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Thinking of booking a holiday but dreading the thought of travelling with a baby? Allianz Global Assistance offers concerned parents the top 10 tips for a smooth flight

August 20, 2014 Corporate No Comments Email Email

What parent has not dreaded airline travel with infants less than two years of age? And what passenger waiting in the departure lounge has not cringed a little when they catch, out of the corner of their eye, the tiny diaper-clad potential troublemaker with a formidable pair of lungs, wondering if and when it will dissolve in a torrent of loud tears?

To avoid spending long, disagreeable hours in the air, Allianz Global Assistance offers parents solid, simple advice that begins even before they arrive at the airport.

Things to know before leaving

A baby can make a short flight as early as one week of age, and at 3-4 weeks, it can make a medium or long distance flight. It’s important that parents be sure their infant does not have a cold. If the child does have a cold, it is strongly advised not to fly. 

Parent recommendations before take-off

1. All children travelling overseas, including newborns, need a passport. Make sure all your family’s passports have at least six months validity from your planned date of return to Australia. Keep a photocopy of your documentation separate from the originals and leave copies at home with someone you can easily contact in case of an emergency. http://thailand.operationsmile.org/help/donate/

2. When you reserve your airline ticket, be sure to mention that you will be traveling with your baby. Certain airlines attribute specific seats to parents who are traveling with very young children.

On the plane:

3. To limit the effects of a change in cabin pressure when taking off and landing, we recommend ensuring your baby has something to drink, preferably something they usually drink. The act of swallowing will help alleviate ear pressure. Also, as these particular moments in the plane can be stressful, it’s advisable to let your baby suck on a pacifier.

4. In addition to your traditional carry-on luggage, you’re allowed to take your baby’s nappy bag with you into the cabin. Powdered milk formula is also authorised but you’ll have to ask the flight crew to provide you with spring water heated to the right temperature to prepare your baby bottles. You may also take baby food and any medications that your infant may need during the flight.

5. Have on hand everything you may need in terms of extra clothing, nappies and baby wipes – opt for wipes instead of cleansing lotions, which have to meet air safety standards: they cannot be over 100ml, and must be placed in transparent plastic bags and presented when you go through security.

6. Blankets provided by the airlines are not sufficient for your little one. Parents should include warm, comfortable clothing (bring along your baby’s usual sleeping bag and a cap) because the flight might be long and the temperature is often kept quite cool inside the plane.

7. If the flight lasts more than 2.5 hours, you’ll have to plan for an appropriate meal for your baby.

8. Be sure your baby drinks a lot during the flight. Infants become dehydrated much faster than adults due to the dry, pressurised air.

9. Parents’ biggest preoccupation during a long flight is to keep their baby occupied. This should be taken into account when you book your tickets. If possible, try to reserve a flight that coincides with your child’s naptime or even a night flight. You will be able to reserve a baby crib directly with your airline company (these cribs are for children who weigh less than 10 kg and are less than 70 cm in length). Otherwise, parents can try to recreate a cosy, familiar environment with their baby’s favourite soft toys, books and games. 

10. And here is an unexpected tip for getting your baby to sleep during the flight: taking along his car seat might help him drift off more easily because it’s familiar to him. However, be sure you have the airline’s permission in advance. This will depend on seating availability and the size of your child’s stroller or car seat.
 
Dr Geoff Ramin, Chief Medical Officer advises, “If there is a time change when you arrive at your destination and your baby is less than 6 months old, this change should not affect them too much as they are less sensitive when they are so young. However older infants can suffer more. We recommend adjusting to the local time by gradually delaying or advancing their bedtime.

“The same goes for meal times, which also need to be adjusted. You can help your child be patient by offering him a light snack, like applesauce. Nothing is preordained but it’s always possible to optimise travel conditions with a baby on-board!”

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