Yikes! Travelling Tykes!
by Zann Chan
With the little ones in tow, there’s bound to be little bumps in the road. But fear not – we teach you how make your journey a smoother one, from plane to cot.
There is perhaps nothing more horrifying than being caught on a 16-hour flight with a shrieking, wailing infant who cries through most of it – except if you happen to be the parent of this shrieking, wailing infant in question; Which in that case, does ‘horrifying’ no justice. Add death stares and constant tutting to the mix and you can see why most parents would rather leave the little ones at home – to save themselves a harrowing walk down the hall of shame. Well, like they say: Hell hath no fury like a toddler scorned.
It is important to prepare your child (especially if it’s his or her first flight ever) mentally before the day of the journey itself. Take a week or so prior to the event to constantly remind your child of the dos and don’ts of plane etiquette, linking it to the activities that they may do at home. For example, during playtime you could remind them how in the plane there might not be space to play Legos, for one, so introduce games that require a smaller area to play in. Give them some time to understand and take in what’s going to happen, so they won’t get a nasty shock just minutes before boarding.
Get friendly with passengers
Children can be unpredictable – one minute they’re angels and the other, the devil’s incarnate. The thing is, you see, you never know when they’re going to make the switch, and much less your fellow passengers. Before you begin the flight, a good tip would be to hand out pre-written notes to seatmates to let them know about your situation and that you’ll be doing your best to minimise any inconveniences. You’d be surprised at how understanding and helpful people can be when approached nicely! Try attaching little packages of candy and snacks to the notes for even greater reception.
Fill them up
A hungry child is an angry child. Always feed your child before a flight instead of depending on in-flight meals, for they aren’t usually served immediately upon boarding. Make a habit to pack snacks and foods that your child enjoys. Eating familiar foods often calm them down and keep them happily occupied. I’d definitely say that food is the key to successfully surviving a flight with your child. Hold it with the sugar though – you don’t want to have to be wrestling them down while they go all Energizer Bunny for a full hour.
Pack for play
Children and sitting still just don’t go well together. Pack their favourite (or most portable) toys and playthings for the flight so they have something to do when they’re bored. Stuffed toys and children’s books would be great. Bring along your iPod or portable TV if it’s going to be a long flight without entertainment. There’s only so much reading that a child can do before they get bored and unleash their inner monsters. Pre-load your devices with child-friendly content for easy access and convenience.
Also, if the airport has a playground – oh, lucky you! – take them there prior to boarding and just watch as they burn of some of that energy that might make for sticky situations. Who knows, they might even sleep though the entire plane ride. Whew.
Have essentials handy
A sudden change in air pressure when the plane takes off can cause discomfort to the ears of your child. An easy way to get rid of this is to suck on a piece of candy to unblock them – so always have candy on hand.
If all else fails
Keep a positive mindset. Just because your child is out of control doesn’t mean you lose your composure as well. Keep calm and carry on (clichéd, I know, but doesn’t make it any less true). Don’t cause a scene by reprimanding your already sobbing child in front from everyone – focus on the constructive rather than negative. Tell them that what they did was not right and what they should have done instead. Positivity begets positivity.
If your child cries incessantly, whip out your video camera and flip the screen over to your tot so they can see how they look when they’re crying – your child is bound to stop mid-cry, shocked at their own expression. Puts a whole new twist on “you should see the look on your faces”. Literally.