Flying with a Baby!
Tips for Flying Alone With a Baby
Dabbling with the idea of a daring adventure flying solo with your tiny human in tow? Bravo! Prepare yourself for a rollercoaster ride. I’m here to help you navigate those ups and downs with this guide to flying solo with your baby.
Taking your baby travelling by yourself can be done. I’m proof of that. Listing everything you need might seem stressful before you’ve even got your feet off the ground, but it will be worth it. Trust me, I’ve done it a few times now, with each age bringing its own challenges and most importantly, joys.
I’ve flown with my son at 4 months, 5 months, 13, 14 and 16. And I would and will travel with him again. No trip has been as bad as my worst nightmares imagined, but, that’s because I was prepared.
With development, distance, timings and even just yours and your baby’s moods on the day, each trip will be different. But follow these tips to give you both the best possible chance of enjoying yourselves.
From planning your travels, to prep, to the airport, and eventually on the flight – here’s how you can make sure that flying solo with a baby goes as seamlessly as possible.
Tips for Flying Alone With a Baby
Planning your travels
1. Book the baby a seat
Some carriers charge up to £50 for booking an under 2 to sit on your lap, both ways. Thanks to this, it could be that booking a separate seat for your little munchkin can actually be cheaper. Not only that, but you’ll also get more room to breathe and wave goodbye to the anxiety of who might end up squished beside you.
Totally worth it when you’re travelling solo.
On my first flight alone with my baby I didn’t want to expend energy on any small talk with well-meaning strangers, or feel bad about taking up space – so I was happy to pay for my son to have a seat, just for the space mentally and physically. I knew that if I’d be so lucky that my son would sleep (he did) I wanted to be able to lie back and shut my eyes too, just for a moment of peace. Knowing he had that seat before I boarded made that possible.
During my Valencia escapade, his outbound flight would have cost me a staggering £259, so naturally, I opted for the lap option. However, the return leg was a mere £30, so I splurged an extra fiver to secure a seat for my son. Very happy with my past self when the plane was full and we could spread out. He had space to stretch, and his belongings were within easy reach instead of scattered all over the floor.
Sure, the rule says that under 2s should fly for free, but when sneaky administrative fees come into play, purchasing a seat for your little munchkin becomes a no brainer for the peace of mind. You get that extra bit of space for yourself, and your little explorer gets a place to call their own.
Don’t just assume they have to go on your lap and investigate your options.
2. Request the bassinet
If you don’t want to book the baby a seat, as you’re flying long haul or it’s too expensive, book the bassinet. You need to get in early to secure this so as soon as you’ve booked your travel, phone customer service to bag it. Each airline is different but you’ll need to confirm the baby’s weight and age to check it’s suitable.
3. Splash out on the most convenient transfers
Research your transfer options at the other end. This is the time to spend. Trust me, after a solo flight with a baby you want to get out of that airport as swiftly and easily as possible. To be able to put your care and next step into someone else’s hands feels like a dream!
Email to make sure they have the right car seats for your baby, or take your own as I’ve done in the past. I’d strongly recommend booking a private transfer rather than a multi drop coach one – trust me!
Before the flight
4. Don’t pack too much for the cabin
If you have loads of stuff then it’s much harder to gather it all and keep it together, when you need to be focussing your energy on the little one. Pack as lightly as possible, without forgetting anything.
A difficult balance, I know.
If you’re wondering what to pack in the hold, check out this list of the most important essentials for baby travel here.
5. Bring cartons and sterilised milk bottles (and snacks)
Bring more sterilised milk bottles and milk cartons than you think you’ll need. You do not want to be sans milk if there are any delays at all. They cannot sterilise on board.
Depending on the age of your baby, you might also want to pack your cabin bag full of snacks too. Food and milk is your secret weapon when it comes to keeping babies happy in the air. They need to suck on something when they ascend and descend to help the popping in their ears, up to you whether that’s a nipple, a bottle teat, a snack or a dummy – but choose one of them!
6. Prepare for all temperatures
Bring warm hoodies and jumpers for the baby, as well as easy to remove layers. You just never know what that plane air con is going to be like. Make sure you have easy access to them as well. Nothing worse when you’re travelling solo with a baby than getting all comfortable and settled with the baby on you, then realising they might be a little chilly and fearing an unnecessary wake up.
Although do feel free to press the button and call an assistant if you need – they’re there to help.
7. Wear a bumbag
Wear a bumbag to keep our passports and tickets in one safe place for easy access at any point. If your hands and arms are full, this is the best way to keep your essentials within easy access.
8. Think about using a pram that’s allowed in the cabin
Is it your first holiday with your baby? It could be a good time to invest in a great travel pram that can go in the cabin.
I didn’t really think about this for my first trips, but looking back it was quite difficult to pull my pram apart to go in the hold, while also holding a baby. No, no one offered to help.
There are some great prams that can be folded down to fit in the plane cabin. This makes it much easier for you at the other end when you don’t pick your pushchair up until the luggage carousel.The BabyZen YOYO is the usual recommendation, but there are cheaper alternatives.
9. Or use a baby sling (or both)
On my first solo flight with my baby I wore the sling on the flight which helped him to sleep more, and for me to hold him securely and safely. He slept through the landing, the bus, the passport queue and only woke when I got to the buggy. It was brilliant.
It made the whole experience much more relaxing.
In the airport
When you’re travelling solo with a baby, there are a few tricks I’ve learned for the airport to make your life easier.
10. Arrive early
Everything takes longer with a little one in tow and so it means you might just be on time.
If you have an early flight you can actually check your bags in the night before. Then you can just rock up and not worry about the queues in the morning.
Wish I’d known this before when I travelled solo to Valencia with my baby. Juggling my suitcase, the car seat, the buggy, him and our plane bags was NOT what I needed at 5am.
11. Use the family line to go through security
Speaking of security, you know most airports have a family line, right?
Every time I’ve done this the queue is small, but there’s been a slight wait to get the milks scanned. It’s still been way quicker than the other lines though. Make the most of it!
12. Stick to your routine as much as possible
When you’re planning your first flight with a baby, plan around your routine as much as possible. If you’re only going for a few days, I’d recommend not adjusting to the time zones. Just carry on as you were.
If you’re flexible, I’d recommend choosing holiday destinations on the same time zone, like South Africa or Portugal – makes timings a lot simpler!
Spend a little extra and book flights at the best times, and airport hotels, and anything else you can afford to make the solo journey that little bit easier.
On the solo flight with your baby
13. Be prepared for tummy troubles
Compression felt in the tummy in the sky can encourage your baby to poo, and poo a lot. Make sure you’re prepared with plenty of wipes, nappies and a change of clothes to get through this. Those aeroplane toilets are small!
14. Ask a flight attendant for help
I was desperate for the toilet the first time I travelled solo with my son. Turned out the flight attendants were perfectly happy to hold my son while I took two minutes. I came out and he was all smiles with his new BFF.
15. Download YouTube videos
If you have YouTube Premium you can download videos to your phone. You can get everything from dancing vegetables, to CocoMelon, to Postman Pat. If you don’t have YouTube, download some BBC shows instead.
1. Be nice
If you’re lucky, other passengers will coo and entertain and distract your baby, while you enjoy 10 seconds of not being the star of their eyes.
Relax, be nice, know that it’s only a few hours in the grand scheme of things, and you’ll be fine.
Your first trip flying solo with a baby
In my first year as a mum I did a few flights, and to be honest, have lovely memories of them all. I really enjoyed sharing this part of my life with him, and I’m excited for future adventures.
I hope this list has helped you to feel more confident and prepare. You’ll be fine!
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