Some said we were mad. Some said we were brave. I’d say that we were both!
When Zak was just 7 weeks old, we took him on his first flight. Admittedly, this wasn’t a transatlantic flight, or even a very long flight, as we travelled from Newcastle to Belfast with a flight time of around 40 minutes each way. We travelled with easyJet and learned so much about how to fly with a newborn baby.
So if you’re thinking about taking your newborn baby on their first flight, here are my five top tips…
1. Think about your luggage
We went away for 4 nights but took an obscene amount of luggage with us: a 20kg suitcase, 2 hand luggage suitcases, a changing bag, a pushchair and a car seat. I’m pretty certain that we didn’t need it all, but we did use most of it. Think carefully, though, about how you’ll manage all your luggage with a baby in tow. Get a trolley and pack lightly, if you can! We put Zak’s pushchair in a pushchair bag from Mamas and Papas to keep it safe and clean as it travelled through the mysterious baggage system, where things never come out in the same condition they were when they went in. We did the same with his car seat, using a car seat bag bag from Amazon that can also be worn as a backpack, meaning that it was easier to carry.
2. Wear your baby
Newcastle Airport is a small airport, so we decided not to take our pushchair to the gate and instead used our BabyBjörn Mini Carrier to carry Zak. As we were still using the carrycot on his pushchair, that made more sense, rather than trying to dismantle it all at the gate. By having Zak in his carrier, it also meant that my hands were free to hold onto the handrail as we got on the plane. I can be a bit clumsy at times, so carrying a baby in my arms while going up a wobbly staircase in high winds didn’t appeal!
3. Get on first
Most airlines allow people travelling with children under 5 to get on the plane first. I never understood this. Why on earth would you want to get on first and be restricted to a seat for longer than you need to be?! But now it makes sense. Sorting out a baby, hand luggage and seatbelts with people pushing past you to get to their seats is a nightmare and a recipe for disaster. Get on first, get your seat and get settled before the general public are released onto your plane.
4. Try to get your baby to sleep
This was a tip I’d read before flying with a baby for the first time and it definitely helps. That is, if your baby’s a sleeper! On both of our flights, Zak fell asleep on the runway before taking off and didn’t wake until we were getting off at the other end. Have boobs/bottles ready to feed if your baby does wake up – the sucking will help their ears pop.
5. Forget about disturbing others around you
Travelling with a baby can be stressful, but it doesn’t have to be. When you are calm, your baby will pick up on that and will hopefully stay calm. Of course, your baby might also screech for the entire flight, but that’s also ok. Remember, if the people around you don’t want to travel in close proximity to a baby, they should take a private jet. Otherwise, they just need to suck it up and have another gin.
We travelled with easyJet. They make things easy for people travelling with young children and have made this video to explain what they can do to help: