Flying with kids can be a challenge or it can be smooth-sailing. Very much depends on the age of your child, the length of your flight, and the time of day of your flight. If you have an infant, packing can be the first challenge because of all the stuff you need. Diapers, wipes, bottles, backup clothes, bibs, blankets, car seat, toys and so on! Then if you have a toddler, it is the coloring books, play dough, books, snacks, and other toys to entertain them during the flight. And with the older children it is the wait before they can use their IPad. This generation is so electronic dependent for entertainment that the 40 minutes it takes before they can use their equipment can be a little stressful.
You just need to keep reinforcing the fact that they are on the way to a fun vacation. However the travel part always seems to be a day long adventure that is not part of the vacation fun. The first thing to remember is to take advantage of early boarding. When you hear, “Would any passengers travelling with small children or passengers needing extra assistance please proceed to the gate now.” Those are sweet words to hear over the loudspeaker, because quite frankly, the early boarding privilege is the only known benefit to flying with small children. It’s the airline’s way of saying, “We know you’re going to have a hellish few hours; so why don’t you at least make sure you cram your carry-on luggage into our tiny overhead compartments before everyone else?” Here are some other ideas for plane travel based on the age of your children.
Usually babies will be content to eat, sleep, and poop as they normally do. The biggest issue is their ears. You will need to help them equalize the pressure in their ears during the flight. Make sure your baby is swallowing during takeoff and landing. That means feed your baby during those time periods. Another suggestion is to be sure to pack extra clothes, including extra clothes for yourself for unexpected spit up or diaper accidents.
This is probably the most challenging age for flying because of being in a constricted space. Toddlers want to always be moving around. Make sure you do not schedule your flight during your child’s normal nap time or late in the evening when they are tired. Tired toddlers make lousy travel companions. Try to book nonstop flights if it is just a 3 or 4 hour flight. However, if it is a very long flight, a break in the middle is a good thing. Make sure you have enough time to get from gate to gate as it is hard to run with a toddler in tow. Pack plenty of snacks, a sippy cup that you fill in the airport, some favorite toys, and even some apps on your cell phone that they will enjoy watching. Take a few walks up and down the aisle mid-flight to break the monotony. If you have a couple of children, a small backpack for each child with their special items in it is a good idea. In each backpack put a surprise craft, toy or something new to entertain your toddler. Some pediatricians recommend Benadryl if your toddler is really having a difficult time resting on the plane. If you are going to use Benadryl, try a dose at home before your flight. You do not want to discover that your child gets crazy on Benadryl while you are in flight. Take it along just in case.
School Age Children
Of course, this is the easiest group of children for plane travel. This age group tends to entertain themselves. Favorite activities, including books, handheld games, videos, iPads, and iPods make flying more enjoyable and less boring for them. Get them a sandwich in the airport as food is an excellent way to pass the time and this age group is usually always hungry. They can also be in charge of their own luggage. Let them pack their own backpack for the plane and let them be in charge of their carry-on luggage. However, you may have to help stow it in the overhead bins.
With the many travel rules these day from TSA, it is a good idea to check out their website for rules about traveling with children. They have a useful website at: http://tsa.gov/travelers/airtravel/children.
Make sure to plan for the time it takes to get through customs. This usually takes about an hour. If you are traveling in one of the tourist countries, they sometimes allow families to move up closer to the front of the line. It never hurts to ask if you can do this.
We hope this helps you when traveling with your children by plane. If you have some successful methods for flying with your children, please share them by posting a comment!!!
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About Pediatrics of Florence
We believe that children are more than just “little adults.” They have unique personalities, challenges, and life circumstances and we have made every effort to make our offices and care as “kid friendly” as possible. We have an aquatic theme in the waiting rooms (separated for sick and well children) as well as themed examination rooms. All of our physicians are Board Certified Pediatricians and members of the American Academy of Pediatrics and our nurse practitioners are all licensed Pediatric Nurse Practitioners and are available to see both well and sick children.
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