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Excitement is in the air! In just five weeks, we’ll be boarding a plane to a sun-drenched paradise. I can hardly wait! When we embarked on our journey to Thailand with our 7-month-old daughter, Lotte, and 2-year-old son, Floris, we were often met with incredulous stares and questions like, “You’re flying that far with young children? Why would you put yourself through that? It’s going to be a nightmare!” But contrary to popular belief, our kids actually enjoy flying. They’ve been taking long flights since they were 7 months old, so perhaps they’re just used to it. But I firmly believe that flying with young children should be a feasible task. So, I’m here to share my top 5 tips for flying with young children to ensure a relaxed and enjoyable flight for everyone.

Top 5 Tips for Flying with Young Children

1. Preparation is Key

And by preparation, I mean preparing your child, not just yourself. Granted, this might be a bit challenging with babies, but from the age of 1, I’ve been reading books about flying to my children. The books feature two main characters, Pilot Ollie and Pilot Polly, who teach kids about the intricacies of flying, the pre-flight procedures, the roles of different crew members, and more. We also make it a point to visit Schiphol airport before our trips to check out the planes on the panoramic terrace. I explain to the kids that we’ll be flying high in the sky and that we’ll have to sit still for a while, but it’s going to be a lot of fun. As the kids get older, you can also discuss the exciting activities they can engage in on the plane.

2. Keeping Kids Entertained During Flights

Our second tip for flying with young children revolves around entertainment. The type of entertainment varies with age. For babies, consider bringing a few rattles and a small book to read from. For older kids, the choices are plentiful. For instance, my 4-year-old son, Floris, can now choose what he’d like to bring aboard.

During our flight to the States last year, I bought Floris (then 3 years old) and Lotte (then 2 years old) 10 small presents each. Given our 18-hour flight with one stopover, they were allowed to open one present from their backpack every hour. The presents included a rice waffle, a biscuit, a toy car, a block note with pen, pieces of apple, and a mini Spiderman. The excitement of unwrapping and playing with a new toy every hour kept them engaged throughout the flight. Additionally, an iPad loaded with Dutch series, films, and games ranging from drawing to puzzles also worked wonders.

3. Packing Food for the Flight

Floris and Lotte are picky eaters, so I prefer not to rely on the plane’s food. There’s nothing worse than dealing with hungry children in a confined space. So, what do I pack for them? Sandwiches with non-staining, non-perishable fillings like peanut butter, dry bread rolls, raisin bread, egg cake, or gingerbread. I also pack vegetables and fruits like cucumber slices, small carrots, and apple pieces. For more ideas on airplane snacks for kids, feel free to check out this link.

4. Feeding Your Kids During the Flight

Did you know you’re allowed to bring plenty of food on a plane for babies? This includes vegetable and fruit snacks, milk powder, and even water. We used to bring a bottle of cold water and a thermos of warm water. This way, we could prepare a bottle at any time, avoiding the wait for a flight attendant to do it while the kids might be crying. If they eat the food on the plane, that’s great. If they don’t, no harm is done, and their tummies stay full.

5. Opt for Night Flights

For us, this was the golden tip! We found that flying at night as much as possible worked best. Our kids are pretty active and need to move a lot, or they get extremely cranky. So, night flights are the perfect solution!

If we have a choice, we prefer to fly early in the evening or late in the afternoon. This way, we can have dinner at the airport, and the kids can run around and play at one of the many playgrounds. Once aboard, it’s just a short matter of time until we get to brushing their teeth and telling them it’s bedtime. When the kids are young, they can sleep comfortably in a chair on the plane. For kids aged 2 and up, you can buy all kinds of gadgets to transform the chair into a bed. Sweet dreams!

6. Relax and Enjoy the Flight

Perhaps the most important tip of all is to relax! Flying with young children might seem like a big challenge, but if you start your trip anxious and scared, your kids will notice, no matter their age. And it won’t help them calm down either. Just relax and go with the flow. What’s the worst that can happen? Will your child really be screaming for 18 hours straight? Even if that happens, bring earplugs and some treats to pass around to the people around you. Once you relax, your kids will too.

Flying with young children is surely doable! Do you have any tips? Leave some in the comments, we’re very curious!

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