Flying with infants: How to avoid a meltdown

Worried about how your baby or toddler will cope with being on the plane? We asked our crew for their top tips on how to have a calm, happy flight.

  • Janine Eberle
  • August 2018

Cabin crew are not only experts at helping parents keep their littlies happy on the plane, they’re often frequent-flying parents with their own kids to wrangle! We asked Jetstar crew members Katherine Belot and Melanie Lynn for their insights after years of helping parents and babies have smooth flights – here are their top tips.

A kid holding a globe.

How to prepare your child for the flight

Melanie: Practice ‘going to the airport’ with Lego, put teddy and the backpack through an imaginary X-ray machine and show that they emerge safely out the other side. There are simple picture books available that describe the process of security, bag search and boarding. Security can be scary for little people so it’s good to prepare them for it.

Two kids watching on an IPad in an Airplane.

Book a flight early in the day, when infants are (generally) in a better mood. But if you’re flying long distance, try to book an overnight flight to coincide with your child’s sleeping habits.

Allow an extra HOUR to get to the airport. This means you won’t be rushing around and have time to change a nappy if needed and get a coffee.

Top tip to avoid boarding stress

Melanie: If there are two grown-ups, one boards first with the bags, puts the bags away, gets the important stuff out and sets up. The other waits with the baby until the end of boarding. In my experience, boarding first means you’ve got a child who wants to check out what’s going on, then gets bored sitting in one spot waiting for everyone else to get organised. Then of course it’s fasten seatbelts and they get very upset! Point out the seatbelt sign and explain everyone has to sit down while that’s on, they can see everyone else is doing the same, which will help convince them to do it too.

Dealing with take-off and landing

A Dad feeding his baby infant in a bottle.

Katherine: The change in cabin pressure during take-off and landing can hurt a child’s ears. Try to feed your baby or give your toddler something to drink. If they aren’t hungry or thirsty give them lollies (if they’re old enough).

How to keep them happy during the flight

A girl draws in her book in an Airplane.

Melanie: Magnetic books are great, sticker books, Play-Doh activity packs and Etch-a-Sketch. Save the iPad, it’s a great ‘last resort’ and if it’s used first, that’s all they’ll want. Take loads of nibbles. Popcorn and potato chips are good because they’re salty and that will keep them drinking water (it’s important to keep them hydrated).

Kids are playing with their IPad.

Katherine: An iPad loaded with favourite TV shows, movies, games and songs is an essential item for our family. There are lots of fun baby apps to download. Don’t forget to pack those baby/toddler headphones.

If there’s a meltdown

Melanie: Keep your cool no matter what. They know when you’re stressed. Wrap them up in a familiar blanket nice and tight and give cuddles and dummies.

A kid looking outside at a window of an Airplane.

Katherine: Provide some space – if the seatbelt sign is off don’t be afraid to unbuckle your child and give them a cuddle on your lap, sing some songs, murmur soothing words. If you have access, consider moving so they can look out the window. Bribery can work: this might be the time you whip out a brand-new toy just as your child is losing their cool about wearing a seatbelt.

The crew are there to help

A picture of Katherine at the Airport.
Katherine Belot

Katherine: We’re more than happy to hold baby while you put your bags into overhead lockers, use the bathroom or if you just need a break. You’ll find a lot of us are mums and love little baby cuddles and entertaining children.

Melanie: Chances are we will have approached you before you needed to ask. I like to ask people with babies at boarding ‘how can I help you?’ It might not be at that moment but I’m there when you need me.