Thursday, February 14, 2008

Flying with toddlers

So I know you guys have been waiting with baited breathe for an update on how it went huh? Well here it is - may it provide insight and clarity to aid you in your frolicking adventures.

The first thing you need to do is find yourself and airline which caters to small children. If they openly acknowledge that they do, chances are they are also used to dealing with frazzled parents. In a pinch this is a godsend, especially if there aren't any hands free when you need them to be. There don't seem to be that many around who do, so don't be afraid to ask - I believe there are some who won't insure their crew to handle children at all so they're not a good bet for long haul. Qatar, Emirates and Qantas score very highly on the family friendly front so they're always a good option if they're within your price bracket.

Secondly, the rules state that children 2 years and under have to either be strapped into their own car seat/infant seat or stay on a parents lap. In flight I would say that the infant seat is a very good option as it is familiar and a handy (and comfortable) spot for baby to be set down. Unfortunately carrying them around the airport and between flights can be problematic - this makes it an unlikely option for parents of multiples unless there are several other adults on hand to help. Some of the airlines (see the above listed ones) offer Bassinet's or flight cots. We chose this option only to discover that the boys were too long for them. I have since been shown a handy way of propping a pillow in one end so that the baby can sleep raised up and I really wish I'd know about it before I flew. If your children are likely to be too tall or if you're not going to make use of the cot facility then I suggest that you avoid the bulk head. It does offer more legroom but as there are no seats in front of you to stow your bag away, you'll have to pack them overhead and it gets very impractical.

Thirdly, pack your handluggage as light as you possibly can. You don't need to take many things to entertain - the plane, people and in flight magazines took care of that and the less you have to carry the better. Also, dress them in baby grows or something similar and take spares because it means you don't have to keep track of all the pieces.

DO pack snacks and buy water, milk and juice before boarding the plane, take a small cooler bag along and keep your milk in there. Although the crew were great, there were times when they were very busy and we needed juice or similar in the way that only parents to young children recognise. Raisins, crackers, fruit and any other finger food works very well.

If you have twins and you and your partner are flying together - pack 2 smaller bags with exactly the same items, this way if you're seperated at all (we were on the second leg of one of our flights) you don't have to run back and forth looking for things.

If you're like me and you're BIG on sticking to the daily routine, try not to get too stressed out. The routine will get messed up but on a long haul flight there is also a lot of time to sleep and catch up if necessary.

If there are 2 adults, have one set their watch to local time and the other keep 'home' time - it makes it easier to figure out what schedule the kids clock is on.

Finally I would say this, when it gets fraught (as it is likely to do at some point), look around for the sympathetic eyes, there are lots of them and most of them will offer to help out if you let them. Be that holding/watching your child while you go for a pee or fetching/carrying things for you because you have child fast asleep on your lap. Ultimately they're on a flight with you but you're unlikely to see them again so don't bother yourself thinking of their needs, be selfish and think about yours and your family's!

All the best and happy flying :-)



Anonymous said...

You are it.

Stacie said...

We are flying with toddlers next weekend. I am not looking forward to it. There will be three adults to 2 children but one of those adults is about to undergo back surgery and thus not much help. One kid in a seat. One kid on a lap. We figured we would shell out for one seat and put whoever was more persnickety in it and hold the calmer child. Wish me luck.