How to Prepare a Child for Their First Flight

Asia's Tech News Daily

If you’ve never flown with your child, you may be anxious about getting them ready for the air. Take a deep breath. Other parents have been through this and survived just fine, and you will too! In general, this is not as big of a deal as probably think it will be. If you’re diligent about packing, your child knows what to expect, and you give yourself some extra time at the airport, you’ve really got nothing to worry about. In any case, if you want to make sure you aren’t missing anything, we’re here to walk you through everything you might want to consider to get your child ready to fly.

Steps

Method 1 Method 1 of 13:Make the prospect of flying fun for your child.

If you act excited about this, they’ll pick up on your energy. Flying with your child can sound a little scary, but don’t let that show! In the days and weeks leading up to the flight, keep mentioning how fun it’s going to be. Ask them what they’re excited about and address any of their questions; the more emotionally prepared your child is, the easier this will be on everyone!

  • You might periodically say things like, “Are you excited about our flight next week? It’s going to be so fun! I can’t wait!” or, “We go to the airport next week! I’m so excited.”
  • Offer to answer any questions your child has, and remind them that it’s okay to be curious, scared, or nervous. The more comfortable your child is about the entire process, the calmer they’ll be on the flight.
  • If you’ve got a slightly older child, you might walk them through the entire process so that they know what to expect (i.e. check-in, security, boarding, etc.).
  • If you have a baby who can’t speak or understand you just yet, just smile and be positive with them the day of the flight. Keep your voice down and don’t express a ton of stress around them.

Method 2 Method 2 of 13:Choose to fly during nap time.

If you board when your child is a little sleepy, things may be easier. Kids can be unpredictable, but you should have a sense for when your child will be the most likely to be laid back. If they’re running all over the place most mornings, choose a later flight. If they tend to struggle going to bed, fly earlier in the day.

  • Alternatively, if your child is viscerally excited about flying, you might choose to fly when they’re going to be wide awake. That might be the calmest time for them. Some kids get really irritated and annoyed when they’re tired for something they’ve been looking forward to.

Method 3 Method 3 of 13:Select window seats near a restroom.

Aim to keep your child away from the aisle and strangers. Too many strange people may scare your child, and being near the aisle will expose them to all kinds of stimuli and potential dangers (like mishandled snack carts) that could throw a wrench in your plans. Remember, you’ll get to board first with a small child, so don’t worry too much about that part! You may want to consider a few other variables, though.

  • If your child is super excited to fly and they aren’t scared of heights, do your best to get them a window seat. If the plane has three columns of seating, don’t choose the middle section that’s far from the window.
  • There are normally restrooms near the front and back of the plane. Sit close to them, if possible. Not only do kids need to go to the bathroom regularly, but you’ll be able to get up with your child multiple times without bothering anyone nearby.

Method 4 Method 4 of 13:Purchase a spare seat for kids under 2 if you can.

Getting your child their own seat will give you space to work. Children under the age of 2 can go on your lap, but you should consider buying your child their own seat anyway. It’s safer from a turbulence perspective if they have their own seats, but it’s also going to be easier for you if you have a seat to lay your baby down temporarily.

  • Do not bring your regular car seat for your child. If you want a car seat for your child on the plane, it must be a special child restraint system (CRS) that has been approved by the FAA.
  • For children who weigh 22–44 pounds (10.0–20.0 kg), there is only one “car seat” that you can use—the CARES Child Safety Device.

Method 5 Method 5 of 13:Contact the hotel or destination and ask about rentals.

Reach out to see if you can rent any bulkier items you may need. Many hotels, resorts, and travel services offer strollers, car seats, and other essential items like that for rent. You may also inquire about jog strollers, toys, or pack ‘n plays as well. You may need to call multiple numbers, but this may keep you from lugging something big around!

  • You can contact the airlines and airports you’re flying with to see if they have strollers for rent as well.
  • If you’re staying with friends or family and they have/had kids your age, call them and ask about borrowing some of their gear.

Method 6 Method 6 of 13:Pack only what you need.

Parents tend to overpack, but travelling light will be easier on you. If you’re bringing a stroller, bring the smallest one you own. Think about what you can buy either at the airport or when you land. Go with the smaller baby bag, smaller pack of diapers, and minimize the amount of excess you bring.

  • Depending on the length of the flight, you probably only need 1 extra change of clothes for your child and a tiny tube of diaper cream. Don’t overpack the formula, either. You can always buy that when you land.
  • When it comes to diapers, the rule of thumb is 1 diaper for every 1 hour of travel.
  • If your child is in that in-between time when they’re getting off of diapers, feel free to use them for the flight. You won’t undermine any progress you’re making.
  • When it comes to formula, breast milk, or juice you don’t actually have to follow the 3.4  fl oz (100 mL) rule. You can bring as much as you’ll reasonably need. Just make sure that you let the TSA know you’re carrying these things for your child before you go through the screening checkpoint.

Method 7 Method 7 of 13:Bring plenty of things for them to do.

Travel involves a lot of downtime, so pack things to occupy your child. Make sure that you bring a variety of toys and activities so that your child always has something to do. It’s especially important to have options if you’re flying for more than an hour or two, since it may be difficult for a young child to sit still for a longer flight.

  • When it comes to toys, stay away from anything that’s going to make a ton of noise on the plane. If your child is older, consider packing some cards or games that the two of you can play together.
  • If your child ever gets to use your phone or a tablet, make sure that you bring that along fully charged. Don’t forget spare batteries, remote chargers, and a set of child-sized headphones.
  • You may want to pack crayons, pencils, and paper for your child to draw. Activity and sticker books are a great way to keep your child occupied.
  • There are a handful of snacks and foods that you’re allowed to bring through security, but you can also buy them at the airport if you prefer. Just make sure you have food on hand! can’t bring them through security, so buy snacks somewhere in the airport and bring them on the plane with you. A hungry child is more prone to act out of throw a tantrum.

Method 8 Method 8 of 13:Include one “surprise” for your child.

Bring one super fun toy or delicious snack as a big reward. The airport and plane may be stressful for your child. Having an extra surprise in your back pocket will give you an out if you run into a sticky situation. If you want to reward your child for being super well behaved as an incentive for future good behavior, break it out as you’re boarding. If you need to cull an anxiety-induced tantrum, reveal the surprise to calm them down.

  • If your child is totally obsessed with trucks, get them a nice model truck to play with. If they love Paw Patrol, buy a stuffed dog for them.
  • If you’re packing a surprise food-based treat, stay away from anything that’s going to make your child hyper.
  • You could tell your child that they’ll be able to buy a toy at the airport if they’re well-behaved as well. If you’re mainly worried about security and boarding, this might be the best way to go.

Method 9 Method 9 of 13:Double-check all of your bags the night before the flight.

The day of your flight may be hectic, so get fully prepared the day before. If possible, plan on doing all of your packing a full 24-hours before the flight. Before you go to bed, check all of your bags to make sure that you have everything you need. This way, you and your child will be relaxed, calm, and collected the morning/day of your flight.

  • Children pick up on their parent’s energy pretty quick. If you’re stressed out, they’ll be stressed out. Checking your bags the day before should put you at ease.
  • If your child is excited about flying, ask them to help you check your bags! Incorporating them in these little travelling activities might be exciting for them.

Method 10 Method 10 of 13:Set expectations for the flight early.

When it comes to behavior, be clear about what you expect. You can frame this however it makes the most sense to you based on your child. Set behavior expectations for the airport, the gate, and the plane. Your child has never flown before, so really spelling out what you want them to do will make things a lot easier for them.

  • You might say something like, “When we’re at the airport, I expect you to stay close, and hold my hand when I ask. It might be a little loud in there, but we still need to use our indoor voice. If you need a break, just let me know. We can relax a bit when we’re on the plane.”
  • Setting a clear reward for good behavior will pay dividends. Offer to buy them a certain toy when you land, or give them extra time with the tablet on the flight if they’re well-behaved.

Method 11 Method 11 of 13:Show up early to the airport.

Give yourself a buffer to deal with potential obstacles. Children don’t move through security as fast as adults do, and if they start crying you may need a few extra minutes to calm them down before going to the gate. Show up to the airport at least 1 hour early. If you have any extra time once you’re past TSA, find the airport’s play area and let your child run around. This way, they’ll burn a lot of energy before they get on the flight.

  • This also gives you time to shop for snacks if you didn’t bring anything from home!
  • If your child is super well-behaved going through security, you may want extra time to let them choose something from a shop as a reward.

Method 12 Method 12 of 13:Explain ear pain and turbulence and pack a bottle/gum.

If they’re old enough to understand, explain what they might experience. If your child is older than 5 or so, you may want to give them some gum to chew during takeoff. Alternatively, for younger children, you can have them suck on a binky or drink from a bottle during takeoff to alleviate the change in pressure. When it comes to turbulence, explain to your child that if it’s nothing to be afraid of it occurs.

  • With a baby, holding them tight during turbulence is the best way to go. If they’re older than 2, you may want to hold them but it’s usually safer to buckle them into a seat tight.

Method 13 Method 13 of 13:Treat yourself once things are settled.

Air travel can be stressful with a child, so engage in some self-care! If your child falls asleep on the plane or they get preoccupied by the movie on the tablet, have that glass of free wine. Crack open that book you’ve been looking forward to. Whatever it is that you enjoy doing on a plane, do it. You earned it!

  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help at the airport or on the plane. People will generally be very supportive and willing to help a traveler with a child.
  • Don’t be self-conscious about having a child on a plane. Most folks will be sympathetic, and if someone gives you some side-eye, ignore it.

Warnings

  • If you’re flying international, don’t forget your passports. Children need passports to fly out of the country, even if they’re toddlers! Thanks! Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
  • Do not give your child anything to make them sleepy or drowsy on a flight without talking to your doctor first. Thanks! Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
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