Travelling with a baby

Just the thought of travelling in a confined space with an infant often has people cringing – but it can be done without tears and tantrums (from either the child, the parent or fellow travellers) with some simple planning.

Before you go ...

Passports: Any child travelling overseas, including newborns, need a passport. Make sure all of your family’s passports have at least six months validity from your planned date of return to Australia. Keep a photocopy of your documents separate from the originals and leave copies at home with someone you can easily contact in case of an emergency.

Flights: Try to book a flight that coincides with the child’s nap time (or even take a night flight) and mention that you’ll be travelling with a baby. You can even reserve a bassinet (for children who weigh less than 10kg and are less than 70cm in length) directly with your airline company.
Using car seats: Check with the airline if you can take the baby’s car seat on board as it might help the baby sleep during the flight (this will depend on seating availability and the size of the car seat).

On the plane …

A Few Favourite Things: Try to create a cosy, familiar environment with the baby’s favourite soft toys, books and games. Bring along some warm, comfortable clothing (including your baby’s usual sleeping bag) because the temperature inside planes are often kept quite cool. Have on hand everything you might need in terms of extra clothing, nappies and baby wipes.

Food and Medications: In addition to your own carry-on luggage, you can also take your baby’s nappy bag complete with any baby food or medications that your infant might need during the flight. This includes powdered milk formula (the flight crew can heat up some spring water to help you prepare any bottles). A general rule of thumb is that if the flight lasts more than 2.5 hours, you’ll need to plan for an appropriate meal for your baby.

Avoid Lotions: Lotions need to meet air safety standards, cannot be over 100ml and must be placed in transparent plastic bags and presented when you go through security. It might be easier to replace some lotions with other alternatives (i.e. cleansing lotions with baby wipes).

Avoid Ear Aches: Limit the effects of the change in cabin pressure when taking off and landing by ensuring your baby has something to drink or suck on – the act of swallowing will help alleviate ear pressure. Avoid any unnecessary pain (or even a burst eardrum) by rescheduling a flight if a child has a cold, especially if they have an ear infection. Speak to your doctor before travelling if you have any concerns.

Keep Hydrated: Make sure children drink a lot during the flight since infants become dehydrated much faster than adults due to the dry, pressurised air.

On arrival at your destination…

Help children adjust to new time zones by gradually delaying or advancing their meal times and bedtime (although young infants, particularly babies less than six months, are not generally affected by time zone changes).