You’ve worked hard all year and can’t wait for your family holiday. It’s a chance to unwind and relax, enjoy some downtime with your loved ones. First, though, you’ve got to get there. And if you’re flying with a baby, we don’t blame you for feeling nervous about the flight.
Follow our top travelling tips to make the trip a little less bumpy.
1Check baby’s documentation
Even babies need passports, so make sure you apply in plenty of time. Of course, if your child is old enough to wriggle around, getting a decent photograph could be a challenge!
If only one parent is travelling with the child, or has a different surname, consider getting a notarised document giving permission for them to take your child out of the country. It’s not always required, but airlines and immigration officers have the right to request it as part of moves to reduce instances of kidnapping and human trafficking.
2Think about seating
With most airlines, you don’t need to buy a ticket for infants under two years old as long as they sit on your lap. However, you might prefer to pay for the extra seat if it’s a long flight, or so you can secure your baby safely – for example, in a car-seat that is aircraft-approved. There’s evidence children on laps are more likely to suffer injuries in the event of an accident or severe turbulence, so this is something to consider.
3Check luggage/cabin baggage allowances
There’s no such thing as ‘travelling light’ when you’re flying with a baby, and you’ll also want to be sure you’ve got plenty of supplies to hand once on board. Check the airline’s policy for carrying strollers or car-seats if you want to take them, and see if there is any leeway for additional baby equipment when it comes to the weight or size of cabin bags. If you need to carry formula milk, you should also check the rules for carrying liquids through airport security; some allow you to exceed the 100ml/3.4 fl oz rule in this case, but others don’t.
4Take a baby carrier
You’ll have to carry your baby through the security scanners, and possibly around the airport if you’re not taking a stroller or have put it in the hold. A baby carrier makes life much easier as you’ll have both hands free to deal with paperwork and cabin bags, plus it will help your child feel more secure in an unfamiliar environment.
5Early boarding may not be the best thing
Some airlines allow parents with babies to board first – but that’s not always helpful. It can take half an hour or more for all the other passengers to board, and that’s quite a long time in a cramped and often hot environment. You might prefer to wait.
6Feed your baby during take-off and landing
Even as adults, the change in cabin pressure can hurt our ears – so imagine how your baby feels. It’s a good idea to feed your baby during ascent and descent, as swallowing will help relieve pressure on their eardrums. Don’t start too early on take-off though – the airplane might pull away from the gate, but there could be several planes on the runway ahead of you. Wait as long as possible.
7Prepare some in-flight entertainment
Unless your baby is very young, you’ll need to keep them occupied during the flight. Pack books and toys, and consider downloading cartoons onto your tablet or phone – bright, colourful, moving pictures will hold their attention for a while. Don’t include anything too noisy out of courtesy to your fellow passengers; in fact, if you’re really worried, you could follow this couple’s example and prepare goody-bags for them too!
The last thing you want to do on arrival is start worrying about where to buy nappies (diapers) or baby wipes. Whether you’re staying at a hotel or in self-catering accommodation, ask the travel company or owners if they can provide the immediate essentials so you can concentrate on arriving and settling in before having to go out for supplies.