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Traveling Internationally with Baby: Helpful Tips & Tricks For Your Long Haul Flight

Updated: Aug 1, 2022

After working our way up the travel scale, we finally went on our first international flight with our 1 year old.

As with any travel situation, it's usually a case of trial and error no matter how much research you do beforehand. Every baby reacts differently to different challenges and has different quirks and needs.

However, I feel that through our experience there are a few choices we made that helped our experience and a few mistakes we will definitely learn from.

  1. If you can afford it, try booking premium economy This was the first time we had taken the opportunity to pay for the upgrade from economy to premium economy and I am so glad we did it. The seats were so much more comfortable, had a decent recline, and less people in our space.

  2. Book a baby bassinet for your lap infant (if your child is under 1 year). I have a whole blog post dedicated to why this is such a great option for lap babies. Even if Baby doesn’t love it, it's an extra space to store all of the things you’ll need during the long flight. Additionally, if your baby usually only sleeps in a dark and quiet environment, bring something to cover the bassinet. Unfortunately you just can’t control the noises and light from the people or screens around you. Thankfully, products like the cozigo (use code TRAVELWITHBABY for $10 off) were made for this exact purpose.

  3. If you purchased a seat for Baby, you will be able to get a meal. If baby is eating whole foods be sure to request a kids meal. Depending on the airline, not all airline meals are kid friendly. During the booking process you can usually request a "kids" meal or something more likely to be eaten by your little. On that same note... If you're flying with a lap infant and they are eating foods, make sure you plan for their snacks/meals since it will not be provided.

  4. Practice using any new products before your trip Anything that you are hoping the baby will use for a purpose should be practiced with before your trip. New headphones? Practice wearing them before your flight. Inflatable footrest? Make sure you know how to blow it up. You get the gist…

  5. Bring along anything that will help baby sleep and create a bedtime environment. During the flight, recreating the bedtime routine will help baby get to sleep a bit easier during the flight. So what does that look like at home? Minus the crib and maybe bathtub, those are the things you'll want to pack in your carryons. Depending on your baby this could be a cozy blanket, sleep sack, portable sound machine, bedtime book, toothbrush, lovey, pacifiers, etc.

  6. Pack more milk/formula and water than you think you may need. Babies (and adults) tend to get dehydrated faster on travel days and especially on long flights. It is important that you help them stay hydrated. Additionally, the water in the bathroom is not safe to drink so while you can clean the dirty bottles, don't reuse them afterwards. Use a new bottle to feed baby with and thoroughly clean the dirty bottles again once you get home or to your destination.

  7. Bring a gift for your flight attendants My husband thought this was silly at first but I bought some (very yummy) Target trail mixes to bring with us for the flight attendants and gave it to them before we took off on our outbound flight. For our return flight, I visited the duty free shop in the airport and bought a cute box of chocolates. The flight attendants were either great actors or they really seemed to appreciate such a small gesture! While I didn’t expect much in return we actually got extra snacks at the beginning of the flight before take off (not given to anyone else in our section) and another time they came back with little toys for Stella to play with. Throughout the entire flight, the attendants really seemed extra attentive to our needs.

  8. Ask the flight attendants to stagger your meals Meal service is typically a busy and loud time of the flight so there is a good chance the baby may not be sleeping. We asked our flight attendant if they wouldn’t mind holding onto one of the meals until the other was finished and they were happy to do so. For each meal, one of us ate while the other held the baby. And once the first partner was done, we went to the galley in front of us to let them know and take our tray. They then brought our second meal, kept warm (or cold) the entire time.

  9. Bring brand new toys for baby to play with when they get restless. The only toys that our little one truly played with on the flight were the ones she had never seen before. For a long haul flight, longevity of a toy is so valuable and you’re way more likely to get some good play time if it’s brand new. You can find a whole list of toys divided by age on my blog here.

  10. Keep Organized Have all feeding items together and easily accessible and all diaper/changing items together as well. Because you're on the plane for such a long time, you're likely to have many diaper changes and feedings taking place. Having everything organized and able to be easily grabbed was a big help during the flight. Within the diaper bag I had a small packing cube with all of our extra diapers, wipes, changing pad, and extra change of clothes. We then had another small bag filled with all of the feeding items.

  11. Bring antibacterial wipes with you to the bathroom and wipe down the door, lock, and handle in addition to the changing table in the bathroom. The space is tight and there is a very good chance that while you're organizing your changing items in the bathroom, Baby has their hand all over that bathroom lock or the stabilizing bar right next to the door.

  12. Use bathroom space wisely for diaper changes and bring a head rest. If Baby is taller or over the age of 1, bring a hoodie, tshirt, or blanket (something soft) to put Baby’s head on during diaper changes and place them diagonally on the table for more space.

  13. After meal service, cut off any screens. When the lights go off, it's “bed time.” Whether you are traveling east or west, about an hour after meal service is when the cabin lights tend to turn off and everyone is instructed to keep the window shades closed. This is the most opportune time for you and baby to get some sleep. Screens only prolong the ability to sleep so after the meal, it’s best to keep them off. Additionally, the time between the meal and “lights out” is a great opportunity to start your bedtime routine, if you have one. Read them a bedtime book, feed them a bottle, brush their teeth, etc. If you can take advantage of this time, it will also make the time adjustment a little bit easier.

  14. If you are flying with a US airline and plan to put Baby in a carrier to deplane, do this before they fall asleep and you land. This will just make it easier to get organized and leave the plane without waking the baby up as there is a good chance they will fall asleep during the descent. If you are flying with a non-US airline you will likely have to put baby into the seat belt extender which won't allow for baby to be put into the carrier.

Long haul flights can be tough on anyone and add a small child to the mix, it can become overwhelming. We found that with these tips, it was easier to keep the journey manageable even through the exhaustion.


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