It’s been an eye opening experience, recently traveling for the first time with our first child.
Traveling with a small child in tow is completely different to traveling when you’re alone, as you’re now not only managing yourself, but also the mood, timing, and wellbeing of your new little human.
With disruptions to their routine, young children can very easily become cranky and difficult to manage, but some prior planning can make the journey a lot smoother for everyone.
While I’m sure there will be an ongoing learning curve as we continue to travel with Alexander in tow, the following are 3 tips which came in incredibly handy on our first flight with a 4 month old.
3 Tips for Traveling With a Small Child
If your child is still nursing, try to time their feedings on a flight in accordance with take off and landing.
Babies find the changes in air pressure to be painful on their ears, which is why they often cry during flights. This can be a source of distress not only for your child, but also for you and other passengers.
Feeding your child at these times can reduce the chances of this happening, as the sucking action from breastfeeding or drinking from a bottle can open their Eustachian tubes, helping to relieve the pressure in their ears and minimize any pain.
Your child is also more likely to be relaxed and sleepy after feeding, helping them to drift off during the flight. Though keep in mind that during takeoff and landing they’ll have to be clipped into their special seatbelt, so this is a consideration depending on the angle they need to be when feeding.
Booking your flights around your child’s nap time can also improve the likelihood of them sleeping throughout the flight, making it a stress-free experience for you both.
If you’re traveling with bottles, you can find travel dispensers which allow you to travel with the powdered formula and easily mix the bottles while on the plane.
Bring a Car Seat
Bringing your car seat on your trip will save you the time and inconvenience of having to arrange this at your destination (and it’s more hygenic).
This is especially important if you are renting a vehicle for hire at the other end. Luckily, most airlines allow you to check-in car seats and strollers for free.
The other advantage of taking a car seat with you is the fact it can often be used on the flight. Some airlines (not all) allow you to use aircraft-approved car seats, such as those by Diono.
This can help your child feel comfortable and relaxed in a seat that they are accustomed to, rather than keeping them on your lap or restrained in an unfamiliar chair which they may resist being in.
For slightly older children such as toddlers, bring along their favorite toy or game and ask a flight attendant for some child-friendly in-flight amenities.
Many airlines offer puzzles and coloring books with crayons as well as interactive games and children’s TV channels with cartoons and suitable films.
A good tip is to hand out their entertainment slowly rather than all at once.
This can have them rush through their games and activities leaving them bored and restless for the remainder of the flight. A more staged approach will ensure they are kept entertained throughout the flight.
With these three tips under your belt, you can feel confident your trip will be as stress-free as possible for you and your small child.