Hand luggage – the essentials when travelling with under 3’s

The thought of flying anywhere with a baby or toddler can be daunting. It’s hard enough remembering everything for a day out but being cramped on a plane for hours can almost take away the magic of going on holiday. With baggage allowances looming over you when packing, you can often be left unsure of what is essential to include or just leave out altogether. Then there are the worrying restrictions regarding what you can and can’t pack in your hand luggage, especially around liquids which can be especially confusing when packing for a baby who will perhaps need a formula feed during your flight. Here is a guide to give you an idea of the kind of items to include in your hand luggage.

Food and drink for baby – if your little one doesn’t have their own seat (normally under 2), they will not be provided with an in-flight meal (this applies to long-haul, many short haul flights don’t provide in-flight meals at all anymore, check with your operator). With the confusion around liquids, the easiest thing to do is take the ready-made formula in cartons. You will be allowed to take this onto the flight as long as the seal has not been broken, no questions asked. You could either pre-sterilise bottles for younger babies, or you can buy the sterile, throw away bottles just for the flight. This will prove as slightly more expensive however it could save you a lot of messing around. Baby food in jars is permitted as long as the seals are not broken. You will not be able to take anything cooked at home, but sealed items bought from the airport after check in will also be permitted. Snacks bought during the flight can be expensive, so pack a few into your hand luggage to break up the time between meals – there will be a lot of sitting around and very little to occupy their little minds. A little extra snacking than usual won’t do them any harm, especially if you choose healthy options. Check with your airline to find out if fruit is permitted, if not, raisins and sultanas in sealed packets could work as an alternative.

Make sure you pack enough nappies, baby wipes, bandana bibs and more than one change of clothes for your little one. It’s also a good idea to pack a light change of clothing for you.

It’s also important to take some items to keep older babies entertained - colours and colouring books, books to read, a couple of their favourite (smaller) toys. If you have a smart phone, download some suitable games or videos beforehand. You can use your phone during the flight as long as it is in aeroplane mode – you won’t be able to make a call or use the internet but you can provide the kids with hours of entertainment if you plan it properly. Don’t forget soothers and if yours is a later flight, take their night clothes to change into so they can go straight to bed when you get to your destination.

Last of all, try to relax. I’ve spoken to so many mums who are panicking over what to include in their hand luggage. A holiday is supposed to be a fun and relaxing experience so make sure it is. Include these essentials and sit back and enjoy your flight!

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