SingaporeMotherhood | Baby & Toddler

December 2012

10 Tricks To Survive A Long Flight With Kids

You once dreaded sitting near little rascals on the plane, and now you have a tiny terror of your own! But flying with a toddler — long haul or short — doesn’t have to be a nightmare for you or anyone else on board. Follow these lifesaving tips to have the best flight with kids, no matter how long the haul may be.

1. Go direct

Entertaining a child who wants to play for the entire journey is hard work, so book a direct, red-eye flight, where possible. Travelling overnight is ideal so your active tyke can nod off when it’s his sleep-time. This way, everyone can enjoy some peace and quiet, and you may even get a short nap!

If you have to take a connecting flight, try to schedule long stretches in the air around your child’s nap-time. Don’t squander transit time on a nap — it’s the perfect time to let your little live-wire ‘run amok’, make some noise and relish his freedom, before he’s confined to the seat again!

2. Aisle need it!

Make sure one of your seats is an aisle seat. While your little one will be thrilled to see the clouds outside and the tiny cars below from a window seat, you’ll be thankful you’re in the aisle seat when your restless toddler is clambering out of his seat to walk about, when you need to get his toy/wipes/diaper/baby book that’s stored in the overhead compartment (again!), or take him to the toilet – for the umpteenth time!

If you are travelling with an infant (up to 18 or 24 months old), ask for a bassinet seat when you book your tickets so you can put your little one down — a good idea for longer flights.

3. Flight fears

For some children, an airplane ride is an adventure of a lifetime. Others will cling on to you for dear life the moment you buckle their seat belt. Not all children take to flying, so be prepared for your little globetrotter to feel apprehensive. As hypnotherapist Sandy Hui highlights, “Some children are naturally fearful of what they have never experienced.”

If this is your child’s first flight, it is a good idea to familiarise him with the forthcoming adventure before the flight. Read a book together about flying and vacationing so he knows what to expect.

For an older child, you may want to talk to him about any worries he may have about taking the plane. “Often, expressing his anxieties can offer release,” Hui says. On board, Hui suggests using visual aids to reverse any fearful impressions he may have about flying. For example, show him travel brochures of your destination to excite him about the adventures awaiting him.

4. Board last!

Most airlines give young families the right to board first — DON’T! It’s no fun trying to entertain a wiggly toddler for an extra half hour on the plane before take-off. Preserve your sanity by boarding at the last minute.

5. Ease ear popping

To prevent ear-popping on flights, breastfeed your baby or feed him milk or water through a bottle during take-off and landing. Getting a baby to drink opens up the tubes in his ears and equalises the pressure.

Offer an older child water to drink through a straw, and lollipops or gummy bears to chew on. Crunchy snacks that require a lot of chewing are also helpful. The sucking and chewing will help prevent little ears from hurting. Yawns are contagious, so encourage your toddler to yawn by yawning yourself. This may help “pop” his ears if they get clogged. Pack emergency supplies of children’s paracetamol, just in case.

6. Jolly brolly strolly

Your little one will be exhausted (or sleeping) after a long-haul flight, so it’s a good idea to bring a stroller along. You can take it with you to the boarding area and it will be waiting for you at the plane door upon landing. A light umbrella stroller is perfect for travelling. When going through security, it will be easy to fold up and lift onto the conveyer belt.

7. Dress sense

Dress your little one in layers — aeroplanes can be pretty stuffy at the start but get mighty chilly later on. Slip-on shoes are handy at security checkpoints as well as on the plane. Bring lots of wipes, plastic bags, and twice as many diapers as you could possibly need. Remember to pack a change of clothes for mum and babe too. You never know when he may dirty his, and your togs, and it’s not pleasant being stuck with dirty linen on a long flight!

8. Ask for help

Don’t be shy to ask the flight crew for help, especially if you are travelling alone with a toddler, whether it’s to put your bag in the overhead compartment, or if your child needs extra pillows, blankets or hot water for his milk.

9. It’s crunch time!

Pack as many snacks as you can fit into your carry-on luggage. Stable blood sugar levels help ward off tantrums and a hamper of his favourite goodies will distract a grouchy child, especially since he may not like the in-flight food. Pack cookies, mini-crackers and cheeses, muesli bars, snack-sized packets of cereal, raisins, breadsticks and even a banana.

10. For the fun of it

When it comes to entertaining a baby on long journeys, it’s all about preparation. Bring a new toy, books, colouring materials, stickers, and his favourite bunny, puppy or teddy. Your Tablet or iPad loaded with kiddie programmes and games will come in handy, especially if your child is still too young to enjoy the in-flight cartoons and video games. If junior doesn’t want to sit still when the fasten seatbelt sign comes on, you need all the ammunition you can get!

When to go “om” on a flight with kids

You’ve tried every trick in the book and your toddler is still yelling at the top of his voice. Before tearing your hair out, heed this final piece of advice: Keep the seat belt fastened, sit back, count to 100, and stay calm. Don’t worry about what other passengers are thinking; after all, you’ll never see them again!

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10 Tricks To Survive A Long Flight With Kids