how to prepare for plane Travel with infant
Updated: May 21
What I have learnt from 6 flights with 9 month old infant
Travelling with small children can be challenging at times, as travelling in general can be, but travelling with little ones seem to be just another level of logistics! You may be stressing especially before your first flight but with some planning the flight might be enjoyable for both of you. I always believe that the more you prepare the less surprises you have. After chatting to few fellow travel (and not travel) mums I decided to share my experiences of travelling with my daughter - so far we had been on 6 flights and she just turned 10 months in January. All our flights were in Europe but the tips should apply on every flight.
These are just my hacks following my experience and probably there will be other mums with other valuable tips, so if you are one of them just share in comments for others to benefit too.
1. Flight times
Before we even start tips on travelling, it is important to consider flight times at the booking stage - when you are travelling on your own you probably do not even think about flight times as long as you can have either cheaper flights or extend your stay to maximum. When travelling with small child it is good to consider how your child responds to early wake up call, late night flights and so on. When my daughter was 3 months old it was easier to travel at early hours of the morning so flights at 6 am were in fact easier for me as she was sleeping, now that she's almost a 10 months and have a sleep pattern, a 7 pm flight is late but she is so excited to be on the palne that she doesn't sleep at all - so I have a tired baby on the way home. If your baby is a sleeper I guess they will not be bothered by what time they fly.
2. Airport facilities
Let's look at the airport and its facilities for families. It really depends on the airport and the country you are in when it comes to family friendly facilities. Just as an example in United Kingdom you do not have family priority line during security or passport control (at least not in three London airports I flew from) whereas in Poland you do - so you don't have to queue up with the rest of the travellers which sometimes may mean you don't need e.g. baby carries but more on that later... So it is good to check airport facilities beforehand if you can, which is not always easy but at least you can try to see if this info is online or call the airport in advance (if you really want).
At all the airports I flew to and from had baby changing rooms and nursing rooms so if you need these that's not an issue. Although I must say the feeding room at Luton airport is miles away from main waiting area so if you do not plan on having a buggy / pram with you then you will have a lot of walking so have a baby carrier.
3. Buggy, car seat and other baby gear
You can bring your buggy to the airport and have it with you till you board the plane (majority airports allow this but again you need to check airport policy which is on their website, the same goes for carrier but I feel they are allowing it exactly same way). The buggy comes as an extra baby equipment that you do not need to pay for. In general, you are allowed two pieces so you can take a car seat too, or two piece buggy, or basinet separately to your stroller - combinations are endless.... :-)
The only issue with buggy at the arrival airport may be that you will not get your buggy when you leave the plane straight away, but instead you will only be able to collect it from luggage belt or oversize luggage collection point. Bear that in mind if you are travelling on your own, and have a lot of luggage or bags with you and a baby to carry. Some airports provide strollers but that may be at certain point at the airport so you will not have it all the way (this happened to me again at Luton airport but my daughter was just 4 months old and she wasn't able to sit on her own so the airport stroller was useless - thankfully that time I was flying with my hubby who carried all the bags and I carried the baby)
If you are bringing car seat with you - a great idea is to buy a cover so it is easier for you to carry it, but also there's less damage to your car seat. I only bought mine from 5th flight onwards and some damage was already done to the car seat. It is also useful to have a cover for your buggy, if you think you are able to put it on by yourself just before you board the plane, or if you are checking it in anyway then you have timr to do it. My buggy handle was damaged during handling at the airport so I am not bothered by the cover anymore but if I had a new buggy I would probably buy cover as well.
You could bring a car seat on board, but I think that's a lot of hassle and there might be extra fee - so I never used this option.
4. on the plane
Another breakthrough for me was comfort seat! Up until flight no 5 I never knew you can buy one as when I was trying to buy it, the system never allowed me to do so. But there's a trick! You have to buy a seat as if you are buying for a 2 yo child together with your infant 'seat'. Game changer on busy flights and definitely a comfort for wiggly babies (like mine). Plus if your baby wants to sleep you have that extra space and can rest your hands from holding the baby.
Another important topic is food. Up until my daughter was 6 months old she was breastfed so I never worried about baby food, and it was quite comforting for me to know food is there whenever baby needs it ;-) However, after she finished 6 month we needed to pack water, and some solids. And on our last late flight, there was a milk bottle too. With some babies being formula fed from the beginning the below tips apply. So, how to organise it all?
You may think that isle seat is best for babies as you will be getting up a lot - and yes this is partially true. However, if you are sat at the isle seat there's a risk of people bumping into you and your baby, hot drinks spilling from cabin crew trolleys, or bags falling from overhead compartments - I've seen it all and that is why I always prefer middle or window seat if I can pick.
Lastly, that's for a long haul flight, but it seems not everyone knows that you can book seats with baby bassinets on long haul flights (they are usually on the big planes). What is that? These are little cribs mounted to the wall so the tiniest travellers can have a restful sleep while travelling and be rested at the destination.
5. Baby food and drink
Well, firstly you can bring unlimited water and food for babies (yes above 100ml) whether it is for drinking or dissolving etc., up until your child is 2 years old. Secondly, if you have food in jars or pouches they are all allowed too. You need to take them all out at security check in, so I suggest you pack it together so it's easier and quicker to get it out of the bags.
I read an interview with an ex-hostess who advises that you should always bring your own hot water for babies milk as the one on the plane is not fresh (have you noticed that flight crew rarely drinks tea or coffee o the plane? Well, that's the reason - they know what kind of water it is!) Also, another suggestion from that interview was to bring wet wipes and clean the seat where your baby is going to play, touch, sit - I did this and trust me you do want to have those wet wipes with you!
What I did, and it may work for some of you, is I prepared milk bottle before the flight and put it in the food thermos. When it was time for evening bottle feed I only poured it to the bottle and had it warm and ready for my daughter.
6. Baby bits
I am sure every mom remembers about spare clothes, nappies etc. But how many should you pack? My rule of thumb is I pack two sets of clothes to change and 1 nappy per 2 hours of the journey. So if a total journey time is 10 hours I have 5 nappies.
It is good idea to have your own changing mat as I have seen changing rooms in different states, plus you want your bundle of joy on a clean surface. I found changing mat quite handy on the plane too as the changing facilities on board the aircraft are small, cramped, and it is only a piece of wood so not really soft and comfy hence extra padding for those little bones is a must.
Even the shortest flight can be challenging when your little one is curious and does not want to sleep. This is my case, so I expertly hide favourite toys week before the flight so the little one forgets about them, and then when she sees them at the airport we have a lot of play time. My personal opinion is that children cry on board when they are confined and bored - so entertaining them is a key to keeping happy baby on board. My baby bag is overflowing with toys and books - always!
This will be it for my list of tips and travel hacks, have you learnt something new? Could you share your travel hacks with kids?
Peaceful and easy travel with kiddos x