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I need to travel with an infant 3-4 months old. I have no experience, and need some advice here:

Would you take a) 13 hour direct flight b) 6 hours flight, stay in a hotel, then a 6 hours flight, 4 hours stopover, 4 hours another flight

What are the cons/pros? My friends told me a is better, but I feel b is better

Edit - My Experience: Well it depends on the children. When my kid was 11 months old, it was much easier compared to when she was 5 months old. When she was 11 months old, we took 3 flights, short and long hauls, and she slept in all of them fully, as she knew what to do.

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    Definitely B - hands down. Enjoy! (Your friends likely "have no infants", heh.) What I would really recommend to you is to find another alternative featuring: (A) only TWO flights (B) a stopover hotel in the middle. (Great icon, BTW :) ) – Fattie May 30 '16 at 14:53
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    Another critical advice for flying-with-infants. Say your first flight leaves your home airport early in the morning. DON'T !!!! try to travel to the airport that morning. Go the previous night and stay at the airport hotel. This is like the "ultra-pro-tip" for travel with small children. {If you are blessed to live in a place where your home airport is very near you and is a small convenient airport, you don't need to worry about this.} – Fattie May 30 '16 at 14:56
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    One more: say you're travelling globally. Say Europe to Sydney to visit your family there for a month. Jet lag will ruin everything the first day or so. So: fly to say Japan (same TZ as Australia). Stay there for 2 nights: that will give you time to TZ-acclimate (and it's fun). Then "just" fly down to oz, and things will be incredibly happier when you meet your family there! Similarly: say you do fly direct from germany to sydney with small kids to see the family. You arrive afternoon or evening. STAY AT THE syd. AIRPORT HOTEL THAT NIGHT. Then ONLY in the morning, go see the family! – Fattie May 30 '16 at 15:02
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    hi @emmet, understood. Right, you can only really seek opinions from other parents. I'd go for "option B" ! 13 hour flights are incredibly hard on YOU and the INFANT, particularly if you have not done those often. Note that having a hotel stayover in the middle is GREAT FUN for all the family, you really unwind and feel luxurious and everyone smiles. (Ideally check your main luggage through, and have just enough in your hand baggage for the overnight stop - you know?) Hope you have fun! – Fattie May 30 '16 at 15:04
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    Is this for two parents with one baby, or one parent with one baby? The former really isn't that bad with a young baby, and I would just get it over with in a long flight. – user35890 May 31 '16 at 9:15
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Personally, I would take multiple flights if there is the option to spend a night in a hotel but would rather a single flight than multiple flights in a single day.

Some infants manage to sleep through entire 4-6 flights, although they may get quite cranky during the rest of the flight. It's hard to predict but I actually had better flights with my daughter as an infant than a toddler since infants sleep much more and are not as used to a certain type of comfort.

The advantage of taking a single flight is only one time going through security, boarding and settling in. That is nice but I prefer the advantages of not being boxed in for so long, taking breaks, breathing fresh air, quiet moments and being more comfortable to feed and change the little one. You'll have to still do it on the plane, but with a hotel break, you can give the little one a real bath and other ways of soothing.

  • Corrected, sorry. It was in my mind, just didn't make it into the answer ;) – Itai May 30 '16 at 16:16
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    "Personally, I would take multiple flights if there is the option to spend a night in a hotel but would rather a single flight than multiple flights in a single day." totally correct and well said. – Fattie May 31 '16 at 3:43
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Three of our kids have taken 12-hour flights with us when they were younger than 6 months. We never had any problems, so I would take option a). Option b) has shorter flights, but still 6 hours can be eternity if your child is not fine; and I think it is very unlikely that whatever bothers him/her will last more than that. And then you have, still with the little one,

  • security x 3
  • check-in x 3
  • additional immigration lines
  • additional waits at the airports
  • additional airport transportation

Also to be taken into account is that what bothers babies the most is the ascent and descent (pressure differential in their ears), and you would also be multiplying that by three.

(and no, we were not those parents in your flight who had a hysterical kid and did nothing nor cared about it)

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    This, so much. I always notice kids start crying when there are pressure changes, especially when landing. – Sebastiaan van den Broek May 31 '16 at 2:45
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    Totally agree with this. As a parent of 3 who has travelled extensively, I'd always go for single, long haul. Fewer painful pressure changes. Fewer long security queues. No need to wake them up at times they don't want to be awake. Sleeping and nursing are easier when settled in one place. etc... – Rory Alsop May 31 '16 at 10:46
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Traveling with kids very much depends upon traveling with them in a way that they will find enjoyable, and in a way that won't leave you a wreck.

Fortunately, a 4 month old has a simple definition of "enjoyable": regular feeding, regular changing, sleep and snuggles. Expecting about 14 hours of sleep a day, in spurting naps of 2 to 3 hours each, you can easily manage a long trip. I've done it successfully: just expect to be feeding, changing, and snuggling every few hours.

Planning is essential here: have everything you need at hand when the babe wakes. Change, feed, burp, snuggle/talk/read, then tuck in. Repeat for the flight.

Yes, the pressurization may make babe fussy. Try to avoid travel if your babe has an ear infection, as that narrows the air path ways and intensifies the pain. If babe fusses during equalization, give a bottle: the sucking motion lessens the effect just like chewing gum for an adult.

If you go with multiple flights, consider the stress you will feel lugging babe around concourses, meals, and any checkpoints you have to cross. Personally, I find the logistics of connections more troublesome, because you have to keep your entire party synchronized. If you have to change a diaper and miss your connection, what then?

In my mind, for a 4 month old, it's better to hunker down, establish a routine, and enjoy the long flight.

Now when babe gets to be a toddler? Split it up, trust me!

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    Plus, the pressurization issue is threefold if you have three flights as opposed to one. – Alexander May 30 '16 at 20:44
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    Can depend on the infant, my 4 month old wouldn't have tolerated my sitting down - always had to be walked around. – Jim W says reinstate Monica May 31 '16 at 3:03
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Another con that despite not affecting you directly is that, sadly, toddlers can be extremely annoying to other passengers.

Most likely, other passengers will thank you for not being locked in with your child for 13 hours straight.

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    Weird logic. By taking 3 flights, way more passengers will "exposed" to the baby. – Martin Argerami May 30 '16 at 18:52
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    @martin, getting exposed for 3-4 hours is MUCH better than 13 hours – JS Lavertu May 30 '16 at 18:53
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    Yes, but three times more people. And you are assuming that baby tantrums are non-stop. Actually, babies cry more during ascent and descent (ear pressure) so the baby will cry roughly the same in the three flights. Personally, in many years for flying, I don't recall a screaming baby that was crying for more than a couple hours at a time, or something like that. Point being that in 50+ flights of 9 hours or more, I don't recall a single one "ruined" by a baby. – Martin Argerami May 30 '16 at 18:59
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    Maybe it's just me, but as a passenger, I'd much rather be exposed to a child for a few hours than a long distance flight. The number of passengers affected is irrelevant at best as they aren't the same passengers every time. – JS Lavertu May 30 '16 at 19:19
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    This answer is 100% correct. @AerisFang is totally correct. – Fattie May 31 '16 at 3:40
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I would go for the one long flight. I think the time at the airport is the hardest bit when travelling with an infant. The longhaul flights often have bassinets that can be attached to the bulkhead. These are great so make sure you get one of those seats when you book. You often have to phone the airline to confirm that. Make sure to bring food for the baby and keep yourself well fed and hydrated as well. It makes it so much easier. When it comes to jetlag, I would recommend starting to acclimatise already at home if possible. Make sure your baby gets enough sleep (look at this baby sleep chart http://sleepybud.com/baby-sleep-chart/ ) and then start to change the bedtime, wake up time and naps by about 20 min per day. If you do this for a week then you and baby will have 2:20 min less jet lag when you get there.

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A! A! A! I've done very long trips with multiple infants. At that age, they're so tiny and sleeping that changing planes and shuffling around to hotels carrying them is going to be a huge pain. Get on the plane, sit down, put kid on lap, have toys, and other distractions (we always had crinkly pieces of paper), and hopefully partner to spell you while you go to the loo. Kid will just feel like it's a normal day with a bit more face time. Will sleep. They don't know they're on a plane. If possible to get a bulkhead seat with a bassinet and you are golden. If you have a big crier, you're going to be walking with them either way. May as well get it over with. Remember their ears don't pop well so give them something to suck on ascent and descent.

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If you're travelling alone, I would strongly suggest you take a single flight. That way, you will (hopefully) be accompanied by your friends or family during your departure until the baggage drop-off, so you won't have to handle your luggage and the baby at the same time. In case of 3 flights, you'll have to go through check-in and check-out and commute to the place you'll spend the next night 3 times instead of one. Plus, you'll expose the baby to the ear pressure 3 times, and you'll also wake it up 2 extra times.

If you'll travel together with your partner, commuting with the baby becomes a lot more manageable, but personally I would still consider taking a single flight.

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