Nobody ever said flying with young children and babies was going to be easy but there are plenty of simple things you can do to limit stress for you and your little ones at take-off, landing and everywhere in between. We’ve asked five mums who travel frequently for their advice – check out their practical tips and tricks below.
“We took both our girls on board when they were 3-4-months-old and since that time they have visited more than 30 countries. First of all: you, as a parent, need to be relaxed and happy. Your mood influences the mood of your child. Secondly: be prepared – take food, drinks, a change of clothes, wet wipes, enough in case flights are delayed and you have a long wait for the plane, little new toys or important toys such as a favourite teddy bear or a pillow – these make the plane more homely and cosy. It’s good to remember that everything can be a toy: a tea cup or even papa’s pullover.
Thirdly: prepare your child. Talk with him/her about flying, explain what will happen where, joke, show them the planes in the sky, make the trip exciting. And last but not least: of course the flight will be the easiest, if your baby will simply sleep – so try and book an evening flight or even tire your baby out at the airport. Running, jumping, exploring the airport can be great fun too.”
Tips by Anna Alboth, a travel writer who runs the family travel site: The Family Without Borders
“I have two under two and I fly regularly with both of my children. Rocco is now 20 months and he went on his first flight at just 4 weeks old. Tahlia is now 8 weeks old and she has already been to Spain twice! Travelling with a young baby is pretty straight forward, especially before they are mobile. Ideally it’s good to make sure they are sucking on the teet of a bottle because this will help their ears equalise. The ‘fun’ starts when your baby becomes a toddler and they are more aware. I have found myself walking up and down the cabin many times (probably like most parents!). I always take a fully charged mini iPad and a selection of books to help occupy Rocco. I also pack some healthy snacks and crackers as well as plenty of water. On my last trip I bought a fantastic little drawing product that wipes clean so there is no need for paper. Most of the time it’s pretty easy to keep him entertained. The only occasion I have struggled is when his ears were hurting so I’ve learnt to take a bottle of Calpol too! You shouldn’t be put off by travelling with your children. Yes it can be challenging but the experience of going to new places can really enrich their lives.”
Tips by Laura Hamilton, who presents C4’s A Place in The Sun. You can follow Laura on twitter @laurahamiltontv
“Some children experience ear pain because of the change in air pressure on flights, especially if they have a cold. To alleviate this pain be sure to have a bottle or toddler cup with you for your baby to drink from and small snacks for them to eat. The act of swallowing will help to equalise the pressure and make them feel better. You can also give babies infant paracetamol (if they’re six months old or above) – you can buy it in packets of 5ml sachets which are handy to take onto the flight to help in case of ear pain. If you’ve done everything that you can and your child is still crying because of ear pain, remember that the act of crying will actually help to equalise the ear pressure and will make them feel better.”
Tips by Gretta Schifano who owns and writes the blog mumsdotravel.com
“Flying with a baby or small child can be quite daunting for most parents – I know it was for me – but I found that keeping my son occupied on the plane was actually a lot easier than I anticipated. He was 16 months old when I took him on his first flight and I made sure to bring along his favourite comforters and his favourite blanket too as flights can get quite cold, especially for little ones and I knew this would also be an added comfort to him – this turned out to be very handy when he fell asleep in the middle of the flight. I also prepared a little bag full of treats and surprises for him to discover throughout the flight and keep him entertained. Inside were healthy treats such as fruit sticks, yogurt buttons and raisins for him to snack on, two little wooden cars for him to roll on the tray table throughout the flight and a new little remote control toy whose noises kept him entertained. Also, if your child is old enough make sure to bring a fruity lollipop or two for them to suck on during take-off and landing, this will help keep their ears from getting sore and also give them a bit of a treat too.”
Tips by Fiona Naughton. Fiona shares parenting and lifestyle tips on her blog Dolly Dowsie
“A plane is no place to hold dear to any sort of parenting principle. So charge up your iPad or tablet, and load it with any combination of much loved TV shows, a Disney movie or two, some simple games – anything you can do without WiFi access. And don’t forget to invest in one of those USB charging dongles on a longer flight (or for airport delays) – you really don’t want to find out how your baby will react if your tablet dies halfway through an episode of In The Night Garden when you’re a thousand miles from the nearest electrical socket. Don’t forget comfy headphones to minimise disturbance for other passengers, and we love headphone splitters, which allow you to listen to the same programme as your baby using a single headset socket.”
Tips by Sally Whittle, a journalist and blogger at whosthemummy.co.uk
Got a tried and tested tip to add to this list? Leave a comment below, we’d love to hear your advice!
- Fiona Hilliard