My daughter was two months old when she got on the plane for the first time and had a very long trip. We were flying with her from Baku to Ottawa. The total flight was around 13 hours and 7 hours of overlap waiting in Frankfurt Airport. It may sound horrifying to have a long flight with a newborn baby, but it’s not that bad. For the past 4 years we had lots of long flights with our daughter and I will share my tips depending on the age periods. Because, every time when we have a trip she behaves different. The older she gets, the better 🙂
Newborns – 6 months
This is the easiest period to travel with a baby. Most people are scared of travelling with babies, but I would say enjoy this time as you will never have chance to have a sleeping baby on board. At this age babies usually eat and sleep, or at least lay in the bassinet looking around.
Before leaving I had tons of questions what I should take with me, what I should do, what is allowed on board etc. I was even thinking to take baby car-seat to make sure she has a safe place to sleep. But no need for that, no panic! Here’s the list of things you need to pack to make your trip hassle free:
- Stroller- don’t ignore this if you are having a long flight. You can use baby carriers if you don’t have long overlap waiting in the airports. But waiting in the airport for hours would exhaust your baby and make sure he/she has a nice place to sleep and your hands are free. Stroller is also a nice carrier for your baby bags and other small stuff. You leave your stroller at the gates while boarding and get it back when you are off board. Very comfortable.
- Bassinet – Once you bought your ticket, make sure that the airline is aware about baby to reserve a bassinet. When you are checking in with a baby you get a seat on the first row and they hang bassinet on the wall. Take some kind of blanket to put into bassinet under the baby.
- Tons of clothes to change. I was lucky to have lots of baby clothes in my hand bags as my daughter made her job 5 times while we were in the plane and she was all in *** :))) so, make sure you have enough diapers, bodies, shirts, caps etc.
- Blanket – it gets chilly in the airplane when the plane is pretty high in the sky. Make sure you have something to cover your baby.
- Bottles- if your baby is on formula feeding grab couple of bottles. Sometimes, you can’t wash the bottles thoroughly in the planes and your hands will be full. Having couple of bottles will help you a lot.
- When the plane is taking off and landing you can give your baby bottle of water or pacifier. Sucking movements help them to avoid ear clogs. This is very important, don’t forget about it 🙂
6 months- 1.5 years
Here comes a fun part. At this period, they quit eating and sleeping all day and they want to play with everyone around. Usually all passengers in the plane play with babies and my baby was all around the plane. Once they start crawling, they will crawl even in the plane. You can’t stop them! They will go million times up and down the ails. Don’t worry, it’s ok. Let them enjoy exploring the new environment. I know, moms get exhausted. But at least, baby is not crying :-D. Now, the list of things to do at this age.
- Stroller is still a must. It will help you a lot while moving around in the airport.
- Take favorite toys, especially interactive ones. My daughter had interactive books and she loved them. Books keep them busy for a while. You can even take a new one to keep them busy longer. If your baby got favorite stuffy, pack that toy first. It will help them sleep and feel comfy. At this age they may feel anxious in new environment around new people. You should make your baby feel safe and relaxed with familiar things around like toys.
- Pack favorite snacks or even food if you don’t want to feed them with airplane meal. Packed baby foods like cereals or mashed veggies are allowed to take in your hand bag (or diaper bag) on board. You can take favorite crackers, fruits, yogurt etc. Starting from 1 year old I let her try some airplane food :). I had no choice, she never liked the ready to go cereals or veggies. She is more like an adult eater.
- Extra clothes and diapers – though your baby is older now, you still need extra clothes as they get dirty very quickly while crawling or even while eating. Grab a light hoodie or jacket to wear in the airplane, in case it gets chilly.
- Sleeping problems – well, at this age they don’t sit in one place. At some time, it was even hard to keep her on my laps while taking off or landing. She was crying and trying to get on the floor. She used to have less sleep at this age, but it’s ok unless I kept her busy. You don’t pay airfare for babies under 2 years old and they don’t have extra seat. They mostly spend time on your lap at this age. I couldn’t sleep when we had overnight long flights as she was sleeping on my lap and I was worried she might fell down. If you want to have an extra seat for your baby, you have to pay for that.
- If you allow your baby to watch cartoons on tablet or on smart phones at this age you can download lots of cartoons and let them watch. Or most of the new airplanes have on-board entertainment and nice screens where you can watch anything you want. But I didn’t give my daughter any tablet or phone at this age and handled to entertain her without these gadgets.
- Again, don’t forget about pacifier or bottle of water to avoid ear clogging. They still can have it at this age.
Here comes the period when your toddler can throw tantrums anywhere or can listen to you carefully behaving pretty well. It all depends on their mood. It’s very tough period and you need lots of patient in long flights. I was very careful to avoid her tantrums in the plane. Be careful while packing their stuff to make sure they have everything at hand. You can start telling about travelling and how excited they will be while flying in the plane. We usually start telling her at least two weeks before our flight and keep her excited about her new adventures. Tell them stories about new places, airplane and what is allowed and not allowed on board before the flight. It helps them to avoid any anxiety or stress. My daughter used to be scared of everything by 3 years and we used to prepare her before going anywhere. Don’t get surprised if your toddler refuses to get on board or is scared of airplane itself. That’s fine 🙂 You can also let them pack their suitcase by themselves. Ask them what they want to take, which shirts to pack etc. It makes them feel like an adult and behave like one.
- Again toys and books. Add up crayons, paper, color books etc. This age is much easier than previous as your toddler already may speak and explain what she/he wants. They love drawing and coloring. You can read stories and let them watch cartoons. While flying for 13 hours from Istanbul to Buenos Aires my daughter was happy to watch all the episodes of Mickey Mouse Club on airplane screen. We even didn’t use our tablet to entertain her, though we were equipped with all necessary gadgets.
- Again extra clothes and diapers in case your toddler is not potty trained. During our last longest flight, I put on diaper though she was fully potty trained and using toilet. Because, sometimes you can’t get to the washrooms due to turbulence or long lines to washrooms. To avoid any accidents you can put a diaper only during the flight 🙂 Make sure you have extra socks, pants, shirts and light hoodie, sweater or jacket for chilly airplane mood.
- I didn’t bother myself with food at this age as my daughter was a happy eater. I took some snacks only like crackers, cookies, fruits. You can get water, juice or milk on board. She was very excited when we were served food. It’s one more on-board entertainment for toddlers 🙂
- At this age they understand commands and requirements. We explained her that she had to be buckled up during the flight and when the captain talks we should listen. You won’t believe, but she hardly got out of her seat and she was buckled up even when she was sleeping 🙂
Despite all the stressing moments of flying with toddlers, it’s still fun to travel around with them. I will share with you my experience of travelling with kids over 3 years after our next trips (when she is over 3 years). We are planning a cruise and she is already excited about big cruise liners. Let’s see how it goes and I will definitely share with you some tips.
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