JUN 16, 2014 Do you feel daunted at the thought of travelling with children? Here are some tips to make it a stress-less journey.
Travelling with children on aeroplanes can be a daunting thought. Whether it’s your first time, or you are a frequent flyer with children, preparation and well rested parents are often the key to reducing any stress.
Depending on the age of your child, it may be a good idea to involve them in your travelling plans. Toddlers often have short memories and concentration spans, so re-visiting the subject frequently and reading books about travel or aeroplane travel may assist in reducing anxieties about change.
It may be beneficial to contact your travel agent before you fly to ascertain if it is possible to request seats with extra leg room or a seat with a ‘travel cot’ facility if travelling with a small baby.
Keeping young children busy and distracted is often the key to a more enjoyable journey. Young children may be distracted for a little while by the new environment; however this won’t last long, so make sure you pack plenty of toys. It is handy to pack some toys that your child is familiar with as well as a few small new toys. Wrapping them up can often create a welcomed distraction. Suitable and practical toys and activities include: Sticker books; imaginative play toys e.g. a teddy with clothes and band aids and finger puppets, crayons with colouring books and reading picture books. Electronic devices, such as an Ipad should be used sparingly as too much screen time can over stimulate a child and thus impact on their sleep and their behaviour.
A good idea is to occasionally allow your child; under your supervision to walk around the cabin as this will have the multi purpose of helping them become comfortable with their environment and to stretch their legs and use up some energy.
Children, like adults, may find long journeys uncomfortable so dress your child in comfortable clothes. Make sure you pack extra clothes for yourself and child in case of spills. Airlines do not provide nappies or wipes so be sure you have enough for the journey. It is a good idea to pack your child’s favourite pyjamas and sleep aide e.g. a blanket or favourite soft toy as this will promote familiarity and comfort.
Toddlers may often be fussy eaters – this is part of their normal development. Expecting them to eat aeroplane food may be wishful thinking. It is a good idea to telephone the airline or check the website for in- flight meal plans before flying. In addition pack some of your child’s favourite nutritional snacks in a sealable container and use these throughout the flight. Cabin crew will warm formula and baby food for you. Baby products which are exempt from the100ml allowance are baby milk, sterilized water, juice, baby food and wet wipes. Parents however need to remember that they are restricted to the 100ml of aerosol and liquids, and also the products need to fit nicely into a 20cmx20cm transparent bag.
If you or your child requires medication then be mindful that prescription medications require a letter from a health practitioner and non prescription medications are permitted by the ‘enough for the flight’ rule.
For breastfeeding mothers it may be a good idea to bring a feeding pillow, or any other ‘prop’ that you have found useful for breastfeeding. It is important to keep you and your child hydrated with water during the flight. Ask your flight attendant for regular drinks of water.
The change in cabin pressure during aeroplane take-off and landing can often upset a child’s ears. To avoid this sensation try to feed your baby or toddler during take off and landing or remember to bring a dummy if that is what your child uses. The sucking mechanism can help relieve the pressure in the eardrum. If your child is older, it may be an idea to allow them to have a sugar free lolly or dried fruit to suck on.
Always remember that a well rested and calm parent will adapt easier to any situation. Your child will often mimic your emotions and therefore the more relaxed you are about the situation at hand, the easier your child will find the transition to travelling.
Ngala provides sleep workshops that families find useful if babies and children are struggling to return to healthy sleep patterns following a holidays, visit Parenting Workshops.
By Claire Smoker, Emma Storey and the Ngala Education team.