7 Strategies for Flying With Children
With the long days of summer stretching into the horizon, chances are you’re preparing for a family vacation. If you’re a parent, gone are the days when you simply packed a bag for yourself and whiled away the hours reading a novel or watching the in-flight movie en route to your destination. Traveling with children in tow is a whole different story, but if you’re prepared, you can ensure that you, your kids and your fellow passengers can all keep your sanity and have a smooth flight.
- Take your time. You know how everything in your day-to-day takes longer with a baby or toddler? Airports have a way of multiplying that figure exponentially. Check in lines, security, flight delays, boarding. Leave early and go slowly so you and your child will both feel less anxious.
- Bring your car seat and stroller to the gate. If you plan to bring a car seat and stroller with you on your trip, bring them to the boarding gate. Strollers can be checked at the gate and retrieved at the gate on the other end. As for car seats, some airlines allow you to bring your car seat and use it if there’s an empty seat on the flight. Others don’t allow car seats to be used onboard at all, but you can still check it at the gate. Check with your carrier before the flight to be sure.
- Feed babies and toddlers on takeoff and landing or any other time you feel pressure in your ears. Whether you breastfeed a lap child or give older children a sippy cup or a small snack, the act of chewing and swallowing will help their ears adjust to the cabin pressure.
- Bring a selection of small toys, stickers or crayons that your child has never seen before. Don’t give them to your child until they ask for them or appear to be getting bored. The excitement of boarding, belting up and seeing new people may keep them entertained for a significant stretch.
- Utilize the items onboard. Two great activities can be found in your very own seat pocket. First, flip through the airplane magazine for an ‘I Spy’ scavenger hunt on each page. Second, grab a pen and the airsickness bags and create hand puppets.
- Acknowledge and apologize if your baby cries. When you have a fussy baby in a confined space, your immediate instinct may be to freak out. Keep your cool and try to comfort your baby quietly. Acknowledge your seatmates’ and apologize for the noise. Most people will be understanding and recognize that you’re trying your best. If your child won’t calm down, remember that babies cry and some people will be annoyed no matter what you do. Simply do your best to remain calm.
- Avoid jet lag on arrival. One of the best remedies to jet lag for children is to time your flight to arrive during daylight hours as early in the day as possible. Feed them throughout the day at local mealtimes to help them understand the new time zone, and put them to bed one hour later than usual to help them sleep through the night.