For all travel-weary parents out there who love their darling little ones but are sick of their in-flight temper tantrums; may this bring you some peace and quiet…
1. Book an overnight flight
If possible, try to fly through the night when our circadian rhythm has us programmed for sleep time.
That way little ones are more likely to spend the flight in the land of nod, and you can get some shut-eye too.
2. Pack more entertainment options than you ever thought necessary
In-flight entertainment is a wonderful thing, but not when it’s unavailable or has lost its charm on a two-year-old. As a result, you’ll need to bring back up entertainment, and lots of it.
Books (preferably one that will last the entire flight), drawing paper and pencils, stickers, magnetic games, puzzles and some favourite [read: portable] toys are just the beginning.
iPads are essential and can now be recharged during your flight too.
3. Help reduce their ear pressure
It’s a well-documented fact that little ones don’t know how to clear their ears to reduce the pressure caused by changing altitudes. However there are some things you can do to help them out.
For babies, a pacifier or bottle of milk during takeoff and landing will not only help ease ear pressure, but will distract them as they’re seatbelted in and act as a mild sedative.
For older kids you can try a yummy ‘treat’ drink (one with minimal sugar, of course) such as juice or flavoured milk, while older children again may find chewing gum helps.
It’s also worth investing in a good pair of earplugs or ear drops to avoid popping ears (the best ones are usually available at airport pharmacies).
4. Reward good behaviour at the end of the flight
Yes, it’s blatant bribery but sometimes you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do…
Discuss with your pint-sized passenger that a special treat [i.e. a new toy] awaits them after the flight, but only if they’re on their best behaviour.
Of course, when tantrum looks to be brewing, sometimes a reminder doesn’t go astray.
5. Keep their belly full
In your bag of in-flight tricks, don’t forget to include snacks.
Relatively healthy snacks are best since a resulting sugar high can be more of a hindrance than a help.
Fruit, nuts, crackers and unflavoured packet popcorn are some easy options.
Regular nibbles keep rumbling tummies at bay as well as offering some distraction.
6. Book the middle seats
If you book three seats in the cabin’s middle section (one for Mum, Dad and baby), there is often one seat leftover since few people like that position, unless it’s a full flight.
With the extra seat you can then stretch out and make it a more comfortable flight.
If you’re a family of four, Dad (or Mum) will need to sit in a different row.
Hot tip: wear a pashmina wrap for the flight, which can double as a blanket for your little one.
7. Combat restlessness with a walk
Like grown-ups, sometimes kids just need to stretch out and move their legs. Don’t fight it.
Take them on a walk around the cabin to help them burn off that excess energy.