Top tips for flying with your child

collage of family on a plane flying to Zante

As I write this I am sat happily and safely in a villa in Zante. I say safely because I can admit that a small part of me was bricking it about flying after so many recent devastating events which have happened all over the world. Maybe I wouldn’t have been quite so concerned if I didn’t have a child; it does seem as though dangers are now much more heightened in my mind with having a little person to protect.

Anyway, we are here and Jake’s first time of flying took place through all of my nerves, anxiety and excitement. You can never tell how a flight will be let alone how a toddler is going to react the very first time you place them on a people packed, space limited mode of transport that you really cannot get off if they start to have a paddy! I had visions of other passengers huffing and puffing, of Jake running up and down the aisle getting in the way of the cabin crew and screaming at the fact he couldn’t just step off the plane once he’d had enough. Thanks to some of my followers I received some great bits of advice on how to keep him entertained, how to help with the ear issue and a little bit of reassurance for myself.

Here are the top tips these wonderful people gave me for flying with your child: 

  1. Let other passengers know that your child is flying for the first time and you are not sure how they will react or cope
  2. Tablet/ipad/kindle with their favourite tv shows downloaded.
  3. lollipop/bottles/dummy and anything else that can be sucked on to help with their ears popping
  4. Allow them to walk up and down the aisle to stretch their legs and prevent boredom
  5. Take wireless headphones so not to bother others and so they can have the volume up as loud as they like
  6. Pop lego pieces into small lunchboxes. These double up as storage as well as a good place to build so no pieces go missing.
  7. A mystery bag full of puzzles/books and so on, all wrapped up and every 30 minutes your child can pick one to open. This gives them something to look forward to, something to play with and enjoyment by getting a gift!
  8. Make a travel pack full of anything your child enjoys. This could be sweets, games, puzzles, colouring books etc. Tailor each pack to each child.
  9. AND THE BEST… Remember that it is public transport and if people get annoyed with kids on aeroplanes then maybe they should book more expensive seats where it is highly unlikely that children will be in those seats! 

Thank you, Janine, Christine, Tina, Charlotte and Ellen for all your input.

I happily trotted off into town and found some great bargains in Poundland and The Works – all costing £1 (obviously!) or £2. I picked each item based on Jake’s taste and what could be easily used on a plane without bugging anyone else.

selection of kids toys, games and magazines

The Works: Paw Patrol Sticker set £1.50

Digger book £2

4 in a row £2

Wooden Maze puzzle £2

Poundland: My first number flashcards and alphabet flashcards £1 each

Finding Dory carry along colouring set £1

Set of 4 pirate and princess snap cards £1

Packet of 12 toy dinosaurs £1

I wrapped them all up (as suggested by Tina) in brown paper and labelled each one so I knew which gift I was giving on the plane:

the kids toys all wrapped up in brown paper

Everything at the airport went smoothly but unfortunately, I didn’t get time to go around the shops and pick up some lollipops for Jake. (Big mistake as you will see later)

He was so excited to sit and see the planes at the boarding gate and his little face just lit up when we were seated on the plane!

family on a plane

And then came the announcement that we were going to have to sit on the runway for an hour and fifteen minutes, arghhhhhh!!! Jake’s little face changed to this:

Jake on the plane not looking very happy

Mine was worse… I didn’t take a photo of that coz it would have scared you!

Soooo out came the first present to try and cheer him up and pass the time (an hour is like forever in toddler time and the flight was 3 1/2 hours anyway)

toddler holding up stickers

The paw patrol saved the day for all of about 3 minutes. Then we had him saying ‘this plane doesn’t work Mummy. We aren’t going up, up, away. This plane doesn’t go up. I want to get off this plane…’ It went on… Did I mention that we had been up since half three and I was yet to have a cup of tea?!!

I was just so glad I had listened to all you wonderful followers and that I had bought these gifts. One by one they came out and each time his face lit up and for about 5 minutes or so he was content. The pilot did allow the children to go into the cockpit so that gave him something else to smile about.  (sorry it’s a bit blurred, wasn’t me, blame the air hostess)

Jake and Rob in the cockpit of the plane

On take off he was absolutely fine. His ears were ok, he was happy and excited and loved the ‘really fast bit’ as he told us!

He did very well behaving, we didn’t have strops, thank goodness; he was just a little wriggly and fidgety. But then so were the rest of us after sitting on the runway for so long.

The cabin crew were friendly and chatted away to him, the children behind us played peek a boo through the seats and the present idea just helped to keep him from the brink of meltdowns. And if all else fails there’s always snap chat fun.

The descent was a different story. As soon as the plane dropped just slightly in altitude Jake was screaming about his ears. His head went red and hot and he began crying like a baby. I was internally beating myself up over not buying any lollipops and close to tears myself. I held him close and rocked him whilst pushing on his ears to relieve the pressure but it just wasn’t working. Other passengers seemed fine about his upset and one woman gave me a ‘poor little mite, awwww’ sort of look which did help to calm me as I could see they all understood. I guess we all hear so much about the horror stories of when parents are judged that we forget these are actually a minority and most people flying do have consideration and concern for others. Suddenly amidst my worry and panic an absolute star of a woman, who was sat in front of us, turned around and handed us a satsuma. She wasn’t travelling with children but told us she had children of her own and her son always suffers during the descent. She said if Jake could suck on the satsuma it would help to ease his pain. I was so overwhelmed that I just kept thanking her. It was such a small gesture which meant the world to me. Somebody else who wanted to help my child and not one person tutting or judging us. She reassured us both by telling us about her son and told us that Jake hadn’t been a bother at all throughout the whole flight and said how cute he was. I honestly could have hugged her!

Once we convinced him to suck on the fruit he was soon happily devouring it and even had the cheek to ask her for another one! It worked though and that was all that mattered.

Turns out the best part of the airport is at the baggage claim… we very nearly lost him on one, I grabbed him just in time!! Ooops

toddler at baggage claim

So if you are flying with your child this summer and are nervous or worried the message from me is don’t be. Don’t worry about others because chances are they feel the same way as you do or have been in that position before. If anyone is sitting there having a go or tutting you can just politely tell them to piss off to first class if they don’t want to hear children OR tell them not to travel during the busiest time of the year!

Do try out the travel packs and gift wrapping especially if you have a very young child as we do. But most of all do what is the best for you and your little one and never let anybody else judge you.

Enjoy your trips this summer and have fantastic holidays!!

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