Flying with a baby: an infant or young child

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Traveling with a small child is a real challenge, and not only for the parents, but also for the other passengers. Particularly problematic is a long flight by plane, so it is worth preparing well before the trip. What to remember so that such a flight does not turn into a real nightmare?

Explain to the child what awaits them

Children behave much better when they know what to expect. So it’s worth explaining to them exactly what air travel is all about, especially if it’s the first flight in their lives, and it’s even better if, in addition to explaining, you show the toddler a video showing the whole procedure, from getting to the airport, through check-in, waiting in the lobby, boarding, the flight, to landing and leaving.

Pack essentials in your carry-on luggage

When traveling by plane with an infant, it’s essential to take on board diapers, wet wipes, antibacterial wipes, basic medications (such as pain pills or nasal spray), a pacifier, a bottle of food, a favorite toy, a feeding spoon and other accessories necessary for the baby to make it to the end of the trip in peace.

Choose child-friendly airlines

Not all carriers treat the youngest passengers the same, so a good option would be to travel, for example, with Ryanair (check: Ryanair reviews) airlines, where children under 12 sit next to their parents without a surcharge for seat selection.It is worth noting, among other things, free flights for the youngest children, free seat reservations, free accessories.

Consider buying a separate seat for the child

Up to the age of two, a child can travel on a parent’s lap, which works out cheaper than buying two seats, but for longer flights this is likely to be very tiring for both the toddler and his mom or dad. Instead of stressing unnecessarily that a tired toddler will cry loudly and disturb the neighbors, it is better to buy a separate seat for him and bring a car seat – on board Ryanair this solution is allowed, but for safety reasons the seat must be certified.

Book side-by-side seats in advance

When traveling with more than one child, you should buy seats next to each other, even if it comes out more expensive. Having a family scattered all over the plane is unnecessary stress, and there won’t always be someone willing to swap seats.

Avoid sitting near the aisle

Booking in advance also allows you to choose the seat that is most favorable for a parent with a child. A flight with an infant will become very inconvenient if it is a seat near the main aisle, because due to heavy traffic the baby may have trouble sleeping, there is a risk that someone passing by will pour a hot drink on the infant or accidentally step on or hit it.

Dress your baby “onions” and avoid shoelaces

It’s not uncommon to travel by plane to a place with a completely different climate, which means you’ll need much warmer or looser clothing after landing. In addition, it can be chilly on the plane due to the air conditioning or too warm by the heating – layering clothing makes it easier to ensure a comfortable temperature for your child. Shoes without laces are also much more comfortable to put on and take off, and there is no risk of a toddler tripping over untied laces.

Take clothes to spare

A child on an airplane can always get dirty, which you should prepare for in advance by taking spare clothes in your carry-on luggage. It’s best if these are clothes without buttons or complicated fasteners, so that the baby can be changed quickly and efficiently.

Take a soft blanket

A favorite blanket will make it easier for your baby to fall asleep during air travel and will also come in handy on the ground for daytime naps.

Choose a short flight for young children

When traveling with a toddler, it’s a good idea to consider a trip to a relatively close destination, like Mallorca, for starters, making the flight short and not too tiring.However, if you are planning a vacation somewhere farther away, such as Gran Canaria, where you have to fly for many hours, the best option will be a direct flight, so that the long plane trip will not be so strenuous.

Book your flight early in the morning

Very early flights mean fewer people, so you avoid crowds at the airport, and check-in takes less time.And importantly, at this time your child will probably be heavily tired, so there’s a chance that he or she will sleep through the whole trip, or at least a significant part of it. In addition, early hour flights on Wizz air (check prices on board Wizz air) are usually quite a bit cheaper.

Consider traveling at night

It can also be advantageous to choose an overnight flight. Again, such tickets often cost less and avoid the worst crowds, and your child will likely sleep through the entire flight.

Pack your child’s favorite snacks

On board the plane, your child is bound to be hungry, so some treats will come in handy, preferably in small packages.

Book an early meal for your child

On board Wizzair, it is possible to book an early serving of food for the baby, which will allow the parent to feed the baby in peace, and also to have his or her own dinner later without too much trouble.

Bring some surprise or a new toy

Children love new things and unwrapping gifts, so such a surprise will keep the toddler occupied for a long time and he won’t cringe from boredom.

Prepare stories to watch

What will effectively hold a child’s attention for several hours? Fairy tales and movies, of course. Importantly, however, wi-fi doesn’t always work on board a plane, or it’s a very expensive service, so you need to download cartoons to your tablet or smartphone in advance, so that there are enough for the entire flight. In addition, you should still charge all such devices before the trip and take a powerbank just in case.

Don’t travel first class

It may seem that in first class your child will have a better travel experience and thus will be less likely to cry, but nothing could be further from the truth – in a higher standard, a toddler can be just as weepy, but passengers in “single” are generally much less forgiving than those in economy class.

Carry an extra garbage bag

With a small child, a sizable pile of trash soon forms: empty bottles, soda cartons, food bags, used wipes, etc. For all this, it’s good to have a separate bag, which you can simply throw in the trash later.

Check out what can be rented locally

An infant needs a lot of accessories, and some of them, like a crib or carrier, are sizable, which complicates airplane baggage issues. Instead of taking everything with you, some of the necessary items can be rented on the spot. Many useful accessories are also provided by hotels. Renting children’s accessories is usually less expensive than paying a surcharge for excess weight, not to mention the fact that luggage kept to a minimum makes it significantly easier to move around.

Bring a collapsible stroller or a comfortable baby carrier

Very young children do not yet walk or tire much faster than adults, so a handy stroller will come in handy. On the plane, such equipment as a stroller, car seat or baby carrier can be brought for free. This makes it very easy to travel with a tiny baby, and when the stroller or carrier is not needed, just fold it, so it takes up very little space.

Buy an old, used stroller for the plane

It doesn’t make sense to take expensive and new things with you on a trip, because there’s a good chance that they will get badly soiled and damaged during the trip. It is more profitable to buy a used stroller, which even if it gets damaged, it will not be a pity. You can get a used stroller in decent condition for as little as 100-200 zlotys.

Arrive at the airport early

Traveling solo is significantly different from traveling with children, and a lot of stress can be saved by arriving at the airport earlier, especially if it’s an international flight. With more time in reserve, you get through check-in with peace of mind, you don’t have to stand in a long line, there’s time to go to the restroom, and in case of unexpected difficulties, a parent will have time to run important errands.

Let your child get out before the trip

While it’s good for adults to relax before the trip, it’s better to let children get tired before the flight, because this way there’s a chance that they won’t be so bursting with energy after boarding. As far as possible, the child should walk around the airport on his own, and in order not to accidentally get lost, a special safety harness with a lanyard will suffice.

Be sure to take the child to the bathroom

There are toilets on planes, of course, but still, it’s always better for the child to take care of his physiological needs before check-in. During boarding, it is no longer possible to use the restroom, and although boarding does not take a terribly long time, there is a risk that a toddler will get an unpleasant surprise and there will be a problem. For those children for whom similar episodes happen quite often, it’s a good idea to wear an emergency diaper just in case.

Prepare your child for pressure changes

During ascent and landing there are changes in cabin pressure, which for many people, especially children, can be unpleasant and result in earaches. A toddler should be warned that such a thing can happen, and to make the child tolerate it better, he should be encouraged to swallow saliva frequently, and right after the plane takes off it is worth giving something to drink or eat. Toddlers are then best given a pacifier. If that doesn’t work, you can ask a flight attendant for help.

Show sympathy to staff members

While cabin crew have an obligation to take good care of every passenger, it’s no secret that courtesy pays off, and a pleasant demeanor toward stewards and flight attendants can provide additional amenities for parents traveling with children.

Report special needs in advance

If a child has a disability or illness, he or she requires special treatment for the duration of air travel, which should definitely be reported even before departure – this can be done online, when booking tickets for a flight. Children with disabilities have additional rights in terms of control, in addition, most airlines offer free special assistance.

Don’t take unnecessary liquids in your carry-on luggage

Carrying liquids in carry-on luggage is subject to certain restrictions, so when they appear in a traveler’s luggage, it necessarily prolongs the inspection. Before departure, it is essential to check what liquids are allowed to be brought and in what quantities.

If you can, pack only your carry-on luggage

A lost suitcase is not unusual when traveling by air. Most such luggage is found, but even so, a similar adventure will cost a lot of nerves, and you won’t be able to use your belongings on the spot. Ideally, therefore, you manage to pack the whole thing in your carry-on luggage, although with a small child it will be really difficult. Limits on the weight and size of luggage depend on the airline, so it is a good idea to choose the carrier that allows you to bring as much as possible on board. It will also be practical to pack the essentials in your carry-on luggage, and put what you can somehow do without in your other suitcases.

Try to relax

For a parent with a child, a long flight means a lot of stress before the trip even begins, and that doesn’t make things any easier. The good news is that the child’s behavior often seems much more disruptive to the parent than it really is, and as long as the parent takes care of his or her toddler and tries to calm him or her down, a surprisingly large proportion of passengers are supportive.

Simon Machniewski

Simon Machniewski

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Traveler and owner of a small marketing agency.

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