Flying the Friendly Skies with Kids

You can start planning for a better trip the moment you start booking the flight.

Cherylyn Feierabend,
May 24, 2008
Episode #066

Page 2 of 2

For the majority of us, I think our kids will be awake for most or at least part of the flight. In cases like this it’s very important to keep calm. Any stress you are exhibiting is sure to be noticed and most likely mirrored by your child. Remain as calm and as content as you can be and this will help your child do the same. Talk about what is going on around you and point out all of the different, new, and exciting things the airport has to offer and then, do the same on the airplane itself. Let your child know what to expect and how much fun it’s going to be, but don’t go overboard. Excited happy children are still noisy and in a small airplane cabin, that can be frustrating to child-free passengers. We’d love to think that everyone will understand and be accepting of our children’s frolicking, but unfortunately that often isn’t the case.

When flying with infants, you may want to consider nursing or bottle-feeding during take-off and landing. This will help to prevent pain from ear pressure they may experience. It’s similar to adults chewing gum to avoid that painful ear-popping. For older children, you may want to let them have a lollipop or snack to chew on. It may not completely prevent the pressure, but it could help and may even distract your child enough so that she doesn’t notice it. My copy editor sent me an additional tip about ear pressure problems in airplanes. If your child is old enough, give her a balloon and ask her to blow it up during times when ear pressure is not equalized. It's likely to equalize pressure, and can also be a fun distraction.

Once the flight gets moving, your kid might want to start moving around too. This is where the fun begins. During the plane’s ascent, you can watch out the window and talk about all of the neat little things on the ground, but once you are up in the clouds, there isn’t much to see. You will need to provide some form of entertainment. Some fun items you may want to bring along that won’t take up too much space in your carry-on would be coloring books and crayons. I am a huge fan of the new clear markers such as Color-Wonder and Elmer’s Go Paint. They only color on the special paper made for them. If your child tries to color on the airplane itself, nobody will ever know.

Some of the other tips I received were similar to the advice someone may give you about long car trips. The main difference between a road trip and an airplane ride is the number of strangers in your vicinity. In the car, chances are, you know everyone and they will be much more tolerant of your child’s singing, crying, laughing, or non-stop talking. So, bringing along small, quiet toys will be helpful. New toys come with a bonus feature. That is, your child may play with it longer than one she’s had around for ages, but don’t discount those favorite road-trip toys. A familiar item can help calm a child who may be a little freaked out by the new surroundings.

One mom specifically recommended puppets. I thought that was a great idea. If your cabin neighbors are tolerant, you can have a little puppet show. Puppets are great because they are small and you can be creative. You can make your puppet read some of those storybooks you brought along. Oh, did I mention that? You can’t forget to bring books. If your child is old enough for an MP3 player with headphones, you can load it up with some audiobooks and some of your child’s favorite music. Just be sure she doesn’t sing along too loud. You know your kids best, so you’ll need to judge what will work best for you. If you know she’s going to sing, you might just stick with some audiobooks.

[[AdMiddle]Finally, don’t forget to pack some snacks for the trip. Even if you’ll be eating on the plane, your child may want something in between. Be prepared to quell any sudden hunger pangs even if you know it’s really a boredom pang. A few bags of your child’s favorite snacks should keep her happy, but don’t let her see them in advance. If my kids know I’m packing snacks, they want them all right up front. Always have some kind of surprise hidden away. You never know when you’ll need it. That’s it for now. I hope you’ve enjoyed the show. Thank you for listening.

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