Taking your little one on an aeroplane for the first time can be a daunting experience. What do you pack to keep them entertained? What if they cry for the whole flight?
The list of worries can be endless, that is why we’ve spoken to mums directly to ask them for their top tips to make travelling with your little one as stress free as possible.
Remember the good old days when you saw your flight as a chance to catch up on sleep, to read up on the destination ahead or to devour your book?…..
Well…..those days are well and truly over!
Babies, toddlers and planes are not the easiest combination. In fact they can send stress levels soaring to higher altitudes than you’ll be flying at! But it needn’t be that way. Follow our simple tips for a stress free flight:
- Pre-load your devices with your child’s favourite films and games. The familiarity of watching and playing with them will help them settle in a strange environment
- Try booking a flight that coincides with your little one’s natural bedtime and stick to their bedtime routine as closely as possible. Dressing them in their PJs, giving them their favourite cuddly toy and reading them a bedtime story will maximise the chances of them taking a mid-air sleep
- Save upgrades and first class travel for child-free holidays! You’ll get more sympathy to disruption and screaming in economy class where people haven’t paid extra for a relaxing experience
- Check in online or as early as possible to ensure you can all sit together
- Starve your children of tech in the week before your holiday to increase its novelty and entertainment value!
In the airport
- Airports are crowded places. If you’ve got an active little one who is prone to running off write your mobile number on a wristband for them to wear
- Many children find security daunting. Talk about the metal detector being the magic gateway to your holiday and the screening tunnels being a magic helter skelter ride for your luggage and suddenly the whole process will be special rather than scary!
- Don’t be tempted to check your buggy in early – take it as near to the aircraft as you’re allowed to. That way, if there’s a delay at least your little one will be comfortable and have a chance to sleep
On the plane
- Block out aircraft noise at take off and landing with special child size headphones (choose the ones that are recommended for festivals)
- Little ones’ tiny ears are more sensitive than ours and they can find the pressure that builds up in them at take off and landing distressing and painful. Giving babies a bottle and toddlers a sugar free lolly to suck on at take off and landing to help them equalize the pressure in their ears
- Always pack a few sick bags and a change of clothes for your little one. It’s also worth having a change of top for yourself too. One mum says: ‘I still feel mortified about the time I had to get off my flight stinking of sick and couldn’t change clothes until we arrived at our hotel!’
- Visit a pound store before your trip and stock up on a few little treats that you can wrap up before the flight. They can be brought out throughout the flight whenever boredom is threatening!
- Seat your child away from the aisle where their hands can easily get trapped or bent back by passing trollies and where they’re also too close for comfort to boiling hot drinks
- Remember that temperatures fluctuate during a flight. Dress your little one in layers that are simple to add and remove throughout the flight as needed. Avoid buttons and zips and stick to elasticated waists and loose layers
- Pre-empt and diffuse arguments before they arise. Make a point of be-friending passengers near you and explaining to them that you’re going to do everything you can to make it a stress free flight for everyone!
- Keep little ones occupied by looking around at other passengers and making up stories about where they’re going and who they’re going to see!
- Above all, try to remember the magic of air travel and to help your child experience it with you. Feel your tummies flip as the plane takes off, drink in the differently shaped clouds and crane your necks to see countries spread out below you like maps!
Hopefully by following our top tips you’ve got a good chance of making your flight a part of the holiday rather than just a stressful means to an end!
Our favourite holiday apps
Holidays are a great time to escape TV and tech and to re-discover simple pleasures. But we’re also firm believers that devices and apps can have their uses on holiday too! So here’s a round up of our favourite five apps for keeping little people happy and entertained on flights, in restaurants and in post swimming down-time…
1. Colouring Pages for Kids (Android)
Colouring is possibly the most tried and tested way of keeping little ones occupied for hours! But instead of taking lots of weighty colouring books and pencils away with you, just download this single app you will have hundreds of themed colouring pages for your little one to chose from. They can also choose whether to use pencils or paints and can add to their creation with an impressive array of decorative stickers
2. Toca Life Vacation (Apple and Android)
Worth every penny of the £2.49 you’ll pay, this app will give your little one hours of play value as they pretend to go on holiday and choose what to pack, where to go, what to feed their characters on the plan, which hotel to stay in and when to go to the beach!
3. Peekaboo Barn (also Peekaboo Wild and Peekaboo Forest) (Apple and Android)
Since its release in 2008 this much loved favourite has rarely fallen out of the top 20 educational games and has been played over 70 million times worldwide! That many players can’t be wrong so get downloading and join the rest of the world in guessing which animals lurk behind the barn doors based on their sound.
4. Lego Duplo Train (Apple and Android)
This super fun, cheery, colourful game brings all the joy of building with you on your holiday without the need to bring hundreds of blocks! And the best bit? It can be different every time as your child can choose to build bridges, lay new tracks or become the train driver!
5. Toca Boca Hair Salon (Apple and Android)
This one’s for all the family! Choose from six characters and a variety of photo backdrops. Then wash, style and dry their hair with everything from permed curls to Mohicans to choose from. To add to the fun the characters even make funny faces and sounds as you style them. Simple, great for kids (and adults!) of all ages and totally addictive!