Our experiences flying from Europe to the US and then South America with an 8-month old baby (5 tips to make it easy)

We went on a 3 week trip with Amelia during the past month, from Brussels to New York, then from New York to Colombia, and back. We were a bit worried about all the flying – would she cry a lot? Would she be uncomfortable? But it turns out flying with a baby is super easy – at least it was for us, this time around.

When you fly with a baby, you (almost) get treated like a first class passenger. You get to board the plane before all the other (economy) passengers, if you requested a bassinet you’ll have more legspace, it’s not bad. All in all, the flights with the baby where at least as good, and sometimes a lot better, than the same flights without her.

First tip: call your airline in advance (at least 24 hours) to request a bassinet (a little baby bed that is attached to the wall). Not all airlines/planes provide them, but if they do, you’re gonna be fine. Each plane can only have 2 (depending on the type of plane) bassinets, so you want to try to reserve one for yourself.

They’ll put the bassinet up after the plane has taken off.

The bassinet is great for the baby to sit in to play, and even better for them to sleep. The soft movements of the plane made our 8-month old baby sleep great.

Here are some pictures of Amelia playing and sleeping in the bassinet:

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As for toys, she loves plastic bottles, plastic cups, spoons etcetera, so that wasn’t a problem. Here’s her sleeping (which is what she did most of the time, which was great).

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If you can’t get a bassinet (we didn’t get one on the NY-Colombia leg of the trip) you’ll have to carry the baby yourself – much more tiring.

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Second tip (and this isn’t just for planes): take a baby sling. It’s a great way to quiet down the baby when she isn’t in happy mode, or to get some sleep:

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Third tip: if there are other babies on board, don’t be afraid to socialize. A guy in a seat next to us made a fuss, but if you can’t handle two babies playing for half an hour (they weren’t even crying or being loud), get on your own private plane buddy. We also put one of the sheets that come on each seat on the floor so the babies could play for a while.

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Fourth tip: when boarding, go line up after the first class passengers have boarded, most likely they’ll let you in first.

Fifth tip: breastfeeding is of course super easy – no bottles to warm etc. But if you give bottles they can easily warm them up in the plane. Also remember that airplanes make you dehydrated, so drink extra and make sure the baby gets extra fluids too.

Sixth tip: strollers and babyseats. You don’t have to check in your stroller, you can take it all the way to the gate and to the door of the plane. They’ll then put a tag on it and put it in the luggage, and when you leave the plane you wait there and they’ll had you your stroller back. Easy.s

Final tip: don’t forget to back the baby.

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ps: as for the jetlag (Europe-US), it’s not too hard on the baby. She takes lots of naps anyway during the day, so she was alright. The hardest bit is always US -> Europe. We arrived yesterday morning, were jetlagged all day. Amelia slept during the night, but woke up at 4 for about an hour, so I carried her in the sling. Then she slept until 12 noon (so did we). I think the jetlag affects her less than it affects us.

Have you done long flights with your baby? Leave a comment!

(ps: the best parenting blog I read is Her Grace. No parenting tips, just stories. Check it out.)

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12 thoughts on “Our experiences flying from Europe to the US and then South America with an 8-month old baby (5 tips to make it easy)

  1. Thanks for the tips, I’m taking my 3.5 month old from the US to Europe next week. I’m happy to hear about the bassinett.

  2. Thank you so much for this great post. I had no idea they had bassinets on planes! My daughter is 6 months old and we just bought a timeshare. We thought we would be confined to travel within driving distance for a while because taking her on a plane scared the crap out of us. This makes me much more comfortable.
    Thanks again!
    -Lisa

  3. Thanks for the tips. We flew from Copenhagen to Seattle with our six months old baby. It was horrible and heart breaking, she tried so hard to sleep and she was trying to smile even though she was tired! She couldn’t sleep (even in a bassinet), as the passengers were quite noisy (laughing and talking loud, opening windows etc). I was disappointed how inconsiderate people were, we are going back soon, and this really makes me quite nervous. I am planing to talk to a pediatrician to see if there is any medicine we can give her to help her sleep better.

  4. Thanks for the advice! We’re taking our 9 month old to Europe in 4 weeks time, and the info on the bassinet was really helpful.

    PS. like the idea of packing the baby!

  5. Glad I came upon this site!! I am a single mom and my son and I are moving from GA to Hawaii alone. We have a layover but its nice to know the sling will come in handy even though he will be 8 months old. A 12 hr trip for anyone is never fun, but I feel better about it now.

    Thanks!

  6. Thank you! I’m flying from Washington state to Colorado next month and was nervous about the flight. I love the bassinet tip and that I can take the stroller all the way to the gate, I was nervous about checking it and it possibly getting damaged.

  7. I had a question.. I’ll be flying alone with my 8 month baby from DC to Germany. Based on your experience, would you recommend that I buy a seat for the baby (given that i’ll be alone, without hubby)??
    Great tips and photos. Thank you!

  8. Thanks for tips. I am planning a trip to Europe (from US) with my baby who will be 6 mo. old. Do you or anyone else have information on which major airline is the most ”baby friendly”. I am afraid that being a 6 months old, she will not be given a bassinet.

  9. We are hoping to get a bassinet on our trip Frankfurt to O’hare this xmass. Eva is going to be nearly 8 months old. She already weighs 17 lbs, though, and I’m worried about her fitting in the bassinet comfortably. Came across your site aftersearching for airline bassinet pics -thanks! What kind of sling do you use? It looks like your little one still fits comfy cozy in it.

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