Luisa has flown quite a lot in her short life. Because we lived in Edinburgh for her first 6 months we flew short haul from Edinburgh to Belfast and Dublin about 5 times. I also took her to Birmingham by myself for a day trip. Last week the three of us were in Crete so I feel like I have a solid foundation of experience to speak from.
I’ll start this post with full disclosure, our flight back from Crete on Saturday night began with 45 minutes of solid screaming and was followed by 3.5 hours of my arms shaking under the weight of a ten tonne baby who’d basically passed out. My first tip for flying with a baby is to prepare yourself for the very real possibility that no matter how organised you are things can still go horribly wrong!
Now that you’re feeling suitably anxious here are the rest of my more practical tips to help you prepare for a flight with a baby or toddler.
Try to book flights that don’t mean you need to drastically alter their schedule. For example, If you’ll be in the air for say 4 hours and your baby needs a 1-2 hour nap you want it to fall in the middle of the flight. The last thing you need is a baby who wants to go to sleep while you’re lugging cases through an airport or being frisked at security.
Most airports have dedicated family lanes at security. Keep an eye out for signage and make use of these little perks. I actually find that check in & security are much faster and less stressful with baby than without. Most staff go above and beyond to help out families in the airport. We’ve had particularly great experiences in Dublin airport.
In terms of packing bear in mind that most airlines allow a baby bag in addition to your usual carry on. Keep that baby bag exclusively for things you want to hand during the flight with the most important at the top.
On the same topic it’s a great idea to pack babies things in little clear bags, either sandwich bags or makeup bags work well. Doing this means that if there’s an exploding baby food pouch or leaky bottle the whole contents of the bag aren’t ruined. Also it’s easier to find what you’re looking for in a hurry.
For entertainment purposes I like to pack a variety of small toys & books. I’ll either buy a few new things or take them from Luisa’s existing stash but put them away for a week or so before we travel. This means they seem less familiar and boring to her. I like to bring as much variety as possible to keep L engaged. Some of the things that work well for us are pictured below.
I always make sure to pack plenty of snacks as food really is the ultimate distraction!
Dress your little one in a really comfy outfit that you can easily change if they have a nappy malfunction at 30,000 feet. I’d also advise picking something you don’t mind getting covered in the aforementioned snacks. Also, if your final destination is going to be hot they layers are your friend and you can strip baby down to their t-shirt and leggings before landing.
If the other people on the plane with you are less than thrilled about your little companion don’t give them a second thought. There is always one person sat rolling their eyes but, in my experience, there are many more who will be keen to chat and help amuse baby. Flying can be boring, and even lonely if it’s for business, so most people enjoy making faces at a little cutie and we’ve been congratulated more than once on how we coped with L in such a tight space.
Hopefully you can employ some of these tips when preparing for your next flight with baby. Honestly I really don’t thing it’s that difficult and I’ve had more than a few testing moments in the air. Relax and enjoy the ride!