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Parenting: Flying with kids – Five tips on how to stay sane

We flew to Australia once.

With a two year old and an eight month old.

I know we really were mad, but my husband had to work out there and I was still on maternity leave. It was one of those opportunities that really shouldn’t be missed. So we didn’t miss it. And we have never regretted it. We were there for a month and loved every bit of it

Chatterbox still remembers feeding the Kangaroos.

When we landed after almost 24 hours on planes with the kids, the passenger sitting behind us said,

“Your kids are awesome.”

Brilliant. No better compliment. He didn’t have to say anything. But he did.

We had worked hard to keep them happy and it had paid off. So based on my Australian experience, here are my top tips for travelling or flying long haul with younger kids and toddlers. Hopefully, these will keep toddler tantrums in check; and the tantrums from other passengers to a minimum.

Flying with kids

1. Prepare with information on what flying is all about

Kids react to situations where they do not understand with fear. If they know what to expect, then they will be much calmer generally on the flight. Find some books on going on planes and read them. Show them a few snippets on You Tube. It all helps them to be more comfortable.

2. Take a special bag of toys

Buy some new, never before seen toys. Just little ones from charity shops even. Or perhaps some toys that your children haven’t played with for a while. Bring them out at regular intervals during the flight to keep their interest levels up. If all else fails – don’t be ashamed to use the TV on board the flight. It can be a lifesaver for the overactive toddler.

3. Take plenty of snacks

It’s worth having a few healthy snacks in the bag to make sure that you have something to feed them when they need further distractions. Raisins, and other friend fruit if your children are happy with this, are perfect.

4. Let them cuddle up and sleep on you when the rest of the flight sleeps

Try and time their naps before the flight so they are tired, but not over tired for the flight, depending on its timing. You would like them to sleep as the rest of the flight sleeps so you aren’t fighting with them. And if they need a warmed bottle to get to sleep; don’t be afraid to ask for help from the cabin staff. They are usually very accommodating. You could even take a bottle warmer with you – but don’t forget the batteries!

5. Relax and show no fear!

Kids pick up on your tension and it makes them tense. If you can try and relax yourself then that will make the whole experience for you and your child so much more pleasant. And if they do cry; don’t panic. Kids cry all the time, and the people around you may even be more understanding that you think. Just calm them gently and if it’s a tantrum about putting on the seatbelt; explain the plane’s pilot has asked them to put it on. Usually works for me – pilot’s are much easier to obey than mummies!

Good luck.

Staying sane flying with kids

If you have any tips around flying with kids then do let me know below.

Helen is a mum to two, social media consultant, and website editor; and this site is (we think) the only Social Enterprise parenting magazine! Since giving up being a business analyst when juggling travel, work and kids proved too complicated, she founded KiddyCharts so she could be with her kids, and use those grey cells at the same time. KiddyCharts has reach of over 1.1million across social and the site. The blog works with big family brands (including travel) to help promote their services, as well as offering free resources to parents of kids under 10. It gives 51%+ profits to Reverence for Life, who fund a number of important initiatives in Africa, including bringing running water and basic equipment to a school in Tanzania. Helen has worked as a digital marketing consultant (IDM qualified) with various organisations, including Channel Mum, Truprint, Talk to Mums, and Micro Scooters. She loves to be creative in the brand campaigns she works on. Get in touch TODAY!

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Sunday 18th of November 2012

Some great tips! I found this post through the Oldies but Goodies link, very timely as we are embarking on a long haul flight to Florida in a couple of weeks with two little ones, no idea how we're going to get on!


Saturday 17th of November 2012

Great list of tips - thanks for linking up! We took 3 kids to Australia when they were 3,5 and 7. They were all great! Lifesaver was the TV but it also helped that we told them they would be there for breakfast, lunch, tea and a sleep so no point in asking if we were nearly there!

Actually Mummy...

Sunday 1st of April 2012

You are right -children will always surprise you with how much they can cope with if you plan and then go with the flow. I wrote about this too, and people tend to have such low expectations of children on flights - I have found that if you plan well you can make a flight a fun experience with them


Sunday 1st of April 2012

I am pretty convinced my two can cope with most stuff as long as they are warned in advance - the problems start when we can't warn them or miss something out! When my little Chatterbox went into hospital, all was fine until she had to change into the hospital robe...I had missed that bit out of the explanation and all hell broke loose!


Tuesday 27th of March 2012

Another suggestion would be to take coloring books or blank paper with pencils. Books to read and/or a book where they have to search for something on that page.


Sunday 1st of April 2012

Great idea - we have done that too. When they are a week bit older, colouring books are fabulous. :-)


Saturday 24th of March 2012

Don't forget to buy baby a ticket and use a carseat on board. It's the FAA recommendation that all children use carseats so that they are protected, the carseats don't end up in the baggage hold (where they can be damaged, or lost in transit), other passengers do not have to worry about baby shaped projectiles coming toward them, and generally kids sleep well in their carseats. Especially on a long flight, though, where you don't need to worry about shifting your position, or getting up to use the restroom and waking the child in your arms.

I've flown internationally many times alone with my older daughter, and my younger daughter and I are going alone to Asia next month. It's never been a big deal. Like the article said, bring snacks, time sleep, and ask for help when you need it. It's completely doable, and worth every second in the air to have a fantastic trip. Both of my kids are great travelers. We just always have traveled, so they know it well and generally are pretty good. And the one time each they've been "That Kid," it was a few hours of our lives, and it's long over.


Sunday 1st of April 2012

Thanks, Wendy. We flew with a car seat when my son got a bit bigger. But my daughter was never happy sleeping in a car seat, so I guess its often individual with these things, just like anything else with kids!

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