Flying with Babies & Toddlers: Ultimate Guide

Hey there lovely parents!

Are you getting ready for summer holidays and looking forward to some sunshine abroad?  Whilst we all know that flying isn't the most sustainable way to travel, sometimes it's a necessary evil. Perhaps your folks may live abroad, or you don't fancy a 24 hour car jounrey to get to where you want to go.

Whether it’s your little one’s first flight or you’re a seasoned pro at jet-setting with juniors, knowing how to keep the journey smooth can make all the difference to travelling with children.  Let’s look at some tried-and-tested tips for making flying with babies and toddlers as stress-free as possible.

Bear in mind however, that sometimes, no matter how well prepared you are, your LO will think differently.

I've been THAT parent with a 3 month old who howled the entire flight back from Menorca because he was overtired and overstimulated on a late evening flight. Just keep as calm as possible and remember that it shall pass!  In this Guide to Flying with your Baby or Toddler, we'll answer some of your most asked questions and provide a handy packing checklist too.


How Old Does a Baby Have To Be To Fly?

This varies from airline to airline.  With Easyjet, a baby usually needs to be a minimum of 2 weeks old to fly, however on British Airways they say 48 hours old!  However remember if you're flying internationally a newborn baby will still need a passport and you need to allow time for this to be processed! 

Is It OK To Fly With A Newborn?

Yes, it's OK to fly with a newborn and probably easier than flying with a toddler! As long as your baby is at least 2 days old and you have the appropriate documentation, they can usually fly.

How Do You Take A Two Year Old On a Plane?

Your two year old will need their own seat which you'll have to pay a child fare for.  Between newborn and 2, most airlines will charge an infant price as your baby will likely be sitting on your lap.

Here some hints and tips to make your flight easier:

Pack Smart For Your Flight

Packing effectively is your first step to a smooth flight. We've created these checklists to make your packing super easy....

Checklist for flying with babies or toddlers

Flying With A Baby Checklist

To make things easy here's our flying with a baby checklist:

  • nappies (take more than you think you will need)
  • disposable or reusable wipes (more than you need)
  • portable changing mat
  • a few favourite toys
  • Lots of snacks and finger foods if your baby is weaned
  • a bottle for babies to help with pressure changes during takeoff and landing if they aren't breastfeeding
  • blanket
  • favourite cuddly toy
  • soother or dummy
  • warm socks
  • comfy clothes for the flight, like a baby gro or pjs
  • extra warm layers as flights can often get chilly
  • muslin for emergencies
  • change of clothing for yourself
  • plastic bag or washable wet bag
  • sling or baby carrier

Flying with a Toddler checklist

Everything on the checklist above, plus:

  • new toys
  • tablet or device if your child uses one
  • a cup or bottle of water for toddlers

Shop Portable Change Mats

You might wonder why I'm recommending a change of clothing for yourself. Well, on my first flight with my 6 week old son, he pooed as we boarded the plane.

He was in a baby carrier. The poo squidged out the bottom of the baby carrier and dripped ALL DOWN MY FRONT. The businessman beside me looked absolutely horrified.

Thankfully I had packed a muslin which I used to cover the poo stained t shirt as I left the plane....

More recently, my teenage daughter started puking mid flight. Trust me, I was very happy to have a change of clothes so that I could remove the puke sodden ones.... That's also why we recommend a plastic bag or washable wet bag to keep anything which gets soiled mid flight. It happens!

"I purchased a "Reusable Cloth Baby Wipes Workhorse All-In-One Kit" back in 2020 with an additional 50 wipes, and it was the best purchase EVER (in regards to children)!

Nearly 4 years later I am still using the wipes on a daily basis. They are great for keeping sticky hands and faces clean and we are now using them for potty training.

I cannot imagine how many wet wipes I would have used in that time and the damage to the environment. 99% of the time I have only ever had to use one wipe to clean up the messiest poo, compared to 3-4 using wet wipes.

The whole kit has come on every holiday with us as well.

I will continue using the wipes for as long as they continue to wash well and they are useful.

Please purchase and save the environment from all those nasty wet wipes. I promise you won’t regret it!" Trustpilot Review for Cheeky Wipes

Tips for Flying With A Baby Or Toddler

Here's some more tips for flying with a toddler or baby:

Shop Baby Carriers

Use a Sling Or Baby Carrier

A sling or baby carrier makes it much easier to carry your child when getting on board the plane. Usually your pram or buggy will be removed from you at the gate, which is often still quite a way from the plane. A sling or baby carrier keeps your hands free and your baby snug and secure.

Know Your Limits

You can bring baby food, baby milk and sterilised water in your cabin bagas long as it is in containers of 100ml or less. They then must be placed inside a clear re-sealable plastic bag no bigger than 20 x 20cm.

The 100ml liquid limit doesn’t apply to baby food, milk or sterlised water, provided that the total amount is no more than 1 litre. You may be asked to taste it for security reasons.

Choose An Aisle Seat

We know when your kids get older they'll want a window seat, but choosing an aisle seat means you won't have to clamber across someone every time you need to nip to the loo for a nappy change.

Comfort Comes First

Dress your child in comfortable layers that are easy to add or remove. Cozy socks, PJ's or Babygro and a familiar blanket or muslin comforter can help make the airplane seat feel a little more like home.

Shop Muslins

Entertainment Tactics

Even short haul flights can bore even the most laid-back adults, so imagine what they’re like for your little ones!

New Toys

It's a good idea to bring out new toys during the flight. The novelty can hold their interest much longer than their old toys. Compact, quiet toys like soft books, stickers, or coloring apps are great.

Screen Time

If you're okay with screen time, a tablet with their favourite shows or games can be a lifesaver. Don't forget the headphones – ones designed for small heads keep things comfortable and quiet!

How To Help Baby Ears on a Plane

Changes in cabin air pressure can be painful for little ears. Here's how you can help avoid this.

Feed During Takeoff and Landing

Sucking on something during ascent and descent helps relieve ear pressure. A bottle, breast, or even a dummy can work wonders.

Stay Hydrated

Keeping your child hydrated can also help, so offer regular sips of water throughout the flight.

Choose the Right Flight Times

Timing your flights can often makes travels with baby easier - in theory anyway!

Naptime Flights

If possible, book flights around your child’s naptime. They’re more likely to sleep through the flight, making it easier for you and them.

Night Flights for Long Hauls

Overnight flights can align with bedtime, encouraging falling asleep during a longer flight.

Safety First

Always adhere to airline safety guidelines for children. Easy Jet allow you to travel with your child on your lap or in your arms. They can also be seated in their car seat, however you will then need to book an additional seat for them in that instance. Plus you'll have to carry the car seat which could be heavy too.

For take-off, landing and whenever the seat belt signs are on, an infant aged under two years old can be secured in any of the following ways:

- On the parent/guardian’s lap with the use of an extension seat belt which you can get from the flight attendant

- In a suitable child car seat (age/weight/height in accordance with manufacturers guidelines).

- In their own seat with a CARES harness (aged 1-4 years approximately and for weight between 10 and 20kg).

Documentation & Other Handy Tips

Family travelling can be a challenge, however with a bit of preparation, the right gear, and a calm mindset, you can make your next flight a breeze. Remember it's also a good idea to take out travel insurance to cover any mishaps while you're away.

Also, if you're flying solo with your child or your child has a different surname to you, you may need additional documentation such as birth certificate to allow you to travel. This has happened to me when I travelled with my baby who shared his fathers name, but I was still travelling in my maiden name.

Remember, every child is different, so what works for one may not work for another. Stay flexible, patient, and prepared to adapt your strategies as needed. Happy travels from all of us at The Nappy Gurus!

About the Author: Helen Rankin, an advocate for sustainable living, embarked on her journey with reusable products when her first child was born in 2004. Facing limited options in cloth nappies, Helen’s passion only grew, leading her to launch Cheeky Wipes in 2008, right before welcoming her third child.

Helen's commitment to promoting sustainable solutions led to her taking over The Nappy Gurus in 2024. Today, she is excited to share her extensive knowledge and enthusiasm for reusable swim nappies, helping a new generation of parents navigate eco-friendly choices for water-based activities.

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