Parenting Tip of the Week – Reducing Stress when Flying with Children

We all know that flying with children can be stressful. A recent video of an international flight, a toddler, and a tantrum has been making the waves on the internet. The topic alone is enough to create anxiety and stress in any parent. Yet families around the country need to travel and for many parents, bringing your child on a multi-hour flight will become a necessity at some point. Today’s Parenting Tip of the Week has some suggestions on how to reduce that stress and making flying with children a little bit easier.

Making Flying with Children as Easy as Possible

Traveling is already stressful, so adding a young child to the mix can really ramp up a parent’s stress. Fortunately, there are several things a parent can do in advance to anticipate the discomfort their little one may be experiencing and take steps to get it under control early. Here are a few tips and strategies for parents that will hopefully make the trip a little bit easier.

Layer up! Planes change temperatures frequently during a flight, so while your little one may be too warm during boarding, they might quickly become too cold once the plane has reached altitude. Wrap your little one in layers that can be easily removed and put back on so that your child is never too uncomfortable with the temperature.

Get ready for pressure. Ear pressure can really catch children off-guard and make them fearful and uncomfortable. Prepare your children in advance by telling them about the pressure and practice techniques for making the pressure go away, such as by yawning or chewing. When children start to get fussy due to pressure during take-off and landing, try distracting them or make the experience more fun for your child by making silly faces while practicing big yawns, and always have water handy. Drinking water right after take-off and shortly before landing can reduce the pressure build-up.

Come prepared with snacks. Airlines are pretty limited in terms of what snacks they can sell, and even then it can be tough to justify shelling out $10 on a bag of Cheetos. Come prepared with snacks that your little one will enjoy and that you don’t feel bad giving them repeatedly over the course of the flight. Bring a water bottle too, but remember not to fill it up! Wait until you get through the security line before refilling.

For more kid-related security tips, check out this blog from the TSA on traveling with children.

Bring distractions, but not too many! Remember, you have to carry everything you bring, so don’t over-pack for your children. Make sure to bring at least one comfort item, such as a pacifier or stuffed animal. You can also bring coloring books or scratch paper as well as crayons, books to read, and other distractions. Tablets and smartphones can be good distractions as well, just remember child-sized headphones.

Flying long-distances? Consider connections. When flying long distances with young children, direct flights might not be best. Consider adding a connection to your flight so that your children have a little bit of time to stretch their legs, use the restroom, reload on snacks and get out some pent-up energy.

Stay calm. At the end of the day, things go wrong. If your child is having a meltdown on the plane, remember to model the behavior you want to see from your child and stay calm and collected. Try not to worry about what others around you might be thinking and instead focus on your child and what you need to do to help them regulate their emotions again.

At the end of the day, what matters most for you is getting from point A to point B with your children as safely as possible. Hopefully, these tips will help reduce a little bit of that stress and make flying with children more fun than stressful.

What do you do to keep your kids distracted and calm while traveling? Let us know by tweeting to @PCAAmerica or leaving a comment on our Facebook page!