Flights with little ones don't have to be a nightmare with these tips

Some parents flying with babies and tots have taken to handing out ‘apology’ goodie bags to other passengers...

But what if you could keep your kids and fellow flyers happy without being Santa Claus? Yes, it can be done!

Plan your journey carefully

When it comes to booking flights, try to avoid connecting flights and long waiting times that will tire your kids out. Aim to fly from the nearest airport to cut down your journey time. Also, think carefully about long-haul flights—jet lag can be hard for anyone to deal with, let alone children! If you do need to travel far, consider a journey with a stopover. These allow the whole family to relax in a less confined environment for a couple of hours and can help in adapting to new time zones. 

Smart distractions

Lay the groundwork before the flight by downloading age-appropriate games or apps to a smart device. With that, pack a “keep sane” kit of a pillow, blanket, and some toys. Don’t bother with fiddly toys or coloring books – pencils rolling under seats is a nightmare. Stick to story books, finger puppets and magnet sets. 

Fuel up 

Secondly, bring healthy snacks to avoid screaming sugar-highs in a confined space. Try fruit, vegetable snacks such as carrots, and wholemeal biscuits. For babies, take any pre-prepared food you might need and some extra freezer bags to minimize mess and leaks when storing empty containers.

Pack a Mary Poppins bag

To keep as stain-free as possible after snack time, don’t scrimp on the wet wipes and hand gel, or on extra clothes. Pack an extra t-shirt for you in the case of a food disaster, and disposable bibs also give the rest of your luggage a chance of staying reasonably clean. Your carry-on bag should be like Mary Poppins’s carpet bag; small but able to carry lots!

Take off time!

With your bag sorted, it's time to fly. Once you’re in the air, allow babies to breast or bottle feed during take-off and landing, as the swallowing helps the air pressure. You can keep bigger tots calm by giving them something to drink or chew.

Keeping babies comfortable

For small babies, your number one aim is to get them to sleep as long as possible during the flight. Ask your airline ahead if time if they have cots available—this will hopefully ease some of the pressure from you and your baby might find that more comfortable. Once it's safe to do so, try walking restless babies up and down the aisle; not only could it calm them down, but other passengers will love it too! 

Finally, do what you need to do to keep your little one happy, whether it’s singing or playing peek-a-boo. And they could even have a name tag with their name and age, telling other passengers they’re “trying to be good” to inspire some patience among your fellow passengers. Follow these tips to keep the mid-air meltdown at bay and everyone else will have a peaceful flight. Win-win!