Some parents only start flying with their children when they are old enough to sit still long enough without problems. There are also plenty of parents who do not want to wait until their children are teenagers to take a flying holiday. For those of us who want to continue exploring new places with our families, it’s important to find ways to make this journey enjoyable for ourselves and fellow passengers as well. That’s certainly possible! And without too much effort! Flying with children can be quite stressful. You don’t just have to worry about how they feel and behave, but also about how others react to them. This is especially true for toddlers, with all their new skills such as running, talking, screaming. This, especially in a busy environment where everyone is already close together, is not ideal.
Traveling with a toddler comes with a number of challenges, but if you are well prepared you have a good chance of having a smooth flight.
The first step is to get to the airport early. It takes a lot of time to get through check-in and customs and with a child this is even slower. The extra time between the (long) car journey and the flight gives your child the opportunity to get some exercise. See if there is a play area set up somewhere for children so they can burn off some energy.
- Involve your child in packing his/her suitcase. For example, you can draw all the things he/she needs on an A4 sheet of paper and let them try to pack their suitcase themselves.
- If possible, it is useful to check in online and reserve seats in advance. Don’t forget to print everything out and put it in your carry-on luggage!
- Make lists in advance for each person of what needs to be taken with them. If you do this well in advance, you have little chance of forgetting anything.
On the airport
You made it through the journey to the airport, check-in and customs unscathed. Especially with international flights, you may still have a lot of time left before you can board the plane. Fortunately, there is plenty to do at an airport.
- Many airports have play areas for children. Although it is tempting to go out for a drink somewhere, it is useful to let your child play and get tired now. They can still sit long enough on the plane.
- Use the extra time to stock up on food and drinks. Not all airplanes have milk on board and the tap water on an airplane is not safe to drink (certainly not for babies and small children).
- If your child has recently been toilet trained, it is useful to put a diaper on them just before the flight. This can be quite useful if your flight is delayed or if you experience turbulence.
- There are often special baby areas set up at airports. This can be useful if you are breastfeeding or if you have a baby who needs a lot of sleep and rest. There are often some kind of cradles where your child can sleep comfortably or play safely.
To take off
Babies and young children do not know how to keep the pressure on their ears to a minimum. For older children it is useful to chew gum during take-off. For younger children it is useful to give them a bottle or a cup with something to drink when taking off. A pacifier can also help. When your child is tired, try to maintain the sleep routine as much as possible. Read a story and sing a song softly.
Here are some tips for keeping kids entertained during the flight
- Add different toys to your carry-on luggage. It is useful to ensure that these are silent games that will not bother anyone. Things you can do together with your child are the most fun. Such as books to read together.
- Bring presents. If you can take a bag with you, it is nice to bring a bag full of small wrapped gifts for your child. They will love it and keep themselves busy. One at a time is of course the most fun to keep it the most fun for you and your child.
- Bring different types of snacks. The key to a good trip is being able to provide your child with choices and variety, despite the fact that you can’t take a lot of things with you. Because your child will probably get hungry, it is nice to have a number of choices.
- Of course, don’t forget to bring their favorite cuddly toy or blanket or something else that will make them feel comfortable. This can make a long trip much more enjoyable.
- Take certain things with you that are only for the plane. Games, books, magazines, toys, these may only be used during the flight. If you let them play with these toys in the departure hall, they will be looking forward to it before you get on the plane. The reward for waiting is that they get to play with it when they’re on the plane.
- Have your child take a children’s backpack with them as hand luggage. You will probably carry it with you at the end of the day. But the responsibility you give your child by carrying their own bag will encourage him/her to behave more maturely.
- Make sure you have everything you need for emergencies and problems. A food bag and/or anti-nausea medication, earplugs to prevent earache, an extra change of clothes, a jacket, toothbrush and toothpaste, diapers and wipes for the little ones. You don’t want to end up with a problem that could have been solved so easily if you had just had the tools to deal with it.
- Consider whether it is useful to schedule sleep times to coincide with the journey. For some children it is convenient to fly during their nap time. because they can just go to sleep and wake up at their destination. Children who find it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep in a busy environment and/or are sick during the trip will be tired and cranky at the end of the trip if you fly during their sleep times. Consider in advance how your child will respond to this and, if possible, plan this according to your child’s needs.
- Bring a car seat. Many parents do not take advantage of the fact that airlines are generally set up for the use of car seats. It is safer for your child and he/she will feel more comfortable because they are familiar with their own seat. Of course, they can also sleep better in a chair of their size. It is also useful to have a safe car seat with you at your destination. There are special trolleys for sale on which you can click all car seats, making it a handy buggy!
All these tips can help make a flight with a toddler go more smoothly. But the most important thing is that you are well prepared. You need to make sure that you leave with a calm state of mind so that you can deal with whatever may happen. Expect problems to arise and convince yourself that you can handle them. Allow enough time to check in. Pack your belongings in advance so that you are less likely to forget anything. And try not to worry about what other people will think if your child gets annoying on the plane. If you radiate peace, this will certainly have a positive effect on your child.