For many parents, staying at home with a baby is challenge enough; venturing out with one is a prospect that can fill even the most adventurous soul with trepidation. Yet, you can never postpone all your trips. So go – but not before you've planned, planned and planned some more.
Generally, don't start a trip empty-handed. Keep a bag packed and ready to go whenever you leave home. Include nappies or an extra pair of underpants; wipes for convenient hand washing; a bib; a change of clothes and shoes if a toileting accident is a possibility; some plastic bags and a selection of portable distractions (books, crayons and pad, a favourite stuffed animal, doll, truck). Also carry on a snack, dry cereal, crackers, muffins or fresh fruits) and a drink.
With longer periods on the road - either by land, by air, by sea or by rail – you'll need extra amounts of the previous items plus a mini-medicine chest, a lovey or comfort object and may be music and stories to go.
If you can, get your tickets well in advance; this allows you to choose the flight and the seats you want.
Travel at off-peak times
Try to choose flights at times your toddler ordinarily sleeps (night flights for long trips; nap times for short ones).
Look for "nonstops" or short trips
Consider breaking up a long trip
Use the time at the airport to get a bite to eat, wash up, take care of nappy changing or toileting, let your toddler run off some energy, watch other planes take off and land or visit the airport play center.
Consider an extra seat
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) recommends that parents of under-2s buy a ticket and use a car seat on the plane. Although this may seem an extravagance, but it will make sitting, playing and eating less of a hassle. Toddlers buckled into a separate seat are also safer in severe turbulence than those restrained only by a parent's arms.
Aisle versus window
Ideally, two responsible adults should sit on either side of the child. Favor the aisle if this is not possible. Otherwise you'll end up trying the patience of those you'll have to keep scrambling over in order to take your restless toddler to the potty or for a walk.
Don't take meal service for granted
Airline food is getting lighter and lighter these days in the interest of economy, so don't ever board without your own supply of toddler-appropriate sustenance.
Wear comfy clothes
The earlier you board, the longer you have to stay in the plane's cramped quarters.
Special consideration for the ears:
check our article about managing ear problems during the flight.
Put safety first.
- If your child is occupying a seat, plan to bring an approved car seat aboard after checking the airline policy.
- If your child is on your lap, do not belt him or her in with you. But do secure your belt and then hold your toddler around the waist with your hands grasping your wrists during takeoffs and landing.
- Keep your children under control at all times. Do not allow your toddler to wander around alone in the aisles or to sleep or play on the floor.
- If emergency oxygen masks deploy, put your mask on first. Carefully review the use of oxygen masks and know where there are extras in case your child doesn't have a seat.
You can find more tips on safety regarding bicycles, skateboards and boating in our monthly newsletter. Register to receive our summer newsletter for tips on the most common summer problems.
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