One of things that I think about often when I take a trip with my child is how to keep her happy and entertained on a long flight. We have all read recent headlines about flights getting diverted due to disruptive passengers or people getting kicked off of flights. There was a recent news article early May 2015 about a teenager with autism who was kicked off a United airlines fight. She apparently just wanted a hot meal instead of a cold one. What was disturbing was that she was not being disruptive to others at all according to the passengers who were sitting near her. The pilot and flight attendants diverted the airplane and had an “emergency landing” because of this non-disruptive autistic teenager. Scary for the rest of us mothers to think about our loud and very disruptive toddlers. Here are some helpful tips to help make your flight a better experience with children.
1. Bring a FAA approved car seat if your child is under 2. The airlines do not require it but it is the safest and most comfortable way to fly for your infant or toddler. It is also best if your child can sit in his/her own seat. For international flights, you can also reserve a bassinet for your infant. For kids ages 2-4, there is great product called CARES harness system that is FAA approved.
2. Do not have your young child sit in the aisle seat. You don’t want any hot liquids accidentally spilling on your child. You will also have a harder time keeping those little arms and legs out of aisle.
3. Bring your child’s favorite stuffed animal, doll, or toy. You may also want to bring your child’s favorite blanket or pacifier, if he/she uses one, to help your child sleep on the flight.
4. Bring a bag of new small toys that your child has not seen before and that you can whip out every 15 minutes. Before my trip, I went to the dollar store, Michael’s, Target, and ToysRUs and bought a whole selection of inexpensive coloring and sticker books, activity packs, play dough, pipe cleaners, small children’s books, finger puppets, and new crayons. I also asked all my mommy friends which new apps their kids like and uploaded them on to my ipad. I brought along some kid-friendly head phones. All of these items helped immensely with my long international flights. When my daughter was 18 months, she also loved playing with the paper cups the stewardess would give out for drinks. A happy child is a happy mommy!
5. Healthy snacks for your child, like fruit, crackers, and cheese sticks. Avoid sugary and salty snacks. You may also want to bring a few special treats, like gummy fruit snacks or sugar-free lollipops, for those “emergencies” and to help your child chew or suck on something when your plane is descending. A busy mouth is a quiet mouth.
6. Formula and purified water if your infant needs it. However, if you are breast feeding, I strongly encourage you to not give up and to keep breastfeeding throughout your trip for several reasons. Not only will your child be more likely to stay healthy and avoid diarrhea, your child will be more comfortable on the flight descent if you breastfeed at that time. And you don’t have to worry about keeping those bottles clean and disinfected!
7. Infant carrier, if your baby likes to sleep in it and your hands are free.
If anyone else has any other useful tips, please comment!