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How to survive flying with small children – it IS possible!

“How to survive flying with small children” is by Renee Wilson, a content writer at Baby Hints and Tips. Baby Hints and Tips is a community for sharing support, advice and tips for (and from!) parents. You can also find their active and engaged community on Facebook. 

You’re about to set off on your long-awaited holiday, or have made the move to live in another country, but there’s just one hurdle – flying with small children. Terrified about being trapped in the air with restless kids for hours? Here’s how to make flying with kids fun and stress-free.

Arrive at the airport early

Things always take longer when you’re carrying small children and extra luggage. Flying with a baby can also add more time and pressure to your trip. Save yourself stress and arrive at the airport early, but not too early – kids get bored easily, remember? Ask at check-in about spare seats on the plane to give you more room and don’t forget to confirm your bassinet when travelling. Flying with a baby can also add more time and pressure to your trip. Families can often board the plane first allowing you to get settled without having to squeeze past passengers.

Take a stroller

Invest in a cheap stroller that you can check in at the gate, or bring your baby carrier or sling. Airports are big and small children’s legs get tired quickly. Enough said.

Timing of the flight

Think about what works best for your family. You may prefer to travel during nap time, so your kids can sleep through the flight, or you may want to avoid nap time in case your kids become ratty. If you’re planning a long-haul flight, travelling at night is recommended.

flying with small children runway

Who gets the window seat?

Avoid in-flight fights and decide in advance who gets the highly coveted window seat. Giving one child the window on the way there and the other on the way back usually solves the problem.

Pack an extra outfit

Throw an extra outfit into your carry-on for your child and squeeze in one for you too. Pack extra nappies, wipes and nappy bags. It can get cold on planes, so dress your child in layers and ask your flight attendant for a blanket. Not sure what to pack? Use our carry-on checklist, so you don’t forget a thing.

Medical kit

Ensure you have Panadol or Nurofen, band aids, nappy cream and any prescribed medication easily accessible in case of an emergency.

Prepare for plane pressure

Changing air pressure can play havoc on your kid’s ears. If you’re breastfeeding, feed on take-off and landing, or give your child a dummy. Older kids will enjoy sucking a lollipop.

Snacks and more snacks

Snacks are the secret to stress-free flying with kids. Keep your child’s tummy full and you’ll have a happy and hopefully peaceful flight. Avoid messy foods.

In-flight entertainment

In-flight entertainment can be a god-send, but be warned that not all airlines offer screens with seats. Bring along your tablet to keep them entertained.

Things to do

We all know kids get bored easily, especially when they’re told to sit still. Pack plenty of activity books, storybooks, or small toys. If your child gets restless, go exploring! Look out the window, talk about what they can see and where they are going. The flight attendant may invite the kids into the cock-pit to meet the pilot.

Pack your child’s favourite item

Avoid a serious #mumfail and pack your child’s favourite comforter. Your child will be reaching for their blankie or snuggly toy if they’re upset or tired.

Prepare your kids for what to expect when flying

Take the fear out of flying and explain to your kids what to expect. This includes everything from letting go of Teddy while he goes through the x-ray machine to keeping your seatbelt fastened. Check out your local library for books on flying.

What tips for flying with small children would you add to the list? Let us know in the comments!

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Janine Mergler

Janine Mergler is a veteran Queensland teacher, graduating from QUT with a BEd majoring in Social Sciences. After many years in the classroom, Janine moved on to academia. She has proudly trained new generations of teachers in her role as a lecturer at Queensland University of Technology Faculty of Education. She has also worked in the Queensland Government as an education specialist, developing education resources and delivering community awareness programs to help families conserve water. Currently she is the owner and editor of Families Magazine, a publication specifically targeted at parents who value a quality education for children.  Janine leads a team of professionals who write about family lifestyle, early childhood, schools and education information and family-friendly events.

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