Travelling with a 1 year-old - advice please!


I just wondered if anyone had any experience of taking a 1year-old on a flight to the USA. My little one is only 3 months at the moment but my parents have offered to take us to Florida at Easter and my husband is refusing to go as he doesn't think it'll be fair on her. I know it'll be a difficult flight, I'm not expecting it to be easy but it just seems too good an opportunity to pass up, especially as her flight will still be free. Was just wondering if anyone had any positive experiences or tips that I could show him to help to try to persuade him! Thanks!

9 Replies

  • I have to say with a 4 year old and 10 month I'm not brave enough to try flying anywhere !! But my friend took her little girl to Barbados for their belated honeymoon when she was around 7 months and they said it was easy. Just made sure she had a bottle to suck to help equalise her ears and hey presto. Think it helped that she wasn't at a stage where she wanted to move about!! They also took the eldest now 4 and 18 month on a shorter flight his year and with help of portable DVD player and a few favourite films and scribble pads etc was a little more stressful trying to burn off the urge to run around but was successful without too much trauma to other travellers. So can be done. Just be organised I guess :-) good luck

  • I agree with your friend's approach, if you organise yourself you minimise the chances of a bad experience. I flown 8 times with my now 2 year old son and I've had a baby break-down on a plane exactly once and it lasted around 5 minutes (although it felt much longer at the time!). I've had a couple of other baby break-downs at airports but they are usually very easy to fix with food/distraction. Of course, now I've said all of this I feel like I might be due a terrible flight this summer :-)

  • Sorry but I agree with your husband. I travel a great deal with work and I always wonder why parents put young children through the experience of a long flight. If you're travelling in economy, it's not much fun as an adult on a long haul flight so it must be worse for kids. Looks awful anyway.

    My OH is 7 and half months pregnant and I've (reluctantly) come to terms with the fact that it'll be a couple of years before we have a foreign holiday again. Having looked at other people and thought 'Why would you do that? To yourself and to the child?' many times, it's Cornwall or Wales for us!

  • My son was born while we were living in the US and we took his first flight when he was 6 weeks old (from Boston where we lived to see relatives in Houston – 4hrs) and then we flew from Houston to the UK (10hrs), as we were moving back home, when he was 10 weeks old. He is now two and he has done an awful lot of long and short haul flights. My husband and I are both in agreement that the flights when he was very small were the easiest. The noise of the engines and the vibrations of the plane just sent him right to sleep and he was barely awake for any of it. I had a lot of colleagues in the US who were expats who also travelled a lot with children between the UK and US, they we all in agreement that travelling with pre-mobile children is pretty straight-forward. It’s travelling when they are 18+ months that’s really more challenging.

    I would definitely say that you should do it if you want to and don’t worry about your baby; if you plan and are well prepared, you’ll be happy and so your daughter will be happy. There is a ton of great advice and guidance on the internet (I’ll post the website that I’ve found most helpful below) so I won’t overload you with too much but here are my big three:

    1)Book way in advance, book a direct flight if at all possible and book a bulk head seat. You can book these seats for free if you are travelling with a child under two. The bulk head seat has a big fold down table which the cabin crew will attach a bassinet (for babies under 6 months) or a car seat type seat for older babies. This will mean that, even though you won’t have purchased a seat for her, she’ll have her own space and you’ll get to eat your meal with two hands! Having a bulk head seat really makes all the difference.

    2)Plan and prepare – lots! Our general rule is that, when moving through the airport, one parent deals with our son and the other deals with everything else - carrying hand luggage, managing documents, putting things through security, just everything. We really try and minimise the amount of hand luggage we have. When he was younger we pretty much hold-checked everything and just had our son in a baby carrier and two backpacks for the flight.

    3)If you breastfeed, consider continuing until after the trip. I really felt that being able to breastfeed my son made everything so much easier. I fed him during take-off and landing to help his ears, we didn’t have to worry about taking formula though security, we had no issues with running out of milk or having to get bottles clean etc. Feeding was just a breeze.

    It really is fine if you plan ahead. This summer I’ll be taking a 10 hour flight alone with my two-year old… and I’ll be 4.5 months pregnant! It might sound like a mission for a crazy fool but then being a crazy fool has always been my strong point. I’m telling you this as I clearly wouldn’t be considering doing it if flying with babies/toddlers was super difficult. It is totally manageable… with a ton of planning :-)

    This is the website that I have found to be super helpful -it is very long so just scroll to the bits that are relevant to you - flyingwithchildren.blogspot... I will say that she really advocates taking your own car seat which you really don’t need to do if your child is under two and you can get a bulk head seat.

    Feel free to ask if I can help any further :- )

  • For long flights planes are well equipt for little ones they have cots for take off and landing and if they want a nap, my cousin who is about to turn two has been flying since he was about 5 months old and my auntie has never had a problem.

  • My mum flew me long haul way back in the Seventies and through to the Eighties. She said that life was too short not to live it and that it would be a terrible pity to blame her kids for not living her life to the max. She took us everywhere and made things work. I thank her for broadening my horizons and my outlook on life as well as teaching me to be adaptable and flexible from the very beginning.

  • I agree completely with this, children are often seen as a reason not to be able to do something, but I think they should be the reason to live a little more and explore these wonderful places and cultures whilst young. Start them early so they really do realise there is a big wide world out there foe them to go and grab when they are older!

  • I flew with my ex preemie Feb 2014 and she was just 9months (7 corrected age) and we were fine and i was on my own. The second time she flew out with me and my mum in June2014 but was bit difficult as she wouldnt sit still & wanted to stand pulling the hair of passengers infront!!! Both times From London to Stockholm on 2 hrs n 40mins flight.

    We are dreading the flight back home :(

    Not sure about longer hours!!

  • We flew to Australia with a 22 month old with only a 2 hour gap between flights and honestly it was not as bad as we had thought. A few walks up and down the isles saying hello to everyone every now and again and lots of snacks. Of course there were a few squirmy moments and restlessness but it was bearable and she had fun getting all the attention from fellow passengers. We had a night flight on the way back and she slept most of it. Staff are very helpful.

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