6 secrets for a smoother journey when flying with a newborn baby
Experts reveal how to avoid your bundle of joy turning into a nightmare, before and after take off.
Want to book a holiday but worried about flying with your baby? You’re not alone. A study conducted on behalf of British Airways found that being unable to settle your baby, disturbing other passengers and keeping children entertained, were just some of the concerns parents have around flying with young ones.
However, by following a few simple tips, you can start your first family holiday in the best way, with a flight enjoyed by everyone…
1. Be positive
Helen Wright knows all about flying with a new baby. The travel expert and mum-of-one is founder of Passport Stamps. She regularly flies with her son Finn, and says being positive is the biggest first step to a happy flight.
“From the parents that I have spoken to, the biggest thing stopping them from travelling with their baby is confidence. Positive thinking sounds like a throwaway phrase, but if you are relaxed and confident, this will translate to your baby, essentially reassuring them that everything is fine,” says Helen.
“If you, as the parent, feel stressed about the flight, this could have a negative effect on your baby, making them feel anxious and out of their comfort zone and possibly making them restless.”
2. Have a strategy
“On our first long-haul flight with Finn (when he was four months old), we had a strategy. The flight was nine hours and so we decided to split the flight into three parts. This helped us manage our time and we felt more relaxed thinking about it as a three hour stint – then a quick pause and regroup – and so on,” explains Wright. “In my experience, I find the hum of the cabin helps babies sleep. We took our Sleepyhead pod, which fitted into the plane sky cot and Finn settled easily into an environment (and smell) he was familiar with. If you don’t have a sleep pod, even bringing your own blanket or sheet from home can help settle baby and make them feel secure. This also works well once you arrive at the hotel.”
3. Pack their favourite toys – but not too many!
There can often be a long wait between boarding the plane and take-off, so it’s easy to use up your best methods for entertaining your little ones before the flight has even begun.
“Stick to your baby’s favourite blanket or sleeping aid like a teddy and a few imaginative toys that ideally do not make noises. Books with moveable pages, pull-out or pop ups are great and I always think it wise to pack a few new ones to surprise them, as well as some of your baby’s favourites,” advises Wright. “Use new items from the plane as toys, such as cups, bottles, landing card, straws – anything they can play with or touch.”
4. Move around and ask for help
Many parents quiver at the idea of flying with their baby due to the worry that their baby will become agitated and upset. It can be distressing and the unfamiliar environment means that many of the usual comforting techniques aren’t an option. So what can you do?
Take a stroll up and down the plane with your baby. It’s important to look after yourself during the flight and moving around will help stave off the threat of DVT (deep vein thrombosis), too.
Dani Binnington, family lifestyle expert and founder of Healthy Whole Me , encourages parents to take a moment when walking to count to six as they inhale and exhale to maintain a positive mindset.
Cabin crew are there to make your journey as pleasurable as possible and will usually warm bottles if your baby needs to be fed. Don’t be afraid to ask them for help.
5. Take a spare change of clothes – for you
With limited allowances for what you can bring on board, packing a spare set of clothes may seem like the least of your priorities. However, Mirka Moore, mum blogger at All Baby Advice, believes parents can never underestimate the value of extra clothing.
“Always have a spare of clothes, not just for your little ones,” advises Moore. “An extra top for yourself can make a lot of difference after your baby has just vomited all over you.”
Check what the maximum allowance for hand luggage is for your airline as many now allow a small bag in addition to your main cabin luggage. Essential for your own things.
6. Give a little thought for other passengers
One of the biggest fears found in the study that parents have when flying with children was their worry of disturbing other passengers. 35% of adults are concerned that their family might be noisy and affect other passengers’ experiences. Some people give out notes to other passengers – while the Clooney’s gave a whole plane noise-cancelling headphones. You don’t have to go that far – unless you really want to!