When Charlie celebrated his first birthday he had already been on 18 flights, many of them transatlantic from living in the USA for the first year of his life. We have learnt a great deal since our first flight with Charlie as a newborn. This article aims to provide you with an essential packing list for flying with a baby or young child so that you can be prepared for your first take off!
Essential packing list for flying with a baby
Antibacterial wipes and hand gel
Since our first flight I have always cleaned our seating area on the plane. Babies and young children have a habit of wanting to touch absolutely everything…. trays, seat belts, windows… if they can reach it they will touch it and airplanes are grubby places! These Milton sterilising wipes are great as is the Milton anti bacterial hand gel.
Spare clothes for the whole family
If you have space in your nappy bag throw in a spare top for you and hubby as well as your children. A friend of mine travelled across to Dubai covered in baby sick, not a good look for attempting to get a complimentary hotel upgrade!
Small changing bag
I have always travelled with a large nappy bag (containing baby toys, food etc) and smaller changing bag (containing just nappy, wipes, creams, etc). Just taking the changing bag into the toilets is so much easier than bumping your large bag into fellow flyers down the aisles with a wriggling baby in your arms! This Skip Hop Pronto mini changing bag is cute or for practicality and a smaller budget I like this hand bag size changing mat.
Push chair bags
We made the mistake on our first family holiday of buying a cheap light weight bag to protect our expensive push chair. In typical airport style we saw our pushchair being thrown down the conveyor belt and onto the plane. Upon picking up our pushchair we found the protective bag to be ripped to shreds, our pushchair was marked in many places and the leg recliner was broken (Britax did exchange it for us which is very nice of them as it was not a manufacturing fault).
Since then we have invested in a heavy weight pushchair travel bag which fully protects our pushchair from getting dirty plus as a bonus also allows us to transport a few extra items without having to have them included in your baggage allowance ;-) I.e. one holiday we travelled with a potty and just put it inside the pushchair bag. You can also purchase bags to protect umbrella style pushchairs and car seats
Travelling to Italy and France when our eldest son was a toddler we chose not to travel with our main expensive push chair and instead invested in a cheaper umbrella push chair which could be easily dissembled and placed by the plane door ready to be taken into the luggage hold. An umbrella stroller which is perfect for travelling with is the Maclaren Globetrotter buggy. It is light weight and easy to fold and yet still reclines for a comfortable ride.
Travelling tip for flying with a baby
Please note that although you will drop your push chair off at the plane door you should not expect to always pick it up from the plane door when you arrive at your destination. On several flights our pushchair has been taken through to the baggage collection leaving us to struggle through passport control with a wriggling and often grumpy tired baby in our arms. A baby carrier/sling such as the BABYBJÖRN Baby Carrier is absolutely invaluable for these occasions! Or alternatively you could invest in a Babyzen YoYo. This pushchair folds up to an airline certified size of a carry-on bag so it will stay with you onboard and not take a bumpy journey down the conveyor belt!
Baby Carrier / Sling
I love my Baby Bjorn although I have to admit I have never tried another make so I am very biased! My eldest son was quite needy and so it was invaluable not only on holiday but also for attempting to get anything done around the house…hoovering, mowing the lawn, you name it he did it with me whilst riding in the Baby Bjorn! I travelled from the USA back to the UK on my own with my son when he was only six months old and I simply could not have managed to get through the airport, check in, board the plane etc without a baby carrier. This is the original BABYBJÖRN Baby Carrier. We invested in a BABYBJÖRN Baby Carrier Miracle which is more expensive however, is made of mesh breathable fabric. This was important to us due to living in a very hot and humid Savannah at the time. If you are intending on using it mainly in the heat (or like me you have a husband who is a human radiator!) I can vouch for the extra cost involved as it prevents both you or hubby and baby from getting sweaty and uncomfortable.
Hurrah we made it… Our first transatlantic flight alone!
As a breast feeding mum I did I not leave my house without my nursing cover, it travelled everywhere with me in my hand bag. It allowed me to discreetly breastfeed both of my boys confidently including on flights, in restaurants, coffee shops, etc. I loved the boned neckline which allowed me to maintain eye contact with my baby without anybody else getting an eye full of boob! As a bonus both of my boys found the black out cover to be very relaxing resulting in many a peaceful hour watching an inflight movie, reading a newspaper in a coffee shop, etc. This BebeChic breastfeeding cover is a very worthwhile investment for any breastfeeding mum.
A spare blanket
Always handy for giving you a break and letting baby have some play time at the airport!
Image – My little pumpkin enjoying playtime at the check in gate
Additional useful items for flying with young children…
Baby changing tables on planes are very small and typically located over the toilet seat. When travelling with my eldest son as a toddler I always found it easier to have him in a Huggies pull up to prevent having to use the changing table and get in and out of the bathroom as quickly as possible!
My husband disagrees with me on this one because he always ends up carrying it BUT I think they are a worthwhile investment just for the cuteness factor of seeing your child at the airport dragging a Trunki ride-on suitcase filled with his/her treasures! The trunki can also be used as a ride on toy, perfect for tired little legs. Travel pillows and blankets are also available now through Trunki and they are equally as cute and user friendly.
Snacks and lots of them!
A fool proof way to keep little hands busy. These Munchkin snack containers are very handy.
New novel toys and books
My eldest son loved this Galt water magic farm book it kept him entertained for hours when he was two years old and we were on holiday in Antigua. He sat most nights in the restaurant colouring in the pages again and again and when he got fed up of the pages drying we finally succumbed and switched to the IPAD with his favourite cartoons just whilst we finished off our meal! His current favourite books are the Priddy wipe clean books which are great for preschoolers and perfect for flights and using again and again on holiday. These Usborne 50 Things to Do on a Plane activity cards promise to keep your child entertained for hours during a long plane journey, it could be the best £4 you ever spend!
Motion sickness devices / medication
I always feel it is better to prepare for the worse case scenario. In addition to packing extra clothes in case of sickness I always pack my sons Sea-Bands for nausea relief and Cleanis absorbent sick bags (although these are available from the air cabin crew). For motion sickness medication I pack either Dramamine motion sickness relief or Nelsons Travella homeopathic natural tablets.
To help reduce ear discomfort during flights I now use Earplane earplugs for my boys (also available for adults). As breastfed infants I used to always ensure that I nursed them during take off and initial descent (note that pressure change is usually more noticeable around half hour or more before landing, depending on a flight’s cruising altitude) as this helps to reduce any ear discomfort. A fab tip passed onto to me by a fellow mum traveller was to give a toddler the complimentary toothbrush to chew on during take off and landing as the movement of the jaw helps to reduce ear discomfort!
For more tips and advice…
Have you flown with your little one? Please add your tips and experiences for flying with a baby below…