Flying with a Baby. Everything You Need to Know

icon share Share
Article by maddy
April 07, 2024
10 min read

Flying with a baby or a young child might seem daunting, but with a little bit of preparation and a dash of know-how, air travel with a baby can be a surprisingly smooth affair.

In this blog I’ll walk you through all the things you need to do to fly like a pro (…or not have it end up a sh!t show) with your baby!

What travel documents does your baby need?

Prevent stress from occurring in the first place by ensuring all necessary travel documents for your infant are in order – these can take a while so don’t do this last minute.

For international flights this includes a passport, and in some cases, a visa. 

Each country has its own regulations, so check the entry requirements well before your travel dates. 

It’s also wise to carry a copy of your baby’s birth certificate and, if applicable, a letter of consent if one parent is travelling alone with the child. 

For domestic flights in Australia, babies and children under 18 don’t need a passport or an ID.

Pro Tip: Infant passports only last 5 years and you often need 6 months from the expiry to travel overseas …this creeps up quickly! Make a note in both your diaries when you’re going to hit 4 years 6 months, and keep a note at the front of your passport holder when everyone in the family’s will expire …this will minimise the risk of  arriving at the airport with an invalid passport.

They don’t need their own seat under 2, so it’s often easier (& cheaper) when they are younger:

One benefit of flying with an infant is that you don’t have to book a separate seat for them so you only need to worry about your own adult fare – please note while they don’t need a seat they absolutely need a ticket and you need to ensure they are added them to your booking, they’re sometimes referred to as a lap infant on the booking –  flight attendants will teach you how to use the baby seatbelts that attach to your own.  

Most airlines will provide bassinets for babies under the age of two


  • Babies over 1 year old may not fit comfortably in the provided bassinet or meet the requirements by individual airlines so always check first.
  • When the seatbelt sign is on in the cabin you won’t be able to use the bassinet so just be prepared for this, if there’s lots of turbulence this can mean lots of in and out of the bassinet.
  • You can buy great breathable covers that fit over plane bassinets (they also fit over prams when you’re having sleeps on the run while travelling (which is incredibly common when you’re on holidays), it might be an item worth investing in. 

Sleeping on the flight:

Parents are often shocked by how well younger babies sleep on aeroplanes – this is mostly because of the vibrations and white noise effect of the engines…it’s what babies love!

Don’t stress about sleep routines on the flight; focus on what works to keep your baby calm and comfortable.

Taking off and landing:

Take off and landing can be a bit too much on the sensory system, and just like us their little ears can really hurt with the change in cabin pressure.  

The main thing here is to get them to swallow. 

For younger babies: this can be breast or bottle feeding as you take off and land.  

For older kids: it can be a sip or two of a drink bottle or a snack and if they’re bigger kids a boiled lolly to suck on.

If your baby cries on take off, this is normal as it’s a totally new sensation, stay calm – don’t stress about everyone around you (remember our babies are sensitive and will respond accordingly if you’re stressed and agitated) just keep encouraging them to swallow and know that once they do they’ll feel better. 

Where to sit with a baby?

Ideally if you’ve booked a baby with your ticket you’ll receive the bulk head seats with the bassinet in front of you.  

On domestic flights or flights with lots of other families this may not be possible and you could end up with a baby sitting on you the whole time.  If you’re travelling with your partner, share the load.

A window seat may be your preference but you’ll probably appreciate the ease of movement that an aisle seat provides.

Should I fly during the day or night?

Depending on the length of the flight and age of your baby or child, there are pros and cons whether you decide to fly during the day or overnight. Sometimes there may not be a choice.

DAY: Flying with a baby during the day will create less stress about your baby or child sleeping and may be easier in terms of stress on the parent.

NIGHT:   Night flights can be advantageous as the cabin lights dim, mirroring a night-time environment conducive to sleep. Flying overnight can mean your child will be less restless and won’t need to be occupied if they sleep well. However, consider your baby’s temperament and routine when booking flights. Some babies adapt well to daytime travel, finding the hustle and bustle soothing.

Adjusting to new timezones:

Adjusting to new time zones after a long haul flight can be a challenge, but babies often adapt quicker than adults thanks to their more flexible sleep patterns and the cyclical nature of their melatonin surges.

To ease timezone transitions:

  1. Upon arrival, encourage daytime activities and expose your baby to natural light to help reset their internal clock.
  2. If possible, allow 1-2 days of relaxing after arrival, in order to adjust – you will probably benefit more than the baby!
  3. The day after arrival, try to wake your baby around their usual time, even if they have had a broken night’s sleep because of jetlag. This is the best thing you can do to help get your baby acclimated to the new time zone.
  4. Try and stick to your baby’s regular routine, without any stress if it’s difficult to adhere to, assisted naps are completely acceptable!

On any holiday, there will be days where routine is thrown off and this is ok. If you are out and about then offer your baby their naps at their usual times. If they haven’t slept well during the day, then try your best to bring bedtime earlier to compensate. Naps on the go will also be inevitable, such as pram or carrier naps. 

See my blog sleeping on the run for all my tips for managing sleeps when you’re not at home.


When you arrive recreate their sleep environment as much as possible

When setting up a sleep environment that is unfamiliar to your baby/toddler, plan ahead and try to recreate their usual sleep environment as much as possible.

Take their cot sheet and sleeping bags from home so it smells familiar, blackout the windows the best you can, take a portable white noise machine or download an app on your phone and take any comforters/toys your baby is used to sleeping with.

If your baby is used to sleeping in their own room at home, then try your best to continue this while on holiday. Similarly, if your baby is used to sleeping next to you or in your bedroom at home, then continue this where possible. Often small spaces like hotel rooms or tiny apartments are necessary when travelling, in this case – products such as a blackout cot tent/canopy can be so helpful, as you don’t have to blackout the entire room at nap times.

Medications & Flying:

If electing to use medication as a sleep aid for children, it should NEVER be tried for the first time on a flight. 

Speak to your doctor or pharmacist and trial the medication weeks earlier to ensure there’s no allergic reaction or unexpected response (it can sometimes have the opposite impact); and you don’t want to find this out mid-flight!

What can you pack when travelling with a baby:

One of our top tips is to know your airline’s policy for checked baggage, lots of airlines when you add a baby or infant under 2 to your ticket will allow you to check in: 

  • Prams/Strollers
  • Porta cots 
  • A child car seat.


  1. Every airline is different, so always check
  2. Just because you can bring it doesn’t mean you should… do you really need car seats or is it easier to rent? This consideration will also make airport security a breeze! 

When it comes to prams a stroller is much lighter and easier to travel with but if you have a little baby who will be doing multiple sleeps during the day when you’re out and about your big pram with a bassinet (ideally breathable and graded for sleep) could be a great option for longer trips – that way every sleep is completely mobile – this is a big decision because they’re often not small and a bigger to pack into travel carriers.

Getting through the airport with a baby:

A baby carrier can make getting through the airport more comfortable and ensure you’ve got your hands free, be aware you’ll have to take the carrier off when you go through security.

There are also incredible strollers now that fold up as cabin luggage (GENIUS).

While your nappy bag and carry on baggage needs to be comprehensive (see below) a bag that goes over your shoulder will leave you with a very sore back, I recommend using a backpack or small wheely bag for the airport/flight. If you use a wheely bag that needs to be stowed overhead make sure you pack a smaller inner bag you can pull out with the essentials for take off and landing.

If you’re checking a stroller or car seat at the gate don’t forget to allow time.  

Packing smart on the flight:

When packing for your baby, think compact but comprehensive. 

A well-stocked nappy bag is your first line of defence. 


  • More nappies than you think you’ll need, 
  • Wipes,
  • A few changes of outfits (and some for you…particularly on a long flight the chances of getting spew, poo or food on you are reasonable high – and it’s awful if you have to sit in them the entire flight ), 
  • Feeding supplies, and 
  • Comfort items like a favourite toy or blanket. 

Ensure you pack an adequate amount of baby food, particularly for long haul flights , you can bring small jars of baby food or baby food pouches on the plane. 

Baby milk and flying:

  • If your baby won’t take a cold bottle, it’s perfectly reasonable to ask a flight attendant for a cup of hot water so you can warm it up or ask for warm water to mix formula with.
  • Most airlines have a policy about not providing milk for bottles so if you have an older child that drinks regular milk be prepared for this not to be as straightforward as it should be.
  • Pumping can be difficult on a flight, my key recommendation is you make sure your pumps are charged so you’re not having to rely on sitting in a tiny cubicle to pump – again let the attendants know what you need, most will be incredibly accommodating  

For older babies and infants, snacks and activities to keep them engaged are a must.

I saw a reel recently on tips for flying with kids and the top tip was: 

“snack bitch like you’ve never snack bitched before”

 …and I tend to agree (although it’s much harder on the way home than the way there!) 

Health and Safety

Avoiding Illness

Planes can be hotbeds for germs and other passengers can carry illness, so carry hand sanitiser and disinfectant wipes to clean surfaces before setting up your baby’s space. Staying hydrated is crucial, especially for breastfeeding mothers. By keeping as clean as you can, you’ll keep your baby’s immune system healthy. 

Medication and First Aid

Consult your paediatrician before flying for tips for flying and to discuss whether any medications are advised for your baby, particularly if they have existing health concerns. Pack a basic first aid kit with essentials like fever relief, nasal saline drops, snot sucker, and plasters and ensure you have enough supplies for a long flight. 

Returning home:

When you return home, try to get your baby back into their usual routine within 24-48 hours or as swiftly as possible, understanding that some flexibility may be needed as your baby readjusts. Depending on the time difference of where you have travelled to, your baby might take longer to return to their usual routine, but just do your best and use any settling techniques available to you.

Flying with a baby FAQs

Q1. How soon can you fly with a baby? 

ANS: Generally, airlines permit a baby fly from as young as 2 weeks, but it’s best to consult with your paediatrician, especially for premature or low birth weight babies.  For international trips that require passports you’ll need to wait much longer to get the paperwork sorted as you’ll need a birth certificate to process everything and it all takes time.

Q2: Should babies wear ear protection on planes? 

ANS: Lot of people do this but it’s not needed … most of the time the hum of the engines is very similar to the white noise you’d be playing in their room anyway (and they love it!). 

Q3: Any other baby tips?

ANS: Yes packing and preparation are key…and doing this as a team is my number one piece of advice

See my blog on long car trips with babies for more information on this:

Remember, every baby is unique, and what works for one may not work for another. 

The key is to stay flexible, prepared, and patient. Good sleep foundations and routines are one of the keys to success – this will help on the plane but also when you arrive! 

Flying with a baby is an adventure, it may not be as easy as it was pre kids but with the right approach it doesn’t have to be torture. 

I hope this blog has given you some useful tips for flying – happy travels!