Ten tips for traveling with an infant on a flight…..
If you are reading this article, then I am sure that you are planning to travel with your baby soon, so first of all “Happy and safe journey” and secondly “Don’t worry”.
My experience is – “it is not as difficult as it seems”.
Ten handy tips based on my experience below:
1. Arrange yours and baby’s documents
Apply for a passport and visa well in advance. Keep in mind that these activities take time and the time taken is out of your control.
If you are applying for Indian passport for your child then here is the link for starting the application process. Apart from going through the FAQs also please go through the annexure information on the site. You would need annexure F if you are applying in Tatkaal even though this information is not mentioned in the list of documents in passport application form. So better to take all possible documents (along with their originals) in order to avoid scheduling another appointment.
2. Reserve a seat in advance for carrycot/child seat position on the aircraft
When booking your tickets, reserve a seat in advance for carrycot or child seat positions in the aircraft. You would be able to see these seats in the seat map. These seats are usually available on first come first serve basis and are free of cost. Your baby can rest in the carry cot during the journey (except take off and landing of-course).
These seats are usually aisle seats and do not have any seats ahead of them (also called bulkhead seats). Thus you would have enough leg space which can also be used to keep the diaper bag. Note – diaper bags will need to be kept in overhead cabin during take off and landing but for most of the journey you would have things easily accessible to you.
If for some reason you are unable to book these seats then request for an aisle seat rather than a window seat as you might have to get up and around many times during the flight. Also during check-in, request airline staff to place you next to an empty seat. Usually the staff is helpful and if there is an empty seat they are more than happy to help you.
3. Plan what will you need and when and then pack accordingly
Needless to say pack light. Even though you have an allowance to carry two bags (one for you and another for baby) on the flight, I would suggest take only one diaper bag (especially if you are travelling alone).
Notice what are the items that you need during the day with your baby and jot them down on paper. This will help you in creating a packing list unique to your baby. Also place items based on when you would be needing them. You don’t want to be fumbling around for items with the baby in one hand.
Do not forget to carry some toys and/or books for your baby. Carry few that are familiar and carry some that are new to keep him/her occupied. Also you can load his/her favorite music or nursery rhymes in your mobile.
4. Carry baby food
Baby food items can be taken in an aircraft but rules are different at different airports so do check before travelling. Usually you can carry baby formula, sterilized bottles with boiled water at most of the airports. You may be asked to taste what you are carrying so pack a little extra. You may be asked to remove and place all food items in a tray during security check so pack them accordingly.
If you have started feeding semi-solids to your baby you can carry packaged curd/yoghurt. Some airlines also have packaged baby food available but do not rely on them and carry your own food.
Some airlines may be able to warm milk for you but most of them will not be able to. So it may be a good idea to get your baby used to milk at room temperature before you travel.
5. Plan what you and baby would be wearing
Wear something which is comfortable, which has pockets and in which you can nurse easily. Carry a scarf as feeding rooms might not be available everywhere. Also you may not have time to find a feeding room when your baby is hungry and shouting.
Also avoid wearing belts, shoes, watch or any such items that will need to be removed during security checks. Easy tasks like removing shoes seem tedious when travelling with a baby specially if you are travelling alone.
Dress yourself and your baby in layers as you can add or remove a layer easily. Temperatures in flight are usually colder so carry your own shawl or stole. Baby would be more comfortable in your shawl rather than blankets provided by the airline.
Carry at least one pair of extra clothes for you and the baby. And don’t forget to wear your baby carrier.
6. Carry Baby carrier and/or Push chair
Usually airlines allow you to carry a push chair or stroller till the aircraft door (where it’s folded and stowed away) and then you can collect them while de-planeing or along with your checked-in luggage (based on where you are flying to).
In case you are travelling alone, my suggestion is that you can avoid carrying a push chair. As that would mean more things to carry and take through security. If you decide to carry a push chair remember that you would have to remove all items from the push chair basket to take it through security and fold it when handing over to the airline staff when boarding.
My experience is that a baby carrier or a sling is a must when travelling with a baby. Baby is happy as he/she is close to you and you have your hands free.
7. During travel look for signs that can help you
At immigration and security, there might be a special queue for you as you are travelling with an infant. So keep your eyes open to such signs and in case of doubt please do ask.
Even during boarding, you will have an option to board first. My personal opinion is that you should not board too soon. Usually babies get cranky in closed spaces and as it is he/she has to be in the plane for few hours so let the baby enjoy at the airport. The airports with its lights and colors are more appealing and interesting.
Also at airport, you would find baby changing rooms and in some cases baby feeding rooms. Change diapers at the airport before you board rather than relying on changing tables in the aircraft. You can use changing tables in the aircraft in case of emergency but remember they would be really small and you will have very little space.
At some airports you can also request for a cart if you are unable to walk around with the baby. So if required please do ask. In worst case your request may be declined and you will have to walk.
8. Have extra time in hand
When travelling with a baby always plan to have extra time. Reach airport earlier, reach departure gate earlier as you may not be able to run with the baby in case you are delayed. Also with babies anything unexpected can happen to delay you. So plan to have extra time in hand.
9. Ask for help
If you need help then ask for it, please do not hesitate. It is okay and most of the people would be willing to help you. You can request people to hold your baby for a while or you can request the flight attendants to serve you food out of order so that you can eat while your baby is sleeping. Most of the people love babies, so don’t hesitate. Again in a worst case scenario, somebody can refuse to help you and your situation may remain the same.
Most important of all Relax. If you are in a good mood, then your baby would reflect that. Consider the trip an adventure and give it your best shot.
If your baby is cranky then try your best to soothe him/her without getting anxious due to the stares you may be getting from people around you. Remember you will not be seeing these people again so do not take tension and try your best to distract your baby.
If nothing else works then remember “It is a day and this too shall pass”.
Happy travelling 🙂 ..
Image credits: sharingourexperiences