Just like with any flight, you want to make sure you have everything you need in easy reaching distance, so you’re not juggling the baby between your arms as you search through your carry-ons. This includes travel documents, passports – the baby’s documents, too – and any money you may need for a little snack in the departure lounge. Babies like routine, so if you dress them in their pyjamas, it gives them the signal that it’s bedtime, and they’re more inclined to sleep through the duration of the flight. Pyjamas also offer them more wiggle room, which is definitely needed during the flight, given it can be quite turbulent.
When preparing for the flight, you should aim to take as little as possible with you so you don’t have to turn your family into a convoy of suitcases. If you can, try to combine as many of your baby’s essentials together, taking advantage of the many pockets inside the changing bag – this is especially important if you’re flying with airlines that have a strict ‘one carry on’ policy.
If you wanted to lighten your load, you might benefit from multifunctional carriers to reduce your luggage needs. Make sure to bring extra nappies and enough milk, food and water to last (and a bit extra!) in case there are any delays with your flight – but always check the airport allowance. Don’t forget to bring some spare clothes for yourself too, as you may need to make a quick change if there are any spillages.
Depending on your airline, your baby’s seat will change, and sometimes it’s worth calling in advance so you know what to expect. While some offer carrycots on a first-come, first-served basis, most provide an extension seat belt (a member of the cabin crew will explain how to use it) so you can keep your little one on your lap. If your baby is six-months old, you can purchase their own seat, but they need to be secured into a car seat, so it’s important to call your airline to check the requirements beforehand.
Sleep is one of the most important things for a child, and disrupting their snooze pattern can often make for an unhappy baby. If you can, try to arrange your flight to coincide with your baby’s bedtime, and bring along anything that will help get into the usual routine. Learning how to get your baby to sleep can be tricky, but if you supply them with their favourite blanket or teddy, and comfortable clothing, you should be in for a peaceful ride.
If you are flying outside of the baby’s sleep routine, then you might benefit from packing enough essentials to keep them entertained. As we all know, popping ears is a common trait for any flight, and while we can suck on boiled sweets, babies won’t be able to. Encourage your little one to suck on a bottle or dummy, as this will prevent their ears from popping away. Books, small toys and teddies can also help keep them happy during travel, especially if you get involved too.
Babies often entertain themselves, staring wide-eyed at fellow passengers or even at the blue sky out of the window. If the toys aren’t doing their job, embrace the bits and bobs around, pull out the safety booklet or a brightly coloured magazine, and see if any of the images catch their attention.