Flying with young children – we’re all aiming for a state of calm enjoyment but, let’s face it, the parents that get away with it are few and far between.
Some tips that can help you achieve at least an attempt at watching an in-flight movie include:
Be realistic. Don’t expect that a toddler who can’t go 3 minutes without demanding your attention at home is going to be any different on a plane.
Choose a flight that fits in best with your child’s sleep schedule, even if this means a very early start or overnight flight (where many young children will be likely to sleep, even if you don’t!).
Don’t worry about other passengers, particularly for daytime flights. Everyone knows what they’ve signed up for. Many of your fellow passengers are likely to be parents themselves – they are probably just grateful it isn’t their child!
Make sure you order an infant or child’s meal in advance. In most cases this must be done at least 24 hours prior to the departure time. It will ensure your kids get their meal first.
And because we know food is a great way to keep kids quiet, even if just for a few moments, have plenty of their favourite snacks and treats on hand.
Include some chewing treats or drinks for take-off and landing. Children often have a lot of difficulty adjusting the pressure in their ears as they haven’t yet intuitively learned to yawn as most adults do. Chewing or drinking (breast, bottle, sippy cup, using a straw) all help to equalise pressures quickly.
When packing your carry-on bags, think about what you are likely to need on the flight. A change of clothes for your child, and for yourself (because when has a child ever been sick on only themselves!).
Don’t forget to pack any medications you might need – paracetamol, ibuprofen, and anything your child is prescribed.
A lucky dip of cheap (and lightweight) new toys can buy you hours of time.
Pick an airline that has good entertainment options or take along a portable device (iPad, travel DVD player, etc.) preloaded with your child’s favourite shows.
If you are travelling with a baby, reserve an infant bassinet if it is available on your flight. This needs to be done at the time of booking your flight, as the bassinet spaces on each flight are limited.
Don’t be afraid to ask flight staff for help – it’s a part of their job after all!