Top Tips for Flying with Young Children
An ex flight attendant and primary teacher. Now a mummy to a very well travelled toddler and a new baby due in October, wife to an Australian ( I think those trips count as long haul!) I couldn’t find the extra, quick reference guide with all the answers I required in one place, to make ANY flight as painless & easy as possible. I knew many things from working on a flight which have helped us & others greatly, but some practicalities you learn as parent along the way & earn your badge, or in this case wings. My information is based on personal experience & research to help you. www.flyingwithababy.com
Flying with children, especially on long haul flights can be daunting. However, with some planning and preparation, kids of all ages need not be bored or restless on a flight.
For parents with very young babies, a favourite toy and something with a familiar smell, often helps keep them calm. Thankfully, they sleep a lot at this age and not a lot of entertaining equipment is required. I find that babies are very portable at this age and if you are thinking of going long haul, then do so!
From around 6 months, a little more planning is needed. A favourite toy is of course always welcome, but perhaps add to that with a soft cloth book ( Good Night Teddy is a fun interactive soft book with parts you can take out), something that crinkles and has some texture for tiny hands and feet. Stacking cups are always useful too, as they are compact and they can double up as a bath toy at your destination. Another firm favourite for this age group is the Tiny Love Spin Ball. This is a great sensory toy. Makes a click clack sound with its moving segments and also has a mirrored inside. The bobbles on the outside are great to develop the sense of touch, the colours are great and my little one has played with since about 4 months and still loved it at a year old. still loves it. Recommended for 6 months +
For slightly older babies,toddlers and young children, finger puppets can prove a source of entertainment and if you forget your own, you can make some. Just use some colouring pencils, and paper cups or the sick bag from the airplane. Some other ideas for on-board entertainment include fuzzy felt, magnetic play boards, stickers, magic painting books ( just water required!)and lacing cards. Another idea which has proved useful for all ages, is to wrap the smaller toys in paper. This keeps little fingers busy for a few minutes longer, and also the anticipation and excitement of what is coming next.
Luckily, many major airlines on long haul flights have a dedicated children’s channel and sometimes games channels on board, but these are not always age appropriate for your child or available throughout the flight. Furthermore, even some large scheduled airlines do not provide any in-flight entertainment system for short haul flights, so it is best to be prepared and bring your own back up. Below you’ll find some info for your techno savvy baby/toddler.
6 months +
• Fisher Price do some free ones, including the ‘laugh and learn’ collection, with shape, music games etc. There are currently only a few Fisher Price games for android devices ( some animated nursery rhyme books), but if you use Apple there are several free great ones on their App store which are fun and educational.
• If you are in the UK, then BBC i player is very handy. Just download your favourite Cbeebies show for free before you go! You have 30 days to watch them once downloaded, but if you start to watch them, then you have 2 days. If you are not in the UK, I believe that if you download some VPN software, then you can have access.
• Of course many children’s shows and apps are available on iTunes. Mine has loved ‘Baby Jake’ for a while now, as well as the universal favourites, ‘In the Night Garden’ and ‘Peppa Pig’ and ‘Ben and Holly’s Magic Kingdom.’
18 months +
Fellow Mums I know, find that Candy crush, Color drops, Peekaboo Barn, ABC Toddler, Race Penguin, Mouse Maze, Piano Band and Pizza Maker are good at entertaining toddlers for a short time. Even though a young toddler may not understand the concept, they are still often entertained by the characters and animation.
For older children, the vast amount of on-board videos and games should help entertainment. Also a tablet and book can come in handy with many favourite shows, apps and games available. I also remember as child, being given by my parents a home made activity pack, which we were only allowed to open on the plane. This usually consisted of some puzzle books, stickers, colouring pencils, a hand held puzzle, where you have to slide the squares to complete the image or solve the puzzle.
And finally, remember Gulf Air and Etihad, have specially trained Sky Nannies on board their long haul flights, to help entertain the children and give the parents a little break..