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Flying long-haul with a toddler..help!(11 Posts)
Apologies if this board isn't the right place for this but I would really appreciate your advice.
In a few weeks I will be flying to the USA with a 20 month old DD. She is a generally well behaved but very active child and I just can't imagine how I will manage to keep her entertained.
I've brought DD her own little suitcase that's a decent size but small enough to take as hand luggage. I was planning on filling it with new toys and books in the hope that this passes some time. The thing is, most of the toys she loves seem to be noisy, light up, play music etc or would be too large. Any suggestions for compact, non-messy, non noisy toys that will keep a toddler happy without driving the other passengers mad?
What about food? Will I be allowed to take food onboard for her or will I have to hope they serve something she'll eat? She's actually not a fussy eater but I've always found airline food pretty unappealing myself so not sure what she'll make of it
Anyone have experience of jet-lag in children? Is there are way to avoid it or do you just have to power through? We're flying out during the day but it's a night flight on the way back and I'll feel so guilty if she won't settle and distrubs the other passengers who are trying to sleep.
Any advice, words of wisdom (or even just lie to me and tell me it'll be fine! ) would be much appreciated.
If your experience is anything like mine your child will be the best behaved on the plane, the adults are the problem usually.
I would suggest either a portable dvd player or tablet with all her favourite cbeebies or whatever cartoons on and a comfortable pair of headphones. Along with that colour wonder pack (crayola) as she won't be able to make a mess everywhere with it.
I would make sure she had plenty of carbs before the flight to make her sleepy. Do not allow any chocolate as the caffeine in it will make her restless. Sugar is fine, just no chocolate.
A nice soft cuddly toy that will double as a headrest and a blanket.
Buy some pasta in the airport duty free to eat on the flight but also let her have pick at the meal on the flight just to fill time. Make sure she has a drink or dummy (if she uses one) for take off and landing as the sucking prevents the ear pain.
Take her for walks up and down the aisle when no services are blocking the aisles.
I would not suggest any toys that make a noise or light up as these will make her brain too active and annoy the hell out of everyone.
Do not let her kick the seat in front of her.
Fingers crossed for you that they give you a row with an empty seat next to you so that she can have her own seat after take off, give the check in staff an extra dose of politeness.
If I think of anything else I will come back.
We take our DS to the US once or twice a year to visit DH's family - it's a 10 hour flight and I am generally always really impressed by how well he does. Saying that I always do a ton of planning and preparation so I know that helps it go smoothly - sounds like you're doing the same and so I'm sure it will go well.
The last time we went DS was 25 months, so very similar age to your DD. You can certainly take food and I recommend you do. My DS won't always eat plane food (don't blame him!) and the last thing you want is a hungry toddler on a plane. That's got to be a feature of a circle of hell. And remember - snacking is an activity too! I have a rule that, within the bounds of what we have with us, DS is allowed pretty much any toy, TV show or snack that he wants, when he wants it. 15 hours in transit is no time for rules around snacks and TV time.
As for entertainment, we load up the iPad with as many TV shows as it will hold, I wrap up new little toys for him (little plane, car etc.) and take little pots of play-doh. I also take a couple of new sticker books, Usborne do nice ones, and a couple of familiar story books too. When it hits his bed time (by what ever time zone you've just left) I always change him into his night clothes, read him stories and try and settle him down. It always works (eventually!) and so he spends a good portion of the flight sleeping, both ways.
You'll be able to take a car seat on the plane if you like and for your DDs age I recommend that, although you'd have to check yours meets regulations. It gives them a much more comfortable seat and I think DS sleeps better for having it.
As for jet-lag, just assume that the first two night in your new destination are going to be crap, the next two will be a little better and after that you'll be fine. Going to the states you can expect your DD to be up around 4/5am for the first couple of days depending of the timezone you're travelling to. Just try and get her in a routine as quickly as you can once you are there.
Long-haul with a toddler really isn't that bad at all if you do all that you can to prepare for it. I travelled alone with DS this last summer and I was 14 weeks pregnant with DC2 on the way out, 17 on the way back. Yes, I am crazy but I'm just telling you so you know that it can't be that awful otherwise I wouldn't have done it.
Happy to help if you have anymore questions but there are lots of great resources on the internet too.
Thank you . Some really useful suggestions.
We've managed to get seats at the front so we'll have a bit of extra room and I don't have to worry about her kicking the seat of the person in front. Apparently the airline also supply some sort of fold-out travel cot thing but not convinced she'll sleep in it so will probably just have her on my lap.
Will definitely purchase some comfy, child-friendly headphones (the only ones I have are the little ones that go in your ear) and load my tablet up with episodes of Ben & Holly etc. Completely agree about letting rules for TV time, snacks etc go out the window. As far as concerned we'll do whatever we need to do to keep her entertained and keep our own sanity
Oh you have bulk head seats, that's brill! Sorry, my suggestion for taking the car seat was for a child between 2-3, forgot that you DD won't have to have her own seat. That's great as it saves a ton of money!
I've only flown BA on that route, so I don't know about other airlines, but on the bulk head seats they offer a bassinet that straps to the big fold down table for babies under 6 months, and a car seat type thing for babies between 6 months and 2 years. We actually had some luck getting DS to sleep in it so it's worth asking for.
We're flying with BA so will definitely ask for one of the car seat type things and see how she gets on. The lady I spoke to on the phone tried to describe it to me and I just couldn't picture it but hopefully if we bring a comfy blanket and a teddy to double as a pillow she'll sleep in it for a bit. She's not a great one for napping anywhere but in her cot but will try to tire her out and load her up with carbs before the flight as suggested. Fingers crossed!
On the jet lag point, we took DD to Australia at 10 months and Thailand at 16 months. She adjusted immediately and slept through the night from Day 1 both times. That said, it might be easier going east than west...
We fly with DS (now 5) longhaul 2/3 times a year since the age of 6 months. Most of it with BA, most to LA.
A 20 month old will not fit in the bulkhead cot. They have a chair that fits onto the bulkhead, but it is very very similar to those bouncy seat things you have at home. When DS was 12 months old he flatly refused to go in it - it was small (he was. 50th percentile height and weight). So be prepared for that.
Take all of your own food or purchase at the airport. BA will not provide a meal for a child that does not have their own seat. Get a good meal at the airport before boarding.
iPad with toddle friendly games, favourite TV shows and interactive books are great. Take books to read with her. Lots of walking up and down and standing in the galley looking at things (not whilst they are serving meals). Finger good (like raisins and rice cakes) that take time to eat.
Travel light with hand baggage because you will have your hands full.
BA weren't great at providing milk onboard - even in business class - so we took our own little cartons of milk or follow-on milk (you can take individual ones through security, but are likely to have to open and taste one).
DS has always been excellent with jet lag adjustments. I just snapped him into his routine for that time zone and he would do great.
We travel lots long haul since tiny babies
1) personally I wouldn't take a suitcase as hand luggage just for her. It will be too big and have to be stored above heads. If turbulence you won't be allowed to open lockers overhead to get anything. Take a rucksack. Then when your at airport either end without a pram and she's tired you can also carry her as hands free. Rucksack can stay by feet, and she can take as much in and out as and when.
2) have meal at airport. We always check in with plenty of time after security to have a proper sit down meal. That way you know they have a least eaten before boarding, and can survive on snacks until arrival if needed.
3) snacks. Mini breadsticks, biscuits, raisens. All fairly unmessy and you can just let them easy as many as they like. Take empty water bottle they use.
4) I take thin books ie Mr men ones are great. About £3 in waterstones and longer stories plus pictures so can drag out if reading or just let them look at pictures. Don't bother taking stickers, at that age they can't peel them off anyway and get annoyed when you stop imo!. Mini memo games work here ie in mini tin, boards with pictures, match cat to cat kind of thing.
Download drawing apps and films to ipad
5) at boarding gate you will have seat numbers pre allocated anyway, so don't board first when they offer for under 5s. Use that time to let them walk around gate a little longer. You can be on plane an extra 30-45 mins if you get on first.
6) put in pjs for flight if at night, and take blanket/ comforter. Once on and lights dimmed try and settle to sleep on lap as if bedtime.
7) get loads of crap off food trolley! And order wine once she asleep or happy watching film
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