Flying with a 5-month-old brings with it a whole heap of worries, extra steps, and additional baggage. However, that doesn’t mean it has to be a stressful and unenjoyable time.
As an ex-flight attendant and mum, I’ve both seen and experienced the dread of flying with a baby. After all, you don’t want to be that parent whose little one is screaming the plane down.
If your little one does scream the plane down, just remember, they’re a baby, it happens, and you’ll never see the people on your flight ever again!
Over the years, I’ve learned some great tips for flying with babies that should help eliminate meltdowns and unsettled little ones. From feeding during take-off and landing to allowing yourself extra time in the airport, here are my top tips for flying with a 5-month-old so your next adventure can run as smoothly as possible.
Request an Airline Bassinet
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One of the biggest tips I have for flying with a 5-month-old is to request an airline bassinet. Some airlines—especially those that fly long haul—have attachable bassinets at the bulkhead seats (seats without seats in front of them) of the plane.
Having a bassinet can make a huge difference when flying with a baby, as not only does it give your little one a flat surface to lie down on, but it also means you aren’t stuck with them on your lap for extended periods of time.
Before you book your flight, I highly recommend calling the airline and seeing if there are any bassinets available.
Consider Purchasing an Extra Seat
If you have the funds, then booking an extra seat is another way to improve comfort for both you and your 5-month-old. You can choose to only use the seat for your tot when the seatbelt signs have been turned off, or you can take on board an aeroplane-certified car seat.
For families who plan to hire a car at their destination, then the car seat method can ultimately kill two birds with one stone as you can use the seat once you arrive. (Note: Check you car seat is legal to use in the country you plan to drive in first though.eg UK car seats are not legal to use on in a car in the USA or vice versa.)
Friends have previously purchased seats to use for their child to sit in in their car seat. on the plane. They swear the extra space makes the flight far more bearable for everyone but everyone is different! My baby just wanted cuddles all the time so that wouldn’t have worked for us. Be aware of the two hour rule for young babies and take them out of a car seat every two hours.
If you are using a car seat on a plane, you will not be able to use the bassinet as well.
For rules for flying with a baby, check out my article, rules for flying with a baby.
Allocate Extra Time
You know how once you had a baby, everything took ten times longer? Well, the same applies to airports.
Since our kids were born, my husband and I have always allocated extra time in the airport as security checks, nappy/diaper changes, and just getting to the gate isn’t as quick and straightforward as it was when we were childless.
Most airlines recommend getting to the airport three hours before your international flight. And I would say this is more than enough time to complete everything when flying with a 5-month-old. However, if you are worried, you can always arrive earlier and grab a meal at the airport without rushing.
Opt for Flights with the Minimum Amount of Layovers
When flying long distances with a 5-month-old, you’ll want to book flights with the least amount of layovers.
Getting on and off a plane with a baby, as well as take-offs and landings, are some of the most stressful times when flying with an infant. So you’ll want to minimise them as much as possible.
Feed During Takeoff and Landing
Speaking of take-offs and landings, feeding your baby during these times will help reduce pressure build-up in their ears. Yawning or swallowing equalises pressure in the ear.
So, whether you breastfeed or bottle feed, you’ll want your baby to be swallowing—preferably until the seat belt signs switch off—to eliminate discomfort.
Gate Check Your Stroller
Carrying your baby in a carrier is one of the best ways to travel with a baby. However, if you’re flying through large airports or have a long layover, gate-checking your stroller can take a large weight off your shoulders (quite literally) and provide your baby with a place to sleep.
To gate-check your stroller, simply ask at the gate counter for a gate check tag before boarding. Confirm where you pick up the stroller the other end. Then, at the end of the jet bridge, fold up your stroller and leave it by the plane door.
Once you arrive at your destination or your layover spot, your stroller will be waiting for you as you exit the plane.
One thing I will say, however, is that airlines aren’t the most gentle with strollers. So, only gate check your stroller if you don’t mind the possibility that it could come back damaged. Alternatively, a cabin sized stroller might be worth considering.
Use a BabyCarrier
As I mentioned previously, baby carriers are elite when it comes to navigating airports with babies. A carrier keeps your baby close, allows you to be hands-free, and means you can move about the airport far more easily than if you have a stroller in tow.
You will need to place your carrier in the scanner at security checks and carry your baby through.
Pack Extra Clothing
Accidents happen, and they’re more likely to happen when flying with a 5-month-old baby. For this reason, you should always pack an extra set of clothing—both for you and your baby—in your hand luggage.
In fact, I still pack an extra set of clothing now.
As I’m sure you can imagine, there is nothing worse than having to sit for hours covered in baby pee, vomit, or worse… So, by having a spare set of clothes, if an accident does take place, you can continue the reminder of your flight dry and stink-free.
Be Prepared for Security Checks
Of all the airport steps you go through, security checks are by far the most stressful—even without kids. You have to remove laptops, iPads and tablets from your bag.
Some checks make you remove your shoes. You have to ensure there is nothing in your pockets, and you have to fit all your liquids into a small see-through bag. Now, add a baby to the mix.
My biggest tip for security checks is to prepare for them before you even leave your house. Make sure everything that will need to be removed from your bag (electronics and liquids) is easy to get to.
And ensure you aren’t wearing any jewellery, watches, belts, or accessories that will set off a metal detector.
Liquids and formula for babies are exempt from the 3-1-1/ 100ml hand luggage rule. However, you will still need to remove them from your bag so the agent can check them.
Limit Your Carry-On Load
When flying with a baby, try to limit your carry-on load as much as possible. You’re already carrying an extra human through the airport with you.
So,you don’t want to have to lug five other bags as well. If you can, fit everything into a backpack or a rolling suitcase and limit yourself to one bag per person.
Opt for Flights During Nap or Sleep Times
It’s not always possible, but choosing flights that fit around your baby’s schedule will improve the chances of your little one peacefully snoozing the flight away. Ideally, you’ll want a flight that coincides with sleep or nap times so hopefully, they’re asleep from takeoff until landing.
Pull Up Diapers For Flights
It’s no secret that plane toilets aren’t the most spacious areas. And if you want to change a nappy/diaper, then they’ll feel even more smaller than usual.
I found that pull-up nappies/diapers are a game changer for flights (only if they’re urine-soaked, that is), as you can easily change your tot in your seat with them sitting on your lap.
Pack Extra Formula
If you formula-feed your baby, it’s wise to pack more formula than you think you’re going to need. Things like delays, cancellations, and spillages can happen.
And if you don’t have enough formula on hand, you’ll have one grumpy baby who will let the whole plane know about it.
Formula isn’t subject to any limitations when you’re flying with a baby. So, it’s always best to pack twice the amount you think you’re going to need.
If you’re unsure what other items you should pack for your baby, here is a complete baby travel checklist.
Pack Travel Toys
For those times when your baby is awake on the flight, you’ll want to have some of their favourite toys to entertain them. Books, suction cup toys, or sensory toys will be your best bet.
But if your baby does love a certain toy in particular, throw it in your hand luggage.
Don’t Worry About Other Passengers
One of the biggest stressors of flying with a 5-month-old baby—or any baby for that matter—is what other passengers will think. And I’m here to tell you that they simply don’t matter.
Worrying about other passengers will only make you more agitated, worried, and nervous, and your baby will pick up on that. Instead, remain calm and do what’s best for you and your little one.
Other passengers can’t expect your baby to be a silent angel. So if they do cry or fuss, simply remind yourself that it is normal, and if their needs are met, they will stop, eventually.
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