50 Flying With A Baby Tips – Expert Tips from Booking to Arrival

Are you flying with a baby or toddler soon and worried about other passenger looks when your baby cries, how to get them to sleep onboard in an unfamiIiar environment and more?

You are not alone. I had exactly the same concerns before I first flew 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.

Flying With A Baby Tips - Top Tips from Booking to Arrival, baby in the flight deck
My eldest on her first flight at 11 weeks old

Although this entire 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.

Flying With A Baby Tips - Top Tips from Booking to Arrival, baby in the fight deck
My youngest baby on her first flight

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 a baby.

child restraint devices airline lap belt
infant lap belt

Flying with an Infant as a Lap Baby Or With a Car Seat or other restraint device?

  • 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!
flying with a baby tips, Essential airline bassinet seat chart, Qantas airline bassinet
Qantas airplane bassinet

Can I get an airline bassinet?

  • 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.
  • 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- look at what each airline provides.
  • 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.

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. 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’. 
  • 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 GoEuro 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 traveling with an infant domestically. This can be found on your airlines website.

At what age can a baby fly?

  • 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. 

After Booking

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.

  • If your baby is weaning, request a baby meal at least 24 hours before you fly.  These 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.
Singapore Airlines Post Weaning Meal
Singapore Airlines Post Weaning Meal
  • 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.

Flying with a baby tips - all you need to know about flying with a baby, from booking to arrival, packing, airline food and more flyingwithbaby #familytravel #flyingtips #flyingadvice #familytraveladvice

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 bit of travel gear is definitely 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.
Parent Traveling With Baby Formula On A Plane
  • 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 plane and can’t access your hold baggage.
  • Ziplock 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

  • 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.
flying with a baby tips
air travel with infants is easier with some planning

At The Airport

Tips on Strollers, Airport Soft Play and More Security Tips

  • 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.
  • 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.

Unaccompanied Minors, flying with a baby tips

On Board – How To Fly With A Baby

Tips on Breastfeeding on Board, Sterilising, and Sleeping on Board

  • 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.
tips on how to help baby sleep on the plane
For more baby sleeping tips when flying click here.
  • 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 scream on 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!

Flying With A Baby Tips, baby wearing an infant lap belt

Arrival

Tips on Ear Pain, Airport Courtesy Strollers and Your Stroller.

  • 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.

Flying with a baby by age

Tips for Flying with a Newborn Baby.

Firstly, rest assured, flying with a newborn is so much easier than when they are crawling or walking! But if this is your first baby, then just driving the car with a newborn baby inside can be daunting (at least it was for me), let alone flying in a plane.

Here are some flying with a newborn tips and information to help you on your travel adventure.

How Early Can A Baby Fly?

If you need to travel urgently or perhaps you have a holiday or vacation booked before baby arrived, then you need to know the rules on how soon can you travel with a newborn.  As a very general rule, most airlines specify that for air travel with infants, your baby must be over 14 days old.

However, flying with a newborn baby rules can vary from airline to airline. Many airlines state a baby can fly from 48 hours old – but there maybe certain conditions met such as the birth had no complications or that a doctor’s letter is needed. If the mother is travelling she may have to wait a few days if it was a Caesarean section.

…….to read more of this article click here.

Tips For Flying With A 3 Month Old Baby

This was the age our eldest had her first flight. She was 11 weeks old when we embarked on a long haul flight from the UK to Cape Town, proceeded by a short haul from London Heathrow to Glasgow.  This is definitely one of the easiest stages to fly with a baby: they stay in one place, are purely on a milk diet and sleep a fair bit!

Whilst I go into some detailed general tips for flying with a baby above, the following tips are specific for flying with a 3 month old…..

……To read more of this article click here.

For flying with a toddler top tips see here.

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 for flying 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!

Don’t forget:

  • 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!

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Flying with a baby tips and advice - all you need to know, from booking your flights to arriving at your destination! #familytravel #flyingwithababy #flyingwithkids #traveltips
Flying With A Baby Tips
Flying With A Baby Tips - Top Tips from Booking to Arrival

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11 Comments

  1. Hello, great blog. I’m looking to book flights from UK to Australia and will be travelling with an 11 month old. Would you recommend some flight providers over others? Would you avoid some flight providers all together? I am wondering whether to pay more for the flights to travel with a particular flight company. Thank you.

    • Hello – for me it was about bassinet size and regulations when we flew with our 11 month old to Australia. I’ve use BA as their bassinets are generous. I’ve also had a 48 hour stopover in Kuala Lumpur which was a welcome respite. We flew with Malaysian and Emirates then and she just fitted into the bassinet. With Qantas you don’t need to take baby out of the bassinet if turbulent- so that might be another consideration too.

  2. I have a 23 month year old baby girl making her first trip on February to Western Europe from Sri Lanka (13 hours with a stop at Mumbai) . This is one comprehensive guide and the best tips and tricks that I came across!
    My question is, are the meals on flight for the baby recommended? Or is it better to take some snacks?

  3. Hello, we will be traveling internationally, Madagascar to the US likely with Ethiopian air with a 7 month old. Our car seat is not small enough to fit the seats. We live in Madagascar so we cannot buy a new one here. We intend to purchase a seat for the infant for the extra space and for baby to sleep on, but we don’t have a car seat to use. Will they allow us to have a seat for the baby but no car seat? Do you know if you can request a bassinet seat if you purchase a seat for your infant? Do you have any specific recommendations for this situation? Thank you!

  4. Very useful tips for parents. As i am a mother of two i know how important these tips are. Thank you for the tips. I’m definitely going to think of them when we’re away and my little one gets older.

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