When you’re travelling with small children, giving yourself enough time and being prepared makes things much easier. Read our tips on how to make your trip go smoothly.
It's a good idea to take advantage of the time when your child is very young and can travel with you for free or at a discounted rate.
But it’s well known that flying with babies and young children can be challenging, not to mention the amount of extra kit you need to take.
So it’s not surprising that many parents feel apprehensive. But flying with a little one does become easier when you know what to do.
Read our tips on making the experience more enjoyable for everyone.
When you fly with a baby or child under the age of two, they’re typically classed as an infant, which allows you to fly with them sitting on your lap.
The airline may charge you a fee for this, but it’s usually much lower than the cost of an adult ticket and is often a set fee or around 10% of the adult fare.
Or you could consider booking an extra seat, which may be charged at a child fare - this can be helpful to give you extra space.
Early mornings, night times or flights that coincide with naps can work well. It will hopefully mean your child sleeps through most of the flight and their routine won’t be affected too much
Think about whether aisle or window would be best - a window seat may be better if you’ll be breastfeeding, but an aisle seat could help with a restless toddler. There might be limitations on what seats you can book with a baby or a toddler (such as emergency exit seats) so be sure to check with the airline before travelling
For babies on long-haul flights, you can book a bassinet or cot. Only a few are available on each flight and you’ll need to book a bulkhead seat, so do this as soon as possible - you may need to contact the airline directly
Shop around and compare what each airline offers for travelling with young children. Some allow a changing bag as well as hand luggage, while others have more generous allowances for baby equipment that’s free of charge in the hold, like car seats and prams
With your flight and seats now booked, you need to make sure you’re prepared for other important parts of your trip:
Yes, everyone in your family needs travel insurance, even if they’re a newborn baby.
Taking out travel insurance can give you peace of mind that if something unexpected happens to affect your trip, you and your little one will be protected.
Travel insurance can help cover unexpected medical costs and emergency travel back to the UK, as well as things like delays, cancellations and lost luggage.
It’s also worth making sure that any baby equipment you’ll be putting in the hold - like buggies, travel cots and car seats - will be covered if it gets damaged, lost or stolen.
You can pre-order things like baby milk, baby food, and suncream to pick up from Boots pharmacies in departure lounges to save you taking them through security
What is allowed will vary between airlines, so make sure you check the size and weight of your baggage before you set off for the airport
If you’ve booked an extra seat for your baby, some airlines require your baby to be in a car seat
When you pack, make sure any items that need to be removed for security - like any liquids and electronic devices - can be reached easily
Allow for traffic and unexpected stops for little ones so that you’re not arriving at the airport, or at your boarding gate, in a rush
If your child suffers from travel sickness, pack what works best for them and have drinks on hand to help them swallow
Even if they’re potty trained, using a pull-up for the flight can prevent accidents if you can’t get your little one to the toilet in time, or there’s a queue
Count the bags and items you’re taking, or better yet have a checklist to help keep track of everything and avoid leaving things behind
Many airlines will let you take a baby as young as two weeks old on a plane. However, flying with a baby does require some preparation and there are a few things to consider:
You can usually use your buggy until you’re at the boarding gate, but taking a lighter, collapsible pushchair can be more practical than a travel-system buggy. Some airlines have restrictions on the weight or size of pushchairs they allow
Using a sling or baby carrier can make moving around the airport easier. You’ll be handsfree and it can make your baby more settled in a noisy, busy airport environment
Time baby feedings - If you can, time feeding your baby to coincide with takeoff and landing to help equalise the pressure in their ears and make them more comfortable
Check the regulations - Baby milk, food and formula aren’t included in the liquid regulation amounts for flights, but other things like nappy cream and baby suncream are
Make a list of everything you might need for your baby and you on the plane, things you might want to pack include:
Unlike babies, who aren’t on the move, travelling with an energetic toddler requires different preparation, for example:
Decide on early or late boarding - Parents with young children are often offered the chance of early boarding. This can work well to get you settled in with a baby, but it may be better to let an energetic toddler burn off energy at the gate until it’s time to board
Leave extra time for the airport - Moving through the airport and security with young children takes longer than you think, so give yourself plenty of time
Expect to be the entertainer - You’ll be on call to provide all your toddler’s entertainment, whether it’s on screen or with activities that you’ve packed - so don’t expect to watch your own movie in peace
Look out for the family line - Some airports have family lines to help you get through security and passport control queues more easily
What you’ll need can vary depending on your toddler, but items you might want to take with you on the plane include:
Airports are busy, crowded places and travelling can be a long and tiring experience. Try following these tips to keep your child safe and well: