A guide to travelling with your baby for the first time

Any parent or carer will tell you that travelling with a baby is all about peace of mind. That starts with the right travel insurance.

Here’s our guide to finding the best policy for your family, and that all-important travel essentials checklist to help make your first trip as parents a breeze.

Any parent or carer will tell you that travelling with a baby is all about peace of mind. That starts with the right travel insurance.

Here’s our guide to finding the best policy for your family, and that all-important travel essentials checklist to help make your first trip as parents a breeze.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) update: please check the latest government travel advice that sets out what you need to do, if anything, before you travel abroad and before you return home. You should also check the latest travel advice and entry requirements for each country you visit or transit through. Travel rules can change at short notice, so check the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) for the latest information.

Kate Hughes
Insurance expert
8
minute read
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Last Updated 1 JULY 2022

Do I need travel insurance for my baby?

Yes, in fact everyone in your family should have travel insurance, regardless of their age.

If your baby or toddler is sick or injured while you’re away, getting the right diagnosis and the necessary emergency treatment can be a costly process. The right travel insurance can help make a stressful situation more manageable.

The benefits of travel insurance for a baby or toddler

Emergency medical care doesn’t just mean the cost of seeing a doctor – it can also include hospital charges and ambulance fees - all of which add up. With a policy that covers these expenses, as well as the potential cost of getting an early flight home if you can’t use your original tickets, you’re less likely to be out of pocket.

Cancellation cover comes as standard with many travel insurance policies. This gives you the added reassurance that if your baby is too ill to travel in the first place, you can claim back the cost of your trip.

And with the 24/7 helpline offered by many insurance providers, you’ve got access to support and advice whenever and wherever you need it.

It's not just your baby’s health that you’ll be looking after either. Every parent knows that travelling light with a little one is pretty much impossible. Buggies, travel cots, childcare and feeding products – the list of apparently essential kit is endless.

Travel insurance means that if any of these items are lost, stolen or damaged, you could claim back the cost of replacing them. Just make sure you check the single-article limit. This is the most you’ll be able to claim for an individual item – anything worth more must be added on to a policy individually, which can result in a higher premium.

To help you find the best insurance policy for you and your child, read our guide to what travel insurance will cover you for and what it won’t.

Travel cover for the whole family

Travel cover for tiny tots doesn’t need to bring extra hassle. It can be easier to take out family travel insurance that covers everyone. You’ll often simply need to enter the date of birth of all children travelling when you buy the cover.

You can get single parent cover for one adult plus their children, but not all providers offer this. You can also get cover for adopted, foster, step-children and grandchildren. Some policies may say a set maximum number of children – for example five or nine, while others set no limit.

If you’ve split up with your partner and aren’t sure whether any family members are still covered by your insurance, our guide to family travel insurance could help. If you’re separated or divorced and your children don’t live with you, some travel insurance providers will still allow you to take out a family or single-parent policy.

Certain conditions or restrictions may apply so check the policy wording carefully before you buy to make sure you’re getting the cover you need. Look for exclusions about:

  • Whether you must all live together at the same address.
  • If there’s a maximum of number of children under 18.
  • If you have to travel together and children can’t travel independently under the policy.
  • Non-family members being included.

Try to take out travel insurance as soon as you’ve booked your trip so you have cancellation cover right away.

Your checklist for travelling with a baby or toddler

Time is the key factor when travelling with babies - time to plan, time to pack and time to get from A to B.

But that’s not all you’ll need to consider. Here’s our handy checklist to make sure you’ve got the important boxes ticked before setting off.

If you’re travelling to the EU or Switzerland…

Your child needs their own UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC). It gives you access to emergency and medically necessary state healthcare at a reduced cost, or sometimes for free (you get care on the same terms as a local). It’s not an alternative to travel insurance though.

You can apply a free GHIC card on the NHS website. Only ever use the official website to apply for one and watch out for scams that try to make you pay for this free service.

Passport

If your child doesn’t have a passport, leave plenty of time to organise one before you travel as it can take up to 10 weeks to arrive, even when the authorities aren’t swamped with applications. You can apply on the gov.uk website.

Visas

Check whether you need visas for travel on the gov.uk website See the country or countries you are travelling to, then check the entry requirements.

Vaccinations

See your doctor or midwife at least eight weeks before your trip. They can tell you about any precautions you should take or vaccinations your child might need. Keep any medicines with you as hand luggage when you travel.

The Travel Health Pro website also provides some useful advice on the travel-associated health risks to children and infants.

Make sure your child is eligible to fly

If you’re travelling by plane, make sure the airline is happy to take your baby on board. It sounds like an odd detail to check but many require children to be at least two weeks old before they can become passengers.

Buy baby essentials at the airport

Save room in your suitcase by taking advantage of the ‘order and collect’ service available at some airports through their on-site pharmacies. You can pre-order baby food including baby milk and formula, as well as bulky items like nappies, wipes and liquids over the 100ml limit.

Seating for the flight

If you’re flying long-haul, it may be possible to reserve a free bassinet for your baby in advance, subject to availability. This is a detachable cot that’s set up on the bulkhead seats, the seats immediately behind the bulkheads (or walls) that separate the different classes on a plane. There’s often an age and/or weight limit, so check with your airline. You may find that if you are travelling with a baby on your lap, the baby doesn’t have a luggage allowance, despite all the kit needed.

You may also be able to book (and pay for) a child seat for older children or bring your own carrycot or child seat if you have one. It’s worth checking with your airline. The alternative - having your baby on your lap for the entire journey - isn’t always ideal.

Bring enough food and drink

Some airlines will offer pureed food for babies travelling on laps and they will generally heat bottles of milk. Check what options are available with your airline. For older children, make sure you have enough snacks for the flight and the onwards journey if you’ve got a drive at the other end. Remember you won’t be able to take liquids over 100ml, but you can take empty bottles and fill them with water once you’re through security.

The government website has more information on what baby food and drinks are typically permitted at UK airports. And don’t forget cutlery!

Other essentials for the journey

Your baby-friendly hand luggage is likely to include:

  • favourite toys and any other comforters
  • a travel changing mat
  • a baby blanket
  • spare sets of clothes, wipes, nappies and food for the flight
  • a baby sling so you can carry them hands-free
  • a universal bath plug to turn any sink into a baby bath
  • for long-haul flights, you may also need a travel steriliser to keep bottles and teats clean if you’re formula-feeding.

Pack wisely

Spread nappies, clothes and formula between your checked in bags. Just in case one goes missing you’ll still have supplies for your baby.

Hiring a car?

Let the car hire company know in advance if you need a baby seat and when you’re arriving.

Cruising with a baby

Cruises can be a good option as it’s easy to pop back to your cabin if it’s time for an afternoon nap, and there are lots of family-friendly services from baby pools to babysitting. Some cruise lines let kids come free too!

Your baby typically needs to be six months old, but for some routes or destinations it may be a year old. Some cruises offer you the option of getting nappies, baby food and other supplies direct to your cabin too, while others will expect you to bring everything with you. Check before you travel about what equipment you can borrow such as sterilisers, baby baths and cots.

If you go on a cruise, you’ll need cruise insurance rather than standard travel insurance. This is because it’s designed for some of the special circumstances of cruising. For example - medical cover might take into account the need for transport to a hospital if you take ill while at sea or confinement to your cabin if you are unwell.

Does your child have a more serious pre-existing medical condition?

If you or your baby have a serious health condition, the price you pay for travel insurance is likely to be more expensive. However, there are still many providers out there and you should be able to find affordable cover. Whatever happens, don’t be tempted to lie to an insurance provider, because if you do and then need to make a claim, it could be rejected.

When you declare medical conditions on our website, we’ll only show quotes from insurance providers who will cover all declared medical conditions, with no exclusions. 

MoneyHelper has launched a directory of insurance providers who may be able to provide quotes over the phone if you have more serious medical conditions. Find more information at MoneyHelper or by calling them on 0800 138 7777.

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