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Tips for flying with kids

Words by Nel

My 4 year old daughter Sahara has done over 40 international flights and countless domestic flights. And by the age of 1 my son, Bodhi had done over 10 international flights. 

So I feel I have enough experience under my belt to hand out a few tips about travelling with toddlers and babies. 

When Sahara was 6 weeks old I moved to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and I was a nervous wreck. The idea of 8 hours on a plane with a newborn was very daunting. In the end my mum flew with me, although looking back I didn't need her. Sometimes the idea of something can freak you out far more than the actual event. 

BEFORE THE FLIGHT

- Don't work yourself up. Babies love planes. They usually sleep because of the gentle rock of the plane.

- Pack food for yourself and your babe. There is nothing nice about plane food.

- Book an isle seat, that way you can get up and down as needed. Depending what time the flight is, I spend a bit of time standing in the isle rocking my babe to sleep. Bassinets are great! If you can get one, grab it. What's also great is the extra leg room at a bassinet seat but unfortunately most of the time these seats are near the toilets which can interrupt your baby at night if they are a light sleeper. Check out the CoziGo if you have a baby that likes to sleep in a dark room. I never knew about them when I had babies but I will definitely buy one for my next babe.

- Request to sit next to a female when you check in. Makes breastfeeding not so awkward. And most women are naturally maternal and will help you out or watch your sleeping baby if you need to go to the toilet.

- Pack a baby carrier in your carry-on or wear one. This comes in handy if your babe doesn't fit in the bassinet. While they sleep you still have two hands to eat and help your other child. One of my favourites in the Baby Dink as it's so simple to put on. 

- If you travel a bit, invest in a travel pram. We have the BabyZen and it is a game changer! When I travel with two kids and they are both asleep when we land I put the little one in the baby carrier and I unfold my BabyZen on the plane and that way I can exit the plane and get through customs while they continue sleeping. It can look a bit awkward as I push a trolly with luggage, pull a pram all the while carrying a baby, but hey, it works. And quite a few times someone kind has offered to help. 

DURING THE FLIGHT

- Best tip anyone gave me... a) breastfeed  b) bottle feed or c) give a dummy during take off and landing. It helps equalise their ears. I see babies cry on descent time and time again. If you want a happy baby, make sure you do A, B or C!

- Pack new toys (small in size) for your toddler / child to play with. I sometimes pack an entire small backpack and other times when I know I'm on a winner I only pack one or two things. My daughter once played almost non-stop with 2 barbies for an 8 hour flight. Daisy and Hen sell amazing things to keep children busy on planes. I also recommend Schleich animals. They take up no room at all and I slowly drip feed my daughter over a flight. So when she is starting to get bored I will give her a new animal and voila she is busy playing again. Don't waste your time/space taking toys for a baby. We all know they prefer a plastic cup over anything expensive you buy, haha.

- Never be shy to push your call bell. A good air hostess and steward will rinse bottles, heat milk, get you extra fruit / dessert for your kids. You don't always get lucky but I've found more often than not they are more than happy to help. I've even had them watch my sleeping babes while I went to the bathroom quickly.

- Netflix! If you have the app on your phone or iPad download some kids tv shows. I like downloading quite a big collection as my daughter spends so much time choosing and flicking through the options which is half the fun for her. I take my own (kids) headphones as you will find the aeroplanes ones wont fit. 

- There is no need to rush off the plane. I recommend sitting back slowly packing your things up and wait until just about everyone is off so that you 1) don't get shoved around and 2) you can take your time and make sure you have picked everything up.

My most important piece of advice is - don't over think it, don't freak yourself out. It's actually pretty easy. Kids naturally go with the flow and enjoy doing new things. It's all about being prepared. 
 

Happy Flying!

Ps. I have no photos from all my solo travels with 2 kids because I broke my phone that wasn't backed up and lost thousands of photos! 

Luggage and a babyMum with baby in baby carrier with luggage
Baby on airplaneSchleich animal
baby in baby carrier on airplanebaby sitting on airplanebaby sleeping on airplane

2 comments

  • This was so helpful! Thank you so much!! So much experience and knowledge, I will definitely be using some tips for our flight coming up!

    Naomi W
  • Love it Nel! I don’t have kids (as you obviously know!) but when/if I do I’ll know exactly what I’m doing cos you’ll have taught me all the best stuff!!! Xxxx

    Joan Mackenzie

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