Mark, guest contributor

Keeping our children safe is our responsibility. Whether during a car ride, while my kids are riding a bicycle, or before, during and after a flight, safety for my children is my number one concern.

When traveling with kids on a flight, it’s all about managing things you can control so that you can handle the things you cannot control.

Here are some of the best tips that will assist you in flying safely and sanely with your kids:



The first thing you should do is take an anti-bacterial wipe and/or spray and wipe off every cleanable surface that you could possibly touch. Don’t let odd looks from other passengers stop you. If you’re fast, this process takes about a minute or two, at the most. Repeat during the journey, if you remember.


Before the take-off

Gather everything you think you might need for the first 30 minutes to an hour after the seatbelt sign turns on, and put it within arm’s reach. This includes snacks, wipes, crayons, toys, books, and whatever. Make a list of what you’ll need during this time before you leave the house so that you don’t forget anything.


Ear pressure

Babies and young children are sensitive to changes in cabin pressure. Ask your doctor if it’s okay, but I keep age-appropriate Tylenol within arm’s reach at all times. Our pediatrician advised that as soon as I see my daughter pull on her ears or complain about pressure, to give a full dose.

As we already discussed, nursing or giving a bottle to babies during take-off and landing helps their ears. Older kids can munch on snacks. Lollipops are great for this, too, because they are long lasting.



Pack more diapers than you need. This never happened to me, but in the off chance you are stuck at the gate or on the tarmac for hours at a time, you need to have enough. Your child may get an upset stomach from something he or she ate on the plane or pick up a random germ. Be over-prepared in this department.

Diaper wipes: On long haul flights, make sure that you seal your wipes packet tightly. The re-circulated air can dry them out.


In-Flight Meals

Warming bottles and food: If you ask a flight attendant to warm bottles or food, test the temperature first. They’re very busy and may not have babies at home.

Jarred baby food: If you are flying on an airline where jarred baby food is provided, you should bring your own anyway. I asked an airline if they could tell me what flavors of jarred food they had onboard and they couldn’t verify with certainty.

Even if they gave me a list of options, there is always a risk that they could run out. Plus, you don’t want your baby to try new food and have an allergic reaction at 35,000 feet.

It’s easier to keep her calm, than to have to deal with a frightened child.


On-board Entertainment

Of course, it’s foolish to assume that the movies and magazines offered onboard are going to entertain all young children, and you may need to motivate them to focus on a different kind of entertainment.

You’ll need to haul onboard toys and other gear to help you stay sane. This brings me to another point. I personally think that you must do whatever it takes for you and your fellow passengers to survive a flight together.


In Case Of A Meltdown

This is likely the best tip I have for toddlers and preschoolers. We all experience “get me off this plane” feelings and kids typically articulate them by fussing. You can’t rationalize with a toddler.

The most effective way for me to reset my daughter’s mood when she starts to fuss is by handing her a present. I started taking very lightweight, cheap presents on the plane when my daughter was about 1 year old.

And, if you think your child can handle it, wrap the presents in multiple layers. Drag the process out as long as you can. Get creative. Especially on a long haul flight, when other passengers are trying to sleep, you have to be proactive about stopping crying immediately. This is one way to do it.


For sleeping

Sleep cues: If your child has a stuffed animal or security blanket that they use to fall asleep, bring it on the plane and give it to them when it’s time to sleep. I’m sure this is a no-brainer already.

However, when it’s time to sleep (this applies mainly to longer flights) be sure to change your child into pajamas, sleep sack, or whatever they normally sleep in. Try to repeat your normal bedtime routine. This is a hassle to do on the plane, but any reminder that it’s time to sleep helps.

There’s no question that flying with kids can be stressful. I hope that you can take a little bit of my experience and make your upcoming flight a little easier.


Mark recently took his family on a holiday to Vanuatu, where he spared neither effort nor expense to keep his kids (and wife) safe.