A parent-tested plan for flying with a toddler – Popular Science | Gmx Pharm

For travelers without children, the goal is to get from point A to point B. When you add a young child, the challenge becomes adjusting all your important, carefully calibrated, and time-consuming rituals and routines — from sleeping to sleeping to feeding — in the chaos of flying, while still managing to reach your goal.

I won’t sugarcoat it: it’s complicated. But it is also possible. My first flight with my now 4 year old was intimidating, but I’ve learned a lot from the dozens of flights that have followed. Now I hope these trips to the ends of the earth, more than half of the 50 states and 14 countries – plus tips from child health experts – will help you understand what’s going on in your toddler’s body and mind, when it travels by plane. Knowing this will help you be better equipped to ensure everyone stays happy, healthy and safe.

Help your child prepare mentally

Discussing the process of flying and even simulating the experience of visiting an airport using imaginary stuffed animals and the bags you plan to pack is a great way to help your child understand what is about to happen and prepare them for the Flight to enjoy the big day, says pediatrician Jen Trachtenberg, clinical assistant professor of pediatrics at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City. “Play like you’re playing airport [and] Go through a security maze, wait to board the plane, line up planes and pretend passengers and toys are others in line,” she says.

With our toddler, who seemed to ask more than the average number of questions children ask per day (i.e. between 73 and 390 in a 24-hour period), we were happy to explain step-by-step each leg of the journey several days (even weeks) before the big day.

For example, we explained that to check in, we had to drop off some of our bags, show our IDs, go through security, take off our shoes, and scan our bags. And that we would have to wait at the gate for our turn to board, go to our assigned seats and pack our carry-on bags in the overhead bins. We even talked about what we would eat and do on the plane, how our ears might feel pressure, how we would need to get our bags at the end, and what the next steps of our journey would entail. All of this helps set expectations so there aren’t any big surprises and the unknown is a little less intimidating.

Pack smart

You definitely don’t want to end up at the airport or on a plane without the right number of nappies (was there), milk or formula (has happened to us), or enough change of clothes for you and your child (yes, we’ve been there too). than to improvise. These types of scenarios are sometimes unavoidable and when they happen, they can become part of the travel story your family will be talking about for years to come. But you can forestall such mishaps by deciding what to take with you at the gate and on the plane, keeping the worst-case scenarios in mind – think flight cancellations and delays, lost luggage and more.

Here are the must-haves to have on hand (not in checked baggage):

  • Healthy snacks for you and the family. As Trachtenberg says, “Hunger can make children and adults moody.” She and other child health experts recommend avoiding foods and drinks high in sugar, junk food, and caffeine, all of which can cause sleep and stomach problems in children. Instead, look for snacks that contain a balance of protein, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates.
  • A change of clothes. In anticipation of messes, spills, and changing plane temperatures, plan to have at least one or two spare outfits for everyone in your group.
  • Entertainment. Bring your child’s favorite activity books, picture books, puzzles, small toys, stuffed animals, music, movies and TV shows. Trachtenberg says that while best practices might say to limit screen time for young ones (and yourself), it’s okay to be more flexible when flying, as familiar shows can help keep your kids engaged, especially if they’re too have to remain seated for their safety.
  • other essentials. Be sure to bring wet wipes, nappies, nappy rash cream, bottles, sippy cups, infant formula, a travel first aid kit, baby thermometer (either digital or traditional) and medication (see the medical packing list in our travel guide). with small children), a portable potty seat, a travel cot, a baby carrier or a collapsible stroller and whatever else your little one needs on a regular basis.

Find out what to expect from TSA

Be sure to check the latest TSA guidelines before leaving home, and expect the entire screening process to take twice as long as it would if you’re not traveling with a child. The good news is that families traveling with infants and young children are allowed to exceed the standard 3.4 ounce fluid limit when transporting formula, breast milk and juice for your child.

[Related: 3 solutions for when you can’t find your baby’s formula]

While kids don’t need to remove their shoes or light layers, you do need to remove them from a baby carrier. All of their items – including stuffed animals, blankets, infant formula, breast milk and juice – will need to be tested through the x-ray scanner, and the liquids may need to be additionally tested “for explosives or hidden prohibited items”. As TSA recommends, we always notify agents of any liquids we bring so they know the items are ours and that we can exceed the 3.4 ounce limit.

Use your time before boarding and taking off wisely

You’ve successfully made it through the TSA. Go ahead and celebrate. But the time you have before boarding is also a good opportunity to grab water and have a meal. Finally, staying hydrated and sticking to meal times are important to everyone’s well-being.

It’s also a good time to get some exercise, especially since it’s difficult for children to get their usual level of physical activity on the plane. Try to get as much energy out of them as possible before boarding the plane, Trachtenberg says. Ideally, this starts even before you arrive at the airport, maybe with a little more walking at home. Then, while waiting at your gate, you can touch jumping jacks and toes, play charades, or walk around. The more active you are, the more willing your little one will be to sleep — or at least sit still — on the plane, explains Trachtenberg.

When the time comes, be sure to use your early boarding privilege so you have ample time to sanitize your seats and tray tables, organize your child’s belongings so that essential items are easily accessible, request a medical bag (if necessary). Your little one suffers from motion sickness (more on that below) or a blanket from a flight attendant and head to the bathroom one last time or take care of the diaper change.

In the air, prepare for smooth sailing

One of the most important things you can do is try to stick to your child’s routines as much as possible. Predictability, which can contribute to a smoother ride, says Trachtenberg. If you are curious, this piece of advice will also help you on long car journeys.

You can start this step as soon as you start booking your flight. If you know your child sleeps well when traveling, choose an option that coincides with their regular nap or bedtime so they can calmly catch a few Zs while you’re in the air. Here’s a pro tip from Trachtenberg: Make sure to feed your baby or toddler before trying to sleep them on the plane so they don’t go to bed hungry.

[Related: For better sleep, follow the bedtime routine of a toddler]

If you know (or are concerned) that your child may not be asleep, my advice is to fly when you are normally awake. So if your child doesn’t sleep, you don’t mind if you can’t either. You don’t have to be a seasoned traveler to know that night flights, when neither parent nor child turn a blind eye, are anything but pleasant.

Aside from sticking to your regular routines, it’s also important to forestall the common health issues associated with flying with young children. Start by being aware of the risks and taking the necessary precautions to avoid them, including:

  • motion sickness. To prevent your little one from getting sick during the flight, make sure they don’t eat sugary snacks and junk food and don’t become dehydrated or overheated. It can be helpful to hold your child’s ceiling vent up, let them gaze at the horizon, and have them listen to soothing music. Reading or viewing screens can make nausea worse, Trachtenberg says.
  • Burns or accidents from hot drinks. The safest spot for your little one is near the window to avoid mishaps when flight attendants come by with drinks, especially if you have a toddler who likes to move around, she explains.
  • earache. Because of changes in air pressure, Trachtenberg says your child may scream or complain of an earache during takeoff and landing. Chewing food, drinking water, sucking on a pacifier or bottle, or breastfeeding can help relieve these symptoms.
  • Airborne diseases (such as colds, flu, and COVID-19): For protection against COVID-19, said Zachary Hoy, a specialist at Pediatrix Nashville Pediatric Infectious Disease PopSci Young children should wear masks in enclosed spaces, such as airplanes, where it is not possible to distance themselves from others. Check out the CDC’s guidelines on what to look for in a face mask for your child.

Be patient with your little ones and yourself

Sometimes a simple little gift like these wing pins can help calm a child. Maria Karl

Delays and unexpected events can and will happen. Our family of three once got through a 19-hour flight delay through the kindness of strangers — who gave us extra milk for free when our supply ran out — and by being kind to ourselves too.

Be aware that things can get stressful for you and your child and try to keep a cool head. Responding to kids who are acting up can only make their tantrums worse, says Trachtenberg.

Remember that your end goal is to reach your goal safely, so you don’t have to feel guilty about giving in to your child’s demands more than usual, she adds.

And don’t forget to take plenty of photos and videos to enjoy over the years, and ask a flight attendant about your child’s “wings” — a pin many airlines provide for children (see image above).

In moments of stillness, I try to appreciate the little things – like the experience of seeing the wonders of the world through my child’s eyes for the first time – and it’s in those moments that I’m reminded that traveling with kids can be more difficult, it’s all the more rewarding too.

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