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Air travel with babies

4-minute read

Travelling by plane with your baby might sound challenging. Some planning will help you make the experience as safe and as comfortable as possible.

At what age can your baby fly?

Airlines set a minimum age for flying, usually ranging from 2 days to 14 days.

Air travel is suitable for most infants. However, if you are considering travelling with your newborn, especially internationally, it is best to seek your doctor's advice first. Your baby may be too young to be vaccinated and therefore may not be protected against some diseases.

For older babies, check with your doctor at least 8 weeks before you go if you or your child need any vaccinations or preventive medications.

Planning your trip

Documents

Babies travelling internationally with both parents will usually need their own passport and also their own visa, if required by the destination country. However, babies travelling with just one parent may need additional documents, such as a permission letter from the absent parent for the travel. It's best to check entry requirements with the embassy or consulate of your destination country or visit smartraveller.gov.au.

Unlike the parent or guardian who is travelling with them, babies travelling within Australia are not required to have proof of identification.

When to travel

Although young babies might not yet have a regular sleep routine, you may want to consider a night departure for long-haul flights to increases the chances of your baby sleeping.

Air fares and seating

Different airlines have different rules about travelling with babies. It's best to check with your airline before you buy the tickets.

If you are travelling within Australia, your baby should be able to travel on your ticket. However, if you travel internationally, your baby needs to have their own ticket.

Your baby is allowed to travel sitting on your lap with an extension seat belt supplied by the airline. For long-haul flights, check if you can book a bassinet for your baby to sleep in. Note that bassinets are only suitable for babies under a certain weight and this limit differs between airlines.

If you want to use a child restraint (such as a child car seat) on board, you have to supply a child restraint that is approved in advance by your airline. Airlines may also have rules stating certain seats cannot have child restraints installed, such as seats in emergency exit rows and aisle seats.

When booking seats, consider if you need easy access to toilets with change tables.

Checking in

Everyone will be screened at the airport, even babies, although there are usually assistance lanes you can go through. You will need to take your baby out of their carrier or stroller so they can be carried through the screening point. All strollers and baby carriers will need to go through the x-ray machine.

You can usually take a stroller up to the gate lounge and then it will be stored in the hold of the aircraft.

On the plane

Find out which airline services and luggage allowance are available to you when travelling with your baby.

Your airline may allow a compact lightweight stroller to be used right up until the boarding gate. The crew may help you stow it away as you board and have the stroller ready for when you disembark.

Rather than relying on airlines to have suitable food and formula, it is best to bring your own. You can take expressed breast milk, boiled water to make up feeds or for drinking, formula powder and baby food on board.

There are restrictions on the amount of powders, liquids, aerosols and gels you can take with you on international flights out of Australia. These rules do not apply to domestic flights. You are allowed to take powdered baby formula on all flights, but you'll need to show it for screening when you go through. Baby products, prescription and non-prescription medicines (including special dietary products) and medical items required during a flight are exempt from the rules.

Take enough nappies and wipes, and a change of clothes for you and your baby in your carry-on luggage. Dress your baby in layers so that you can adjust according to the temperature in the plane.

Breastfeed or bottle-feed your baby during take-off and descent to help reduce the buildup of pressure in their ears, which can be painful.

Take a couple of favourite toys, their blanket, dummies or any items that can be comforting to your baby or help provide distraction.

After the trip

If you have changed time zones, your baby may be affected by jet lag. They might be grumpy or tired, and not want to eat or sleep at the right time in the new time zone. It helps if you plan ahead and try to adjust them gradually to the new time zone before you go. When you arrive, get them outside in the daylight and let them have short naps if they're tired.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: June 2019


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