international trips with children

International trips with children – I’m sure I’m not alone when I say that there is nothing like a 14 hour flight sitting anywhere near fussing babies.

Don’t get me wrong – I love kids.  I had 5 of my own, but when it’s time to sleep on my longest flight, I need sleep.  Active toddlers during other times do not bother me, but there’s something about when the lights go down in the plane and the babies start to scream….

What is a parent to do?  There are so many scenarios that I’ve seen and many times just a little more planning could have given that bewildered parent some options on that long flight.

Plan ahead

  • Entertainment – small toys.  You may or may not want to bring “the” toy.  You know, their very favorite one.  The biggest risk is, what happens if it gets lost?  The biggest win – when they see that toy, they smile.  Weigh it out and decide.
  • Entertainment – electronic devices.  Even if your child does not or is not allowed to spend their down time in front of a movie or game or cartoon, you might want to consider this as an option.  There will be access to movies on demand on most flights, except on the bulkhead section, which is where you want to be seated most likely with a wee one.  The benefit of a small handheld electronic (with backup battery..) will be that you can totally control what – and how many times – you child watches/plays.
  • Sleep assist.  If your small child/baby does not sleep well at home, most likely they will not sleep well on the long flight.  Even if they do sleep well at home, they most likely will have some issues.  Speak with your doctor/alternative med practitioner or whoever you trust and come up with a plan of how you can settle a restless child.  It might be as simple as a seldom used favorite pacifier, a small dose of Benedryl, snuggling up in a carrier on the parent, or a familiar scent from home on a blanket.  Never try a medication/OTC for the first time on a long flight.  Always test these at home first.
  • Their own seat.  Depending on the airline and the seating demands of your flight, your child could possibly have their own seat.  This is always worth asking and considering, but may involve hauling the carseat as a carry on item to strap in the seat.
  • The well-planned child’s carry on.  This might be the diaper bag or a backpack for an older child.  Always plan some clothing options, food options, along with entertainment options.  For one of our friends flying to China to pick up their long-awaited adopted daughter, we were able to obtain 2 ounce formula bottles that were from a local hospital’s NICU ward.  These are perfect for any parent with a child still on formula, as they are ready to use and are just enough of a feeding for settle an upset baby.
  • Think TSA Screening.  Always check for any updates to the TSA screening regulations prior to leaving home.  Formula, etc as needed for babies on a flight have been acceptable even with the 3 oz rule, but best to be aware of changes prior to packing. TSA Guidelines for Children

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