18 November 2021

Flying with a baby | My Experience & Tips

Flying with a baby - it's not as hard as you might think. If you're an avid traveller (like me), and want to continue travelling as a family, and rub that incurable wanderlust onto your little one, start now! Your baby’s first flight can be a momentous milestone.

Truly, the younger they are the easier it is, plus it gets them used to it right from the start! They'll be mini travel pros in no time.

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I was planning on writing this post after our first big international trip to the Cook Islands, which was meant to be next week for my husband and I's five year wedding anniversary. But alas, Co**d struck again and we are still trapped in New Zealand. 

Nevertheless, my little miss H has already been on four flights before she was four months old. We went to the South Island on one trip and then I took her on a solo adventure to the top of the North on another.

Of course, I was nervous, how many flights have I been on with crying babies before? It's every parents (and passengers) nightmare. No one, not even your baby themself, knows how they will react to being on a plane for the first time. 

But, not all babies will cry. And at the end of the day, you're never going to see these cabin full of strangers again, right? Don't let your anxiety of what might happen put you off - or you'll never go anywhere. And you never know, the majority of people on board could be parents themselves and completely understand.

Miss H was an absolute angel on her flights, in fact, she fell asleep for all of them. If your one tends to fall asleep in the car or in a pram/buggy - chances are they'll fall asleep on a plane too. It's basically one big vibrating, white noise machine. Maybe I just got lucky? Perhaps. But I have some tips for what worked for us to help get through the airport smoothly, onto the plane and hopefully asleep! And maybe you'll get lucky too.

At the Airport Tips

Arrive early at the airport, so you have extra time to check-in, get through security, and board the plane. The last thing you want is to stress about rushing and missing your flight, on top of everything else you might be worried about.

If you can manage it, try and time your little one's wake window to be on the way to and at the airport. That way by the time they're on the plane, they'll be feeling drowsy, and hopefully won't take too long to settle to sleep.

Wear a baby carrier. Some flights do allow small foldable prams onto the flight as carry on, which would also be a convenient way to get around the airport. If it can fit into the overhead compartment, then it's allowed on the plane (on Air New Zealand flights anyway). We used a baby carrier which worked really well. That way she was feeling calm being close to us and it allowed us to be hands-free. My husband is usually the one that wears it, so on our second trip when it was just me travelling with her alone, I got us both used to it beforehand by wearing her on neighbourhood walks and doing chores like vacuuming the house.

Make use of the Parents Room. I had never been in one before and it's basically a haven for parents. There are change tables, a play area for older babies and individual curtained-off areas with armchairs (like clothing-store changing rooms), to feed your baby privately if you prefer to. 

Keep on moving. Waiting around for your flight to board? If your little one is anything like mine, they get bored easily and don't like being still. Keep walking around the airport. Babies love movement. Even if it means pacing back and forth along the same path fifty times, it'll help keep them calm and the motion might help them feel sleepy.

On the Plane Tips

With a younger baby, try to get on the plane earlier rather than last. It takes a little more time with an infant, having to organise anything you'll need on hand and having to put a seatbelt on them. An air attendant can help you with this if needed. 

Bring their favourite toy. The things I had on hand for the flight (pulled out of the nappy/carry bag) were her favourite scrunchy book, and her pacifier clipped onto her bib. I had fed her in the Parents Room so she was happy and content, and she just played with her book until she fell asleep.

Pop the pacifier in for take-off and landing. Some babies may cry due to the discomfort of their ears popping. Have your little one sucking on a pacifier or even feeding if they're hungry for take-off and landing.

You know your little one best and how to help settle them to sleep. Whether that's rocking side to side or gently patting, combined with the plane vibrations and noise, this should help put them straight to sleep.

What to Pack Tips

On Air New Zealand flights your infant's baggage allowance includes two essential pieces (out of a car seat, pram/buggy or portable cot) and a 7kg carry-on bag. Choose what works best for you. We had organised a portable cot at each end where we were staying, so we took her car seat and pram. Check these in at the airport's oversized luggage desk.

Bring your usual stocked nappy bag but buy a bulk lot of disposable nappies when you're there to save on luggage space.

Pack what your little one would normally wear and suitable clothing if the climate you'll be visiting will be warmer/colder. If you won't have easy access to laundry facilities on your trip, be sure to pack extra clothes and bibs just in case! 

Staying in new places might be a little unsettling, so bring a few familiar things with you to help the adjustment. This could be a favourite blanket, a few favourite toys and a couple of small, light books.

Pack any sleep associations that you use every day. This could be a white noise machine and a sleep sack. If your little one will be napping/sleeping in a different room, bring your baby monitor too.

Bring a couple of muslin wraps, one for the nappy bag and one extra. They are useful as cover-ups, to use as a blanket, a play-mat on the floor and so on.

I also recommend bringing a couple of hand towels. They are handy to place on top of your travel change mat (keep in your nappy bag).

A few weeks before, start making a checklist of everything you use daily that you'll need to bring along. Think for feeding, washing, bathing, soothing etc. 

It may seem daunting but trust me, travelling with a baby is totally worth it! There are so many cool experiences out there waiting for your family, it's all about building up the courage to take that first step. You can do it!

I'll keep updating this post or perhaps write a separate one on any new tips for travelling with older babies as I experience it.

If you have any tips yourself, please leave them in the comments below, I'd love to read them!

Happy Travels,


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