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Flying with kids: tips for a calm (ish) flight

plane flying with kids
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Flying with kids: tips for a calm (ish) flight

plane flying with kids
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We often talk to parents in a bit of a panic because they have booked their dream holiday with their child or children. Then the reality of flying with kids hits. Even a short flight with an energetic child can ruffle a parent’s calm! How can you keep a toddler calm during a flight? How can you maintain your calm when flying with kids? We have put together some top tips for a calm (ish) flight experience with a baby, toddler or young kids. We hope they help:

Ten tips for flying with kids

1. Slings or carriers for flying with young kids

When travelling with a baby or toddler a sling is your best friend! Long or short haul, a sling provides a safe, familiar place for your child to in an otherwise strange situation. They’re also really helpful at the airport and getting on/off the plane when you have to carry your child. A sling offers you extra support, a way to keep your hands free and your little one calm before, after and during your flight. Even if you don’t usually use a sling you may find one helpful for holidays when so much of what you do is outside your norm. We have an article all about using slings whilst travelling, as well as advice on hot weather carrying and much much. You can hire slings from sling libraries or use postal hire from our very own online sling library: It’s A Sling Thing. We have four trained carrying consultants who can help you find the right sling options for you.

baby car seat flying with kids

2. Car seats

If your child has their own seat then take a car seat — you’ll thank me later! If you can afford to book a seat for you under 2 it can be worth it for the extra space, especially for a long haul flight It’s familiar for your child which can be comforting. It allows you to strap your child in securely, which offers them additional safety whilst flying, and it gives you free hands, especially useful if you’re flying with other kids. 

Remember your car seat needs to be TUV certified (this stands for the German for certified security) in order to take it onto an aircraft. You will also need to check the width of the airline seats and your car seat before you fly.

For more information and a list of TUV certified car seats visit Extended Rear Facing Mission 

stickers tips for calm flight

3. Stickers

When flying with kids I strongly advise that you take lots and lots of stickers! Sticker books, especially reusable sticker books, are a great option so you can use them over and over again. Keeping your children entertained with something portable with novelty value is a top tip for a calm flight. I have often left flights with stickers stuck all over my trousers (and sometimes my head) but it’s a small price to pay for peace!

4. Surprise!

Wrap up some toys & books. These can be new or old; I find a selection of both works well. Wrapping it just makes it exciting; ideally reuse old wrapping paper. Emotions are often high when flying with kids; either you have the anticipation of the outward journey or the flat ‘everything’s over’ of the return journey. Either way, tempers can fray, and tears can come easily. In an attempt to keep them as calm and happy as possible for the duration of the flight a little novelty can go a long way.

5. Get organised: key to a calm flight

I pack everything in our hand luggage into ziplock bags. It keeps everything organised. Kids want to colour, grab that ziplock bag. They need snacks? They’re in a separate ziplock bag. It prevents scrabbling around under seats, and unpack your entire hand luggage to find the right cereal bar!

pack change of clothes when flying with kids

6. Clothes

When flying with kids take at least one change of clothes for everyone in your hand luggage — even you! Pop the whole change into a separate ziplock bag for each person so it’s easy to see & pull out the bag when you need it! Hopefully you won’t need it, but if you do need a change and you don’t have one it can be hard to keep calm for the rest of the flight. You can be uncomfortable, wet, or very smelly by the time you land and get your luggage back too!

7. For a calm flight take snacks

Take snacks! A bag with some snacks that you know your child loves! More snacks than you can imagine them needing! Hangry toddlers on a plane is not something to contemplate lightly!

8. When flying with kids prepare them too

Try to prepare your children for what will happen during your travel. Talk them through the security process, dropping bags off, take off and landing, collecting bags, waiting in the airport, boarding the plane, sitting on the plane. Show them pictures and TV shows: Bubble Guppies offers a great episode on flying, and read stories on flying too. Offering you child a little predictability in what can be an exciting or stressful time, can give you the best chance of a calm flight when flying with kids.

9. Approach with confidence

Remember anything goes for 24 hours! Balanced eating, limits on screen time, maintaining a napping pattern, etc., will all go out the window whilst you are travelling. Do what you can to get through your flight as calmly as possible. Letting go of ‘the rules’ might even help you have some fun along the way!

10. Remember most people are understanding

Most people are understanding of little ones. Try to remember that fellow passengers are strangers and you are unlikely to ever see them again. Sometimes children get tired and they are in a strange situation so can become overwhelmed and stressed but that’s okay, children sometimes cry and act like children. That’s OK! You have paid to be on that flight too and everyone knows there may be excited or upset children on flights!

Danielle Heap- A CalmFamily director


Danielle is mum to two gorgeous children living on the west coast of Cumbria. She’s a director and consultant at CalmFamily. Her favourite thing to do is going out into nature & exploring with her children, their favourite places are the beach & the gorgeous lakes that are right on their doorstep! ​

Recommend0 recommendationsPublished in Childhood play & learning, Family activities, Parents & families, Why carry
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