Are you a new parent planning to travel with your baby for the first time? Undoubtedly, you must have a million questions about flying with an infant. Safia, a travel blogger and soNomad ambassador, is here to share her wealth of knowledge and experience on the topic.
With her little one having travelled to almost ten countries and accumulated an impressive number of flights (33, but who’s counting!), Safia has seen it all—from diaper explosions at 35,000 feet to navigating the chaos of airports. Let's dive into her ultimate tips and tricks for flying with a baby.
At what age can you fly with a baby?
The key is for the parent to feel ready and comfortable to embark on this adventure. You can start flying with your baby at three months, six months, 18 months, or whenever you feel prepared.
However, keep in mind that babies do require a passport, just like everyone else. As soon as you have their birth certificate, it's advisable to get the passport process started. Babies are not the easiest to photograph, so visit a professional photographer to ensure the passport photo meets the requirements and saves you from multiple potential trips due to rejected applications.
Can infants fly for free?
Children under two years old can travel for free as an "infant on lap" with most airlines, though there may be minimal fees involved. It's essential to note that for the airline policy to apply, your baby must be under two years old for the entire duration of your trip. If they turn two during the journey, the policy no longer applies.
What is the best time for flying with a baby?
Timing is crucial when it comes to flying with a baby. Try to align your travel plans with your baby's sleep schedule. For example, if you're flying to Europe, try booking a red-eye flight that departs in the evening, allowing your baby to sleep throughout the night.
Additionally, take advantage of your child's nap times when booking flights. If your little one typically sleeps around 11 a.m., consider scheduling a late morning or early afternoon flight to coincide with their sleep routine.
Expert tip: As parents, you’re probably constantly on the lookout for playgrounds, and the same applies at airports. Look for designated kids' areas at airports to let your kids play and burn off energy during longer layovers.
Where to sit on a plane with a baby?
Choosing the best seat on the plane with a baby is another common concern. Airlines often assign families seats towards the back of the aircraft.
If your baby is under six months old and doesn't roll over, you can request a seat with a bassinet. However, you will need to contact the airline to secure such seating arrangements since not all planes have them and they are on a first come, first serve basis.
No matter where you are seated on the plane, when you travel with young kids, you generally have access to priority boarding. Use this to your advantage by having one parent wait with the child at the gate area while the other parent boards early with all of the gear. This way, the child can burn off energy before settling into the plane.
What to pack when flying with a baby?
Are you feeling overwhelmed by the thought of all the things you might need for your baby during the flight? Instead, take a look at this list of essential items that will ensure your baby's comfort throughout the journey.
- Pack a diaper bag with enough diapers for at least two or three days. You never know what could happen during travel. It's better to have more than you think you'll need.
- Carry a full pack of baby wipes for easy cleanups and to tackle any accidents that may occur.
- Bring a change of clothes for your baby, but also for yourself! When your baby spits up on themselves, it's highly likely that you'll end up with some of it on you too.
- Include a small blanket to keep your baby warm and cozy during the flight, particularly when they're sleeping.
- When it comes to liquids, it's important to note that the usual 100ml rule may not apply to baby-related items. Generally, you can bring your baby's sippy cup filled with juice, milk, or water, along with yogurt cups or other liquids intended for your baby's consumption, through airport security. However, not all security personnel may be aware of this exception, so be prepared for the possibility of having to discard liquids if necessary.
- Depending on your baby's age, bring a lightweight carrier or wrap that is easy to pack and convenient to use. They are especially useful for going on and off the plane and make it much easier to manage your bags while keeping your baby close and comfortable.
- While there are various travel stroller options available, look for one that is accepted on board and can be stored in the overhead bin, like the Babyzen YOYO. Make sure to check with your airline about their specific stroller policies.
What baby items are free on a flight?
When travelling with an infant on your lap, you can typically check in two free items for your baby. These items can include a stroller, a bassinet, a Pack ‘n Play crib, a high chair, or a car seat.
Airline policies regarding free items for infants may vary, so it’s important to check with them when you book.
How to keep your baby busy during the flight?
First things first, snacks are your secret weapon. Grab an assortment of different snacks and pack them in a cool snack box with lots of compartments to add an element of fun.
When it comes to toys, opt for toys that don’t make all the sounds and the noise and the lights! There’s a place and a time for these toys, and an airplane is not one of them. Fidget spinners are a great choice to keep those little hands busy without causing any disturbance. And have you heard of mess-free coloring books? Your child can doodle away without painting the plane a whole new different colour.
Finally, if your child loves watching shows or videos, don't forget to bring a tablet loaded with their favorite episodes or TV shows. Just make sure to pack a pair of headphones since not everyone on the plane wants to jam out to "Baby Shark" or "Cocomelon."
What is the ultimate tip for preventing ear discomfort for your child during takeoff and landing?
This is the best-kept secret among parents travelling with babies: feed your baby during takeoff and landing. Whether you're breastfeeding or using a bottle, the sucking motion helps equalize the pressure in their ears, just as it does for adults when we swallow or chew gum. This tip is a total game-changer!
Your baby's first flight adventure awaits!
While these suggestions are based on personal experiences and may not apply to every situation, they aim to provide you with valuable insights for travelling with a baby in Canada or abroad.
Remember to always travel with travel insurance to ensure you're prepared for any unforeseen circumstances. Get an online quote to find the right travel insurance for your whole family.
Happy travel planning with your baby, and may your adventures be filled with wonderful memories!