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36 tips for long-haul flights with babies and children

Happy mother and baby during a flightI remember having the most blissful flight with my daughter who was on her first long-haul flight from Europe to Australia at seven months of age, only to return four weeks later with a completely different infant who was awake and ready to party!

Need I say it was a very long flight! Flying with babies or toddlers is never really easy.

At the end of the day getting organised for a short or long haul flights will vary as well as the age of the children you are travelling with.

What works on one flight may not work on the next so remember to stay calm and collected and be willing to try different options.

Here are some general ‘dos’ of flying long-haul with your little passengers!

36 tips for long-haul flights with babies and children

Tips long-haul travel with babies

  • Do breastfeed or bottlefeed your infant on take-off and descent, which will help relieve air pressure or pack a dummy/pacifier.
  • Do request a bassinet. Make sure your infant meets the aircraft carrier’s guidelines. You may also be required to take your sleeping infant out of the bassinet during turbulences so be prepared for that situation.
  • Do use a baby carrier or sling, which will enable you to be hands free.
  • Do take some small infant food or food pouches, which your little one knows and likes. Most airlines do cater for infant food but may not be age appropriate or not to your infant’s liking.
  • Do take a muslin with you or a baby eye mask to reduce or block out the cabin lights.
  • Do make sure you have easy access on-board to nappies and wipes, organise yourself a starter pack that you can place in your seat pocket.
  • Do try to sleep when your infant sleeps.
  • Do consider bringing a FAA approved infant carrier seat with you if you have purchased a second seat (do check age restrictions with your airline first) this can be a huge benefit enabling you to keep your infant in their seat during turbulence or you may consider a business class seat for more room. Some airlines can provide your infant with a rear-facing car seat on all the flights, free of charge.
  • Do note that baby food and milk is exempt from the 100ml liquid rules.
  • Do consider buying an air travel baby mattress, it enables a young baby to sleep comfortably on your lap. It also attaches to the infant lap belt so you don’t have to disturb your infant during turbulence.
  • Do take a toy, which you can attach to their bassinet or car seat so that it doesn’t get flung through the air.
ADVICE: Ask other parents for their travelling with children tips in our forum

Tips for flying with a toddler

  • Do check which children and adult meals are being served on your flight to find the most suitable.
  • Do wrap some toys/treats individually, which they can unwrap each hour during the flight, a fun activity to keep them entertained and rewarded.
  • Do make a flight pack which they can enjoy on-board.
  • Do pack their own cup to prevent drink spills, this will reduce the need to change clothes.
  • Do pack snacks as tummies are always hungry.
  • Do pack a magnetic drawing board or magnetic puzzle instead of blocks or normal puzzles which can easily be lost.
  • Do consider buying a specially-made harness seatbelt. Do check with your airline, as some seats may not be compatible.

Tips for long-haul flights with children

  • Do ignore any household rules you have about screen time during the flight.
  • Do discuss and set expectations with your children at the latest when they are on-board the flight.
  • Do pack the iPad, add new apps prior to leaving home, chargers or USB cords which can be connected on most flights.
  • Do pack kids headphones and maybe even a splitter so you can use two headphones for the one iPad.
  • Do pack a few small inexpensive toys that you won’t mind losing.
  • Do pack a lollipop or two to help with their ears or keep them happy.
  • Do pack a card game or stickers.
  • Do try and have them seated next to the window to keep them entertained, also makes for a good cushion rest if you are flying economy.
  • Do try and keep them to drinking water and keep sugared drinks to a minimum or best not at all unless you are after a lively one.

General tips for air travel with babies and children

  • Do keep everyone well hydrated.
  • Do pack empty plastic bags for waste or wet clothes, as soon as you have anything that needs to be tossed you can put it away.
  • Do make sure you have some spare clothes and a sweater to deal with cabin temperatures.
  • Do choose a family friendly airline and maybe consider flying with an airline that offers a nanny service on-board.
  • Do ask the airline if you can be seated next to an empty seat.
  • Do minimise your carry on luggage as much as you can.
  • Do have your toddler or child wearing their pjs before boarding the plane.
  • Do take a pair of plane-friendly socks or slippers.
  • Do consider sachet medicines versus over 100ml ones, which will require a doctor’s letter and prior approval from the airline.

Check out our travelling and holidays with babies and children information hub for
more tips, articles and ideas

About Bronwyn Darnoc

Bronwyn Darnoc is the creator of Simply For Flying - the Children's Flight Logbook. She was born in Sydney and is married with two young children. She currently resides in Singapore. After putting her architect career ...

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