With summer holidays upon us, a mother of four shares her tried and tested tips for flying with kids
Please welcome Dana Bachar Grossman, author of the recently-published Fight or Flight: The Survival Guide for Flying with Kids, with her top 10 tips for family air travel! A mama of four and long-time expat, Dana, who originally hails from Israel, is well-versed in long-haul flights and has personally encountered just about every family travel disaster out there. She’s not only lived to tell the tale, but is here to share her wisdom with nervous parents. From sleeping tips to diaper rules and grumpy passenger etiquette, you CAN do this, mamas! P.S. we love that 10% of the book’s proceeds go to a children’s charity in Nepal!
Click through the gallery for Dana’s top 10 tips!
Lead image sourced via Getty
My motto is “extra space to rest is always best!”(™). Depending on the age of your kids, keep the following tips in mind:
- Baby bassinets are a life-changer, both for you and for the baby (order in advance from the airline)
- Try to find an empty seat near your child so you have room to stretch out
- Front row (bulkhead) seats make for a great “play area”
- Window seats are fascinating for toddlers and up
- Have an adult between the kids, for safety reasons or in case of an emergency
- Bring along gap closing gadgets – such as the First Class Pillow or Plane Pal – to create a bigger space for kids to stretch out and sleep comfortably
Bringing along a car seat can make for a comfortable, familiar and secure restraint for your baby or toddler. Confirm with the airline directly that it’s an approved brand. This is a life-changer! The kids sit/sleep comfortably, there’s no need to chase them around, and they won’t slip off their seat.
Image sourced via The Car Seat Lady
Let your kids crawl, run and jump safely at the airport to burn off some energy before boarding and between flights. If you have a newborn, consider letting them move their limbs freely before swaddling for a long flight.
Whether in busy airports or on planes, our family has a routine: If you can’t see us, cry as loudly as you can! As we might hear that and find you, and no one can ignore a crying child and will most likely offer help. So make sure you brief them on their options: a meeting point you all decide on, call you from their mobile, ask any official airport staff member for help etc.
Image sourced via Getty
We ditched the “when is it best to board?” argument awhile ago. Now my hubby goes first to stow our carry-on bags, while I stay behind with the kids, allowing them to run around a bit more.
Image sourced via Getty
If you notice grumpiness growing around you because of your kids’ noise, try your best to ignore them. That’s just adults crying in their own way! You will be surprised how people’s attitudes change for the best when you ask for help and they feel needed.
When taking off and landing, cabin pressure can cause ear pressure and pain that your kids can’t release by themselves. Try to have them drink water/breastfeed/bottle feed, suck a dummy or a lollipop, chew gum, or “pump” air by blocking the nose and blowing air into it.
As long as they move their jaws or swallow, they are good! For young babies, I use Pain Relief Ear Drops an hour before takeoff as sometimes they refuse to drink exactly when we want them to.
Image sourced via Pixabay
YOU! Yes, you! It’s crucial that parents get some sleep, too in order to save their sanity later on. Doze off when the little ones do and leave behind any expectation for a long sleep for both you and them…
Here are some tips to help babies in particular catch some Zzzzzs:
- Bring along a cotton cloth or muslin blanket to place under the baby and cover them, as the aircraft blanket may overheat them.
- A pillow will lift their head higher, and also helps in case of a stuffy nose or a coughing fit.
- Ask the main chief purser to turn the big screen above the bassinet so you have more darkness
- Zip baby into the bassinet to keep them safe in case of sudden air turbulence or an attempt to sit up. And of course, check on them often.
Image sourced via Getty
For babies and toddlers (even if they are “toilet trained”… better safe than sorry), we have a 1 hour/1 diaper(™) rule: the length of the flight dictates the number of diapers with a minimum of five diapers for super short flights.
It’s Murphy’s Law laughing at you with an unexpected diarrhea episode on board. Also, check their diaper at least every two hours, as sometimes the pee overflows due to their creative posture.
Warning! If your poor child suffers from a vomiting bug or diarrhea, change their outfit or use an extra blanket to keep them warm before changing, as they might vomit again sooner than you think.
Handle any illness, especially a cold, stuffy nose or ear pain ASAP before the flight with your naturopath /doctor. It will save them the pain and save the rest of the passengers from getting it too.
Medicines and remedies to carry on board:
- Painkiller: Age-appropriate painkillers with proper syringes or measuring cups in case of pain, fever or a real discomfort. I usually prefer the suppository for young babies, so I can be sure they got the full amount required without spilling and struggling.
- Ear drops and pain relief drops
- Chamomile or fennel drops/tea for colic and general sickness
- Teething remedy or gel to ease their pain if it breaks out during the flight
Wishing you safe and happy travels, mamas!