Flying with small children can be a bit of an endurance test, but don’t let it put you off travelling – it’s always worth it! Here are a few tips that might help:
Before you go
If your child has not flown before, use role play to help them understand what will happen. For example, they might be upset at seeing their suitcases taken away, or be anxious about walking through a metal detector. There are plenty of books aimed at young children flying for the first time.
When booking, think about timing flights around naptime to encourage sleep on the plane. However be aware that this might backfire, causing a grumpy, overtired child! Check your child’s baggage allowance, particularly if they don’t have a seat. For children without a seat it is worth talking to your airline to see if they can help. For example, if the flight is not full they may be able to reserve you bulkhead seats with more space, or even arrange for an empty seat beside you.
At the airport
Make sure that you arrive in plenty of time. Many airports have a separate security line for parents, with a shorter queue and room to spread out. Check the local restrictions about taking liquids onto the plane. You should be able to take extra for your baby or child, but you may be asked to taste them.
You can usually take your pushchair with you to the gate, but at your destination you may have to wait for it to be returned with your hold luggage, meaning that you still have to carry your child some distance.
On the plane
When you settle into your seat, make sure that you have everything that you need close by – especially drinks, snacks, spare nappies, wipes and entertainment. During take-off and landing children may experience pain due to the change in air pressure, so encourage them to sip from a drink.
When packing things to occupy your child, avoid small parts that will fall on the floor and be difficult to retrieve. New sticker books are brilliant, as are colouring books (just watch those rolling crayons!). Treats like biscuits or raisins in pots can keep little fingers busy, and be sure to take plenty of snacks in case your child won’t eat the food provided. A smartphone or tablet (switched to flight mode) is also a great way to keep a small child busy – make sure to load plenty of new games and films. Finally, make sure that older children have used the toilet both before you take off and before the plane begins to descend!
Jennifer is a Mum to two young children, and blogs about parenting, travel and craft at www.jenniferslittleworld.com