As a former flight attendant and now a mom of a 16-month-old boy, I thought it would be helpful to other parents to give a few tips on travelling with babies, toddlers and younger children. Here are some easy tips to remember…
Planning the trip and the airport:
If possible, book non-stop flights. Try to plan your flights around your toddler's normal sleeping times. Allow plenty of time at the airport; remember how much longer it takes to do things with the kids. Wear your toddler out beforehand. Run around the airport. No sitting allowed until they board the plane!
Bottle or breastfeed your baby for take-off & landing. Have drinks for the toddlers and other kids, swallowing is what helps their ears pop.
Diaper changes, Bathroom needs & Sleepy time:
Change baby's diaper and have the toddlers and older kids use the washroom before boarding the aircraft. Carry extra diapers and babywipes, you will need them during the flight and will help in quick clean ups. Arrange to have an aisle seat making trips to the bathroom and diaper changes more convenient. Get a seat where the armrest can lift up. This gives you more room to lie the baby or child down on the seat. Emergency exit and bulkhead seat armrests do not lift up.
Food & Drink:
Don’t count on the airlines to have the variety of food or drinks that would be appropriate for your kids. Take extra formula, milk, juice, cookies, biscuits, etc. According to Transport Canada, passengers may continue to bring aboard baby formula, baby food, milk or juice if a child aged two years and under is accompanying them. These items are exempt from the size restrictions and are not required to be placed in a plastic bag. However, passengers must declare all such items to screening authorities. These passengers may be subject to additional screening.
Books & Games:
Carry reading books, colouring books & crayons, a portable DVD player or take your laptop if it has a DVD player in it! This will definitely help pass time before boarding the plane as well; it will help divert their attention during the flight.
If your child has a cold or flu, please ensure you have seen a doctor to check if the child is fit to fly. Even if the doctor says it's OK, please use your judgment. I have seen babies and kids flying with a cold and they really are in a bad state for take-off & landing. It is extremely painful for them if they are all congested & blocked up and they cannot pop their ears. It is very dangerous to their eardrums too.
Always carry a change of clothes for your baby or child. Also, if it is a long flight, through your child’s bed time, bring PJs, they take cue from routines, even if they won’t be sleeping in their bed, putting on their PJs will let them know it’s sleepy time. And don’t forget to carry an extra top for yourself. You never know when you will need it...