If you’re lucky enough to be escaping the washed out British summer this year and jetting off to find sunnier climates, you may be feeling a little bit anxious about taking your little one on the plane. Many of us have experience of flights where a child cries non-stop, and it can be distressing to everyone involved. Whilst it isn’t guaranteed that your flight won’t recreate that misery, there are some things you can do to try and avoid a total plane meltdown and make your life a little bit easier.
1) Keeping Tummies Full
Thankfully, baby food and milk is not included amongst the strict limits of liquids, pastes and gels that are enforced on flights travelling to and from the UK. This means that you can take as much milk and baby food as you need for the journey, included pre-expressed breastmilk, formula, and baby purees. Some airlines do provide jars of baby food, but it is worth checking this in advance. At the airport security you may be required to taste the milk / food in front of security personnel, so bear this in mind when packing. Many airports will also have an option to pre-order premixed formula before you arrive to pick up in the duty free area. This is a good option to consider if you want to get through security quickly.
If you are travelling with a toddler, have plenty of snacks available. OK, giving them a treat to keep them quiet might not be the most healthy approach, but as a one-off it’s worth it to help prevent a mid-flight tantrum.
2) Carry On Luggage
A lot of airlines recognise that babies come with lots of stuff, and many will allow you to take an extra piece of hand luggage on board even if your baby is sitting on your lap for the flight. It’s a good idea to have around 24-hours worth of nappies and wipes in your carry-on bag in case of any delays or problems with picking up your main pieces of luggage. Also, remember to pack a couple of changes of clothes in case your child experiences travel sickness. It’s also useful to have a small bag inside your carry-on in which you can place a nappy, wipes, etc. to take to the toilets to save you having to take your entire carry-on every time you need to do a nappy change. Don’t forget to pack a foldaway changing mat or towel, as airplane toilets can get a little messy.
3) Scheduling And Sleeping
Whilst night flights might not be everyone’s cup of tea, you may find it better for your child as he or she can sleep through most of the flight, giving you a chance to relax and sleep. If you are flying in the day time with a child who naps in the day, try and keep them awake for a few hours before so that they take a nap during the flight.
4) Look After Those Ears
If you’ve heard a baby crying at the start or the end of the flight, there is a good chance that it is a result of the pain caused by changes in ear pressure during take off and landing. Of course, a baby is unable to force their ears to pop, however swallowing can help, so you may find it useful to give your baby a feed during these times to help ease the pain. For toddlers, consider giving them a lollipop. Yes, it’s a lot of sugar, but again, as a one-off it’s worth it.
If you child is awake during the flight be prepared to keep him or her entertained. Babies love looking at new things so you could take them for frequent walks up and down the aisles pointing out the different lights etc. Toddlers will enjoy doing the same and some passengers may chat to your child giving them a welcome distraction.
Pack your child’s favourite toys and books, and also consider getting them some new ones. You could even purchase a few pocket money toys and wrap them up individually, giving your toddler one at a time to unwrap. Sticker books provide lots of entertainment, as do a small pack of crayons and paper. If you have a tablet or smartphone, load it up with plenty of child friendly apps. Also, don’t be embarrassed about singing to your child on the plane; if it works, it works.