Wondering why we named this Flying with a baby or an infant ?Yes, there are parents who are brave enough to venture out on a holiday with an infant.
No, holiday with an infant is not just a change of location. And no, you needn’t stay holed up in the hotel room.
First things first, rest assured that infants are a lot more resilient than we think they are.
With an infant on your lap you’ll be surprised to see what a friendly place the world really is.
All it takes is a little research, a plan, efficient packing and a go-getter attitude.
It’s not going to be as easy as before but it’s definitely worth it. A couple of trips and you’ll know!
I know you’re thinking flying with a baby in flight is easier said than done but trust me, I speak from experience. Baby D and I started travelling the day she turned two months old. With the husband serving in the Navy, it has mostly been just baby D and me, travelling to meet the new dad at a new posting or just exploring different parts of our country. We have explored six states of India before baby D turned one. Here’s my attempt at sharing some solid tips for travelling with baby, and making air-travel for you and your baby easier.
Air travel is as safe for babies as it is for you. Many new parents wonder when is it safe to travel with a new-born. It is suggested that you wait till your bub’s a month old before you start travelling. If you must travel sooner, your child should above 7 days and below 2 years of age on the date of travel to be classified as an infant. Most airlines in India permit babies older than a week; however, you might want to check with your airline.
When travelling with infants (under 2 years of age), you do not get a separate baby seat in flight. By the same token, an infant does not need a separate flight ticket booked but you are still issued a boarding pass for the baby.
Your baby’s name shall be added to your ticket and you will be charged an infant base fare. So the infant flight ticket cost ranges between 1000 INR to 1750 INR for domestic flights and 10% of your base fare for international flights, depending on the airline you’re travelling with.
Most airlines demand to see the child’s ID to ensure that the child is below 2 years of age. On failing to display ID, they may charge full fare for the infant. It’s worth noting here that if you cancel your tickets, the baby flight ticket cost is non-returnable.
You may luck out sometimes when airlines are kind enough to upgrade you to the best seat available at ‘check-in’, but that’s not something you can possibly rely on. Request to be seated in a vacant row. There’s no harm in asking.
If you are Pre-booking your seats, pick the most comfortable seat you can.
I always pick an aisle seat. Being right-handed, I prefer being seated on the left side of the plane for better accessibility and to ensure that my child’s head won’t protrude into the pathway while I feed her. No knocks, no bumps, no oopsies.
You are permitted your standard baggage allowance + an additional 7kg cabin baggage for your child. You are permitted one baby stroller/car seat/pram and a diaper bag that you can carry as cabin baggage.
As the infant travels in the parent’s lap, I’d suggest that you check-in the car seat at the ticketing counter and hold on to the pram.
The pram/stroller can be checked-in just before boarding and collected immediately after landing.
Apart from the diaper bag, do wear a small travel-purse/satchel that can hold your passports, IDs, boarding passes and phone.
Diaper bag or hand-bag on flight
Most airports in India have baby-care rooms. Some are well designed and equipped while some just exist to serve the purpose.
The most common question that parents have when flying with a baby for the first time is – What to pack for the baby on the plane?
Here is a list of things you must carry while flying with an infant.
For diaper changing you’ll need
- Ample diapers
- Changing mat
- Hand sanitizer
- Disposal bags
- Diaper rash cream and
- A toy to engage the child while changing.
Other useful things to carry
To be safe, do carry
- 2 sets of spare baby clothes
- One spare top for you
- Face towel
- A pair of socks for parents and bub
- 4 burp clothes and 2 bibs.
Airports can get very cold so just carry a sweater for the baby.
- For feeding a new-born, do carry expressed milk or formula powder. Also keep in mind road travel to and from the airport.
- Do carry 5-6 sterilised bottles and spare spoons to be safe in case of delays. You are permitted to carry sufficient hot water in a flask to mix formula or baby food.
- A pacifier or some finger food if your baby is too full for a second feed on a short flight.
- A toy that you can wear around your hand will help in engaging the child.
Please carry some quick snacks like cheese sandwiches, energy bars or biscuits for you. A hungry mommy is a stressed mommy.
First Aid Kit
Basic medication for fever and cold, baby medicines, a sanitary pad, a few band aids and sterile cotton, a small travel size tube of antiseptic and you should be good.
In the Airport
While with a baby, you needn’t wait in the long queues at check-in. A mom with a baby has the right of way at check-ins, security check and boarding. You can also ask the airline staff for assistance at any point.
Most airports are pram/stroller friendly. Do no check-in the pram as it would get difficult to walk all the distance with a baby in your arms. Also, babies find the hustle at airports rather entertaining. They are most likely to be at their best behaviour while strolling around the airport.
You could also wear the baby in a baby-carrier but I’d still recommend the stroller as it’ll give the baby and you some space as the baby has to travel seated in your lap, later.
Some metro airports in India provide baby Strollers after the security check point till you board the flight, in which case, you may check-in your pram. Do check at the ticketing counter before you take a call.
If you can help it at all, avoid letting your baby fall asleep till you board so you can have a peaceful flight with a napping bub!
You may need assistance in folding your stroller and getting it onto the belt for screening.
While travelling alone with a baby, tie up for help at security check at the ticketing counter itself as the security personnel only oblige/ offer to hold the baby and ask you to take care of your baggage.
If you do not find help in time, neither do you want to hand the baby over to the security officer(s), request a co-passenger to help you out with the stroller.
You may, thereafter, carry the boarding passes and the baby to the screening room. Post screening and clearance, have someone help you get the stroller off the belt too. There are a lot of friendly people out there!
Preparing baby food/feed for the flight
While travelling with your infant, timing is everything. After security check, you’ll need 20 minutes to change, nurse/feed the bub and prepare formula/in-flight feed for the baby before the boarding call. Remember, you don’t need to queue up, and it’s better if you board first and settle yourself and the baby before the others board
Have 3 bottles of milk or formula ready. If on a long flight, have one bottle of feed at the right temperature ready for take-off as formula has a shelf-life of 1 hour 15 minutes on mixing while breast milk is good for 24 hours at room temperature. The other two bottles should have only the formula powder. Carry the flask of hot water. At this point, grab a bite too, dear Mommy.
Quick Trip to the Toilet
Most child-care rooms are located right next to the washrooms. Some child-care rooms may even have one inside. When you need to go, seat your baby in the stroller/pram and have the staff in-charge there, look over your child right outside your door. Instruct the staff against holding your baby unless there’s an emergency. Talk or sing to your baby from inside so she won’t get anxious.
If you need to use the lavatory in the plane, have the airhostess assist you. They are trained to help you with a baby.
On the bus from the terminal to the airport, prams can comfortably roll into the bus. Notify the staff at boarding that you’ll need assistance with the pram. Someone will unfold the ramp for you to get into the bus.
The pram should face the window in such a way that no passenger or their cabin baggage can hurt your baby. Do not forget to push down the break peddle of the pram before the bus moves.
Someone from the crew will help you out as well. Just before getting into the aircraft, you check-in the pram against a slip issued to you.
Get help settling into your seat. Keep the milk bottles, the flask of water, Sippy cup of water, pacifier and a toy in the pouch in front of you. Keep your diaper bag handy, below your seat. Just in case you need something from it during take- off or landing, you won’t be allowed to get off your seat.
Start feeding your child when the aircraft starts taxiing. Keep feeding till the fasten seat belt sign is off. Why feed? The cabin air pressure during take-off and landing may block the baby’s ears while gaining or losing height and speed rapidly. Chewing, drinking and swallowing help against ear blocks.
If the baby is full or you run out of milk or food, switch to the pacifier immediately. Doing this will ensure you baby is constantly sucking and will be comfortable.
If your baby has a blocked nose, a few saline drops in the nostrils should clear it up.
Breastfeeding moms should nurse the child at take-off
If your child is still uneasy and crying, don’t worry. It’s her way of telling you that she’s not ok. Just comfort her by singing a favourite lullaby and try feeding a sip or two and gently cradle her to sleep. Babies generally sleep through the flight comfortably. Should your baby need a nappy change, there is a changing table in the lavatory.
Before getting seated, ask the crew to notify you 10 minutes before the plane starts to descend during landing. In case they miss, there would be an announcement to fasten your seat belt or you could simply time it working backwards from the arrival time. You may want to quickly mix the formula for landing.
Start feeding the child when you feel the plane descend or when you see the crew sitting down too. If your baby is full from the first feed, the pacifier would do too.
If your baby is fast asleep, you needn’t wake her up at all till you land.
Remain seated once the plane lands. Please don’t be in a hurry to get off.
You don’t want to be standing with a baby in your arms, squeezed between passengers pulling out their baggage from the cabins overhead.
As soon as you get off the place, ask for your pram and have them help you board the airport bus.
While the co-passengers wait at the belt for their baggage, use this time to quickly use the baby care room. Notify the driver at your destination to be ready for pick up. Ask the crew to help you with getting your luggage onto your trolley.
You can also have someone help you bring the trolley out to the taxi stand or parking while you push the pram out. Grab a bite or a snack and roll away.
Yay, you made it, you Super Parent!