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Flying With Babies And Kids: A Survival Guide

A baby boy in a blue shirt is strapped in a sit seat on a woman's lap, for safe air travel.

Flying with kids can be a great adventure or an extended exercise in misery

The key to avoiding turbulence? A little smart planning, of course. Check out our high-flying air travel tips.

5 Things to Do Before Flying with Kids

  • If you have the option, book your flights for non-peak travel times: Mondays – Wednesdays, at midday, or in the evening. Less crowds,  less stress.
  • Pack your child’s essentials—diapers, food, toys, meds—in your carryon in case your flight is delayed or your luggage gets lost.
  • Pack plenty of entertainment for the flight, including snacks, drinks, and travel toys, such as books, coloring books, travel games, playing cards, portable video game systems, and devices. (Be sure to charge them the night before.) Pack a travel tray so your child has a steady place surface.
  • Flying can be physically tough on kids. Consider packing ear plugs like our EarPlanes, which buffer eardrums against changing air pressure and motion sickness wristbands for kids, which use acupressure to prevent nausea.
  • Tell your child what to expect at the airport and on the plane. (When checking or screening baggage, reassure kids they’ll get their stuff back, a common fear.)

How to Navigate an Airport with Kids in Tow

  • Allow extra time. Everything takes longer when traveling with kids.
  • Give your child safety rules, such as what to do if you become separated. Should she stay where she is and wait for you?
  • One way to pass time in the terminal is to give your child a small “airport allowance.” Visiting shops in search of the perfect snack or magazine can keep kids happy and busy while you wait.
  • Even if you don’t ordinarily rely on a child tether, consider using one in the airport. You’ll be distracted when checking in and claiming your luggage, and there may be moments when you have to release your child’s hand.

Ensuring a Smooth Flight, Kids and All

  • Take-offs and landings can be painful for little ears. Besides ear plugs, encourage your child to swallow by offering beverages, gum, or hard candy. Don’t forget that sippy cup and all-important sippy cup tether.
  • For maximum entertainment value, introduce toys one at a time, and put each one away before introducing the next.
  • Seat kids by the window. Most kids find the view fascinating. It’s also safer than sitting on the aisle, where little arms and legs can get bumped.
  • Remember, not all passengers appreciate the joys of children. Plan to keep your child entertained. (Some parents choose seats in the back of the plane, where engine noise can muffle other sounds.)

A Note about Safety

The FAA strongly recommends that smaller children be seated in Child Restraint Systems (“CRS”)—in other words, your child’s car seat or booster.

Here are the FAA’s weight guidelines regarding child safety seats:

  • For babies less than 20 lbs., use a rear-facing car seat.
  • For children 20 – 40 lbs., use a forward-facing car seat or booster.
  • For kids weighing more than 40 lbs., use the airplane seat belt.

For more details, see The FAA Website Child Safety section. And explore all our solutions for easy travel with kids.

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