Flying with babies and children - a hubbers guide
Planning the trip
My kids sleep on the plane - so I always try to book the long haul bit at night - change them in to pjs and settle them down to sleep. - Raising Leprechauns
If you are going on a very long flight, try and stop over on the way, it makes things so much more pleasant!
Try to book a plane that isn't full so that you have a good chance of being able to take over another seat (more room). Make sure to order a baby meal when you are making your plane bookings.
Think about how your child travels in the car or pram ... do they sleep easily? If so, they're more likely to sleep on the plane so night time is a great time to travel. If not, they probably won't sleep on the plane and will be overtired and grumpy.
Change your baby's sleep pattern the day before and manipulate it so that they will sleep during the flight.
What to pack
Pack spare clothes for the kids and a fresh top for you - accidents happen. - Raising Leprechauns
I also dress DS in comfortable clothes and in very bright colours so that I can spot him easily if he ever got lost. Once he was wearing a bright orange T-shirt and pants lol And for long haul flight, when we get into the plane I change him into pyjamas so he's comfy.
Take a small blanket and blow up pillow - not all airlines supply these and kids like their own stuff (well mine do.) - Raising Leprechauns
Take a lunch box with sandwiches, snacks and treats (more snacks than you think and their own water bottles). - Raising Leprechauns
Think about your luggage - can you carry what you have and manage your child? We use backpacks and duffle bags on wheels - I manage the kids and DH pushes the luggage. - Raising Leprechauns
Use one of those Trunk-type suitcases so that your child has something to do at the airport (they are ride-ons).
Pack the baby paracetamol in your hand luggage just in case.
Take your baby's blanket because it will be familiar to them - comforting.
At the airport
A small fold-up umbrella stroller is a must - Australia is the only place you can't take it right up to the plane door. - Raising Leprechauns
There are temporary tattoos you can get to put your contact details on your child in case they got lost. I put our details (DS name, parents name and contact numbers, flight numbers) on a luggage tag and put it on a belt loop on his pants.
Agree in advance who's watching who - airports can get busy and are huge. Don't be afraid to use a harness if it will keep your child safe. - Raising Leprechauns
(When checking in) I always ask to be seated next to empty seat - great for putting your "stuff" on, changing bub etc plus that bit of extra space is wonderful! Qantas and Virgin are very accomodating if there's an empty seat - Biscotti
If you are travelling with a bub in nappies, take extra nappies. I had a four-month-old who developed the runs on a return flight - not nice! I was given a nappy by a fellow passenger thankfully when I ran out. - themissingpiece
If your baby is still in nappies - I found having a toiletries bag (a man-style one with a handle at one end) packed with a few nappies, a small pack of wipes, nappy bags and a folded-up change mat (it does all fit!!) a godsend when heading for an onboard nappy change - better than trying to drag a stinky toddler and nappy bag in to the loos. - Raising Leprechauns
Pack a small purse that will fit in the seat pocket and has what you need for 1-2 nappy changes, so you won't have to bring the whole diaper bag into the toilet. Just refill the purse when you've used up the supplies. Change tables in the back toilets are usually bigger, so try to get into those toilets.
Entertaining children on flights
I take a few new toys/books and wrap them up like presents and eke them out one by one if it's a long flight. I have also wrapped food like a pass-the-parcel with lots of layers of paper so it's a surprise when they finally get to the popper, cheese, biscuits etc (it's a little thing but helps pass the time!) - Biscotti
I also load up my iPod with lots of apps but as I only have one iPod and I have two pre-schoolers this can be a bit tricky - if nothing else just fighting over whose turn it is helps tire them out (no not really, I'm joking!) - Biscotti
I like to go to a cheapo shop before we fly and pick out a sticker book, toy, book for something new. Plastic animals have been a hit in the past. They are good to stand up on the tray. But remember kids get bored quickly, so take a few things. I have found a little pot of playdough fun, and not too messy. - themissingpiece
Someone told me to buy a new toy, wrap it up and give it to them on take off. - hakuna matata
We buy our son a colouring-in book of his favourite things and not say anything and not give it to him until we are up in the air and he starts up. Pack a new toy also if its a long flight. - shabbychook
Each of my kids has their own little backpack with small toys, new colour books and crayons. I also grab a few "new" toys from the $2 shop. - Raising Leprechauns
A DVD player or the likes - we have an iPad and swear by it for travelling - loaded with kiddo games, drawing apps and their favourite shows. - Raising Leprechauns
If you have an iPad/iPhone download lots of videos and games to keep tot entertained. I don't limit viewing time on the plane - travelling is stressful enough!
We take a couple of activity and sticker books, crayons and pencils, some books to read to them, and we get super excited about flying, the headphones the little screen, the safety card etc. - quitecontrary
We recently flew to Fiji and back with a 16-month-old. We invested in a portable DVD player before we went and it was wonderful! She could watch an episode of Play School and then have a little snack or a play and then watch another episode or listen to some music.
Food for the flight
Lollipops are awesome for kids especially during take off and landing to help with ears, my kids don't usually get lollipops, so it makes it extra special. Try for snacks which aren't too messy, you will thank yourself later.- themissingpiece
I always just take healthy snacks like sultanas, apples, etc for them to munch on
Take more food/snacks than you need in case of lengthy delays.
Make sure you take enough food for YOURSELF! A hungry mummy is not a
Long-haul flights with babies/children
I think the best thing when flying with a baby/ toddler is to assume that you will be awake all flight\ and that you will be wearing an apologetic smile for most of the flight!
Just flew Perth to London with 16mo. Book a seat for them if you can long haul, very worth it. If you are not regular flyers DO NOT try to fly overnight thinking they will be tired and sleep, overtired child in strange environment does not work, they need time to settle in to the environment before they can settle to sleep, I just learnt this the hard way. Videos either in-flight or DVD player. Take your own food, DD slept through 2 meal times and jars and small tubs are much easier and less messy than a tray of food for a wriggly toddler. Disposable bibs so no soggy bibs to carry around.
This will be my fourth trip to England with my eldest, but first with my youngest ... night flights always work for me, my son sleeps for about 10 hours on first leg then naps on second.
We travelled to the UK with our son when he was 13 months. I waited to wean him until after then, so bf was fantastic for the flight, he had a dummy too. We took a full-size pillow and he slept across both of us most of the time, we were all quite comfortable. On one leg of the flight, we did get the basinette seats but wish we hadn't. My son wouldn't settle in it and ended up sleeping on us but because the tray tables were in the armrest, we couldn't put them up so very uncomfortable!! Also ask for the activity pack - we kept getting bypassed because they thought him too young but he was amused by the goodies for ages. Oh, and if paying for two seats, ask for the seats up the back (last 3 rows) as little one can look out the window and you aren't blocked in by someone in the aisle seat.
Breast or bottle feed your baby at take off and landing to alleviate ear pressure.
Be sure to ask for assistance or anything you need from the flight staff, it's their job! Sometimes you get lucky and you get an attendant who pre-empts your needs, but othertimes they are oblivious to how hard it is to fly with kids. If you have a little sleeper (and we all want one of those when we fly) make sure you ask for a cushion, for bub's comfort as well as your own (taking a blanky comes in handy too). I have often had to get attendants to hold my bub while I go to the loo, they usually love it. - themissingpiece
Ensure you have everything you need in a bag that will fit under the seat in front of you- and keep it well organised! There's nothing worse than having to get out of your seat to get something from overhead luggage. - themissingpiece
Never let his feet touch the floor in the plane! I knew once we did, he would want to be off running down the aisle. - Mrs Awesome
Apologise to the person in front in advance and afterwards for feet kicking!
Don't stress! As with most things with kids, they sense your stress levels, so keep your happy face on - themissingpiece
If you're thinking about using a sedative - try it first - it can hype kids up. (I don't use them as it had that effect for us.) - Raising Leprechauns
Don't stress ... your kids will pick up on it!! I've done LOTS of flying/long distance driving with my kids it's not that bad if you relax.
Don't forget to have a brave smile planted on your face for those moments when ... - Raising Leprechauns
A massive thanks to our awesome BH members who helped compile this article. Thanks to themissingpiece, biscotti, LG, Raising Leprechauns, quitecontrary, hakuna matata, shabbychook, Mrs Awesome and to all our wonderful Facebook friends as well!