What do I need for the baby’s first flight?
Traveling with a baby is always challenging for parents, and if it is a matter of flying, it takes a lot of preparations and cautions at hand. The smooth and noise-free journey and that too in little time is always preferable for parents. But for young kids, it is a new experience and atmosphere without the rolling sounds or traffic scenes of the street. That sometimes causes discomfort along with the added problems of changed air-pressure, temperature, and the urge to remain at a fixed place. Especially children and newborns with the under-developed immune system or with severe cardiac or pulmonary diseases find it challenging to travel by flight.
But what if the situation arises for a jet flight? Well, that is surely not going to be a very smooth experience, but a little preparation and careful little things may make the flight ride more enjoyable and less fussy for the little one.
1. Start preparing before some days.
You should keep in mind that traveling by air is a new experience for the little one. So, if your child is an active kid, pay attention to its preparation for the journey. You can make a mock airport atmosphere with security checks and a waiting room, sitting arrangements with chairs, and prepare the kid for seat belts at your home.
Once they are done, help them out in their packaging of toys and playthings. Avoid carrying any costly or noisy toys, and keep a list of items so that the kid does not lose one.
While you can prepare your active child before the travel, for the newborn diaper kids, it depends totally on you how you are going to accommodate it. As the little-one will mostly sleep or need feeding, nursing, and hygiene necessities during flight, you should be cautious while packaging diapers, wipes, bottles, and pacifier clips. Make sure to carry food and milk, both frozen and unfrozen, for 1 to 2 hours. Some experienced moms will suggest carrying food for at least three days for the worst cases.
Some airlines may have bars for 100ml liquid carriage, so try to empty the liquid before you board off. At the same time, the luggage should also not cross 15kg of load. Keep a written or soft-copy for the luggage list and make sure to collect them from the luggage carousel or during de-boarding.
Once you are in the airport, try to board after some passengers, but with much time before flying so that you can accommodate yourself within the plane without keeping your active child occupied in little space. Keep your and the kids’ ticket in hand. You may take a small bag for the baby’s necessities.
4. Feeding and Nursing
Almost all airlines provide you with baby-rooms in the boarding place with nursing rooms attached. Try to feed your baby before boarding on the plane, as the baby can avoid troubles related to changing pressures if it is full. Use a cover or pod during nursing. You can also change the diapers before boarding as in-board changes may be fussy.
Although the planes have washrooms along with baby-rooms, try to avoid spending too much time there. The in-board baby-room is also difficult to manage, especially if you are traveling alone. So take help from your traveling partner to prepare the table for you and pack them back while you are finished. Try to carry some ready-made formula or hot waters during travel. The baby may feel the need for poo or the diapers maybe a little too wet than usual. Make arrangements for them, like carrying scented diaper disposal bags. Carry hand sanitizers for hygiene usage.
5. Seating Arrangements
Try to accommodate your baby so that they do not feel much stuffy. Try to give it around during the board. You can also request an extra seat to accommodate your child for its comfort. If your baby is active, try to arrange seats with your traveling group. If your baby kicks much, try to keep him behind your travel partners. Try to use car seats or baby-belts during the journey to avoid any discomfort of the baby.
6. Medications and protections
It is suggested to consult a pediatrician before boarding as it may be dangerous for your baby to take an on-air flight. If the doctor has suggested any medicine, keep enough stock of them. Avoid panicking if the baby does not feel comfortable, as the increased air pressure affects its ear and causes discomfort. Try to keep your baby protected from mosquitoes as many passengers complain of them during board. Use natural repellants on the fabrics of the child and make sure they do not cause any rash on the little skin.
Boredom is one of the major causes that your baby gets fussy during flights. Try to carry some toys that the baby loves. You can opt for a new toy for the flight as it will keep the child engaged for a little more time. Try to communicate with the child or let him talk with the fellow passengers. If they entertain the child during the ride, it will be best for you. For the newborn or little ones, it will be preferable to let them sleep. So, even if the air hostess tells you to feed or nurse before the board, let the baby sleep if it prefers so.
8. Ask for help
After all, you have to admit that traveling with a baby is not an easy task. The baby may start crying all of a sudden or may poop or do any mishap during flight. Don’t take it seriously or never think that the co-passengers are taking it offensively. Even if you are traveling alone, ask for help from your co-boarders. They may come out to be more helpful than you even think.
9. After you Takeoff
Once you are over with the journey, be cautious about collecting your child with you along with boarding bags and luggage. Collect the strollers and seats, and make sure you have collected all items from baby changing rooms. Handle problems like jet-lag with care and let the baby take rest to keep it sound.
Frequently asked questions for the baby first flight
- What is the minimum age at which a baby can fly?
There is no essential bar on baby’s boarding. But it is recommended to board after two months of age. Most of the airlines permit even a seven-day child on airplanes. Just be cautious about taking enough precautions and medication before you board. Sometimes, the airlines ask for a physician’s undertaking before allowing the kid. Make sure to bring them to the airport.
- Does your baby need a flight ticket?
In most cases, your child does not need a full ticket if the baby is an infant. But you have to call the airlines and make arrangements to keep your little one on the lap during the journey, which will charge some percent of the total fare. But if you are planning for a long-time flight, it is comfortable for both the child and you to book a separate seat for the baby. Try to use a car seat to accommodate the baby properly. Even during turbulence or any problem, it is difficult to hold on to your baby properly. So keep the safety of your baby first. If there is much space, try to move the baby to a different seat, so it does not get stuffy.
- Does your baby need any identification before boarding?
In some countries, the baby can fly in intra-national flights without any document. But in international journeys, they need any birth proof or government id to be considered eligible.
To get an id proof, you need to submit the baby’s photo along with the parents’ id, driving license, or passport and stipulated fees for the id. Both of the parents have to be present during the application for the id.
- Tips for strollers and prams during flights
Most of the airlines provide you with options to use a baby-car seat or stroller within the airport area. Some airlines may suggest some special categories for baby seats. You can carry your little one on your lap if it is less than two months old. But for a longer journey, you may take a baby-chair for its comfortable sleep. Strollers are not included in the 15 kg weight limit, and they are allowed in the jet area.
Just make sure to carry it through security checking though it might be troublesome to handle all luggage, baby, and the stroller altogether. Don’t forget to collect gate passes for the stroller as you may have to wait for it at the boarding area. You can leave the stroller at the boarding area and will collect it back from the luggage carousel. In Indian streets, it is better to carry a heavy stroller, but you can use lighter ones for your convenience. Try to buy foldable ones for better results.
To wrap up!
It is undoubtedly a tough task to prepare for a flight along with a baby. Try to remain calm and handle your baby with compassion. Even if you are not carrying a baby and traveling with one, try to entertain him by making faces or by telling stories. It will help the parents. Keep your baby safe and enjoy a flight ride with your little one. Happy journey!
Purvi Kothari founder of shishulife is a mother of one beautiful girl and growing her well giving her experience on how to tackle the kids. She holds a degree in MBA and CS and currently pursuing PhD in business communication. Apart from writing a blog in shishulife her worlds revolve around photography, family, and baking.