold-down changing table, you may find it uncomfortable to change your baby there. Make use of the extra space at the airport to change your little one’s nappy.


Toddler Activities
Travelling With Two or More Children

Flying With Your Child

19. Watch the in-flight safety video. Things can often get a little hectic when the plane starts taxiing and you’re trying to get your little one comfy. But it’s important to pay attention to the in-flight safety video, particularly when travelling with a child. 20. Wash and sanitise your hands. Make sure to wash your hands regularly or use hand sanitiser often to reduce your baby’s exposure to germs. 21. Locate the best spot to change your baby’s nappy. Even if it does include a fold-down changing table, plane toilet cubicles are often cramped. If you find there isn’t a changing table or enough space, you can ask a flight attendant whether it would be ok to change your baby on the cabin floor. Changing nappies on a closed toilet seat is another option. 22. Comfort your little one. While it's tricky to breastfeed in such a small space, your baby needs to eat. Nursing will also help to soothe them if they’re cranky or if their ears hurt from the cabin pressure. 23. Plan your child’s sleeping options. Buckling your baby into their child restraint system or car seat is the safest option for napping and sleeping. However, some airlines may offer more comfortable ways such as bassinets, sleeper seats and inflatable seat extensions for your little one. Make sure to enquire before turning up at the airport, as certain options can only be reserved in advance. 24. Ask for help. If you're travelling alone, don’t hesitate to ask for assistance. Accept offers from the staff or other travellers to help with loading pushchairs and luggage into the overhead compartment. 25. Keep calm and do your best. You have a lot to handle, from getting checked in and going through security to soothing your baby on the trip. As long as you stay cool, your baby will too.


Your baby will most likely need a valid passport to fly. You can find out which documents you need by checking out the government travel advice for the country you’re visiting.

The Bottom Line

From take-off to landing, managing your little one on a plane isn't all that terrible with some planning and preparation in place. Focus on your children and try to make them as comfortable as possible. Travelling is a great adventure, so bon voyage!

How We Wrote This Article
The information in this article is based on the expert advice found in trusted medical and government sources, such as the National Health Service (NHS).The content on this page should not replace professional medical advice. Always consult medical professionals for full diagnosis and treatment.

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