flying with a newborn baby: tips and advice

We all know flying has its challenges – especially if you have a newborn with you. It doesn’t matter whether you are a nervous flyer, frequent flyer, or anything in between, every flight is different. Taking all of the ups and downs into account (literally), you might be wondering how you will handle things flying with a newborn baby?

The secret is this: prepare, and hope for the best! While there are a host of things we can do when taking our little ones onto a flight, the truth is we do now know how they will react. 

Will they sleep the entire time? Probably not.  Will they scream the whole flight? For the sake of the whole cabin, we hope not. 

All you can do as a parent is to try your best. Prepare as much as you can, take to heart the tips and tricks we are sharing below, and be as ready as you can to fly with a newborn. Now, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty:

Pro tip: if you are flying to Port Elizabeth, you simply must book your flight online with Kulula. They offer affordable prices for family bookings. 

flying with a newborn: woman baby airplane seats
Image by Paul Hanaoka on Unsplash

What age can a baby fly?

Flying age is something that should not be taken lightly, especially when it comes to our precious little ones. To determine at what age a baby can fly, it’s best to consult with your doctor or paediatrician. They should be able to provide you with an accurate assessment of your newborn’s condition. 

The thing we should remember is that their immune systems are still developing. Thus taking them into a crowded environment increases the risk of them getting sick.

As a general rule, most doctors would recommend anything between three and six months, just to be safe. This gives them enough time to build up a stronger immune system and to better handle the flight itself. Flying with a 2-month-old baby should still be fine though, as the age ranges are just a general guide.

flying with newborn south africa: baby adult hands touch
Image by Liane Metzler on Unsplash

Flying with newborns: Top tips

Travelling with a newborn on a plane can be difficult and there are bound to  be some challenges. However, there are quite a few things we can do to help them through it, making it as easy on them as we can.

One of the main concerns would be the change in cabin pressure as the plane takes its course. One remedy for this is to have the baby on a pacifier, bottle or even breastfeeding during the takeoff and descent. 

There are also a few things to remember when preparing for the flight:

1) Pack the baby’s passport and birth certificate in a safe and secure place. This helps to ensure everything moves as smoothly as possible. Have these documents easily accessible when moving through the airport security

2) Take a second and choose your seats carefully. If you book or check-in early enough, try to avoid having the middle seats in a row. These will cause some obvious discomfort, especially since you will most likely need to get up with them often.

3) Pack the essentials, but don’t overdo it. Having a huge, cumbersome bag to keep track of (as well as your baby) will only make things more difficult.

4) Be aware that babies can get dehydrated easily, especially in the dry environments of an airplane cabin. Have plenty of breast milk or formula on hand.

5) Take full advantage of all the airport convenience options. Board early (alone if possible), prepare your sitting area for the baby and then get them settled in. This will help avoid them getting upset because of the stampedes that can happen.

how to fly with a newborn: plane seats boarding
Image by Alexander Schimmeck on Unsplash

How to fly with a newborn – Stress-free

Once you have your bags and flight prep done, it’s time to get right down to it: flying with your newborn. Taking your newborn on a plane will ultimately help them start coping with a noisy environment from an early age. But just to be safe, it is best to take some soft cotton bugs or earplugs with you.

Having both hands available is beneficial, so if someone can help you, by all means. The flight attendants are there to assist, all you need to do is ask. They will just make it that much easier to handle things, as they are most likely well used to newborns on planes.

Flying with them should get easier the longer into the flight you get. By this time, they will have adjusted to the pressure, noise and excitement around them, so they will most likely have calmed down a bit. Soothing them should not be much effort, as they might even doze off at this stage.

how to fly with a newborn in south africa: baby newborn yawning blanket
Image by Tim Bish on Unsplash

FAQ and checklist for travelling with an infant

So to recap on everything we have covered thus far on flying with a newborn, we have made a handy checklist:

  1. How old do babies have to be to fly? Doctors recommend that babies should be at least 3-6 months old. 
  2. What should you pack? The essentials: lots of wipes, a general-purpose cloth or towel, food, and diapers. Don’t overpack, and don’t burden yourself with too many things to carry.
  3. How can you smoothen the whole process? Book your tickets and check-in early. Avoid the centre seats, and try to prepare your sitting area before bringing the baby on board (if possible).

General tips and advice:

  1. Hydrate and feed them often.
  2. Help them cope with the noise by inserting soft cotton balls or earplugs.
  3. Get up often to stimulate them.
flying with a newborn in south africa: baby feeding bottle blanket
Image by Lucy Wolski on Unsplash

All set and ready to go

Flying with your baby won’t be nearly as stressful if you’ve had some time to prep before and you keep in mind our handy list of dos and don’ts.

If you do fly with a newborn, it is best to frequently wash your hands before interacting with them, use a hand sanitiser, and avoid contact with others when possible. 

You are now ready for the journey, all you need to do is take a deep breath, gather your things, and climb aboard. Your baby will be fine because mommy and daddy have got this!