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Mastering the Art of Flying with a Baby

For many parents, the mere thought of flying with a baby can induce panic. The prospect of being confined for hours in a metal tube with a tiny human doesn’t exactly sound appealing. However, I beg to differ.

Both my children, Floris and Lotte, were just 7 months old when they embarked on their longest flights. Floris flew to Los Angeles and Lotte to Bangkok. Despite the flights lasting over 12 hours, they went incredibly smoothly. There were no inconsolable babies or disgruntled parents.

Perhaps it was luck, or perhaps not. But I firmly believe that if you’re relaxed, your baby will be too. So, how do you ensure you board the plane as calm as possible? It’s partly a mindset, telling yourself “it’ll work out”. But it also doesn’t hurt to prepare as much as possible for the journey. Preparation involves many things: from choosing the right flight time, getting your baby accustomed to a carrier, bringing along the best travel toys for babies, and most importantly, packing the right items in your hand luggage. A well-stocked diaper bag can provide peace of mind, knowing you have everything you could possibly need within reach.

To help you prepare, I’ve compiled a list of 10 essential items for your hand luggage that have always helped us stay relaxed when flying with a baby.

Top 10 Essential Items for Your Hand Luggage When Flying with a Baby

1. Stackable Formula Dispenser for Easy Feeding

Feeding your baby on a plane can be a hassle, especially when dealing with powdered formula. A stackable formula dispenser can make this process much easier. You can measure the exact amount of formula you need for each bottle at home and add them to each tray. Always ensure you carry twice the amount of formula you think you’ll need. This came in handy when we had an unexpected 12-hour stopover in Houston.

2. Carry Extra Bottles

Always pack at least two bottles in the diaper bag. During our flight to LA, we discovered a crack in one of Floris’s bottles. It started leaking and was rendered unusable. Thankfully, we had packed an extra bottle!

3. Thermos Bottle with Boiled Water

Imagine this: you’re just seated on the plane, ready for take-off. You want to give your baby a quick bottle during takeoff to prevent discomfort from the change in pressure. However, the flight attendants are busy and can’t provide the hot water you need for the bottle. To avoid such situations, carry a thermos bottle of boiled water with you. Also, purchase a sealed bottle of flat mineral water after passing through customs.

This way, you can always prepare a bottle at the right temperature, even in the middle of the night when one of the kids wakes up crying. You won’t have to wait for anyone to bring you hot water. If you’re on a long flight and your water isn’t as warm as you’d like, you can always ask the flight attendant to refill your thermos bottle with hot water when they have the time.

4. Portable Changing Mat

As a cautious parent, I find airplane toilets not the most sanitary places. Hence, I always carry my own changing mat. It’s foldable, fitting easily into the diaper bag. Upon reaching your destination, you’ll appreciate knowing your baby will have a clean place for diaper changes.

5. Pack Plenty of Diapers

And by plenty, I mean more than enough! On our first flight, Lotte had a tummy ache, leading to frequent diaper changes. So, packing extra diapers is a wise move when flying with a baby.

6. Carry Clean Clothing Sets

Carry at least two sets, and don’t forget a clean shirt for yourself. On our first long-distance trip, we had to wait for 12 hours straight. We were exhausted when we finally boarded the plane to Amsterdam. Unfortunately, we ended up covered in milk due to a loose bottle lid. Trust me, you don’t want to spend 11 hours flying in clothes soaked in sour milk.

7. Large Hydrophilic Cloths

When I first received these after Floris was born, I wondered about their usefulness. But they turned out to be a great gift! I use these cloths for everything on a flight – wiping spit, as a bib, a blanket, and more. It’s an indispensable item for your hand luggage when flying with a baby. It also comes in handy during travel. You can use it as a ground cloth for your baby or to create a little shade.

8. Essential Travel Gear: The Pacifier Cord

During our first flight with Floris, we didn’t have a pacifier cord. However, we quickly realized its importance and made sure to have one for every subsequent flight. This item is indispensable when flying with a baby. Simply attach the pacifier to one end of the cord and fasten the other end to the baby’s clothing with a clip. This ensures you’ll never lose the pacifier and eliminates the need to clean it every time it falls on the airplane floor.

9. The Lifesaver: Baby Carrier

The baby carrier is a true lifesaver for me during flights. It’s incredibly useful at the airport, during boarding, when leaving the plane, or while waiting in line at customs. I find it particularly handy during flights as it allows me to keep my hands free. Both of my kids enjoyed sleeping in it during the flight. However, it’s important that your child is accustomed to the carrier. If you’re planning to use a carrier for the first time on a crowded flight, it might not go as smoothly as you hope. If you can’t or prefer not to use a carrier, a stroller is a good alternative. Here’s a link to some of the best travel strollers.

10. Bottle of Mineral Water

As mentioned earlier, a bottle of mineral water is a must-have, especially when combined with a thermos bottle. After passing through customs, you’re allowed to purchase a sealed bottle of water to take on board. This ensures you can always prepare a fresh bottle for your little one, using your thermos bottle of warm water and your stackable formula dispenser.

There are many more items that could be added to this list: wet tissues, special plastic bags for used diapers, saline nasal spray for babies, pacifiers (if you use them), a thermometer, children’s paracetamol, solid baby food, several spoons, and a neck pillow for yourself to ensure you can sleep when the baby does. Enjoy your flight!


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