One of the aspects that have been heavily affected by the pandemic was traveling. Now that the world is slowly going back to its pre-pandemic ways, families are choosing child-friendly destinations once again. For us parents, this is a dream come true–to finally be able to escape the stressors of big city life by visiting beautiful places we’ve only enjoyed from our screens since 2020. For children, it could be another story. Transitions (physical movements from one place to another), no matter how big or small, will impact a child greatly. Speaking to Mommies Arie, Abby, and Sarah, they were able to share their insights on how they were able to travel with their little ones on their first ever airplane ride.
Knowing what will happen can help your child manage his/her emotions and expectations. Depending on how old they are, share with them details that they will understand. You can make them watch videos of airplanes or you can sit them down while you explain what it’s like to ride one.
“We have books about airplanes so we were able to give him an idea what we were riding and why we were riding an airplane. I also showed him pictures of what he’ll see when we get to our destination, something for him to look forward to. As parents, we checked out the weather of the places we’ll go so we know what to pack. Thankfully, Avery is able to understand things already so a lot of talking to him helped prepare him for his trips.” -Sarah, mom to Avery, 3 years old
“With my own little girl Naya who is also 3, we watched videos of toddlers riding airplanes for the first time. At first, she was a little apprehensive as until our first flight, she was familiar with only cars as a means of transport. When we got to the airport, however, she was very much excited as she loves going to the beach (via land trip) and was aware of our destination. At 3, Naya had her own suitcase which she was able to pull like a pro. This gave her a sense of responsibility too.” – Yana, mom to Naya, 3 years old
It’s difficult for babies and kids to release the pressure in their ears during take off and landing and this can be a source of discomfort, triggering them to cry or throw a tantrum. Make sure to provide something for them to suck or chew while on the airplane.
“As per our Pediatrician, for the popping of ears which is usually experienced during take-off and landing, we were to give him milk, water, pacifier or something to chew on. Prior the flight I didn’t feed him much so he will eat on the plane.” – Arie Reyes, mom to Cole, 9 months
When a child is introduced to new scenarios and experiences, they need time to adjust. Having something of theirs with them while going on a trip can lessen their anxiety as they will not feel alone in the journey.
“Have within easy distance your child’s essentials like snacks, toys, books, and favorite movies. If it will be a long flight (from Arizona to the Philippines), pack as well their security blanket or stuffed animal. I bought Gavin headphones and practiced using this with him days before the flight.”- Abby Romero, mom to Gavin, 2 years old
Same advice worked for Mommy Arie too.
“I also brought toys that will entertain him. As much as I wanted to lessen his screen time, I also downloaded his favorite shows as well. Si Cole also, when he sleeps, we play white noise para hindi siya magulat sa noises sa labas. Katunog ng airplane kasi yun that’s why siguro sanay siya sa tunog ng plane ng first flight niya. Maybe introduce the sound lang weeks before your flight para pag andun na, they are familiar na sa sound.” Arie Reyes, mom to Cole, 9 months
Use the airport and the waiting time for play and exploration. You would want your toddler to release as much energy as possible while you’re still in a big space. Hopefully, this technique will make them fall asleep and relax when they get inside the aircraft.
“Before the flight, make sure to let your child walk around the airport. This may give them a higher chance of sitting through the flight if this is a short one.” – Abby Romero, mom to Gavin, 2 years old.
If your child is off the diaper, it’s very important to always know where the nearest toilet is. Knowing this will remove half of the stress when your little one says they have to go RIGHT NOW!
“As my toddler has not been wearing diapers anymore, looking for the closest restroom was helpful for me as I brought Naya there to “pee” or “poo” upon arrival at the airport. Inside the airplane, as soon as the seat belt sign was turned off, I also brought her to the lavatory (this is an exercise of gymnastics in itself) which released a round of 30 questions (Mama why is this bathroom so tiny, Mama can I touch this (NO), Mama where’s the flush) but we got through unscathed.” Yana, mom to Naya, 3 years old
No matter how prepared you are, always expect that things may not go as planned. Take a deep breath and remember that this experience is a gift to yourself, and to your child. Be patient and trust the process.
“Pray, pray, pray. Whatever you experience with your child, it will be definitely be one where you’ll learn about yourself, your child, your relationship with your child and relationship with your partner.” – Sarah Badilla, Mom to Avery, 3
Lastly, remember that our children can feel what we feel. It’s natural to have some apprehension but if they see you look relaxed (a feat, I know) and that you seem to know what you’re doing, they will take their cue from you to enjoy and have fun.
Goodluck to all parents and children who will undertake this learning journey! Have a safe flight!