Advice for flying with a 6 month old infant?
We are going to have our first flight with our 6 month-old child. The flight will be 12 hours long.
Is there anything we need to pay special attention to? Anything we might overlook?
Ok, so we just came back from our holidays. The tips given here were really helpful. However, we found out our child was afraid of the dark : since it was a night flight, they dim the lights during take-off. Unfortunately, we found that out when they put the lights back on, when we reached the cruising altitude. Apart from that, all went fine.
You should provide more information. Some children are noisy, some are quiet, some have poppy ears. No kid is the same! :)
@AdityaSomani: unfortunately, it's difficult to find that out before the first flight!
If flying long haul, consider taking something like a Bumbo. We put it on the floor between us when we flew from UK to Australia with our 6 month old.
You've read through the children tag? http://travel.stackexchange.com/questions/tagged/children - after that you can ask more specific questions. This one is really too broad.
Upvoting this question, because it has caused the creation of several very good answers (upvoted them too). It looked to broad at first (most things that say "any advice?" are), but for the Experts in this (ie the people who wrote answers) it clearly wasn't.
I took my daughter when she was 6 months old from Philippines to UK (14 hours) and she slept most of the time, the rest was breastfeeding and playing a little bit. Don't forget diapers.. we arrived with the last one used 2 hours before landing.
Before you travel - book early
- Make sure to book early enough so that you can get seats with access to a bassinet (travel cots). You need to call the airline directly to reserve such seats. Note that a travel cot/bassinet does not count as a seat for the baby. You'll still have to hold the kid during take-off and landing.
- If you do not manage to get a bassinet, bring a baby carrier onto the plane so that you can strap the baby onto you, so that you don't have to hold him/her the entire time.
- If you do want to shell out for an seat for the baby, check ahead of time whether your car seat will fit (hint: in some low-cost carriers, it may not, since the seats are too narrow).
Before you travel - be aware of the rules and regulations
- You are usually allowed to take e.g. breast milk with you through security check (TSA link - while security procedures are similar in many places, check you local regulations as well). You can use that to take non-breastmilk liquid for babies as well.
- You can usually check-in a car seat at no additional cost (even though you have not paid for a seat for the child). Pack it in a sturdy plastic bag, not all airlines will provide you with one.
- You can usually bring a foldable (but not detachable) stroller directly to the gate, which helps you to limit your child's mobility, if needed. The stroller will have to be gate-checked, which tends to be a bit less of a damage-risk. Check with the airline, though.
At the airport
- You need to check bags anyway (diapers, lots of baby clothes...); limit the amount of carry-on luggage so that you have your hands free for the kid (and the stroller, and the toys the kid just threw away as you hurry towards the gate).
- The airport may have fast-track queues for families with small children, as well as special waiting areas. Use them!
- Although you are allowed to pre-board, you may want to choose to board at the very end only, especially if the child is already mobile and doesn't like to be confined to its seat while waiting for other passengers to find their seat. Of course, if you're worried about having enough space for your cabin luggage, enjoy pre-boarding :)
During the flight
- Relax. Your child will most likely cry, and some people may be offended by that, but hey, tough luck for them. Feeling stressed out to have to calm the child, or yelling at him/her to shut up will only make matters worse.
- Note that you need to hold the child facing you during take-off and landing (unless the child is in its own seat), so that can be a good time for (breast-)feeding the child, since the swallowing helps with ear pressure (you can, but don't have to be, lucky in that your kid does not suffer much from pressure change).
- Make sure there is a vomit bag in your seat pocket, and that you can grab it reasonably quickly. In my personal experience, the most critical period for vomiting is either during or right after landing.
- Remember there are lots of people who think babies are cute, and would love to hold the little bundle of joy, while you go to the bathroom, or relax for a moment. Let them help you.
Be aware that these basinets are complimentary, scarce and not certain in case of equipment change
@andra: plus in certain airlines the crew is so notouriosuly lazy that you have a really hard time getting them to setup that thing for you
Note that what the TSA allows onto a plane in the USA is not necessarily what other authorities allow onto planes in other jurisdictions. The question doesn't mention the USA.
@DavidRicherby: good point, I'll clarify this. Note that if the TSA allows something, chances are high that other authorities allow it as well.