Flying with children: It’s all in the preparation!

If you’re planning on getting on a plane with your kids, this article is for you. With a little advance preparation, you’ll help make it an enjoyable trip for all!

Prepare, prepare, prepare!

Travelling by plane requires preparation to ensure your kids stay safe and are kept busy until they get to the destination. 

  • Children under the age of two can travel in their parent’s arms. For longer flights, however, for your own comfort and your child’s safety, it’s best for them to travel in their car seat (you will need to pay their airfare). Make sure your car seat meets the airline’s requirements. 
  • Bring snacks and a few toys to distract your kids during the flight. 
  • If your child is not fully toilet trained, keeping them in diapers for the duration of the flight is a good idea. Pack at least one diaper for every hour in the air. 
  • Pack reusable towelettes (or alcohol-free, fragrance-free disposable wipes) for cleaning hands and faces and for diaper changes, as well as a large plastic bag to store everything. Avoid alcohol-based disinfectants, as they tend to irritate the fragile skin of little ones.

Tips for sensitive young ears

To reduce the discomfort your baby may experience, it is recommended you breastfeed or give your baby a bottle during take-off and landing.  

For older children, have them chew gum, yawn, or swallow (e.g., take a few sips of water) to help balance the pressure in their ears.

Tips for anxious children

The novelty of air travel can be a source of stress for some children. Being involved in trip preparations can help kids know what to expect and manage their stress better. Depending on your child’s age, you could… 

  • Visit the airport before your departure to watch the planes take off and land 
  • Show your child pictures of your destination (Internet, travel guide, Google Earth, etc.)
  • Prepare a detailed itinerary that the child can follow

Try to maintain a routine that’s as similar as possible to your home routine, to minimize stress. Bring along a familiar and reassuring object, e.g., a teddy bear and/or blanket.

Adapt your first-aid kit

Ask your pharmacist to help you complete your first-aid kit with products adapted to your child’s needs, e.g., air sickness medication, saline nasal spray for nasal congestion, pain relievers, etc. 

If your child takes prescription medication, make sure you bring enough for the duration of the trip, plus some extra (at least three days) in the event your return is delayed. Keep all medications in your carry-on luggage so you can get to it easily. Remember to respect the carry-on limits for liquid or gel products (usually 100 ml or 100 g). Go to https://travel.gc.ca/air/liquids for more details.

Have a great trip!

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