Air travel with Babies
Flying with babies and children can be a worrying prospect, how do you get prepared and keep them entertained for so many hours on a plane! This blog from NMSG’s Katherine and Harriet (both mums of two and regular travellers), will give you some helpful hints and tips for things you can do to make flying with your little one a little bit easier.
Make sure that you have plenty of clothes for baby and you, we don’t think we’ve been on a flight when we didn’t get covered in sick or food.
Pack plenty of nappies, we usually aim for double the number your baby would usually use over the time you are flying. Keep the spare nappies separate to avoid as much faff if a quick nappy change is required. To save on space put the extra nappies inside a plastic ziplock bag and remove all the air from the bag condensing the nappies smaller. Ziplock bags are also handy to contain the smell of any soiled clothing.
Take a carrier or sling; a travel stroller is great, but you won’t be able to use it onboard. We have found a carrier extremely helpful when boarding the plane, settling baby during the flight and for baby to sleep. Carriers can also be a great way to breastfeed on the move or when standing and queuing when travelling solo or when you have no free hands to spare. But we would highly recommend practicing this in advance because it can be a bit tricky.
Book a bassinet seat; these seats are usually reserved for parents of infants and once you have taken off the staff will provide you with a small bed where your baby can lie down. We have found it helpful to take a bassinet cover (you can purchase once such as Cosigo online or second hand on Carousell). Although be prepared that on many airlines you will need to remove your baby from the bassinet if the fasten seatbelt sign is illuminated. A large muslin can be useful to drape across your shoulder and over the arm of the chair to create a tent above the child blocking some of the light.
Ask for help from the air stewards or other passengers. If you are flying alone they will be especially helpful for example when you need to use the bathroom.
If your baby has started eating solids make sure you take some food onboard. We found pouches the easiest option, don’t forget a spoon and depending on how messy they are, take a wipe clean apron to protect your clothes.
And for older children make sure you stock up on the snacks! We always find the plane food is never served when our children are hungry or they don’t like what is on offer. So we always make sure we have lots of snacks and treats to keep them happy throughout the flight. You can also ask the flight attendants to hold yours or the child's meal if it is currently not possible for you to eat.
Take a few toys to keep your little one entertained, we tend to use wipe clean toys so it’s easy to wash or sanitize them during or after the flight. And try to avoid anything too precious because it’s easy for things to get lost on board, so we usually take a trip to Daiso to buy some cheap toys or stock up on second hand toys on Carousell.
As your child gets older, love it or hate it, screen time can keep preschoolers occupied for quite a while. Prepare by downloading some programmes onto your phone or tablet. Apps like Netflix and Disney have a download function, or you can subscribe to YouTube Premium to store content offline. We usually load a few child specific apps too, so they can play some games too. And if you are a member, the national library board app will enable you to download e-books so you can read books together on the go. Don’t forget some headphones for them to use and a power pack or charging lead for your phone or tablet.
Stock up on a few first aid essentials to take on board, we always make sure we have some paracetamol, hydration salts, plasters and a thermometer.
Takeoff can be painful for little ones as the pressure hurts their ears. If you are breastfeeding it’s always a good idea to nurse during takeoff and landing. You can also give the baby a bottle or dummy, or for older children take a few lollies for them to suck on.
And finally relax and try to enjoy it! If you are anxious and stressed the little one will pick up on it.
Safe travels from Katherine Roberts & Harriet O’Shea