How To Survive A 12-Hour Plane Trip With Kids




Photo by Steven Coffey on Unsplash


We’ve all been there, you’re in a long-haul flight and aren’t getting a wink of sleep thanks to a screaming kid in your cabin. And then when you eventually become a parent, you wonder how you’re going to manage your kids on a flight without the judgement of other passengers. The truth is, all kids are different and so they respond differently to new environments. But there are ways to prepare in advance so that you, your child, and the other passengers can have a pleasant flight as much as possible. Here are a few tried and tested things to know that we compiled from a few travelling mothers! 


Travelling with babies


Contrary to what you may think, babies are sometimes the easiest to travel with because they can’t run anywhere! To keep them happy and comfortable between feeds and naptime, here’s what you can do. 


Wear your baby carrier for the whole flight. 


When your baby is tired and cracking it, you can quickly strap them on instead of taking the time to find your carrier and set it up.


Know when to use the bassinet.


The baby bassinet that’s provided by the airline helps relieve your arms from carrying a sleeping baby on a long flight. But in the event of turbulence, you’ll have to take your baby out and carry him / her and this might wake your baby up. If that happens, revert back to point one. Also bring a dark cloth and some Washi tape to cover your baby from light and other distractions when he / she is sleeping in the bassinet.


Protect their ears.



Photo by Ricardo Moura from Pexels


As adults, we’re familiar with managing ear pressure changes on flights, but babies and toddlers aren’t. The solution? Get them to drink from a sippy cup, suck a pacifier or bottle feed them. This helps to reduce ear discomfort when the plane is taking off and landing. For bottle fed babies, some airlines allow you to bring liquids and formula on the flight. Just do a check with the airline before your flight day. 


Pack diapers and wipes into zip lock bags.



A baby care bag is full of stuff and when you’re in a messy emergency, having these items kept in a ziplock bag of its own helps you identify it immediately (with one hand too - while you carry your kid in the other) without wasting time rummaging. Once you’ve done the diaper change, you can fold and pop the soiled diaper right back into its individual Ziploc bag to quickly seal in any odors and it makes it easier to dispose off later. 


For toddlers and older kids


Here’s the age where kids are able to articulate their thoughts (and oppose yours if they want!), run on their own two feet, and also learn good airflight habits. :) Your goal is to try to keep them in their seats as long as possible. Here’s how: 


Preparation is key. 



Photo by Vladislav Vasnetsov from Pexels


As soon as they’re old enough to comprehend what you’re saying,  prepare them for the flight experience way before you fly. In the days leading up to your trip, try to help them envision what the trip will be like to avoid surprises and panic. Get them involved in the process by treating it as an adventure. Together you can brainstorm fun things they would like to do on the flight and even guide them in packing their backpacks accordingly. That helps give them a sense of ownership and a positive attitude towards the flight experience. 


Book front row seats.


Kids need space. Even if they’re not wandering to the row behind, they’ll be shifting between their own seat and your cuddly arms. Booking front row seats will give you more leg room, easy access to the toilet, and it also means there won’t be a seat in front for them to accidently kick.


Bring snacks.



Every few hours, take out a new snack to occupy their time. Healthy, and easy to eat snacks like blueberries, carrot sticks, or mini biscuits to keep them happy. It also comes in handy if the meal options on the air flight aren’t kid-friendly. Avoid candy of course. You don’t want a sugar high! 


Prepare Non-messy activities and fine-motor skill toys.



Reveal them slowly throughout the flight (not all at once). Things like painting with water books, drawing materials, a new toy you know they will love, a balloon or two, colourful pipe cleaners to mold to their imagination, even things like stringing wooden pegs can be good enough to keep them occupied for at least an hour! And of course, pre-downloaded videos from YouTube Kids!


Bring something familiar for comfort.


Sometimes turbulence on the flight can be quite scary for kids. Or even just being in a totally new environment. So whenever they're afraid or uncomfortable, they can hold on to their favourite blanket, soft toy, or something familiar. But no matter what happens on the plane, stay calm. Kids need to know they're safe in unfamiliar places and they’ll take their cues from you. 


Extra tips



In general, don’t be afraid to ask for help from strangers, especially if you’re travelling alone with your kids. Also, sometimes booking a night flight means they spend a good deal of the flight sleeping. However if your child isn’t one to sleep in an unfamiliar place, you could also just give out earplugs and candy to surrounding passengers as a thoughtful gesture! :) 


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