The first time for anything is always nerve-wrecking. Even more so when you might have a crying toddler or baby onboard an air-tight vessel, mile-high in the air. While that may be a nightmarish thought, don’t let that stop you from taking a family holiday.
Flying with young kids and toddlers is definitely not the same as flying solo as a couple – but here’s some tips that might persuade you to bite the travel bug.
1. Timing of flight
Where possible, always try to book an early morning or late night departure during a family holiday when flying with young kids and toddlers (helps with sleep too). This will help avoid delays in takeoffs and landing as runways are usually less crowded then.
2. Seat selection onboard
Try to avoid the aisle seat as there are hazards such as hot water, food, and passenger movement. Ideally, get the window seat (or middle) so they can be kept occupied with a view, and you also get more control over their movement.
3. Pick a family-friendly airline
Cathay Pacific, Emirates, Etihad Airways, Qantas Airways, Air France, Asiana Airlines, Korean Air, and of course, Singapore Airlines. These are some family-friendly airlines to look out for, qualifying it based on in-flight baby essentials available on request, breastfeeding, fun packs and entertainment, etc.
Check each of their websites for more specific details on flying with young kids and toddlers.
4. Pre-flight family briefing
As flying is a new, foreign experience to your kids, it’s always helpful to run through the procedures with them (of course, in an easy-to-understand manner): from checking-in, passport and security clearance, to boarding the plane.
To make it more exciting, you can always quiz time mid-way to keep the atmosphere light and fun!
5. Pack your carry-on well
Ensure your carry-on has sufficient ammo that you’d need for the flight: apart from thick socks and medication, pack about 2 times more the diapers and milk formula that you actually need, just in case for delays or minor accidents. For other items that will keep your kid entertained, read Point 6!
6. Toys, books, snacks & movies
To minimise risk of crying, either keep them occupied or ensure they fall asleep before. Here are some fool-proof entertainment mediums that other mummies have tried and tested: favourite colouring books, toys, pre-downloaded movies.
The trick to this? Let them pick out their favourites so it keeps them really occupied.
7. Pack extra plastic bags
Highly-recommended by other parents, extra plastic bags always come in handy – especially if there’s an unexpected mess you have to clean up. We’re talking anything from stray plastic food wraps, to an accidental vomit that requires a change of clothes.
7. Easing cabin pressure changes
Here’s when it might get tricky – with the blocking and popping of ears. While this isn’t a fool-proof method, try to have a pacifier or lollipop beforehand so it helps eases off the cabin changes on ears as your tots have something to suck on.
If you’re breastfeeding, taking off is also the best time for nursing for the ear popping.
8. Meal times
Especially on long-haul flights, it’s always a good idea to order your food beforehand. Generally, airlines provide baby meals and children meals. If you need to warm up some milk or food that has been prepped beforehand, simply ask the crew if they are able to do it for you.
9. When baby cries
In any scenario, it’s always good to be prepared for this worst-case. At times, it may be due to overstimulation while others, it could be because of tiredness. Either way, here’s some tips when you’re trying to console your crying baby:
- Bouncing your baby to change the pressure
- Try using a pacifier – it may provide comfort and some aid in the ear popping
- Head to the back of the plane if you’re looking to soothe your baby without having to think about other passengers’ concerns
11. Mid-flight surprise
Whether its a long or short haul flight, babies and toddlers are inquisitive and are going to ask if “we’re there yet”. Always a good idea to have a mid-flight surprise to keep them occupied and incentivised!
12. Take a bathroom break
Since airport lines are notorious for being a 1-2 hour wait, it will be a good idea to get everything out of the systems before hitting the lines. Use this break to walk out those legs, chomp down a quick snack and brief them once again (check out Point 4).
13. Clearing customs
Congratulations on landing! Now, there’s still one big step to go – clearing customs. If you’re travelling with 2 adults, a suggestion would be to designate 1 adult with all the paperwork and the other with looking out for the kids. Especially with excitement and tiredness in tow, their moods may get unpredictable.
Lastly, think about your transport to your next destination – ideally your accommodations. Think of this as a reward for your kids who have behaved well — here’s where you can use some rest and shower time next.
Plan your transport way before – research on local taxi and private hire services, or through 3rd party booking platforms such as Klook or Kkday.
Flying With Young Kids And Toddlers Can Be Challenging… But It’s Worth It!
Now, we’ve reached the end of this article! And chances are, this isn’t going to be the last listicle you scour through… but before you move on to the next parenting blog or article, just remember: as much as you as mamas and papas can do everything in your control, the reality is there are certain circumstances that will still go unforeseen.
It’s normal for your babies to cry, or to throw a fit because they are upset, hungry, or angry. After all, they are humans too and this might be their understanding of expressing certain emotions.
There are times when the only thing left to do is let the storm pass. After all, this is a holiday – so don’t forget to relax, even when flying with young kids and toddlers on your first family holiday together!