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Air travel with babies and children

7-minute read

Key facts

  • Air travel with your baby or young child can be an exciting or stressful experience.
  • If you or your child have been unwell or have a medical condition, check with your doctor before you travel.
  • If your child is travelling internationally with both parents, they will need a passport; if they are travelling with just one parent, they may need other documents as well.
  • Different airlines have different rules about travelling with babies and children, so it's best to check with your airline before you buy tickets.

At what age can your baby fly?

Each airline has a set minimum age for flying.

Most children are able to travel by air, without any restrictions. If you are planning to travel with your newborn, especially internationally, it is best to check with your doctor first. If your baby is too young to be vaccinated against some diseases, they won't be protected from catching those diseases.

For older children, check with your doctor at least 8 weeks before you travel and ask if you or your child need any vaccinations or preventative medicines.

Planning your trip

Documents and travel rules

Children travelling internationally with both parents will usually need their own passport and also their own visa, if the destination country requires it. Children who travel with just one parent, or no parents at all, may need other documents as well, such as a letter that gives the child permission to travel. It's best to check entry rules with the embassy or consulate of your destination country, or visit

There are limits on the quantity 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. Other special items you are allowed to take on board flights include toddler products, prescription and non-prescription medicines (including special dietary products), and medical items that you need to use during the flight.

When to travel

Flying at night is a very different experience to flying during the day. Consider a night departure for long-haul flights, if you think your child will sleep for most of the flight. If you are travelling with a baby, remember that the flight might disrupt their regular sleep routine.

Airfares and seating

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

Airlines usually prefer to have a responsible adult for each baby or young toddler. Check with your airline if you are planning to travel with more than one baby or toddler without any other adult help.

If you are travelling within Australia, your baby should be able to travel on your ticket. If you travel internationally, your baby needs 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 your toddler is over 2 years old, they will usually need their own seat.

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

When booking seats, consider whether 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 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 where it will then be taken to the hold (storage area) of the aircraft.

On the plane

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

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, so you have the stroller ready for as soon as you get off the plane.

You may be able to pre-order child meals and specify any dietary needs. It's a good idea to bring some food with you from home, in case your child is hungry between meals or won't eat the airline's food. Snacks are also useful to occupy children on a long flight.

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.

Take enough nappies and wipes, and a change of clothes for you and your child in your carry-on luggage. Dress your baby in layers so that you can add or remove clothes based on the temperature in the plane.

Give your toddler something to eat or drink, or breastfeed or bottle-feed your baby during take-off and landing. This helps reduce the build-up of pressure in their ears, which can be painful.

It's a good idea to take a few of your baby's favourite toys, their blanket, dummies or any items that can be comforting or help provide distraction. Small toys, books or a tablet can help keep your child busy, especially during a long-haul flight.

After the trip

If you have changed time zones, your child 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.

Health check

If you or your child have been unwell or have an ongoing medical condition, check with your doctor before you travel.

If travelling internationally, check with your doctor at least 8 weeks before you go to find out about any potential health risks at your destination. Ask if you or your child need any vaccinations or medicines to stop you getting sick.

If your child takes prescription medicines, make sure you have enough for your trip. Ask your doctor if you need a letter from them to travel with your medicine.

Resources and support

Read more health advice for travel.

Find a Travel health doctor using the healthdirect Service finder tool.

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

Last reviewed: May 2023

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