The flight is booked, you have arrived at the airport ready to fly by plane and you are off. Flying by plane with young children requires careful planning well ahead of the journey.
Essential but clever use of hand luggage
If your toddler has their own booked seat then they, like you, will be entitled to bring on board one piece of hand luggage. However, if you have a baby who will be sitting on your lap then extra baggage is not allowed but you can bring a changing bag.
The best way to think this through is imagine you are going out for the day and pack the same items as you would for a day such as; a couple of spare nappies, wipes, spare set of clothes, the essential cuddly blanket/favourite toy, a couple of quiet toys, a jar of food if required and a plastic spoon and a carton of baby milk if needed with a sterilised bottle. If you pack cartons of milk, then if they are not needed you haven’t wasted any milk. If your changing bag doesn’t have a changing bag attached, then bring a soft towel to place the baby on. This can then be washed and reused while on holiday.
With clothing, think of layers to ensure your baby/toddler doesn’t get too hot or too chilled when flying. Bringing a blanket or using a muslin cloth to cover them may also be useful.
Baby milk is exempt from liquid rules and may not fit in the clear plastic bag used in the security check but you must still place the items in the tray during the security check. For clarification take a look at your flight company website.
Flying on a plane won’t be possible if you don’t have a valid passport
One important point to remember when flying by plane with young children is, your child needs their own passport so make sure you send off the form well in advance of your holiday. All passengers are required to have a boarding ticket regardless of their age and whether they will be sitting on your lap.
Take a look at How to buy a passport for a child for guidance.
Waiting around and those endless queues at checkin
Nobody likes being in a queue at the best of times, but when you have a bored toddler or a tired baby this can certainly raise the stress levels! At security the pram/buggy will be x-rayed, so be prepared by ensuring all items are easy to remove from the pram and don’t forget to declare all liquids and any medicines you may have packed.
Some airlines require you to pay to have certain seats and priority boarding, check with your airline. Some will automatically board families with small children first. Again, check with the flight company in advance.
On board and almost ready to take off
Breastfeeding your baby or giving a bottle feed can really help prevent ‘popping ear’ in young children – the last thing you and other passengers need is for a baby to be screaming with ear ache! For your toddler you could surprise them with a lollipop to suck during take-off – do try and persuade them not to wipe it over fellow guests though as this may be frowned upon!
Once in the air, for a while your toddler may be quite happy watching people and if able, looking out of the window. On a short flight this will sort out the entertainment but a longer flight will take some pre planning. When our children were young we used to make up a good bag using one of those PE bags to store the items in (less chance of the items getting lost on the plane). The goody bag does not have to be expensive but could include a small treat such as a fun size bag of chocolate buttons, a new colouring book and a few pencils, a comic, a toy car, small doll, a book or you could print off your own version of a travel game, such as a word search about all the things they may see on holiday, such as beach, sea, castle, ice cream, hat, pool etc. The words and game can be adapted to suit the child’s age.
Enjoy your holiday!