Written by Ciara O’Hanlon
Being cooped up in a confined space for a number of hours at a time can be daunting enough for some people, let alone adding children to the mix. If you are travelling with babies, toddlers or older children, we have some tips to help make air transit a bit easier.
Tips for babies:
Whether it’s a bottle, a dummy or a nipple, make sure your baby is sucking on something for take off and landing. The sucking motion can help eradicate any ear popping and save you making any plane enemies in those first few minutes of the flight.
Most airlines have bassinet seats in front of the bulkheads for long-haul, international flights. Securing them is usually on a first come first served basis so it is important to get to the airport early to ensure you don’t have to hold your baby on your lap for the duration of the flight. The bassinet seats have weight and height allowances so check your baby is still within these limits before assuming you will be allocated one. Also be aware that you will have to take your baby out of the bassinet whenever the seatbelt sign comes on, which is often!
Stock up on nappies, baby wipes and nappy bags. Baby wipes in particular have multiple uses so should be a staple on any flight, not only for baby but for toddlers, older kids and a bit of a freshening up for yourself. Make sure you have all these essentials stored in a handy, smaller bag that you can keep with you rather than stored in the overhead compartments.
Although some airports supply strollers for toddlers and older kids, moving a baby between connecting flights through the airport can be difficult without a pram. A baby carrier is almost a necessity to help navigate through security and passport control. Pick a carrier that has pockets at the front to keep passports and tickets that you can access easily.
Tips for toddlers:
A mobile toddler eager to explore their surroundings can be a challenge on a long haul flight. Expect to spend some time guiding them up the aisles and chatting to other bewildered looking parents. Bring a few familiar toys from home including their favourite soft toy so they have some familiarity during what can be an overwhelming time. Some new books or sticker activity pads can be a great distraction for when they are at their most alert.
Toddlers will most likely fall asleep at the most inopportune time such as just when their meal arrives. Pack plenty of extra snacks and be sure to bag up some of their meal for when they wake up. Be aware that it can take a while for the inflight service to start so make sure they are well fed before boarding.
The inflight entertainment systems can be a great source of distraction for kids and perhaps toddlers too if they can handle putting headphones on. It can be helpful using headphones at home so they’re used to the experience. It may not hold their attention for long but it will give you some downtime from walking the aisles with them.
Tips for kids:
Older kids will be kept entertained for longer with the novelty of movies, tv shows and games they may not necessarily have access to or have seen at home. As a precaution, bring your own device and load it with your kids favourite entertainment. The inflight systems may not always work well or be reliable.
A plane bag containing some crayons, colouring books or Lego sets can be a nice surprise for older kids for when the novelty of a long haul flight starts to wear off. It can be a nice way to break up the flight and save you from the inevitable ‘are we there yet?’
Be sure to pack a spare pair of clothes for every member of the family, yourself included if travelling with a baby or toddler. Dress your kids in comfortable, breathable clothing and preferably slip on shoes. The less zips, buckles and laces you have, the better. If you are travelling at night be sure to dress your kids in their pyjamas and brush their teeth on board so they still get a sense of routine.