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Before parenthood, our holidays were mostly about picking a hot destination, finding a cheap deal, throwing a handful of clothes and a toothbrush in a backpack and hitting the road. But our first long-haul trip as a family required a lot more thought and planning and, to be honest, had me shaking in my hiking-boots.

Undeterred, and with parents in England desperate to meet their grandchild, we boldly set off on a journey that we not only survived but thoroughly enjoyed.

Pre-flight, our biggest concern was for our baby’s wellbeing but the thought of juggling a crying baby at 30,000 feet whilst dodging the death-stares of fellow passengers for 24 hours sent chills down our spines.  But we needn’t have worried as our little man charmed his way across the skies, leaving a trail of besotted attendants and passengers in his tiny wake.

In fact, having now flown around the world several times with both our babies, we’ve found that most people are lovely. On the few occasions when tears have flowed, we found that by making an obvious effort to calm our children, fellow passengers were more empathetic – so don’t be afraid to put on a bit of a show if your bub starts howling.

Top tips for turning tiny tots into fearless flyers

  • On long-haul flights try to get a night flight and a bassinet (most airlines provide them but be sure to put in a request when booking) so your kids will sleep.
  • It must be said that getting an infant to sleep in an airplane is not without its challenges but we find that draping a dark muslin wrap over the bassinet helps to block out and other passengers fussing over the baby we’ve just about gotten to sleep. Dash Baby have an excellent selection of wraps that are perfect for the job and gorgeous to boot.
  • Plan for your baby to feed or suck a dummy during take-off and landing. It will relieve the discomfort of changing air pressure in the ears.
  • Allow extra time for checking in for your flight. Most things take longer with a baby along for the ride, and travel is no exception to the rule.
  • A baby carrier frees up our hands for handling tickets, passports and our older child. Plus it comes in handy for calming an unsettled tot.
  • Don’t forget that your baby needs its own passport for overseas travel and to leave lots of time for it to be issued.

Packing it

Formerly light-packers, the addition of a baby was a shock. Two babies and all their accoutrements nearly killed us. But there’s no need to over-pack check-in luggage. One mum on our flight to London had packed an entire suitcase full of consumables – just in case. Didn’t it occur to her that babies in the UK also use nappies? Baby supplies are readily available in most cities – just do a little research beforehand if you’re heading somewhere exotic or out of the way.

Though most hotels can supply a cot, settling baby in an unfamiliar bed can be tricky and you may end up with an unsafe or unhygienic cot. The Phil & Teds Traveller is compact enough to fit in our suitcase and weighs only a few kilos.

Making flying a stress-free experience isn’t just about planning and packing. It’s about realistic expectations and being prepared for the worst, while keeping your fingers crossed for the best

Carrying – On

Carry-on luggage is the one exception to the packing light rule. You’re better off carrying more than you think you’ll need, than being caught wanting mid flight. Managing this within the restrictions of the 7kg weight restriction that applies almost necessitates a physics degree, but it is doable.

In flight Packing tips

  • Pack plenty of nappies, bags and wipes – many airlines supply them but on a long flight they may run out.
  • Pack more wipes.
  • Put everything you need for a nappy change in individual disposable bags before you go so you don’t have to hunt for all the bits and pieces on your flight – it’s all ready to go and you can use the empty bag to dispose of the old nappy.
  • Layer clothes on bub as cabin temperatures can change and pack a change in case of spills.
  • Airlines offer packaged baby food but BYO if you have a fussy eater.
  • If you’re formula feeding make sure you pack enough sterile bottles and formula for the duration.
  • Don’t be caught unprepared if your baby should fall ill mid-flight. At a minimum, pack baby paracetamol, nose drops, chest rub and a thermometer.
  • I didn’t travel much with a baby. Across country with my son at age 9 weeks, 8 months, 22 months and once when my daughter was 2, son was 5. Didn’t have any issues or dramas. Went another time when kids were 11 and 14, daughter power vomited all over

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  • Some airlines allow you to have additional luggage for a baby e.g. stroller and if you are going to be travelling by car a baby carseat or similar. Ohters include them in your luggage weight. Some budget airlines weigh your hand luggage including your handbag. If using baby bottles and formula, make enquiries in advance whether there will be hot water on board. I know a Mum whose luggage weight was over by the weight of her baby’s bottles of pre-mixed formula. As it happened the baby drank two of them before they boarded the plane because it was delayed for 3 hours.

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  • This is interesting! Thank you for sharing this!

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  • Take a thick pram blanket if breastfeeding on cheap airlines

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  • A good share; some good tips for travellers. Worthwhile as it makes the trip a smoother one.

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  • I’ve flown a few times with an infant.
    My additional tips:
    * If your little one takes a dummy, pack extras as they end on the floor when the lights are dimmed. They’re hard to find!
    * If your child is on solids, pack plenty of snacks. They don’t understand why it might take the flight attendant 15 minutes to bring a snack.
    * Take a favourite snuggle blanket or toy to assist in getting them to sleep.
    * Take a lunch box with toys that your little one finds fascinating and take a picture book.

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  • All kids and babies are different and everyone of those will have good trips and bad ones, but as long as you are prepared, you will survive along with those others travellers.

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  • Stressful time but I think I’d be sticking to day flights, at least then there’s not the added worry that crying will keep everyone awake.

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  • Some very handy tips and just at the right time — thanks very much!!

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  • Remember that you can take the pram to the plane and they will store it for you until you disembark. Its much easier to have bub in the pram rather then having to carry them everywhere.

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  • Such a stressful thing flying with babies thank you for the great tips

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  • Always pack way more nappies and food than you think you need!

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  • So stressful, thanks for the tips.

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  • I disagree with the night flights. I find it much easier to deal with the plane trip myself when I have the energy to look after the little one if they refuse to sleep.

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  • I always like to pack pandol, band aids, etc when we travel.

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