Flying with Toddlers and Young ones
Travelling with small children, especially while flying, may be frightening for any parent. Even the most seasoned traveller can become apprehensive about being confined in a small place with a fussy, crying, or uncomfortable baby
However, with the right planning and preparation, travelling with a baby or toddler can be a stress-free and easy experience for both of you. In this article, we’ll provide you some practical pointers, advice, and suggestions on making the trip as easy and pleasurable as possible, so you can concentrate on creating enduring memories with your family rather than stressing out about the travel arrangements.
25 Advice for Traveling with a Baby
1. Opt for an evening departure.
If you want to enhance your infant’s likelihood of falling asleep throughout the flight, consider flying in the evening. If you have no choice but to fly during the day, you can try to postpone your child’s regular nap until after takeoff.
2. If your child will be travelling abroad, have their passport ready.
Like you, your kid will require a current passport to go abroad. You must go in person to a passport office to submit an application for your child’s passport. To learn what kinds of paperwork, including a birth certificate, you must submit, contact your local office or visit the U.S. Department of State website. You’ll also require a recent six-month-old photo of your child. He should be the only person in the picture with a white background. Your infant might be placed on a white blanket or towel for the photograph or seated in a car seat with a white sheet. You can consider hiring a professional photographer specialising in passport photos to take the picture.
3. Select a direct flight or one with more time between layovers.
Keep the number of connecting flights to a minimum while travelling with a baby or toddler. Air pressure on a baby’s ears during landing often causes discomfort that results in screaming aboard aircraft. Additionally, less time spent travelling means less opportunities for a mid-flight meltdown.
Plan additional time on the ground in between flights if you must plan a ticket with a connection. Ideally, you should allow two to three hours unless your aircraft is significantly delayed. Running through the airport with a baby, diaper bag, car seat, and other travel necessities is not a good idea.
When flying with a toddler, layovers are the ideal time to pick up some non-aeroplane food, change a dirty diaper, and most importantly, let your youngster run around outside for a while to burn off some energy!
You can even think about scheduling a connection with an overnight layover of at least eight hours for long-distance flights. Your family will be able to rest at a hotel as a result before travelling further to your destination.
I advise staying away from red-eye flights if feasible. The entire family will have less jet lag as a result.
4. Plan your seating arrangement.
Choose your seats as early as possible to ensure you have the most alternatives. The largest space in the bulkhead area is behind the wall that frequently divides the cabins. You won’t be able to select a row near the exit for safety concerns. Select a window seat if one is available.
Toddlers may be at risk in aisle seats. Little hands are dangerously close to hot coffee or water as the food and beverage cart passes.
5. Buy a seat for your infant.
If your child is under 2 years old and you intend to keep him on your lap, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) does not require you to buy a seat for him. However, buying a separate seat is advised because holding your infant in your lap during turbulence can be harmful. When newborns are in their own chairs, many find that they are happier and more at ease. If you decide to buy a seat for your child, you must carry your own newborn car seat that has been authorised by the FAA.
6. Plan your baby's sleeping arrangements.
Ensure that your child’s car seat is FAA-approved. If you have a baby, you must utilise a child restraint device that has been approved by the FAA if you have an airline seat for them (CRS). The good news is that a lot of infant car seats have aeroplane approval, so you might be able to utilise the one you already have in your car. The safest choice for napping and resting is to buckle your baby into her CRS, however certain airlines may be able to offer a more cosy manner for your child or baby to rest:
Bassinet – There’s a strong chance the airline may have a bassinet you could use if you choose seats behind the bulkhead. The bassinet, which is attached to the bulkhead wall, has a capacity of 20 pounds or a newborn under six months old. Contact your airline in advance to find out if this is an option.
Sleeping chair – You might be able to reserve three seats in a row on foreign carriers that can interlock to create a large sleeper that can fit a parent and a child. For further information on this option, call your airline in advance.
Extendable inflatable seats – You might be able to carry an inflatable seat extension to utilise for your baby when it’s time to sleep or take a nap if your airline permits. Since this product category is new to the market, not all airlines might permit it. Remember that in order to utilise this add-on item, your child must have her own seat. To find out if this is permitted, get further information in advance from your airline.
Remember that none of these sleep aids may be used by your infant during takeoff or landing. She must be in a CRS or on your lap. Furthermore, following safe sleeping procedures when in flight is still important. Make certain that your infant sleeps on her back on a sturdy, flat area without any soft covering.
7. Use the restroom before your flight at the airport.
Ideally, you should travel with a child in a dry diaper. So before using the jetway, make sure you use the restroom at the airport one final time and do a quick diaper change.
While you’re there, you might wish to use two diaper cream applications and change your kid into two diapers to increase leak prevention.
You will need one last bathroom break if you are travelling with a toddler who is toilet training. It saves time to use the restroom before boarding the aircraft. (Thank goodness, most aeroplanes do include a changing table.)
Mom or Dad will have less work to do and those sitting nearby will experience less discomfort. Additionally, you never know when the “keep seat belt secured” sign will turn on. Being safe is preferable to being sorry (and smelly)!
8. Benefit from pre-boarding.
You might believe skipping the pre-board is the best way to spend as little time as possible with your child on the aircraft. Rethink that!
With a young child, settling in on a plane takes more time. It can be difficult enough to fly with a toddler or newborn without having those behind you groan as you try to fasten up your little one.
9. Flying with a baby or young child can be cheaper.
I know that booking a seat for your infant or toddler may cost more, restricting your ability to travel. It’s crucial to find ways to cut costs when travelling with kids because of this.
One of the most expensive aspects of travel can be the cost of airline tickets. Why pay the whole price? Thank goodness, there are a few fantastic websites that can help you find cheap flights.
Multiple travel providers’ prices can be easily compared at once using aggregate travel websites like Kayak or CheapOAir. Remember that not all airlines may be listed on various search engines, including Southwest Airlines. Booking your flights, hotel, and rental car all at once frequently results in savings when you combine your trip options.
10. Baby equipment must be checked at the gate.
Most airlines allow parents and caregivers to gate check large baby equipment like strollers and car seats for no extra charge. Simply ask the gate agent at the airport for gate check badges. Additionally, this does not go within your luggage allowance.
Each item should have one tag attached to it. Place the tag at the bottom of the jetway. Before boarding, be care to fold the strollers.
When you arrive at your destination and exit, your gate-checked items will normally be waiting for you in the same location. But occasionally they have to be recovered from the baggage claim. Before your flight, inquire about the airline’s gate check procedures.
11. Rent baby supplies for your trip.
Consider renting infant travel equipment to reduce your load on the airline and prevent baggage costs. You can order delivery of a travel stroller, cot, car seat, high chair, booster seats, and more.
Wherever is most practical for you can receive these products, whether it’s the hotel, the airport, or grandma’s house. Families on vacation can use this service anywhere in the world.
12. Bring twice as many baby essentials.
Bring twice as much baby food, formula, diapers, bottles, and nutritious snacks as you think you’ll need on the aircraft. You’ll thank me if I have to cancel or badly delay your flight.
The last thing you want to deal with when flying is a baby that is thirsty, hungry, and diapered in spit-up. This is especially true if you find yourself stranded on the runway, flying over a storm, or having to spend an extra night in a hotel room.
13. Wear layers that are cosy and comfortable
You might be tempted to dress up your infant for the travel in that gorgeous outfit from your mother-in-law. However, put convenience and comfort first. Choose comfortable, simple-to-change clothing.
Naturally, layers are a requirement while travelling from a snowy location to the tropical warmth. However, wearing layers also helps when the temperature on the plane fluctuates dramatically.
If you become stuck, it might be sweltering hot and you and your child would be facing the little overhead fan. Once in the air, you might find yourself shaking in your seat.
Mothers who are nursing can also benefit from layering. I advise packing a breastfeeding cover or donning some kind of wrap that can double as a baby blanket.
14. Include an extra set of clothes for both you and the baby.
Of course, you should include an extra set of clothes for your child in case there is a leak or blowout mid-flight in your carry-on bag.
My buddy did just that when she travelled alone with her infant from California to Europe. She did not, however, bring any extra clothing for herself. Mama was sticky and damp the entire time of her lengthy travel due to a leaking diaper.
Include a small clothing for yourself in your trip bag to avoid this trouble.
15. Guard the ears of your child.
The ear ache brought on by pressure variations in the airplane’s cabin might be relieved by sucking or chewing. Bring onboard infant formula or pumped breast milk. When junior is securely secured, you can feed your infant a bottle throughout takeoff and landing.
Keep in mind that the 3.4 ounce liquid restriction does not apply to breast milk or infant formula. Bring liquid formula that has been sealed or purchase a water bottle at the airport to combine with powdered formula for infants who are fed formula.
If your child refuses bottles, a sippy cup or pacifier can be used instead. Older babies and toddlers can also benefit from chewing on a cracker or cookie.
Flyers with delicate ears will love EarPlugs. Insert these unique plastic earplugs at the start of the plane’s descent to relieve pressure and discomfort. Children aged 1 and up can use Children’s EarPlanes. Before your flight with your child, you might also wish to ask your paediatrician to prescribe ear pain relievers.
16. Remember baby's medication.
Don’t forget to include any prescription or over-the-counter medications in your carry-on luggage. TSA liquid limits do not apply to liquid pharmaceuticals.
Put your prescription in your diaper bag so you can easily access it while flying.
17. Use distractions to keep your baby or toddler content.
For the time being, it is no longer possible to read a book, watch an action movie, or enjoy a magazine on a plane. It’s possible that you’ll spend the entire flight calming down your toddler or newborn.
This entails reading board books to your child over and over again. It entails investing in the appropriate travel toys and engaging in playtime with your child. Even if you try to limit screen time at home, it can also mean treating your toddler to movies and apps on their smartphone.
The main message is that you must do anything you can to keep the infant content on the plane!
18. Explain to your children what to expect.
Kids do considerably better when they are aware of what to expect. Wharee suggests watching a YouTube Let’s Go Play video covering every aspect of flying, from luggage check-in and purchasing tickets to onboard conduct and safety.
19. Packing Checklist for Kids
When travelling with toddlers, there are many things to remember to packYou don’t want to forget your child’s favourite toy or your mother’s smartphone charger!
- If it’s a pacifier, make sure to bring more than one so it doesn’t end up on the floor or thrown down the aisle.
- Wipes, pull-ups, diapers, and hand sanitizer. It is advised to use one diaper every hour of travel.
- Tablets and smartphones preloaded with your kids’ preferred shows or videos. Give them a gadget with a headphone splitter to use together.
- Children’s headphones
- Art materials Small package of crayons and white paper
- Garbage bags made of plastic
- Low-sugar snacks include granola bars, pretzels, crackers, almonds, string cheese, and cereal.
20. Look for play areas in airports.
Give children several opportunities to play and burn off energy before takeoff. Even kid-friendly play spaces are available in several airports. See whether there is a playground at your airport.
For fun, plan to arrive at the airport a little early. Additionally a fantastic way to pass time during layovers are airport playgrounds. After playtime, remember to wash your child’s hands.
Hopefully, by the time you board, your child will be exhausted enough for a nap.
21. Understanding the limitations of airplane air filtration systems
Thankfully, airborne viruses, germs, and allergies are successfully removed from the air we breathe as passengers by plane filtration systems. However, the air not allowed to pass through the HEPA filter can still infect your family. In addition, the filters only work when the jets are running and the aircraft is in the air.
22. Don't be afraid to seek assistance.
If you are flying alone with your kid, the flight attendant or the person seated next to you might be more than happy to assist. Many other people are willing to help since they have or will experience comparable circumstances. Accept offers of assistance, such as helping to lift carry-ons into the overhead bin, from the personnel or other passengers.
23. Attempt to maintain composure and concentration.
Don’t let your youngster witness your own anxieties or disappointments. You shouldn’t worry about what other passengers are thinking or whether they are staring if your child has a meltdown during a flight. Be composed and try your best. Your infant will be more likely to keep its cool if you do.
24. Opt for an airline with family-friendly amenities.
Nothing is more desirable to a family-friendly airline than content, joyful children. As a result, many top airlines have a variety of kid-friendly advantages to give their youngest passengers, including a selection of their preferred TV shows and movies as well as kid-friendly headphones and snacks. For instance, United Airlines, a favourite of the Parents editor for travelling with small children, debuted a new activity kit for kids in 2021 that was created to make youngsters both happy and safe while travelling (see image). The kid-friendly kits, which are offered on all United mainline flights, include a kid-sized mask, a travel diary activity book with crayons, an airline kit made of origami paper, and a sanitising wipe. Family lounges or airports with play places for kids during layovers would be excellent extras to seek for.
25. Remain composed.
You can’t really do much to appease the passenger who moans every time your kid laughs or sneezes. Keep the following in mind: Everyone is on your side as long as you’re trying (and what parent isn’t?). Remember an adult having an issue with a screaming child is acting like a child as well so don’t interact and only focus on your own child.
While taking a toddler or newborn on the road can be difficult, it also presents an opportunity to make priceless family memories. You may make your flight with your child as easygoing and stress-free as possible by paying attention to the advice provided in this blog. Keep in mind to pack lots of snacks, activities, and necessities like diapers and wipes. You should also schedule your flight around a time that works best for your child’s schedule. Don’t forget to take care of yourself as well and maintain composure throughout the flight. Flying with a baby or toddler can be fun for you and your little one if you are prepared and have some patience. So go ahead and reserve that flight, then take your family on the experience that is in store for you.