Traveling with infants can be an anxious experience for grandparents, be it a short trip of a long one – by road, rail or air. This article provides tips for grandparents traveling by air with their infant grandchildren. For the purpose of this article, I will utilize the definitions provided by airlines.
By airline standards, an infant is described as a person under the age of two years old. In general newborns can travel after seven days by air without a medical clearance certificate. If traveling within a seven-day period from birth in most instances airlines require a medical clearance certificate prior to travel. Check with the airline prior to booking to confirm the requirement.
Traveling with grandchildren, or as part of the extended family can be a wonderful experience and with a little pre-planning the journey can be as smooth as possible.
Packing Considerations For Infant Travel
Nappies - pack double the usual amount in carry-on luggage, together with a small toiletries bag that can be stored in the seat pocket. Include a couple of nappies, wipes, tissues, disposable bibs and bags. A small toiletries bag is easier to carry when making your way to the baby change room.
If using a pacifier, bring along a couple as you are bound to drop one in between the seats during the flight. Pack a couple of light baby blankets, as one can be folded as a pillow or to provide cover to envelope the baby, while the other provides a covering and comfort for baby as changes to cabin temperature can vary during the flight.
If you are not taking advantage of airline seat selection in all likelihood you will be allocated seating at the rear of the aircraft. This is beneficial to you and your fellow passengers as the area is generally less susceptible to foot traffic than the mid or front of the aircraft. Most people traveling with small children are seated as standard in the rear section of the aircraft.
Take Off And Landing
To offset the changes in air pressure particularly during take-off & landing, be prepared to bottle feed or provide a pacifier for use during this period. The very action of the child swallowing, assists to reduce the uncomfortable sense of pressure in the ears and creates an ‘ear popping’ effect to relax an infant.
Orientate baby away from bright light which may be visible from the window, so as not to startle him/her from involuntary reflex or fright. Don’t hesitate in asking the flight staff for assistance as they will be happy to help.
Some parents choose to (over the age of six months) dispense a small dose of children's paracetamol approximately thirty minutes prior to departure to assist an infant traveling by air.
It’s vital that parents and grandparents traveling with infants remain calm and relaxed during the flight. Little ones are susceptible to transference of anxiety by sensing the demeanour of those around them. So, while you may not be in full control of the situation, don’t burden yourself with things that you cannot control. Believe it or not most passengers on board can relate to you, so sit back relax and enjoy the flight.