Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Travelling with Your Toddler!

We have many families that will soon be bringing home infants and toddlers.  While I am sure they can't wait to be with their new child, air travel with a toddler can be a frightening prospect!  Here is some wonderful advice that I found on several websites:

1.  Find your airline's website.Then search for information about flying with an infant or small child. What you find (or don't find) will tell you a great deal about how helpful they will be when you fly.

2.  Check that your airline allows you to pre-book baby bassinet (sky cot) before the day of travel - not all will.

3.  Allow plenty of time at the airport for check-in, and connecting flights. Remember how much longer it takes to achieve anything with kids in tow and apply the same formula to your travel plans.

4.  Smile sweetly and helplessly at everyone and you may get help!  I have personal experience of being upgraded to first class when travelling with my 11 day old daughter and 2 year old son...

5.  Ask if your flight is full when checking in. Some assistants will block out the seat next to you in a less full flight or offer you the option of seating next to a vacant seat.

6.  Get on the plane first and off the plane last to get a better chance of assistance from cabin crew.

7.  Look out for fast track customs and immigration check points for those traveling with infants.

8.  Pack a small bag with just one diaper, a few wipes, a perfumed diaper bag (walmart has them!) and some rash cream if needed and place it in the seat pocket in front of you.

9.  Some planes have a larger bathroom at the very rear of the plane with a correspondingly larger change table. Wait for this to become free if you have a larger baby to change, as airplane change tables are small.

10.  On some airlines the cabin crew will prepare the change table in one of the toilet cubicles for you if you let them know that you need to use one. That's a real help is you have a squirmy, smelly bundle to hold while wrestling with lowering a change table in the tiny space of an airplane bathroom - so the first time you need to make a change on the plane, ask an assistant where they prefer you to make the change, and take any help offered.

11.  Always test the temperature of food heated in the aircraft galley before you give it to your child. It is often way too hot!

12.  Take your own baby food, bowl and utensils for an infant.

13.  Disposable bibs are a great idea for infant mealtimes on board an airplane.

14.  Ask for bottles and meals to be warmed well in advance of when you need them. Cabin crew don't have a microwave and have to heat using hot water in the galley. This takes time.

15.  Keep two diaper pins attached to your diaper bag. If you can get a window seat (most people will trade you) you can take a blanket and attach it to your seat and the seat in front of you for a privacy screen. People may even help you attach the pins when you're flying alone.

16.  Forget your policy on limiting screen time --- get as much relief as you can from the airplane children’s video channels and games. If you don't trust these, take a portable dvd player with your choice of dvds to view.

17. Bring toys out one by one - get maximum use from them, pack them away, then move on to the next toy.

18.  Get older children to carry their own special tote with basic entertainment contents - stickers, colouring book, reading books,  dolls or cars etc.   I have used playdoh, water "painting" books and molding wax with great success.  My rule of thumb is to provide one activity per 1/2 hour of awake flight time.  For long, overseas flights you may be able to "recycle" activities in rotation to keep the fun fresh.
19.  Snap on wheels for infant car seats are a real bonus if you've booked a seat for your infant and he'll be riding in his car seat. They can be taken onto the plane but take the assembly apart before check in to reduce the appearance of bulk. You'll love the convenience of wheels as you move around the airport.

20. Small travel strollers will fit in the luggage bins of 747's or larger aircraft but airlines have become increasingly strict about not allowing these on board.

21. An infant front pack or sling is really helpful so that you can carry baby while you push a luggage trolley.

22.  For the chance that your child might not travel well - take along additional scented diaper sacks as sick bags. They tie up to keep the contents in and the odour neutraliser does help! Handy also for storing smelly clothes.

23.  Because airplane bathrooms are small, keep a diaper, small pack of wipes, tube of lotion, lightweight plastic change mat/hand towel, and diaper bag  in a side pocket of your cabin bag. Take only these essential items into the bathroom for each diaper change and restock the side pocket once you have resettled baby

24,  Take a bottle of Rescue Remedy for everyone else in the family except baby;)
25.  Take an extra-large purse as a carry on. That way you can fit in extra things like toys, snacks, wipes and a fresh diaper. Remember to check TSA guidelines to be sure you can take everything in your bag through security.

26.  The safest way for baby or toddler to fly is in an approved car seat used as a flight seat.  this will also limit a toddlers sense of mobility and make chasing them up and down the aisle less likely!  Check the base of your infant or toddler car seat to look for the FAA approved sticker --- if you can't find one, check the manufacturer's instructions or contact the manufacturer to find out if the seat is approved for use in airplanes.

27. Print out a copy of the FAA's Childproof your Flight brochure (pdf), read it, and also take it with you when you fly --- especially if you are going to fly non-US airlines, which do not always allow car seats on planes without authoritative persuasion. Use this brochure as part of your authoritative persuasion if you have to. Please note that airlines usually ask that car seats are located in window seats so that other passengers can access their seats easily.

28.  In Europe, Asia, and Australia you will be asked to secure your child on your lap using a lap or belly belt. You may also use a Baby B'Air travel vest during the main flight section of your journey, but you will be

29.  The location of many bassinet seats immediately in front of the screen is unsettling for some babies, and can be irritating to parents trying to coax toddlers to sleep.

30.  Take cotton sheets to wrap baby or a toddler and to erect as a light shield over a bassinet.
31.  Be prepared to lose stuff (and don't get upset when you do).

32. Treat any time to relax as a bonus.

33.  Keep smiling at the baby.

34.  Ignore rude people, especially those whose job it is to help. Only you can know the right way to handle your child.

35.  Consider booking seats apart from one another if traveling with a partner. This way, one adult can rest whilst the other entertains the children.

36.  Work out responsibilities clearly between parents before setting off.

37.  Forget about style when choosing your traveling clothes - go for comfort, ease of wear and plenty of layers that can be removed if spills happen.

38.  Dress your child in distinctive clothing to avoid losing him in crowded airport lounges.

39.  Take a simple change of clothing for you and for your child in case of spills. Cotton jersey worn in layers is good. Just mix and match as you go and as spills happen.

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