It’s holiday time and parents around the world worry about the stresses of flying with a toddler.
But, fear not parents of tantrum-prone toddlers! We can sympathise with you – honestly – travelling with a screaming child on your lap is an absolute nightmare. We may even go as far to say it’s one of the worst experiences shared with your little one (and we’re even including childbirth). So, if you’re planning on bringing your child on a flight, here’s our top tips to ensure a stress-free journey:
Fun inflight games
It’s important that before boarding you lay down the law! Set expectations about the kinds of acceptable behaviour on a crowded flight, and explain they will get into trouble with the pilot if not. Acknowledge that it’s really hard to sit still on a flight (even for mummies) and reassure them that you will be on hand to help: "All the frustration will be worth it when you land, I promise.”
You need to make those travel toys last, so only hand them over when the children are bored. They’ll probably be amused for a while, taking in new surroundings, having one-on-one time with you and talking to neighbours. It’s fun to buy toys for the purpose of a flight, wrapping them up individually. Your child will revel in the excitement of opening gifts. Only reveal one item at a time to prolong the experience and keep them entertained for longer. For example, you might start with a book with lots of pretty colours, sparkles and visuals to catch their attention. And then, you could finish with an interactive game for the two of you– bonding time at its best!
It’s time to board, the children are restless and you’re right at the back of the queue – not fun. Why not get there early and beat the crowds to get on the plane first? You’ll be organised and have a chance to get the children settled before other passengers arrive. Once on board, make sure any items you need on the flight are in reach. The overhead storage units and side pockets are ideal for all your children’s play toys. If you check-in with a pushchair, make sure you attach a tag with your contact details: name, address and phone number. At the end of the gateway, collapse the stroller and remove any loose items – do this yourself! Don’t rely on the airline personnel to know how to dismantle a pushchair without causing damage.
So, you’re past security and your children have cooperated (or not) up till this point. It’s important to allow time to take care of their needs before heading onto the plane. Get them a drink and – please – make sure it’s a non-sugary one. You don’t need to add a hyperactive child to your list of worries. Now it’s time to attend to your child’s bladder troubles: change a nappy, visit the toilets and spend a little time exploring with them.
Check the restrictions on hand luggage before arriving at the airport. The more rigid restrictions often relate to the possession of liquids, creams and gels, which means – you guessed it – baby foods, drinks and nappy cream. The standards are usually not to carry over 100ml of these items, but exceptions are sometimes made for parents with children under the age of two. There are also discretionary limits for baby food –these are usually quite vague, so check with the airline and security staff before the flight. Better to be safe than sorry, right?
Take-off and landing
Unlike you and me, young children and babies don’t know how to clear their ears before take-off. Unless your child is in the land of nod (lucky you), then you’ll need to help them. How will depend on the age of the child in question. Chewing gum is usually a good option for older children, whereas for toddlers a bottle or dummy will work. If your child is feeling tired after a long day of packing and rushing around the airport, then go through your regular bedtime routine: reading stories or singing quietly. Some young children will simply fall straight to sleep, as the noise of the plane and the engine will make for a soothing environment.
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Image via: Lars Plougmann (https://www.flickr.com/photos/criminalintent/5938686651)