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Tips on Travelling With a Young Child

Posted By Helen Pulford On April 27, 2009 @ 11:57 am In Travel Advice | No Comments

While we live in the North Island my family is in Southland and my husband’s are in Wales so in order to visit it has meant travelling. I have only had to do this with two children so I’m unsure how others cope with more. A friend told me she travelled back to UK with 10 month old twins and a 2 year old. She said at the airports she had one twin in a front pack the other in a back pack, luggage in one hand and holding onto her daughter with the other.

Travelling by Plane

If travelling overseas [1] you will need to organise a passport for your child, taking the photo can take a few attempts. They want a front profile with eyes open which can be hard to get with newborns and toddlers as they want to shut their eyes or turn their head when a camera flashes. With newborns before 6 months it is hard to know what to record for their details: Eye colour: blue-turning, brown? Hair colour brown-turning, blonde? Height: changes on a daily basis! And signature, well, that could be interesting.

Ask the airline for a sky cot and baby food (if on solids) when you make the booking.

Take a Pillow on the Plane

Taking a tri-pillow is useful if breastfeeding. It is also good for them to sleep on when you need to hold onto them. You may find that you get your baby off to sleep in the sky cot and the plane hits turbulence and you have to take them out and onto your knee with the baby seat belt on. So you may find it easier to have them sleep on the tri pillow on our knee with the seat belt around them.

Airline Food

The bulkhead seats have more room, but the armrests are sometimes fixed. The airlines often provide you with baby food, but ask about 10-15 minutes in advance of wanting it, as the airhostesses are often busy. Breastfeed or give a bottle on the take off and decent as it is meant to help reduce the pressure in their ears by having them suck.

Nappies at 30,000 Feet

Changing nappies in the toilets is a challenge as there isn’t much room. Some airlines provide you with a few nappies and baby wipes on international flights, but best to have your own supply just in case. Also, take some spare clothes for the baby and yourself in case they vomit or wet through their nappy. Double nappies are even an option, have a pull-up nappy over top of a normal nappy.


Many airlines provide bassinets for infants of average size up to 8 months old. The bassinets are made up with sheets, pillow and blankets. Bassinets fitted on the Boeing aircraft measure 81x33x25cm (32x13x10″) and have a maximum weight restriction of 12kg (26lbs). Bassinets fitted on the Airbus A320 aircraft measure 75x34x22cm and have a maximum weight restriction of 11kg or 24.25lbs.

There are only a limited number of bassinet positions on any aircraft so it is important to request a bassinet seat when making your booking. Please note that because the bassinets are designed for infants up to 8 months old, pre-allocation of bassinet seats is only available for infants up to that age on a first come, first served basis.

I found it easier to try to keep to their normal sleep pattern on the plane and then on arrival in a different country readjust. If going a completely different time zone it will take him some time to adjust and some nights they will wake wanting to play.

Miscellaneous Concerns

Depending on the child’s age, consider a spill resistant cup to give them water as travelling can cause dehydration. A digital thermometer, bibs, new toys (that they haven’t seen before), baby wipes and baby snacks in the baby bag all come in handy.

You will have to consider if you plan to take your car seat, as most taxis don’t carry them. If you have a spare seat beside you can bring your car seat on the plane and strap it (like the car) and have your baby sit in it for a period of time. Talk to the airline staff re this first to make sure there is room.

There is a web site call Flying with Kids that has lots of air travel tips see [2]

When you book your seats use h [1]ttp:// [3] to help work out which row is best for your needs. is an online interactive forum for dads that offers resources, discussion groups and practical information about parenting from a male perspective. was brought into this world by Wellington-based dads [4]

Airlines will have question answer sections on their web sites, for Air New Zealand see [5] about baby amenities. Baby amenity kits are available onboard long-haul international flights only.

Travelling by Car

When travelling by car it is important to make regular stops, allowing your baby to move around for a while. Ensure that they don’t get too hot and have a sunscreen on the window beside them. Dressing your baby in natural breathable clothes also helps to keep them comfortable.

Babies usually sleep well in car seats. Most parents have heard a story of someone driving around and around the block trying to get their baby to sleep. Babies should not stay in car seats for long periods as their spines are still immature. See the Land Transport Authority at [6]


If staying overnight book the accommodation in advance, ask for a port-a-cot and a quiet room. If there is no adult bath you can use ask for a baby bath. Otherwise you can have a shower with your baby, but it is not always an easy thing to do.

Parent’s Rooms

When stopping in towns that you don’t know, it can take sometime finding a parents’ room to change a nappy. Most shopping malls have parents’ rooms and are sometimes better than the public ones. You could always write to your council if your local town doesn’t provide good facilities to change and feed your baby in. In New Zealand you can also use the Plunket rooms but in smaller towns these may be only open at limited times. The Plunket web site is [7]

Buggies and Strollers

If you live somewhere with lots of hills a three-wheel buggy is handy. Before buying a buggy check it can fit into the boot of the car. Also if you are considering having another baby can your buggy adapt to hold two children. Most strollers don’t recline enough for newborns, you can only use them once your baby has good head control and can sit up.

Front and Back-packs

With a front-pack a newborn usually will face inwards and when they have head control can face outwards which they often prefer as they want to see everything. When older you may wish to use a backpack. For travel equipment see the online shopping pages on babywebnz h [1]ttp:// [8]

About the Author

Article by Helen Pulford (Midwife and Childbirth Educator) owner of: [9]

directory for pregnancy, childbirth and parenting web sites. [10]

childbirth education resources.

This article has a copyright and cannot be reprinted without permission. [11]

BabyWebNZ is a web site linking you to other web sites related to pregnancy, childbirth, baby care and parenting. BabyWebNZ has no control over the content or accuracy of these web sites.

Birth Resources provides information but it is not a substitute for professional midwifery or medical care. You should always seek the advice of your midwife, doctor or health professional for any concerns you may have regarding your health.

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