Baby’s first flight

15 June 2014

Being anxious about the first flight with your baby is normal. There’s no failsafe plan to guarantee a perfect trip, but we give you some tips and tricks to make things easier. And remember to relax; this could be an exciting adventure for both of you.

Pre-flight preparations:

Book early

An early booking will increase your chances of getting a better seat. Let the airline know you’re travelling with a baby so they can make the necessary provisions. “Bulkhead seats are best when travelling with a baby,” says Elana Pretorius, a former flight attendant and mother of two. “The bulkhead row has a lot of space and leg room.”

Ask the airline these questions: 

Do you get a discount for children under two years old and how much is it?

Can you get bulkhead-row seats?

Do they have baby cribs/bassinets available in the bulkhead?

Are mothers and families allowed a pre-boarding pass?

Are babies allowed on your lap?

Will a car seat count as carry-on luggage?

Can you bring a stroller on board?

Is baby food available?

Think light

Dress and pack lightly. Keep your and baby’s clothes fuss-free to make things easier during the flight. Packing light will also lessen the stress of having to handle numerous bags and a baby at the same time. Apart from easy movement, fewer bags will also reduce the chances of losing your luggage.

Checking in:

Wear your baby

Using a baby wrap carrier will mean your hands are free to do other things such as pull luggage, carry a car seat or take out necessary documentation when checking in.

Take advantage of mother-and-baby facilities

Some airports have mother-and-baby facilities to make checking in a little easier. Keep an eye out for these and take advantage of the benefits such as avoiding queues and boarding before other passengers.

On board:

Baby cribs

“Some airlines have baby cribs at the bulkhead – moms can use these for changing nappies and for baby to take a nap in-flight,” says Pretorius.

Prevent blocked ears 

The change of cabin pressure can cause discomfort and irritate a baby’s sensitive ears. “Use paediatric nasal drops like Iliadin 20 minutes before take-off. During take-off and landing, nurse them or allow them to suck on their pacifier to help keep ears open,” says Pretorius.

Take it easy

Pretorius thinks the practice for some parents to apologise to fellow passengers ahead of the flight for their babies’ potential crying is unnecessary. She suggests that instead you try not to worry too much about other passengers and your baby’s behaviour. “You paid for your ticket and babies are babies; sometimes there’s very little you can do,” she says.

-Koketso Mashika

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