Travelling on a plane with a squirmy toddler can be challenging but there are ways to make it as painless as possible for yourself and for the people travelling with you. Here is my survival guide for long haul flights!
The first rule of survival when it comes to toddlers and aeroplanes is:
A calm parent is a calm toddler. Be zen. Let the inflight entertainment system and the never-ending supply of fruit juice be your friend. And…being well prepared also helps!
Preparing your survival kit
Not all airlines will provide disposable nappies in the sizes or numbers that you require, so it’s best to bring your own, just in case. A good rule of thumb is to bring at least one nappy for every hour of travel time, and add an extra nappy for every stop (the end destination counts as a final stop). So, if your total flight time is 10 hours nonstop, bring a minimum of 10+1 = 11 nappies. If your total flight time is 10 hours long with 1 layover that is 3 hours long, bring at least 10 + 1 + 3 + 1 = 15 nappies. Yes, this is probably far more nappies that you will actually need, but you can never predict how your kid’s non-potty trained bowels will react once you’re in the air, and having more nappies is better than not having enough!
2. Delicious treats for take off and landing
If your child is fully weaned, a good way to help them to keep calm during take off and landing is to allow them a never-ending supply of snacks. The chewing and swallowing of snacks will not only help them to equalise the air-pressure in their ears as the cabin pressure changes, but will also keep them quiet and pre-occupied so that they sit nicely with their seatbelts on. I personally prefer sweet treats that require toddlers to suck and swallow, like an organic fruit lollipop or a low-sugar gummy like a mentos or dried fruit. I know that most parents do not like to give candy to toddlers, but this is a very special occasion so it is best to bring a treat that is very strictly reserved ONLY for take off and landing time in the aeroplane and is never given at any other time.
Travel Tip: Bring extra sweets and distribute them generously to the other passengers around you with a smile. It never hurts to curry favour with your fellow travellers early on in the flight – your investment may pay off later on in the flight with an extra pair of hands or eyes!
3. A light jacket or jumper
It can get pretty chilly on the aeroplane, and the air can be rather dry as well. I personally prefer hooded jackets that can be unzipped in the front if the tots get too warm whilst sleeping. The hood also helps to block out noises when the toddlers are trying to sleep.
4. Two sets of comfortable, loose clothing (usually pyjamas)
I usually allow my kids to wear pyjamas on board the aeroplane as these tend to be the warmest, softest and most comfortable clothes that they own. Putting the PJs will also help the tots to realise that sleep time is imminent. The extra set is in case of messy accidents!
5. An extra set of clothing for myself
Again, in case of child-related messy accidents! Or adult-related messy accidents. Tired parents can be very clumsy sometimes.
6. A wet bag (or plastic ziplock bags)
This is to store away any soiled clothing or objects after the child-or-adult-related messy accidents. You don’t want the rest of your stuff getting messed up and you don’t want to stink up the whole cabin. That would be horrible.
7. Their second favourite toy(s) and/or book(s)
I never bring the kids favourite toy abroad, in case it gets lost. Favourite toys tend to be irreplaceable and the last thing you want to do is spend any part of your trip hunting for a lost toy for your heartbroken tot. Their second favourite toy will do, as long as it is larger than the palm of your hand and is comprised of only ONE piece (again, you don’t want to lose any tiny parts). This toy is allowed on board the aeroplane so that they can have a little piece of home to hold on to and look after. However, they have to keep hold of it or put it next to them, or it goes back into the luggage – it will not do to clutter up the tiny bit of space that you have onboard because clutter adds an atmosphere of chaos. If you bring more than one plaything with you, rotate the toys or bring them out at intervals in order to keep them fresh.
8. A brand new book of the board/cloth/activity variety or a new (quiet) toy
This is for emergencies only. Bring the new things out one at a time, only when your kid starts to get restless and irritable and is no longer soothed by treats, cuddles or the inflight entertainment system. If the flight goes well, save the toys for the ride home.
9. An empty drinking bottle or sippy cup
Although most child meals on board flights will usually include a juice box, at other times on board an airline the flight attendants will provide drinks but not lidded receptacles. Bring your own drinking bottle or sippy cup and decant drinks into it. This will minimise the risk of you or your toddler getting soaked by an errant limb bumping the tray table.
10. Your usual baby carrier
Your toddler may need extra cuddles during the flight, especially if they are struggling to sleep and your arms may get tired (or you might need to have your hands free), so bring the carrier so that you can strap them on and walk around the cabin.
DO YOU FEEL READY YET?
There are a couple of other things that you can do to equip yourself for your flight – and most of them can be obtained on board! I’ll touch on this on my next post. Owl see you then!