We understand that travelling with very young children can be quite a daunting task, especially when you get disapproving looks and “Tsks!” from other passengers when your child starts bawling their eyes out – but remember that the most important thing is that your child is safe, and comforted that you are there for them despite their discomfort (you’d do the same if you were stuck sitting in an uncomfortable position for hours and didn’t have social norms to conform to!).
Most babies are ready to fly around the time they are three months old and here are some useful tips the next time you need to travel with your children using public transportation:
1. If you are planning on a big trip in advance, take practice runs in the car. Try to take road trips before flying to get used to being confined for several hours.
2. Book a night flight for long-haul journeys or one that won’t disrupt your baby’s routine – it’s easier to choose a flight based on the time your child usually has a nap or sleeps so that they can sleep through the journey.
3. Inform the airline when you make the booking that you will be travelling with a baby, and opt for all the extras. Make sure to double check at least 24 hours before your flight.
4. Be prepared and bring more of everything – formula, breast milk, snacks, diapers, juice, wipes…the works! It’s advised to bring one diaper for every hour that you will be in transit, plus a few extra. Also, bring several complete outfits in plastic bags in your carry-on to avoid having to dig around your bag for odd bits and pieces. Keep everything nearby, and handy!
5. Be considerate of others and go out of your way to make Traveling Parent kits if you have the time and budget! Provide little bags consisting of cheap earphones, some candy and a note to explain that you apologise on behalf of your children in case they misbehave, and pass this out to those sitting around you on the plane. Most passengers will be more forgiving and compassionate to know that you are trying your best through this simple gesture!
6. Wear your child out before boarding the plane by letting them run around the airport, or look for a play area where they can crawl about.
7. Be early and make sure there’s ample time for “surprises” – you never know when a little accident will happen and a quick rush to the toilet is needed!
1. Stay calm. The more frazzled you are, the more frazzled your child will be too. Try to make it as easy as possible for yourself and get yourself settled with everything within reach once you’re on board.
2. Ease ear pain by offering infants a bottle or pacifier, and older children a snack or drink, to fend off the discomfort when changing altitudes. Offer lollipops to older children to help them when their ears pop during takeoff and landing.
3. If your child starts screaming uncontrollably, use the toilet as a sound-proof room to avoid angering other passengers. Distract them by letting them play with water, washing their face and hands and they should settle down after a short while.
4. So your baby is awake instead of asleep – this is great! See this as uninterrupted bonding and playtime with your loved one – no chores or phone calls to distract you and your child will love you for it. A happy, chortling baby is far more pleasant than an embarrassed, flustered mum!
5. If all else fails, never be shy about asking for help – be it from the air stewardess or even the passenger next to you especially if you’re a single parent travelling. Just don’t test their patience by being a helpless, clueless parent!
Remember that there’s nothing worse than an embarrassed parent that lashes out at their child by shouting and telling them to “Stop it!” as you’ll only end up looking like the bigger child. Good luck!