Flying with a baby can be a stressful undertaking. From knowing whether they need a passport and what you can take on the plane to soothing them mid-flight and preventing ear pain when landing, the usual demands of an infant are magnified ten-fold when you’re 30,000 feet in the air. But there’s no reason why having a newborn should stop you from travelling, so we’ve gathered the most common questions new parents have about taking a baby on a plane to give you all the information you need to take some of the stress out of your flight.
When can babies travel?
When flying with a baby, you need to do a bit of research with your airline to find out their rules on travelling with a newborn on a plane. While legally there’s no minimum age for babies to travel, airlines have different booking policies and charges. In general, most airlines ask that babies are at least two weeks old when travelling, although some may allow seven day-old infants to fly.
Does my baby need a passport?
In short, yes. Everyone needs their own passport, even babies, and that passport needs to be valid for five years. To apply for an infant passport you need to apply with a completed application form, your baby’s birth certificate and two identical colour photos of your baby with a signature from a professional who has known you for at least two years. There are a number of strict rules when it comes to adult passport pictures (light background, no one else in the picture, both eyes open, etc.) but the passport office are a little more relaxed when it comes to babies.
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How much baggage can my baby have?
Your baby may not need as much space for clothes as you, but they will have a lot of equipment, so it’s worth finding out how much extra baggage you can take on board the plane. Most airlines will allow you to take a car seat and a pushchair onto the plane for free – something you’ll be thankful for when making the long walk through the terminals – while some will give your baby their own baggage allowance of 5-10kg, even if they don’t have their own seat. But you should always check with your airline about their own baggage policies for babies flying with them, as you may be hit with an extra charge for your infant’s equipment.
What can I take on the plane?
While there are strict regulations on taking liquids onto planes, these don’t apply to baby milk or baby food. So when travelling with a baby on a plane you can take breast milk, baby food, milk formula and boiled water onto your flight without worrying about the 100ml restriction. However, baby products such as lotion or nappy cream are still limited to 100ml and you’ll have to carry them in a clear plastic bag.
What else should I take when flying with a baby?
Take nappies, a changing mat, milk, food, wet wipes, teething ring, dummies (if your baby uses them), toys, a blanket, spare clothes for you both, etc. One golden rule is to always pack more than you think you need – you may end up being delayed in the terminal or on the tarmac and you don’t want to risk running out of anything.
Keeping your baby safe and happy during the flight
Your baby can either be held on your lap during the flight or sat in a car seat in their own seat. If on your lap, you’ll be given an extra belt to fit around your baby on the plane during take-off, landing and turbulence, while a car seat will be secured by the existing lap belt. Either way, one of the cabin crew will be able to help you fit the seat or the belt securely. During the flight, keep your baby calm by getting them interested in their new surroundings or taking a walk up and down the plane. Also, don’t feel embarrassed about playing baby games such as peek-a-boo or pat-a-cake. Finally, on take-off and landing, make sure your baby has a drink, since swallowing helps to equalise the change in air pressure and avoids pain in the ears.