Top six hacks for flying with a baby

I’ve just arrived in Noosa for a week long holiday with my baby and toddler in tow.  You should see the amount of stuff we have with us.  Long gone are the days of travelling with carry on luggage only.  After multiple holidays (including long haul flights) with a baby my mantra is now be prepared.  Be prepared for the explosive poo mid air and be prepared to just smile grimly when the air hostess says “just relax and then your baby will relax as well” to you as your baby screams the plane down.  Yes this did happen to me on the flight to Noosa.  It took all my restraint not to shout “I am relaxed!”. 

My son’s first flight at five weeks old.  Headphones mean you can’t hear your baby crying! Just joking…

1. Book a bassinet

If you’re flying internationally there are bassinets available on planes for babies which are fabulous as they mean your baby doesn’t have to sleep on you.  The problem is that there are only a limited number of bassinets on each plane so you have to book them in advance to make sure you don’t miss out.  Check the size of the bassinet as well, each airlines are different (we only just squeezed our daughter into the Emirates bassinet at 11 months but she was small for her age).  Bear in mind that the hosties make you take your baby out of the bassinet if there is any turbulence which can be a bit upsetting (for you and your baby!) if they are sound asleep. The bassinets are generally positioned right up the front under the giant TV screens so it’s pretty bright. It’s worth considering investing in or hiring something like a Fly Baybee cover.  Sadly there are no bassinets available for domestic flights. 

2. Add on time

I used to be the sort of person who turned up at the airport at the last minute and raced to the gate to make my flight. Not any more.  Flying with kids requires building in lots of buffer time. Anything that can go wrong is likely to go wrong and things just proceed a lot more slowly when you are baby wrangling.  After a few close calls (running through the airport with a pram is never a good look) I now aim to be the person who is super early for the plane.    

That's what you call just fitting in the bassinet.  My daughter flying Emirates at 11 months.
That’s what you call just fitting in the bassinet. My daughter flying Emirates at 11 months.

3.  Milk bar

If you’re breast feeding transporting milk for your baby is easy but bottle feeding can be tricky. You are allowed to carry expressed milk or formula in bottles in your carry on luggage.  In Australia my experience has been that security personnel just wave you through once they see you have a baby and a nappy bag but in the UK we nearly missed a flight as security staff insisted on taking the formula away to test it for explosives!  If you can try and time your flights so takeoff is around feed time it’s a great way to settle your baby and to help their little ears adjust to the change in pressure. 

4. Get on board with a baby carrier

Travel strollers are great for older babies and toddlers (we love the Mountain Buggy Nano) but for young babies a baby carrier is best for getting around the airport.  The benefit is that your hands are free to carry bags and hopefully your baby will do some sleeping in the carrier as well. I’m a big fan of the Ergo Baby 360 which lets you carry your baby both forward and backward facing.  Annoyingly airline staff make you take your baby out of the baby carrier for takeoff and landing so you can put the infant seatbelt on.  

5.  Changes of clothes for everyone

One of the first things you learn as a parent is to always have a change of clothes for your baby.  Whether it’s due to a poo or a spew it’s likely they’ll have more outfit changes than the Duchess of Cambridge over the course of a day.  But when you’re flying it’s essential to always pack a change of clothes for yourself as well. There’s not much worse than having to sit through a flight covered in stinky wet clothes thanks to an unfortunate poonami incident. Trust me I speak from experience on this one. 

The Phil n Ted Lobster chair in action. It cleverly clips onto tables.
The Phil n Ted Lobster chair in action. It cleverly clips onto tables.

6.  Cots and high chairs

Because I travel quite a bit it’s been well worth my while to invest in a decent travel cot rather than hiring one each time.  Although it’s the most expensive on the market I can’t recommend the Baby Bjorn Travel Cot more highly. Those Scandinavians really know how to make baby products.  It’s so much easier to put up and down than any other travel cot on the market and folds up into a light and portable suitcase like shape.  Once your baby gets to the stage of eating solids it’s also pretty handy to buy a travel high chair so that you won’t be caught short at a hotel or restaurant that doesn’t provide them. I love the Phil and Teds lobster high chair which clips on to most tables securely and is small enough to carry around with you.  

Let me know if you have any genius travel with baby hacks that I’ve missed.  Happy flying.  


  1. If you are using a carrier at the airport, and they are great, definitely a good tip, please note that you have to take the baby/child out of the carrier, and put the carrier through security screening with the rest of your hand luggage.

    1. Good point Em. Doing the juggle of baby, carrier and carry on through security is not fun but still worth it I think!

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