Congratulations on the newest addition to your family! As long as mum and baby are healthy, there’s no reason why not to travel. Here are some tips to help you through baby’s first flight!
Getting ready to fly
Most airlines will permit babies as young as two days old to fly, while others only permit newborns who are at least two weeks onboard. We’d recommend checking your airline’s policy before booking your flights to avoid any problems at the airport. In both cases, the NHS recommends getting a letter from your GP stating that the baby is fit to fly…just in case.
If you delivered by Caesarean section, you might not be allowed to fly until after your 6-week post-natal check-up and then, only if your GP gives you the green light to go.
When it comes to booking your flight, most airlines will charge you 10% of the adult fare for any child under the age of two flying without their own seat. That means you or your partner will have to hold them for the duration of the flight. If you choose book a child seat for an infant under 2 years old (typically 50-70% of an adult fare) then you’ll also need to reserve a sky-cot or travel cot, which are usually only available on long-haul flights. For low cost airlines like Ryanair and easyJet, you’ll need to arrange to bring a baby car seat on board with you.
Don’t forget your baby’s passport! Due to a recent change in the law, children can no longer travel on their parent’s passport. So you will need to apply for a passport for your baby if they are travelling to a foreign country with you.
Tip 1: Always plan ahead…way ahead.
Packing is a whole new game
Travelling with a baby is a whole different story and some baby flight tickets don’t come with any baggage allowance. If you can afford it, we recommend you pay for extra luggage. Some airlines are more generous than others, allowing parents to bring an additional changing bag on top of their usual carry-on luggage allowance. Compare the prices and policies before you book.
Remember, you can only bring 100ml of products like baby lotion and nappy cream and they must be carried in a clear bag through airport security. These restrictions however don’t apply to food or milk for your baby so you are welcome to bring anything you might need like boiled water (in a baby bottle), formula, cow’s milk, breastmilk and baby food. For more information, check out the Gov.uk website.
Tip 2: You can never be over-prepared. Pack more than you think you’ll need.
What to pack in your hand luggage:
- Wet wipes, nappies, nappy sacks
- Several sterilised dummies if your baby uses them
- Your baby’s sheet and blanket
- Spare clothes (for you and baby)
- Baby spoons and bibs if needed
- Some favourite toys
- Muslin cloths for wiping up accidents
- Enough formula and food for the journey
- A book for you
- Antibacterial hand gel
During the flight
No one wants to be that parent with the screaming newborn who just won’t settle down during a flight. It can be a parent’s worst nightmare and is a major reason why many new parents are scared to travel with their newborn. Your baby could nod off to the hum of the engine right from the get go, but it could all go terribly wrong too.
Tip 3: If you’re calm, your baby is more likely to be calm.
Try these tips to help keep your baby calm and settled during the flight:
- Breastfeed or bottle feed during take off and landing
- If your baby is awake, take them for a walk up and down the aisles so they can get a look around
- Choose a flight that won’t upset your baby’s routine, like a night flight for long-haul journeys
- Offer regular feeds if your baby doesn’t want to nap when they usually do
- Ask for help from cabin crew when you need it; that’s what they’re there for
- If your flight isn’t full, ask if you can move to a row of empty seats
- Let your baby look out the window
Follow this advice from the NHS and you and bump should be just fine:
- Drink plenty of water and stay hydrated
- Do calf exercises during the flight
- Don’t sit still for a long time; get up and walk around whenever possible
- Wear loose clothing and comfortable shoes
- Adjust your seatbelt so that the strap sits below your bump
Remember, most airlines will not let you fly after week 36 of pregnancy, or week 32 if you’re carrying twins or multiples. Check your airline’s policy before you book your flights. Before you travel, always discuss your trip with your midwife or GP to confirm that you are in good health and they’re happy for you to fly.