Are you travelling with a baby soon and wondering what are the best flying with a baby tips? Perhaps you are worried about other passenger looks when your baby cries, how to get them to sleep onboard in an unfamiIiar environment or just generally how to travel with an infant? This article will hopefully answer ALL your how to fly with baby questions!
Firstly, you are not alone with your worries. I had exactly the same concerns about traveling with an infant, before I first flew with my two tots; despite having helped hundreds of other parents as a flight attendant.
After my own frustrations with flying long haul (frequently on flights over 12 hours long) and short haul with my little ones, I have encountered so many different scenarios and now I am sharing my top flying with a baby tips here to help you feel confident on your first or next flight with kids.
Although this entire family travel site covers everything from flying with babies to older kids in so much more depth, (my own experience begins with flying with a 2 month old baby, including 24 hour long haul flights), I thought a briefer list of my best tips for flying with a baby, would also be helpful for those who don’t have time to read through the whole site.
Covid-19 Coronavirus Update
Currently some airports and airlines have cut back on cabin service touch points, making traveling with an infant, a little different to how it used to be. The main main differences are:
- You can no longer request baby meals or any other special meals on most airlines
- Airport strollers may not be available
- You may not be able to bring even a compact travel stroller on board the plane for hygiene reasons (the wheels). If you do try, make sure you have a super compact one which fits into a carry on size bag.
- Cabin luggage is reduced on some airlines, but supplies for babies are obviously allowed.
How to Fly With A Baby Tips
Tips on Rules for Flying With a Baby, Lap Belt & Car Seats, Baggage Allowance plus Airline Bassinets
Know the rules for flying with an infant
- Decide whether you will be flying with a lap baby (where they sit on your lap usually for free or 10% of the fare) or if you are going to purchase a seat and use a car seat or CARES harness to fly with baby. If you are flying on a USA airline, this post on FAA approved car seats will help!
Flying with an Infant as a Lap Baby Or With a Car Seat or other restraint device?
- If you are traveling with baby and are thinking of purchasing an extra seat and using your car-seat – look at airline policies on car seats first. When you travel with a car seat, rules can vary. Some airlines allow both forward and rear facing car seats on an airplane seat, others only forward facing.
- Often a car seat or restraint device such as the CARES harness won’t fit on the new business and first class style seats. Do check on your airlines website first for any requirements that need to be met.
- If you are flying with two babies under two years old, and are not flying with another adult, you will need to have at least one baby in a car seat as you cannot have two babies on your lap. If you are flying on a USA airline, this post on FAA approved car seats will be very useful!
- Airplane travel with baby usually involved traveling with a bit of gear. If you are flying with car seats and strollers and not using your car seat as a restraint device, these can be gate checked for free. Most airlines allow you to take both the car seat and stroller but this can vary to just one piece. Check first! If you are checking a car seat, it’s a good idea to get a padded protective bag for it.
Can I get an airline bassinet?
- Flying long haul with baby? If you are flying with a lap baby and if an airplane bassinet is important to you because you are flying long-haul, do look at which airlines provide a bassinet which is suitable for your child’s age. These are not infant seats on planes, but more like an infant bed. (NB. It is highly unlikely you will be given a bassinet position if you have purchased a seat and use your own car seat)
- Age and weight requirements vary from airline to airline and often plane to plane. Most bassinets are suitable for up to 8 months, and British Airways bassinets are suitable for up to 2 years old – if your baby meets the weight requirements. When we have flown to Australia with my daughter(s) at various stages from 8 months to 13 months – an airline which had a bassinet was a huge influence on which airline I booked. It is definitely one of the top travel tips for flying with a baby!
- When you are traveling with an infant, see if the bassinet is available before you book. Very few airlines will let you see bassinet seat availability during the booking process – so more often or not, you will not find out until you get to choose your seats – after you have paid. Travel with a baby is much more relaxing if you know what resources are available to you.
- If this is the case, call your airline and ask them what the bassinet seat availability is like for a certain flight on a particular day. If the system shows it is free, then there is a good chance it still will be when you go online to book the flight when flying with infants. However, with USA and Canadian airlines this does not apply: in this case, it is first come, first served at the gate – so check in early to maximise your chances.
- Several airlines allow you to choose your seat immediately if you are flying with an infant – some for free! e.g British Airways and Thai Airways. If you want to double-check for a particular seat, look at www.seatguru.com and put in your flight number where you can check the plane layout. if you don’t know your flight number, don’t worry, you can enter the route and the airline.
Is there a baggage allowance for infants?
- Look at the airline policies on hand luggage and hold luggage. All airlines allow at least a car seat or stroller – with the majority allowing both for free. Lots of airlines provide an infant baggage allowance too, some for both cabin and hold baggage. If you think you will be taking a lot of stuff when traveling with a baby, look at what each airline provides.
- Budget tips for travelling with a baby: That cheap flight may not be so cheap if you have to pay extra for baggage. I often use a stroller or gate check bag (affiliate link) and put a few extra items like nappies/diapers or soft toys to also save space in my hold luggage and help protect the stroller or car seat more. You may be able to use your carry on allowance to use a stroller that fits into the overhead bin too.
- You may find this post on the rules for flying with a baby useful too, especially if you are flying with babies or several children under two.
Tips on Infant Air Fare Costs, ID & Age Baby Can Fly
Is there an infant air fare cost? Do babies fly free internationally?
- Babies do not fly for free internationally. Be prepared for most flights with under 2’s to cost 10% of an adult fare + applicable taxes. If you are travelling with infants, research what airlines offer. Some countries like the USA offer free flights for infants if it is an internal flight and they are seated on your lap as a ‘lap infant’.
- Travelling with baby on a plane gives you the option to purchase a seat for them if you do not want have them travel as a lap infant. If you purchase a seat for your baby, fares are usually around 60-75% of an adult fare. Sometimes going directly to the airline offers you a better deal but it is worth looking at sites such as Omio (previously known as Go Euro) or Skyscanner too.
- Another popular question I get asked is, “does a 2 year old need a plane ticket?” Yes they do, all two year olds need a plane ticket and their own airplane seat.
Do I need a passport for my baby or child?
- A frequent question asked is ‘what do you need for flying with a baby? If you have a baby flying with you, check what travel documentation is needed – even if travelling with an infant domestically. This can be found on your airlines website. If you are planning on flying with a newborn baby, apply for their passport as soon as possible.
- A passport is always the best ID. If you are flying with an infant domestically in the USA, a passport is not required for your baby– BUT it’s still a good idea to take a birth certificate and make sure you have a boarding card or boarding pass issued for your baby. Find further tips for flying internationally with a baby here.
At what age can a baby fly?
- When can a baby travel by plane? Check the flying with an infant rules as per your airline regulations. Flying with a newborn baby rules may vary from airline to airline. Some may specify a baby must be at least 7 days old, whereas other airlines may say they must be 14 days old and/or meet other requirements to travel by airplane.
Tips on Airline Child Meals, Baby Meals and more on Airline Bassinets.
- Even if you have pre-requested a bassinet seat for plane travel with baby, ring up and double-check the request is there. For American and Canadian airlines it is often the case that the first one at the gate grabs the bassinet. For other airlines, it’s the age of the baby that will have priority, usually the youngest. Finally, a few airlines just base it on who requested it first.
Baby, toddler and child airline meals.
- Some airlines provide Baby Meals if they are pre-requested for long haul flights. If your baby is weaning, request a baby meal at least 24 hours before you fly. Baby meals are typically pureed jars of baby food which you can request for long haul flights – but not all airlines have them. It is always best if you to bring your own supplies. For older babies, some airlines provide pre requestable toddler meals or post weaning meals too. For more information on what airline food airlines provide for babies and toddler, see here.
- If your airline doesn’t provide or if your baby is over the pureed stage- most airlines will not have food for your baby. You need to provide this yourself. A few airlines do have some extra amenities onboard for babies and toddlers, but they are in the minority. If you are flying with baby food, be aware that most airlines will not chill it for you and some countries will not allow ice packs to chill it. A good option is to take some Ziploc bags and ask for ice after security and replenish from the crew to keep any food chilled.
Packing tips for flying with a baby
What Baby Travel Products Shall I Take?
- When I am asked ‘how to travel with a baby’, travel gear plays a big part. The best travel essentials with baby definitely include a baby carrier. For those walks to baggage reclaim and through customs, it is so convenient to be baby-wearing and have your hands free to push the trolley- especially if you are flying solo. There are also so many amazing travel strollers on the market these days too – some which you can take as hand luggage. You may want to consider taking a portable travel highchair too.
- If you have a bassinet, I can’t recommend the CoziGo airline bassinet cover highly enough- which shuts out the cabin light so baby can sleep even during the day time. It doubles up as a UV breathable stroller cover too – perfect for hot sunny climates. This bit of baby gear is my go to for baby shower gifts and is perfect when flying with infants.
Do all airlines allow the CoziGo Bassinet Cover?
Most airlines do allow the CoziGo, but check with your airline first. They usually state on their website in the travelling with children section or comfort device section if they have policy.
If you are flying with Virgin Atlantic, it may be worth using the term “Bassinet Cover” as some airline policies, do not mention specific brands, whereas others take the stance if the particular brand is not approved, it won’t be allowed.
If you are pretty sure your comfort device is permitted then my top tips are:
- Be patient and polite – as crew are not used to seeing these type of products.
2. Politely ask them if they can check their manual when they have a moment (they always have it on them).
3. Advise them that it may come under comfort device, bassinet cover, bassinet canopy rather than the actual brand name of CoziGo.
4. It also worth taking a screenshot of the airlines website, in case the crew are not familiar with the comfort device and think it is restricted. Here are some examples of airlines which approve the CoziGo on their website:
- If you are formula feeding, then plan to bring double than what your baby would normally consume. The same goes for snacks. You never know if your flight will be delayed on cancelled and having extra will save you stressing if that happens.
- The same also goes for diapers/nappies and wipes. Always pack more than you need for the trip and have them easily accessible in your carry on, in case you are delayed on the airplane and can’t access your hold baggage. Some airlines will allow a carry on diaper bag or changing bag for free. Otherwise it will need to be part of your carry on allowance.
- Entertaining your little one on a flight, is a big part of learning how to travel by plane with a baby. Bring some interactive but quiet baby and toddler toys which will keep them busy.
- Ziploc bags: put a change of clothing in each one, nappies/diapers and wipes etc, so you can easily find them and whip them out quickly! When people ask me how to fly with an infant – I always recommend this tip!
- Dress you and baby in comfortable and easily removable layers. Crammed in a refined space with baby asleep on you when you are feeling hot will require some Houdini moves, so easily removable layers can help. Aircraft cabin temperatures do fluctuate, so whilst you may feel hot on the ground, you may feel chilly after a couple of hours.
- Pack an extra change of clothing for you and baby in your carry on. We have to rely on this several times, and once we went through our changes of clothes and my daughter ended up wearing an over sized pyjama top from first class! You never know when someone will feel poorly or an accident can happen! My husband got covered in puke on one long haul flight and no he didn’t have a spare change of clothes!
- Don’t forget to pack any essential medicine in your carry on. If it’s over 100ml or breaks the 3-1-1 liquid rules, ask your doctor for a note and check with your airline. Liquid medicines are exempt from TSA limits in the USA, but this is not always the case in other countries.
- For a more comprehensive baby travel checklist – see here. It also includes a free checklist to print out and is very useful if you are traveling with an infant on a plane.
Before You Fly With Your Baby
Tips for Getting Through Airport Security Quicker
- If you are in the UK, consider ordering some supplies from Boots to pick up after airport security. This includes nappies, milk, wipes, suntan lotion etc. The benefit is you should pass through security a bit quicker with fewer liquids. This was one of the best tips for flying with a baby I was given, especially when I was flying solo.
- Plan to leave extra time for the airport- especially for security. An extra 30 minutes is ideal if flying with infants or young children.
- Pack any liquids in an easy place to access quickly. If you have a clear small single, transparent, resealable plastic bag, which holds no more than a litre and measures approximately 20cm x 20cm, use that to save time at the airport.
At The Airport
Tips on Strollers, Airport Soft Play and More Security Tips
- Decide whether to gate check your stroller or check it in immediately. I’ve done both, and I prefer checking it immediately, unless it’s a small cabin sized stroller that meets hand luggage conditions. Baby-wearing makes it a little bit easier to board and then there is less stress folding up your strollers and managing baby and bags as you board. American Airlines stroller policy is here.
- If you are flying with a toddler, check out the airport soft play and let your little one(s) burn off some steam for a bit before the flight. If not, use a blanket on the floor for them to stretch out a bit.
- Look out for a family line at the airport or ask if there is one.
- Clear security in plenty of time. Be prepared to take your baby out of the stroller or baby carrier.
- Baby milk (pumped breast milk, powdered or readymade) water for baby, baby food, are all allowed over the 100ml /3-1-1 liquid rule if you are travelling with your baby. It’s often worth asking the cafes airside ( past security) for ice to replenish your ziplock bags if you have any perishable goods on you for the flight. Ice packs are often not allowed through security.
- Visit the airport restroom before you board your flight.
- One of my favourite tips for flying with a baby is to board a bit later than everyone but have your partner board earlier to secure space for all your gear. Although many airlines give the option to board first, there is generally no point in having an older wriggly baby or toddler restrained on a plane waiting for everyone else to board. This is certainly the case for day flights- but for night flights you may find it easier to get them settled first.
On Board – How To Fly With A Baby
Tips on Breastfeeding on Board, Sterilising, and Sleeping on Board
- All airlines are happy with a mum breastfeeding. If you are a bit self-conscious, here are my breastfeeding tips on a plane in detail.
- If you need milk heated up – do ask in plenty of time in case the crew are about to busy with a meal service.
- Babies on planes usually likely to drink more than they usually do as the cabin air is quite dehydrating, which is another reason to pack more than you need if formula feeding. If you need to sterilise bottles on board, this post provides more information.
- On a long haul flight, the bassinet should be set up for you after take-off, once the seatbelt sign is off. Most airlines will ask you to remove your baby if it is turbulent.
- For more information and tips for flying with babies read what to expect on board when flying with a baby – this post has more detail.
- For baby sleeping tips when flying- this post will help with information on how to soothe and settle a baby in an unfamiliar environment. Tips include strategies on routine, sleep inducing food, avoiding distractions and making baby feel cosy and comfortable. It also includes some brilliant travel products which can help stop baby from getting distracted by what is happening around them.
- Fill out any documents in plenty of time including customs forms. If you are entering certain countries you must not bring any fresh food off the plane. If in doubt, declare it and go through the red channel. For example, I have had tinned powder baby milk, declared it and it has been fine to enter Australia, but I always declare.
- Ignore any person that is giving you a ‘look’ and don’t feel pressured in having to placate them. You have enough on your plate. Sure, it’s always good practise to be considerate of your fellow passenger, which is why trying to distract your child by playing with them, with a new toy, feeding them, changing their diaper or nappy and following the tips on this page will show that you are trying to calm them. Most people know and understand that babies and toddlers DO cry
screamon a flight despite you trying everything and often a look is from a friendly parent acknowledging that they have your back.
- But if you have the pleasure of being sat near to that person who thinks babies shouldn’t be allowed on planes, don’t let them get to you. The most important thing is you are trying and everyone around you can see that. Soon the flight will be over and you can all get some rest and enjoy your stay.
On a particularly bad flight long haul flight (24 hours!) my daughter developed nappy rash just before we took off and screamed every time she needed to go. I’m not going to lie, it was horrendous. She screamed the place down every hour or so. My husband and I were both frazzled and I was close to tears with exhaustion. But other passengers could see we were doing our best. Taking her to the rest room and the back galley to calm her down, changing her regularly etc, and we got there in the end! The return flight, two weeks later was a much better experience!
Tips on Ear Pain, Airport Courtesy Strollers and Your Stroller.
- If you are wondering how to stop babies ears popping on a plane, here are some ideas! Some babies cry with the change of pressure in their ears on landing too – sucking or chewing or feeding often helps relieve this. Alternatively, use a pacifier/dummy (or a rice cake for older babies)
- Ask the ground staff if they know where you will pick up your stroller – at the aircraft door, or at the baggage belt or in oversize luggage belt. On our first few flights we waited ages at our baggage belt, only to find out our stroller was on the other side of baggage reclaim at the Oversize belt waiting for us. If you have been with babies, flying on a long flight – hunting around for your stroller is the last thing you need.
- Some airlines and airports provide courtesy strollers for you to use – but just in case they are not available, that baby carrier will come in handy again.
Flying with a Baby by Age
Are you travelling with a baby soon or have you before? Do you have any more travel tips for flying with infants? Please jot them below for other readers to discover.
More resources and tips for travelling with a baby.
If you have already booked your flight, then this condensed version of how to fly with a baby may help you too, but this post goes into greater detail.
For in-depth information on certain points – just click on the highlighted links.
Feel free to join in with the chatter on my Flying with A Baby Facebook page too: there is all sorts of useful advice on there and on my Family Travel Tips Forum Facebook group, where parents all over the world offer local advice.
If you are flying for the first time with your baby or toddler, you may also find my post on ‘What to Expect’ useful too.
Do let me know if these flying with a baby tips are useful and share to help another parent out!
- For information on tips for flying with a sick baby see here.
- For tips on flying with a breastfed baby see here.
- For tips on flying with a newborn see here.
- For tips for flying with a baby alone see here.
- Tips for flying with a baby on British Airways
- Tips for flying with a baby on American Airlines
- Tips on flying with s baby or other airlines see here.
- Tips for flying with a baby and toddler.
Have these tips for flying with an infant helped you? Please let me know below! Most of all enjoy your flight with baby – good or bad, it will end!
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