Thursday, October 7, 2010

Tips for Flying with Small Children

Yesterday I flew to Seattle for my oldest brother's wedding. We've actually flown a ridiculous amount with our daughter. I stopped counting after the 12tjh flight. And she's only three.

Anyhow, in honor of my trip, I thought I would share with you some of the tips and tricks I've learned in the past few years about flying with small children:

1. Bring their passport. Depending on the airline and airport, you may have to show the birth certificate as proof that you aren't trying to steal someone's kid. Or use it to prove that your really tall 18-month-old is really not quite 2 yet.

2. You're allowed to bring a bottle or two of breast milk or formula through security. Because it's not likely that you'll be feeding a baby liquid explosives.

3. When the plane is getting ready to take off, give your baby or toddler a bottle/sippy cup. The gulping and swallowing they do while drinking it helps their ears pop. Babies frequently get fussy on planes because they don't know how to relieve the pressure in their ears.

4. Bring toys. Lots of toys. A friend once told me that she would hit up Target's $1 section and buy a bunch of things to amuse her kids. Then she would wrap each one in a few layers of gift wrap. Once the plane took off, she would give her kids 1 item at a time. Depending on the age of your child, the unwrapping time may last anywhere from 30 seconds to 3 minutes. It just buys a little extra time.

5. Walk and bounce. If you happen to be one of the parents with a baby who just can't be calmed while you're sitting down, just talk a little walk to the back of the airplane and do the famous mom sway or gently bounce or whatever movement your baby loves. Of course, make sure the fasten seat belt sign is turned off.

6. Don't use the flight attendant call button unless you REALLY need to. I've seen so many kids push the button over and over and over once they've figured out what it's for.

7. Break up the flight. Those of you who have children at the crawling or early walking stage know how hard it is to convince them to sit still for any length of time. A nice non-stop flight may sound appealing to you but it often helps to break it up by having a layover. The layover gives your kiddo enough time to get down and wiggle all they need to before another round of sitting begins. When my daughter was still taking two naps a day, I would pick flights that took off at her usual nap time and then had the connecting flight be somewhat close to the time of her usual second nap - she'd sleep on the first plane. Wiggle and crawl like nobody's business during the layover and then sleep again on the second flight.

8. Ignoring them Makes it Worse. Every single flight I've been on has had that one parent and kiddo who are having a battle of wills. The kid is screaming and the parent is pretending to ignore them in hopes that they'll stop. DON'T try it! Kids are insanely stubborn and ignoring them just fuels their fire. Cowboy up and deal with the situation. Sure, you might have to make compromises but trust me, one or two little compromises for an hour or two will not turn your child into a drug dealer or serial killer. Promise. 

9. Don't Stress. The more stressed, cranky and snippy you get, the more your child will feed off that negative energy and their behavior will go further down the toilet. Take and deep breath. Don't yell. Treating your child with the same respect you would give a close friend while communicating with them will help everyone stay calm and happy. Patience and kindness are amazing tools that parents can easily use.

Hope this helps any of you who may be traveling soon!

1 comment:

  1. We just flew 3 months ago with my 3 year old. This was his 5th? 6th? flight...I have also stopped keeping track. On that flight, a cranky 50ish woman saw my son across the aisle rolled her eyes and said "great, and I have to sit by the kid." grrr. My child was very well behaved (and well fed, I believe in LOTS of snacks!), but the kid directly behind her with a HUGE dinosaur figurine banging the back of her chair was not. :) I like the tip of Don't Stress...because if you make it fun and roll with it, it does go by better.


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