Car seat or holding your baby in arms – tips for flying parents

Published on 09.09.2019

Children and small babies get used to traveling with parents often very easily. It’s more likely, that you as a parent will have bigger trauma from that experience than your little ones. Our only advise is – plan carefully and don’t get stressed out.

Children and small babies get used to traveling with parents often very easily. It’s more likely, that you as a parent will have bigger trauma from that experience than your little ones. Our only advise is – plan carefully and don’t get stressed out. Your baby will feel the discomfort immediately and they’ll react to it no matter how much you’ll try to hide it. For sure it’s different if you travel short distance by car or public transport or if you have to board overseas flight all on your own. We’ve experienced it all and every travel made us wiser and stronger.

Driving with 5 weeks old in car seat for eight hours across Europe, we were encouraged by our first travelling victory and booked holidays in Estepona, nice, tiny town, located in southern Spain between Malaga and Gibraltar. Renting  two bedroom apartment, we planned to spend our honeymoon there. Well, not honeymoon exactly, given Simon was ever-present, but true family holiday as our parents have accompanied us.

Plan Plan Plan

It was first flight for Simon, turning three months recently. Knowing that most air companies allow you to bring baby on board as soon as they reach 5 weeks, I’ve consulted all pros and cons with our paediatrician, who assured me, that Simon was ready to take the three and half hour flight from Prague to Malaga. Again, I planned almost every minute from closing the door behind our home to arriving to the rental apartment. Nervousness increasing 100% a day, I have to confess, that the night before departure was very much sleepless. What kind of parent am I to force my little munchkin to such a terrible journey?

Obviously pretty normal one. Our flight departed at 7pm, which was Simon’s usual bedtime. I just had to make him fall asleep with all the noise around, air pressure change and other passengers talking all the time… At one point I even considered driving those 3000km but luckily my husband convinced me otherwise.

What to do while flying with baby?

All went fine thanks to few actions:

  • Plan according to you flight time: If you’re flying during night time, make sure to book the seat in the front row, equipped with baby crib on the wall in front of you. When turbulences occur, the flight attendant will most likely ask you to keep your baby with you and use the seat belt but it’s still very convenient to lay them down for a while. Short flights usually don’t offer this option, so we used window seat, that allows you to lean against it and relieve your arms little. If flying during day, take few favourite toys or anything you can entertain your baby with. Up in the travel altitude, leave your toddler crawl around if he becomes restless (and have extra set of clothes for him and hand disinfection for both of you).
  • Takeoff and landing: Those are the most critical few minutes of each flight, as the air pressure change make almost all babies fuzzy. Consider yourself lucky if your little sweetheart will sleep through it. If they’re awake, make sure you have a pacifier or anything they can chew on somewhere at arm’s length. You can also keep your baby a little bit hungry, that way you can breastfeed or give them a bottle to ease the pressure in their ears. Depending on the airplane type, the take-off or landing takes from 20-40 minutes but the air pressure change is matter of maximum 5 minutes.
  • Pack lightly: so you can put your bag under the seat in front of you, where you can reach it easily. This way you don’t have to hand your baby to someone else, stand up, take your bag from the compartment above your head and the put it back. Remember, you are not allowed to take your bag from above during the takeoff or landing. On the other side, if you have it in front of your legs, you just simply bend over a bit and take what you need.  
  • Pack smartly: if you aren’t travelling alone, take two bags on board. One smaller to keep with you during the whole time with baby accessories and toys and under the seat in front of you. The second bag, stored above your head, will contain your personal items.
  • Ask for help: Remember, the flight attendants are there for you! Don’t be afraid to ask the them for help. Sometimes even your neighbours can give you a hand if needed. Every airline should have baby food on board (not baby formula). Book the baby food in advance, even if you won´t need it and you’ll have enough of your own, it´s always good to know there’s some more.
  • Get yourself comfortable: Planning completed, think about yourself and start with clothes. If it’s a longer flight, it might be also good to have an extra tshirt with you. At the end, you have to feel good when flying with your family, as all babies feel their mother’s tension and nervousness.


Easier said than done but others have survived their first flight, I will too. That became my mantra for those few terrible hours before we left for the airport. And Simon absolutely surprised me. He was a sweet baby, crying shortly when we were finding our seats, he fell asleep few minutes before the departure, sleeping through the whole way and suckling his pacifier when landing. Andalusia was beautiful, Malaga, Ronda’s arena and bridge, Cadiz’ port and fortress and day trip to Gibraltar, hiking up the rock and strolling around the city. Light autumn breeze made all traveling for Simon bearable and we enjoyed the local atmosphere, ordered delightful dishes and had great time. Flight back was bit more difficult. We booked a night flight, which was unfortunately delayed for four hours, leaving Malaga at 1am. Lounge closing at 11pm left us with Simon in our arms for hours before we boarded and another 3.5 hours on board. Again, he managed greatly, allowing me to be bit more courageous for our next trip.

What to do with your baby on long haul flight?

When we found out that our next destination will be Singapore, all three of us were super excited. Well, me and my husband were, Simon couldn’t care less. I got immediately nervous while thousand questions ran through my mind, how do we survive the 16 hours long flight? What kind of food am I allowed to bring on board and will they serve baby food? What is the best travel stroller and can I keep it with me all the time? Do I need to have car seat on the plane? How do I entertain my baby on the plane and what are actually best travel toys? It’s so different flying around Europe than flying from Prague to Dubai and then Dubai to Singapore. We had separate seats, as my husband flew business and we paid economy. And to top of that, on the way back home, I flew completely alone as my husband had to continue to Japan.

Simon was nine months old at that time, so almost same rules applied to these two flights:

  • Front row with baby crib
  • Be ready for take off/landing air pressure change (dummy, food, bottle, your fingers – whatever your baby can chew on)
  • Pack lightly. Easier said than done for a long flight, huh?
  • Pack smartly. Oh yes, my husband had a huge bag full of kids accessories in business and we had just the necessary in economy.
  • Ask for help. Our seat was in the front four seater. When our 55+ neighbour came in and saw me and Simon, his mood dropped. My nervousness skyrocketed.
  • Get ourselves comfortable. Before we left home, my husband asked me, whether I planed to fly in my pyjamas. The dress was oversized and looked ugly but hey, it was super comfy.


Take off went pretty smoothly, Simon was sharpening his front teeth and I was happily bleeding from my fingers. Our neighbour fell asleep almost immediately (good for him) and so he probably didn’t notice Simon’s crankiness when I tried to hold him until the seatbelt sign went off. The crew to Dubai was fantastic and they let my husband take Simon to the upper deck, which meant blissful 60 minutes of me-time. Returning back we found the best spot ever for nine months old and that was stairs to business and first class. Simon was so mesmerised, that he spend there four hours getting up and down. The restroom was right next to there so I just sat there with glass of wine in my hands, competing hard for world’s no 1 “worst mom ever” contest and let other passengers play with the sweet kid.

Flight from Dubai to Singapore  was pretty uneventful either. No turbulences and Simon slept through it all. On the way back that was another story. I was ball of nerves, got diarrhoea, alone with small kid and they took our stroller in Singapore and said that I’ll get it back in Prague only. No one cared, that we had 20 hours stay over in Dubai. They told us to rent one in DXB (Dubai International) which I could easily do if I would have more time than 1.5 hours before departure.

Pack lightly didn’t work this time. Because of the long stay in Dubai, I had to bring everything with us meaning huge backpack to allow me to hold Simon in my arms. This time we were luckily sitting at the four seater with an Australian family traveling with baby girl who was same age as Simon so the two of them enjoyed some time together. Although it was a night flight, light turbulences occurred quite often and the flight attendant asked every parent to take their kids from the cribs and buckle them up. You can imagine that finding comfortable position for both you and your baby is not easy and doing this every couple minutes, there was almost zero  chance that any baby would sleep through being picked up and pulled down all over again. We even told the flight attendant that we’ll keep both babies in cribs at our own risk but she was adamant. Adding to our frustration was the captain, who let the seatbelt sign on even when there were no turbulences at all. Of course I understand that all of that was for our own safety but at that moment I wished that the flight was over.

Getting a stroller in Dubai was easy. Until I wanted to leave the airport. Of course all of those fancy Maclaren strollers are available and for free but only for use at the airport. After few minutes of heavy discussion  I was pointed to stroller rental place close to the immigration check point where they let me to use one of their strollers for free.


Check how much time you have when waiting for your connecting flight. If it’s longer than few hours, look up for stroller rental or check, whether the airport will let you rent a stroller and bring it outside the airport too.  


We booked a hotel close to Jumeriah, took the shuttle to Burj Khalifa to see the fountain and then we rushed back to catch at least few hours in one of those super comfy beds. We boarded flight to Prague next morning. Already past the half way to home, another six hours sounded like nothing and Airbus A380 and its stairs to business class again entertained Simon for most of the flight back home. Landing in Prague I was tired but proud that I did it all by myself. Little I knew that I was already 4 weeks pregnant. So if I could do it then, you can for sure do it too.

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