Airplanes and kids don’t normally mix too well. That Boeing 747 might look neat from the ground or the boarding area, but once everybody is on board it can be a challenging environment in which to keep kids calm and entertained. Not to worry! The travelers in our forums have tackled this issue on a couple of recent occasions– once to help a mom flying solo with her baby and preschooler, and again to help a mom traveling to Europe with her two small boys. Tons of amazing tips came out of these discussions, and we wanted to share a selection of them with you.
10 Tips for Keeping Your Kids Happy on an Airplane
1. Pack a surprise pack.
“Pack some surprises in your carry-on and give them one every 2 hours or so. My wife excelled in finding some inexpensive items – removable stickies that made games/pictures, small puzzles, child magazines, kids books on your destinations (let them pick some things they’d want to do), etc.” –dfr4848
2. Limit their sugar intake.
“I would try to not give them food that contains sugar, caffeine or food coloring. I know that’s hard to implement, but the less they have, the less wound up they’ll be.” –boots08
“First thing is relax! If you are stressed they will be also.” –JeanMS
4. Get out of your seats.
“One thing I do make them do, is walk up and down the aisle of the plane or train with me several times during the trip (if they are not sleeping). They quietly say hello to anyone who is not engrossed in their own activity. We have met some wonderful, interesting, and amazing people this way, and learned more about the world.” –Isdourte
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5. Let them pack their own bags for the flight.
“The rule is that they must be able to carry it themselves (and of course check it for knives, scissors, etc…) Have them bring their own snacks, an empty water bottle (fill it from a fountain after you get through security), tissues, whatever. Have them work together to pack stuff in their packs. That way, Joey can bring the crayons for everyone and Billy can bring the games and Bobby can bring the books.” –CptDondo
6. Don’t rely on the airline for snacks.
“Bring food for both kids – too many horror stories about passengers being stuck on planes for way too long.” –gail
7. Be ready for air pressure changes.
“One of the problems that young children have is with the ears. I remember the doctor telling me how to clear my ears both going up and getting ready to land.” –bratsandbear
8. The best entertainment is simple and portable.
“My son is just happy with the safety instruction seat in the seatback. I’ve taught my daughter cats cradle and she can spend 1hr just entertaining herself. I’d rather teach them how to keep their minds engaged proactively.” –W9London
9. The flight attendants are your best friends.
“The flight attendants will be happy to sit with one of your children while the other one is being changed, or watch over them outside of the lavatory while you are inside.” –dutyfree
10. Consider some over-the-counter drug options.
“I give kids a shot of Motrin before… helps take the edge off. Some have used Benadryl, but if your child has never had that, I wouldn’t recommend it as it does make some kids hyperactive. Do a test in advance. The other benefit of Motrin is it helps reduce swelling in the ears.” –surfmom