Flying with your little ones for the first time? Here are some tips on how to have an enjoyable journey
- Before departure
Visit the paediatrician four to six weeks before your departure. Ensure that your child has taken age-appropriate routine vaccines (such as those for diphtheria-tetanus-acellular pertussis-polio-haemophilus influenza type B-hepatitis B (6-in-1), pneumoccal (prevenar), rotavirus (rotarix) and measles-mumps-rubella-varicella (MMRV) and flu). Your child may also need other vaccines depending on where you are travelling to and the activities you will be participating in.
Obtain advice on traveller’s diseases and relevant medications. Pack a travel kit, which contains some first-aid items such as Band-Aids, dressing, antiseptic solution, antibiotic cream, medications for fever, allergy and diarrhoea, and oral rehydration solutions. Get a paediatrician’s letter for existing medical conditions and required medications for the flight.
- Packing 101
Here are the essentials that must be in your carry-on:
- Changing pad, diapers for duration of flight and two extra, diaper wipes, diaper rash cream
- Two sets of change of clothes for baby and a set for parents
- Lightweight blanket, beanie, two pacifiers, favourite stuffed toy
- Bib, baby spoon, baby food jars, snacks, bottles, sippy-cup, powdered formula
- Travel DVDs, two favourite books, two favourite toys
- Tips on seat selection
Book an airplane seat for your child, even if he/she is under two years old. Secure your child in a car seat strapped to the airline seat. Make sure your car seat is approved for airline travel. Book the window and aisle seats and there is a chance that the middle seat will be empty.
Pick the bulkhead rows located at the front of each section of the aircraft as these offer more legroom and bassinets can be attached to bulkheads.
Sit near the galley or lavatory as it is more convenient if you want to warm a bottle or make frequent trips to the bathroom.
- During flight
One of the most dreaded aspects of air travel is your baby screaming due to ear pain. But many babies never show the slightest signs of discomfort. Sucking relieves ear pressure, hence offer a breast, bottle or pacifier, especially when pressure changes in the cabin are greatest during takeoff and initial descent (not landing). If the captain doesn’t announce plans for initial descent, ask a flight attendant so that you get an idea of when to get the sucking started. Also try rubbing their ears and singing a soothing song.
Another dreaded aspect is motion sickness, which is common for children from two to 12 years old. Simple measures for prevention include focusing your child’s attention elsewhere (e.g. out of window); avoid unnecessary head movements by using a pillow or headrest; choose a row near the aircraft’s wing where it is less bumpy; recline seat as much as possible; and avoid heavy and greasy meals before travelling.