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9 Tips for Flying With Children

1. It\’s that time again

With the holidays just around the corner, many families are contemplating the sometimes-overwhelming thought of flying with their children. Some enjoy these travels as a fun bonding experience, while others may find them more challenging. Hours at the airport and on flights require a great deal of preparation. With weather and airlines often dictating the course of your trip in many other ways, these tips will help you make your family’s flight as smooth and pleasant as possible.

2. How it works

For families who travel during the holidays, children can not only make things more complicated, they can make them a lot more expensive, too. The good news is that as long as your child is under 2 years old and you keep him or her on your lap for the entire flight, you won’t need to buy an extra ticket. However, if you want your child secured in a FAA approved child restraint device, you will have to buy him or her a ticket at any age.

3. To the window!

You can reduce the anxiety or over-stimulation of the experience by finding seats near the window or aisle. This will make you and your child more comfortable and keep other passengers from pressing in on both sides. Window seats may also afford more privacy for breastfeeding mothers.

4. Sleep is a good thing

If your child might be able to sleep through a flight during naptime or bedtime, consider booking your flight during a corresponding time. You know your child best. Can he or she sleep, even in distracting surroundings? A sleeping child may make life easier while you are in the close quarters of an airplane cabin (and your fellow passengers will likely thank you). However, if travels during sleep time are a recipe for disaster, do what you know is best.

5. Let them burn energy

Longer hours of traveling probably sound like the last thing you want to intentionally add to your trip. However, if your flight will require a layover, choosing a longer one allows your children more time to burn some energy. It will also make bathroom breaks, snack times, and any regrouping you need to take care of much less stressful. Older children who need to walk between flights will also have more time to make the connection.

6. Be overly prepared

Traveling with your family on an airline flight is never the time to be under prepared. Pack all of the essentials and then recheck your supplies to be sure that everything is ready for the trip. Extra bottles, pacifiers, nipples, wipes, diapers, and outfits will ensure that all of the basics are covered. Taking extra clothes for you and your child may sound strange, but if he or she is young enough, a blown out diaper could make you miserable until you reach your destination. Snacks, toys, and books will also help keep the kids happy.

7. Ear pain

The pressure changes during your flight’s ascent and descent may cause some discomfort for your child’s ears. You can ease this pain for younger children by offering a bottle, breast, or pacifier, while taking off and landing. You can encourage older children to swallow and find relief by having a sippy cup or snack.

8. Motion sickness

If motion sickness could become a problem for your child, try to choose flights that are short or that are broken into shorter pieces by layovers. Sitting near the front of the plane or over the wings will reduce the amount of turbulence that he or she feels and minimize the sickness. Don’t forget to offer fluids and snacks before and during the flight to ensure that he or she is well hydrated and fed.

9. Feeling ill

This experience may still be too much for some children, and they may begin feeling ill. If this happens, you can soothe and distract them by pointing the air vent at them for better circulation, practicing relaxing breathing with them, or offering antihistamines like Benadryl. These types of medicines, when used with your doctor’s approval, will help your child with the sickness. However, it is important to consider that they may also make your child very sleepy, which may be a difficult side effect if you need to catch a connecting flight or can’t carry him or her through the airport.

10. You can\’t win them all

Even if you follow all of these tips and add some preparations of your own, you might find yourself with a cranky or crying child. These situations are stressful for both you and the people around you, but they happen. Just do your best to stay calm and relaxed. Be polite to those around you, and continue to try to calm your child until the crisis is over or your flight has landed. Your attitude will help you, your child, and those around you make it to your destination with your sanity intact.


  • American Academy of Pediatrics
  • Family Friendly Flying.
    University of Maryland Medical Center
  • Motion Sickness.

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