Tackling airports and flights with babies and toddlers.

Airports and flying with a baby or toddler

In this article we are going to answer some commonly asked questions about airports and flying with a baby or toddler, we’ve done a separate article that will help you prepare for a holiday with your little one.

There is no ‘minimum age’ when a baby can travel but there are things you will wish to take into consideration.

Check your airlines policy. Some airlines will allow babies to travel as young as 2 days old with a fit-to-fly letter from their GP.

If you have recently had a c-section, then you may to need a fit-to-fly certificate/letter of clearance from your GP.

If you need to travel soon after giving birth, then we would suggest consulting your GP.

Passport- If you are travelling internationally then your baby will need a passport, before applying for a passport you will need to register the birth after that the processing timeframe for a passport can take up to 8 weeks.

Settling into parenthood- A new baby, although wonderful is a huge change. You may wish to take time to establish a new routine before travelling to an unfamiliar country.

Can I take baby milk, baby food or sterile water in my hand luggage?

The answer to this is yes, milk or sterile water must be in a baby bottle or sealed packaging and pouches of baby food must be sealed. You can take as much as you need to cover your journey. You could be asked to ‘taste test’, if this happens then the food/formula will need be consumed pretty much straight away.

It is possible to click and collect formula, baby food and other baby essentials from boots stores airside (after security). If you are short on luggage space, then this is a great option because nappies and formula are usually bulky items.

Which documents should I carry when travelling alone with children?

It can be a good idea to carry a letter of permission from the other parent.

The child’s birth certificate.

Although these aren’t usually required, it can be handy to have them just in case.

Can I take my pram onboard or do I have to check it in?

You have a few options here:

Check your pram in with your hold luggage, if you have a baby carrier then this may be a good option.

Take your pram to the boarding gate where it will be loaded into the hold. If you do this then you will have wait for it to be unloaded with the rest of the luggage when you arrive at your destination.

If you have a compact pushchair that is designed to fold small and fit in the overhead compartments, then you can take this onboard, but you will have to check the folded measurements comply with hand luggage sizes for your airline.

If you have a connecting flight, it is worth checking with your airline whether they give you your pushchair back between flights or provide you with a temporary pushchair (most airlines do this).

In my experience airlines do not include your pushchair in your luggage allowance but some budget airlines will not allow you to take it to the boarding gate.

In any event it is helpful to check with your airline before you travel if you have any specific requirements, and a baby carrier will certainly come in handy in most circumstances.

Preventing ear discomfort during takeoff and landing

Ear discomfort for babies during takeoff and landing isn’t uncommon, to relieve ear discomfort in babies you can feed them or give them a pacifier. For toddlers you can give them a drink, a lollipop, encourage them to yawn or purchase special flight ear plugs that help to regulate the pressure.

Failing that if your baby does cry don’t worry because crying helps to open the Eustachian tubes and relieve the pressure and pain.

What can I do to help my baby sleep on the plane?

Babies and young children can be very unpredictable, the slightest change to their normal life can affect their behavior, a plane journey is no exception.

Here are a few suggestions for helping your child to sleep on a flight.

Tire your little one out before the flight, try to avoid letting them nap in the airport unless it is going to result it them being cranky and over tired.

Chose a window seat, away from the toilets where there is minimal distraction.

A full tummy will help your baby/small person sleep better so fill them up at the airport or onboard the flight.

Choose a flight time that coincides with their sleep routine (if possible).

Entertaining a baby or toddler on board a flight

Make the most of the things around you, a paper cup, seat belt or onboard safety card can act as a distraction for your little one.

Take small toys, playdough, finger puppets, some crayons and a picture book are all great things to take onboard, be sure not to pull them all out at once, these can be used as a distraction if and when your baby/toddler gets bored.

In-flight movies and games- screentime limits can go out of the window onboard a flight.

Along with the inflight entertainment you can also download films and TV shows onto a tablet via Netflix or BBC Iplayer.

Take your little one for a walk up and down the plane.

Baby or toddler hand luggage checklist:

Passport and any of there paperwork that may be required such as a parental permission note if one parent is travelling alone.

2 changes of clothes (include something weather appropriate for when you land).


Enough nappies to cover your journey. 1 nappy for every 2 hours and a couple of spares.

Nappy sacks

Baby wipes



Baby food



Muslin squares