Check out these tips to make flying with a baby or while pregnant stress free
Flying while pregnant – the rules
The most important thing before travelling while pregnant is to consult your doctor to make sure you are absolutely safe to travel.
Air travel is generally not recommended after 36 weeks, but this may be earlier if you have complications.
Once you’ve confirmed you’re safe to travel, here are a few things to consider:
Check the airline’s policy in regards to travelling while pregnant. Different airlines have different guidelines and some require a ‘fit to fly’ letter from your doctor to travel.
A ‘fit to fly’ letter is also worth considering if you have a fairly large baby bump!
Promote circulation. Take occasional walks up and down the aisles. If you must remain seated, flex and extend your ankles often. Avoid wearing tight, restrictive clothing. Invest in travel stockings.
Drink plenty of fluids and avoid gassy foods and drinks. Gases expand at altitude and can mean some nasty heartburn and serious discomfort during the flight for both mother and baby.
During your trip
Have a contingency plan. Consider obstetric care during your trip or be aware of hospitals or clinics in your area in case of emergency.
Flying with a Baby
Before you fly
Check what services the airline offers to make your journey more comfortable. Reserving a seat with a bassinet (it’s worth noting that during turbulence you will need to take the baby out of the bassinet), or not sitting near a high traffic area such as the galley or the toilet, can help your baby to sleep and avoid unnecessary noise. They may also have pre-boarding arrangements, assistance in getting to the gate or stroller to the gate services.
Children under the age of two are able to sit on the parents lap during a flight, with a lap belt required for take-off, landing and turbulence. A fee will still need to be paid for the baby, but it’s much cheaper than purchasing a ticket for a seat.
Some families choose to travel with a car seat or child safety restraint system (CRS). In order for your child to sit in a CRS/car seat during the flight you will need to have booked an additional seat for them, which obviously adds expense. For long haul flights, it’s worth remembering that experts advise that children shouldn’t remain in car seats for a long period of time, so will still need to get the child out periodically. On the positive side, the children will be more secure and the car seat can be used on arrival in the arrival country. You should check with your airline the requirements for using a car seat during the flight and whether they allow it. Not all car seats are approved for use in planes. Remember that the seat will need to be secured using a seat belt rather than Isofix, and be sure to check the dimensions of the seat on the plane to make sure the car seat will fit. The Federal Aviation Administration has some useful information.
Packing for the flight
Flying with your new little “carry on” can be a daunting task. But believe it or not, flying with a baby who is under one year is probably one of the easiest times to travel with a child.
Treat your journey like an extended day out or road trip. Bring what you normally would – a few changes of clothes, wet wipes, spare pacifier (if applicable), comforter, extra diapers – then add a few extra diapers (always add a few extra!). Also bring an extra set of clothes for yourself because, as we know, baby’s messes become our messes very easily.
Parents of formula-fed babies, make sure you have ample formula with you. You are usually allowed to travel with expressed breast milk or formula for babies, but you may be asked to sample the milk at the security checkpoint. It’s advisable to double check with the airline prior to travel about restrictions.
According to the security at Hong Kong Airport, “Baby milk / juice / food in LAGs form is exempted from the 100ml requirement and there is no specific limitation on the amount. Passengers are allowed to take sufficient amount for the flight. Your accompanying baby should be present at the security screening check point. Passengers should pack the baby milk / juice / food that is not required for the flight into the hold baggage.
When it comes to milk feeds during the flight, be aware that many babies will go off their usual feeding schedule and that’s fine – breastfeeding or formula feeding on demand during the flight (and in the early days of the holiday through the jetlag period) is the easiest option. Breastfeeding mums need to make sure they drink enough water. Take an empty bottle or flask with you and get the crew to fill your bottle.
If your baby is eating solids, take food that you know they will eat rather than relying on the baby food offered on the airplane.
Also be sure to pack a medical kit with essentials you may need, such as Panadol in case of fever, teething remedies, gripe water and Infacol for colicky babies. Be sure to ask your doctor what they would recommend, too. Nothing is worse than dealing with a minor ailment at 30,000 feet and having nothing to soothe your little one.
If your journey is a long one over several time zones, prepare for jetlag as early as you can. Set your watch to your new time zone as soon as you board the plane. It takes about a day to adjust to each hour of time difference so the sooner you get started, the better. If going for less than a week, don’t force the baby into a new time zone; just go with the flow – remember you are on holiday!
When you’ve reached your destination, exposing yourself to daylight helps the body clock adjust, so try to get outdoors. The natural daylight will help stimulate the baby as well. Homeopathic remedies Arnica and Gelsemium are excellent remedies for both parents and baby and help ease the system through jetlag.
The most important thing to remember is to enjoy the holiday. Don’t exhaust yourself trying to make everything perfect. Find that “Have Baby, Will Travel” mindset.