With cramped airplane seating, and busy waiting areas, taking a flight can be an intimidating experience. Add a wailing toddler to the equation, and you have a nightmare on your hands.
Getting children to sit idle for long hours is challenging, but you can’t blame them. What you can do is divert their attention from the absence of free space and entertain them with the resources available.
A little bit of planning and preparation….and voila! The nightmare will turn into a dream.
So whether you are jetting off for a weekend or for a long family vacation, check out these stress-reducing strategies for flying with a toddler.
Book the flight as per your child’s sleep schedule
The best way to have a stress-free travel experience with your kids is to choose a flight that matches your child's sleeping pattern. Once your kid falls asleep on board, you are free to take a nap and have a pleasant flight.
Long-haul flights are difficult to schedule around naps and bedtime. So we recommend booking an early morning flight and putting your child to bed earlier than normal beforehand to ensure that he/she is well-rested and prepared for the journey.
Keep the hunger pangs away
Let's face it; when we were kids, there were no such things as pizza, ice cream, or burgers when we were 30,000+ feet in the air. Now that we have that option, why not use it to your advantage? Carry your kid’s favourite snacks and food items.
One cannot predict unforeseen in-flight travel delays, but one can surely prepare for them by carrying the child’s favourite snack-time indulgences. Though be mindful of the sugary substances you take along. You really do not want to induce a sugar rush in a closed space with 150 strangers on board! Also, carrying your own ‘kid-friendly’ food helps you combat the dilemma of feeding your child airplane food.
Book a window and an aisle seat
Try to book the aisle and window seats and leave the middle one open. Since middle seats are the last to be filled, this increases your odds of scoring your toddler a seat without paying. In case, a passenger does come in the middle seat; you can always request them to switch seats- they will be more than happy to come onto the window/aisle seat.
Note: the aisle seat allows you easy access to the bathroom and gives you the ability to walk around with your kid, which in turn enables you to have a smooth travel experience without disturbing fellow co-passengers.
Pre-load the electronics
You can never rely on airline WiFi. Download some games, or educational applications on your devices to keep your toddlers busy. Don't forget to download the child’s preferred movies and TV shows/cartoons on Netflix, Apple, Amazon Prime, HBO Max, and Disney+Hotstar. Once downloaded, your kids can watch them easily, even without the Internet.
Invest in decibel-limiting headphones that are comfortable and inexpensive so as to protect the child’s ears.
Pro Tip- Remember to charge all your devices fully before taking off.
Be innovative with play-time
Many parents often forget to take advantage of their surroundings for entertainment. You need to be innovative. From carry-on luggage rides to in-flight blanket tents, there are so many fun ways to keep your kids occupied. You can also play some fun games like "I Spy When I Fly" or "No Vacancy" for older toddlers.
Strap on carrier
A baby harness can be a lifesaver when juggling more than one child. If you don't want your infant to wake up with blood-curdling screams, simply put them in a harness and allow them to sleep on you with support. These harnesses also come in handy if you are travelling on your own without a partner.
Pack your luggage thoughtfully
You must be careful while packing the cabin luggage bag as that is all you have on the flight. Many airlines restrict cabin luggage's weight, so choose wisely the items before packing.
Include your child's favourite toys, reading books, blankets, and anything that gives your child a sense of familiarity and security. Do not make your cabin bag too heavy, as you have to carry the bags and carry the luggage, plus your kid.
Carry all your sos medicines
The prime reason for in-flight outbursts is the earaches caused due to cabin pressure. When we as adults are discomforted by them, imagine the plight of our toddlers! Here are the ways you can combat this issue-
a) Stuff cotton balls into the ears (be careful not to push them in too deep)
b) Allow your child to suck on a sweet or lollipop.
c) Carry the paediatrician-prescribed ear drops.
Whether you're flying with your little ones for 1 hour or 12 hours, it will take a bit of work. So, if things didn't go as planned, take 3 deep breaths, open those snacks, or play games with them. Remember, it's only one day of your life, and the destination waiting at the other end of the flight is absolutely worth it.
Follow these tips to have a great flight experience with your kids and do let us know what works best for you!