Most people hope not to be seated nearby children on a plane, especially infants who are likely to scream. Parents have a different fear, that of inflicting their child on the other passengers.
Parents often recommend giving children sleeping tablets, however, most doctors will not prescribe sleeping medication for children under two years old.
If this has rained on your plans for a peaceful flight with your baby, don’t fear. There are some things you can do to prepare for flying with your infant.
Book an extra seat (or at least try asking for one)
Children under two years are free, so it’s common for parents to squeeze in a trip before their child’s second birthday. Some parents still choose to pay for an extra seat for their infant, and it may well be worth the extra money to make the flight comfortable.
If that’s not an option for you however, you could check in early and ask the flight staff to put you somewhere with a spare seat. Flight staff do their best to look after parents with small children.
Another option is to think ahead when you are booking your seats. Book the window and asile seats in a row. People usually avoid booking the seats in between as there is no easy access to a window or aisle, unless the flight is full, of course. So often the middle seats are free, and although it’s not guaranteed, it could mean an extra seat for your baby.
Keep your baby busy
Some parents bring an activity pack or a bag of new toys or books and slowly give them to their child throughout the flight. The toys don’t have to be big or expensive; babies won’t know if they are second-hand or brand new.
Don’t forget the snacks
Pack a variety of snacks, starting with healthy options through to special treats. You may not have to use the sugary snacks, but they may come in handy if your infant is in need of a quick distraction.
Make the most of screen time
Download your child’s favourite show on your phone. Infants can’t always see the screen in the plane easily, as they sit much lower down than adults, so have something ready on your phone just in case.
Keep your child in their seat (for as long as possible)
If your child is used to car travel, then treat the plane in the same way. Sit them in the seat with the seatbelt on. It’s helpful to set this precedent at the beginning because the flight staff won’t let your child crawl around on the floor, especially during takeoff, so you don’t want them to get used to it.
Divide and conquer
If there are two or more of you travelling with a baby, take turns being on duty. Then divide your shift into separate activities, alternate with snack time, playing with toys and story reading and screen time. Then enjoy your break and make the most of it before you are on duty again.
Don’t ditch nap time
Keep nap time as close as possible to your baby’s home routine. If your child sleeps with a bottle and teddy, bring them along. If they normally sleep in a dark room, bring a muslin blanket to put over them to minimise distractions.
Even when taking all these measures, your child will probably still get restless. It’s perfectly normal for parents to stand at the back of the plane and walk up and down the aisle with children, so join the other parents at the back if you need to.
Be well prepared to make the flight a success, even without sleeping tablets. If you have any other ideas for travelling with children, please share them with us.
I’m an educator and writer living abroad. I love languages, experiencing different cultures and going on adventures with my family.