When you're a new parent, flying with your baby or toddler can be stressful. You're not sure how you can keep an energetic two-year-old entertained. You don't know what you can bring with you on the plane along with your baby.
I'm not too sure either. I'm not a parent, and I'm honestly afraid of crying kids, especially on a long flight.
But I have friends and family who frequently fly with their children, who have built their lives around living in one city and visiting their home in another place.
So I've asked 5 of these parents for their tips so you won't be flailing with a crying baby in the airplane ever again.
PACKING LIST TO BRING ON FLIGHTS WITH YOUNG CHILDREN / BABIES
- Baby Carrier
- Baby Food
- Baby Toys
- Breast Milk (you can bring it with you on the plane if you're travelling with your baby - just tell the staff it's breast milk at Changi Airport. If your baby isn't with you, keep your breast milk in 100ml containers, and still declare it to the staff.)
- Changing Pad
- Diapers (recommended 1 per hour of flight, plus extra just in case)
- Diaper Cream
- Formula / Powdered Milk
- Passport (of course)
- Music / Colouring Books for older children
- Travel Crib (though that could be loaned from the airline / hotel that you're staying in)
- Two Sets of Clothes + Sweater
- Stroller (this can also be loaned at airports like Changi Airport)
1. WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO FLY?
Early morning, or at night. Try to avoid red eye flights so you'll keep your energy going.
Jay, mother of a nine-month-old: "It depends on your baby's sleep cycle. Morning flights are good because other people won't be sleeping in case your baby cries."
Alan, father of a two-year-old: "Fly at night so your kid can sleep. I don't normally take flights in the day."
2. WHAT KIND OF SEAT SHOULD I GET?
Front seats are the consensus here.
Alan: Get a seat with extra leg space in the front. The extra leg space can help with your kid's restlessness. The bassinet can be requested free of charge for babies.
Yvonne, mother of three children: "One time when my oldest was young, he kept kicking the front seat so the guy kept asking me to stop him. Front seats can help if your kid is hyperactive."
Rachel, mother of two boys: "Seating is super important. Pay a little extra for front seats. You can have a little more space to cradle/soothe the baby without getting stuck in the middle of the plane while the food cart is along the passageway."
3. WHAT SHOULD I BRING WITH ME?
Baby snacks, toys, and activity packs.
Yvonne: "Baby snacks and toys. Toys that have music aren't too loud if it's not for a night flight. If your child is still a baby, toys aren't going to be useful. Bring your pacifier and milk."
Rachel: "For toddlers travelling on budget flights, prepare their entertainment in - download pre-downloaded videos on your phone / iPad and/or bring an activity pack (stickers, washable crayons and markers) to engage them during the flight."
Alan: "Bring colouring books, toys, and extra diapers. Use cotton to cover your baby's ears because they might be sensitive to air pressure."
*Note: earplugs for babies and children (like EarPlanes, as recommended by a friend who used to have blocked ears from flying since he was little) can work too.
Dan, father of a one-year-old: "Prepare food beforehand. Tell the staff that it's baby food so you can bring it onboard."
4. WHAT ABOUT MY STROLLER?
Strollers can go with you to the plane.
Dan: "Don't check in your stroller. Tell the staff you'll be using it inside the airport and hand it over to the staff before boarding the plane. You'll get it back with the rest of your luggage after your flight."
5. WHAT IF I HAVE MORE THAN ONE KID AND I'M DOING IT ALONE?
Baby carriers are useful - and it keeps your hands free.
Yvonne: "Use a baby carrier to wear your baby. There was a guy with 3 kids too who helped me bring the boys to the toilet when I was baby wearing my youngest. People are quite helpful when they see I'm handling two to three kids alone."
Rachel: "If you have kids of various ages, encourage the older ones to watch out for their younger siblings."
6. HOW CAN I AVOID (AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE) A CRYING BABY?
Feed babies before flight or during takeoff.
Eric, father of a nine month old: "Feed the baby before the flight. Then your baby can sleep during the flight."
Rachel: "For babies, some mothers who are nursing infants told me they latch (i.e. breastfeed) their babies during takeoff to soothe them."
Alan: (Note: This is for those of you who are looking to avoid a crying baby.) "Some people request to change seats. Sometimes, talking to strangers can help to keep the baby entertained."
THE SECRET TO HAVING A STRESS FREE FLIGHT WITH KIDS
It's inevitable that you'll still bump into screaming children sometimes.
Flights can't all be as fun as an amusement ride. Even in an amusement park, there are screaming children. It's just a little more socially acceptable to be screaming there.
As much as parents try all methods (as you've read above) to keep their children entertained and quiet, sometimes kids get cranky.
When asked if anyone gets annoyed, Yvonne puts it a little bluntly: "It's a toddler or baby leh, what you expect. If you want silence, then buy first class."
"But until now," she also tells me, "Everyone has been quite helpful."
BUT REALLY, HOW CAN I AVOID CRYING BABIES AS A FELLOW PASSENGER?
- Ask for a change of seat at the start of the flight.
- Help a parent out. If you like kids, you can talk to them or play with them if they happen to sit beside you.
- Use noise cancellation earphones or headphones so you won't be disturbed by other sounds.
This article was first published in Shopback.