How to Prepare for Your Child’s First Flight
Whether a quick flight to Grandma or a long haul around the globe, the thought of bringing an infant or toddler on a plane is enough to keep you grounded until they turn 18.
The truth is, flying with a child can be an enjoyable experience. It allows you to expose them to new environments such as the terminal, the aircraft, and the crew. They will watch you interact with many new faces, all with a smile (hopefully) and purpose. The whole travel experience will take on a new wonder as you see it for the first time through your child’s eyes.
Now, the incredible physics of flight is not going to keep your little one entertained for very long, so here are a few things you can do to ensure you and your child are well prepared.
Your little one is too young to be given a list of social norms for air travel. It is important to set expectations for yourself, so you can cope with this environment as a parent.
Your child is going to need to move. Wherever they are in their development, rolling, crawling, and walking is how your children understand their environments. There are many new faces to inspect and walkways to walk. If your child wants to spend the flight walking up and down the aisles, then as long as the ‘fasten seatbelt sign’ is off, go for it. Their days are filled with exploration and entertainment. A plane is no different.
The real fear that strikes parents’ hearts is that their child will disturb another passenger. This fear is a right of passage for today’s modern caregiver.
Keep in mind
- Flight crews are trained and experienced in dealing with little children. Many of them being parents will either engage with your little one or simply work around them. If they need you to do something to make their lives easier, they’ll let you know.
- Many other people on your flight will also be parents who have done this before. After remembering the sound of your own child screaming on a plane, the sound of someone else’s is not so bad.
- For those who make faces at you or comment, these are rare and you can feel free to ignore.
Window seats can do wonders for a toddler or older child. Watching the takeoff from the window will give them an understanding that the vibrating motions are a result of taking off. About 10 minutes into your flight, this feeling has fully worn off. Now, mom/dad the entertainer comes in.
- For those still nursing or being held while bottle feeding, we recommend the Boppy Best Latch Breastfeeding Pillow. It is comfortable on your lap and clips to your carry-on bag, giving you one less thing to keep track of.
Tip: Ask a flight attendant for extra pillows to support your arms to keep you comfortable.
- If you plan for your child to watch movies, get comfortable headphones that are age-appropriate. The Little Gadgets Connect + are durable and come with a two-sided cord that connects at the aux source and into the headphones. If the wire gets suddenly snagged, it comes out instead of breaking the pair.
Tip: With so many colors to choose from, you have a wonderful opportunity to include your little one in the purchasing process. Practice wearing the headphones at home so they are a familiar item.
- If you’d like to play games together or give them a toy to stay entertained, the BEESTECH makes a travel magnetic wooden block board so you can build without continuously picking up fallen blocks.
- Giving them food choices that are familiar will be comforting, we have used this SnapLock container since it allows us to pack cereal alongside fruit, giving them the options they love.
Tip: Let them use the container at least once before your journey, so it isn’t another new item.
Going With The Flow
Ultimately, the best thing to do is show by example how much fun the trip is. It is an exciting time that can be overwhelming. If none of these tips help and your child has an all-out tantrum on the flight, remember that they are not the first and not the last. Comfort them the best that you can.
Once they calm down, or the flight ends, tell them what a good job they’ve done, let them know that a plane is a special experience and tell them about the rest of your day ahead. Knowing that the airplane experience is only temporary is comforting for them and you.