In Flying With Kids Part One: In The Airport I mentioned that the kids have been on 8 flights total already this year. Add one more flight to that because we booked our tickets and we will be in Toronto for the holidays! I’m very excited to see our friends and especially our family. This time Booboo will be 14 months old, which from experience is the toughest age to fly with. Our crankiest flight with a toddler was when Lulu was about 18 months. All she wanted to do was walk around but she was still a lap infant and had to be held the whole time. I have a feeling Booboo will object even more to being restrained. I have to remind myself that we know what we’re doing, we can do this! If you’re flying with kids this holiday season, so can you with these tips!
Time your flights:
If you will be flying with kids for a long chunk of time, try to fly through the night to maximize the amount of time your kid will (hopefully) sleep. When my first was 9 months old, we flew to Israel a total of 12 hours. We flew at night and she did sleep through most of it.
When we fly to Toronto, the total time between departure and arrival works out to about 8-9 hours. If we time it right, we can leave California at 11pm and arrive in Toronto at 7am local time. Of course we don’t actually get a good night’s sleep but usually the kids sleep through the majority of the flight when it’s at night time and we don’t have to worry as much about entertaining them. That way we also don’t waste a whole day that we can (groggily) spend with our family. When we fly back on the other hand, we only “lose” about 3 hours of the day because of the time difference. So we usually try to fly in the afternoon. We can head out after lunch and still be home by the correct local bedtime.
Pro Tip: Don’t try to keep your child up in the airport if they are falling asleep in order to save sleeping for the plane. Over tired and over excited babies and kids don’t sleep well and have a hard time settling. There are also no guarantees that your child will sleep through the flight and if they don’t, the last thing you want is a cranky kid on the flight.
Bring some things that your kid can busy themselves with on the flight that isn’t screens. I’m not against screens but my oldest usually loses interest in screens after a short while. We always make sure to bring a brand new box of crayons and colouring book (what kiddo doesn’t like a fresh new box of crayons? Mine especially enjoys peeling them and/or breaking them as well as actually colouring). We always bring stickers. Stickers are wonderful entertainment when flying with kids.
When she was younger, I brought a magnetic board and various magnets for her to play with and arrange. Now that she’s a bit older, I usually buy a little Lego Juniors set for her to put together on the plane with Husband. I’ll share more on the specific toys we bring on the plane in part three.
Time consuming snacks:
I like to bring snacks that take time to eat. Lollypops, dried mango and figs, string cheese, etc. Things that will keep the kiddos entertained as well as chewing for a little while. Especially during takeoff and landing when pressure in the ears can be relieved by swallowing. Of course water or juice as long as they’re swallowing.
Pro Tip: When flying with kids under 2 you can bring pretty much whatever you need on the plane without having to worry about the rules for liquids on the plane. We have brought baby food pouches, fresh fruit, full water bottles and full sippy cups, milk and yogurt and it’s never been a problem. One time I actually forgot a normal (non-kid) full water bottle in my carry-on. The security guard showed it to me and asked “is this water for the baby?” and I started saying no but he cut me off and said “if it’s for you, then you need to throw it out. But if you need it for the baby you can take it with you. So is this water for the baby?” and I nodded vigorously “yes, yes it is”
Pro Tip #2: Put all your snacks and especially liquids together, into a bag on their own in case you get flagged to be checked to make it easier than rummaging to find that one apple sauce pouch.
Bring the electronics:
Yes, we do use electronics on the flights. We usually make sure we have a few episodes of whatever show is a favourite at the time downloaded to play offline. Bring headphones. My oldest also loves playing fruit ninja and “mad birds”. We have the Crayolla colouring app on the ipad which can keep her busy for long periods (my kiddo loves to draw and paint).
Infant Carrier and nursing pillow:
When flying with a lap infant (babies under two are allowed to fly in the parents’ lap) you will most likely be warned that you are not allowed to have your baby in a carrier or attached to you in any way during landing or takeoff. I’ve heard some parents exclaim in shock over this rule, thinking that their baby will be safer in case of an emergency if attached to them. There are legitimate reasons for this. Not to get too graphic but in case of a crash, a baby attached to your front might literally become your airbag. Also if you’re incapacitated during a crash, you wouldn’t want to crush your baby and you’d want the flight attendants or other passengers to be able to whisk your child off the plane.
At any rate, you ARE allowed to wear your child in a carrier during the flight itself once the seatbelt sign has been turned off. So if your baby is being extra fussy, by all means put them in the carrier and do the mom rock in the aisle. I have had to do this before and while it isn’t ideal it does work in a pinch. Especially with a tired baby who is fighting sleep.
Flying with a lap infant also means that (ideally) your baby will be sleeping on you. Travel nursing pillows are great for this. The last thing you want is to wake up your sleeping baby because your arm is asleep under them. I’m pretty sure you’re not supposed to use the nursing pillow during takeoff and landing either but once the seatbelt sign has been turned off, by all means strap it on.
This might sound obvious but it isn’t. There is a LOT of criticism of children on flights and the parents who are not “controlling” their children. From commercials to cartoons to your friends’ Facebook posts, society seems to think that parents are CHOOSING to let their kids be a disturbance and they judge us for it. I’ve heard it all and it sucks because traveling by plane isn’t fun for anyone, let alone parents.
When you’re flying with your kids you need to be able to shut that noise off (the noise of societal judgement, not your kid). Think about making it the best flight for you and your family. Forget what the other passengers might think of you. You and your child have as much right to be there as anyone else.
Don’t make goodie bags apologizing for your baby’s potential discomfort (seriously, who has time for that?). Your kids don’t need to see you apologizing to the world for their presence. The best thing you can do is try to relax because your kids will follow your lead. If your baby or child is uncomfortable or cranky, focus on helping them through it instead of keeping them quiet for the sake of the others. Just remember, you never have to see these people again!
There you have it. My best tips for surviving on the plane with kids. Don’t forget to check out Flying With Kids Part One: At The Airport and check in here soon for Part Three (coming up). I’d love to hear from you! What are your best tips for flying with your kiddos?