travelling with children
Sara Al Salam will be travelling to America to visit her parents with her three children, all under age 10. While she has travelled with them before, she says her husband was always with her to help out. “Last summer it was easy as my husband helped me out with the luggage and the kids. We did it together but this year he will not be joining us and I will have to travel alone on a 12-hour flight. Just the thought of my two children and toddler together on the plane at one time is nerve-wracking. What do I take and how do I keep them happy for such a long stretch of time?” she laments.
With summer approaching, many of us are in the same boat as Sara. According to Abeer Esawi, a Danone Nutrition Educator, UNICEF-certified breastfeeding specialist and registered nurse for Danone Nutricia MENA and also a spokesperson for Bebelac Junior’s “Two Hearts, One Wish” campaign for the second year in a row, while travelling, children can have a hard time because of the changes in air pressure and accompanied restlessness as they tend to feel cooped up on an airplane. “The most common problems children suffer are ear aches, temperature problems, stuffiness and restlessness,” she says, and while we all go through the same symptoms during travelling, small children are not as used to these conditions as adults and cannot voice their feelings easily which can lead to frustration and disturbance during travel.
What to Take
You can never be too careful when packing items to comfort your child whilst travelling, reinforces Esawi. “Always remember to take extras – there are bound to be a few surprises,” she says. “Your baby’s diaper bag is your life saver; start by packing it with all the items you’ll need and keep it with you at all times.” Fill it with diapers, wipes, creams, bottles, and so on. If your baby is on baby formula, she suggests that you be sure to pack his/her brand of preference to cover your travel time and don’t forget to take enough bottles and nipples as well. “If you are still breast feeding, a blanket or nursing cover might come in handy to lend privacy if you need to feed your baby in a more public setting,” she says. “Also pacifiers are important therefore be sure to bring at least two in case one falls on the floor amidst your travel adventures.” It is very important to have an extra change of clothes or two for your baby… and yourself, she suggests. “You never know what surprises your baby has in store for both of you – better safe than sorry,” she says.
Always think of the next steps to take after making your baby comfortable, emphasizes Esawi. “Bring disposable bags for dirty diapers and travel hand sanitizer,” she says and also remember to consider the weather you will encounter when you pack your baby’s clothing. “Make sure you dress your baby in comfortable, easy to remove layers as this will help keep him/her warm or cool enough and make diaper and clothing changes easy,” she says and even familiar items can help soothe a child–bring along some of his or her favorite toys to help them feel more at home in the new settings. “Babies cannot intentionally “pop” their ears by swallowing or yawning to relieve ear pain caused by air pressure changes – pacifiers and bottles can ease this discomfort during both take-off and landing,” she explains.
Once again, Esawi points out to make sure you have more than enough of everything in case your flight is delayed for example. “That means extra diapers, extra clothes, extra snacks, extra wipes and (if you are bottle feeding) extra formula,” she says. “Remember, too, that planes in the gate get stuffy, but once you’re in the air, it can feel extra chilly so dress your toddler in layers to make it easier to deal with temperature variations.” Remember to bring extras for yourself too, sitting stuck on a plane with baby spit-up souring on your shoulder is not the way you want to start–or end–your trip. Tuck an extra t-shirt into your diaper bag just in case.
Traveling is hard on everybody, reinforces Esawi and some children are just less welcoming to changes in scenery and routine. “Also pacifiers and bottles are important in that they help with ear aches due to the pressure,” she says as well as walking the aisles if you have
space to do so can be rather soothing and can be a solution to a child feeling restless. Also having toys and activities prepared for your child is a must and can keep them entertained for a good portion of the flight. “And bring your baby’s formula with you, be sure to pack enough for your travel time in case the country you are visiting do not carry the same brand,” she says. “Also communicating with your baby is important even in times of stress, remain calm and keep using a soothing positive tone to help your baby relax.” But the reality is that sometimes there is nothing you can do but wait for the flight to end and hang in there. “Always remember though that most parents know exactly what you are experiencing, so don’t focus on the other passengers – instead focus on your child and his/her needs, try to stay calm and help your baby be a happy baby,” she advises
Travelling With Children Ages Five and Older:
Get them involved: From planning to packing, your kids’ participation is key. Sometimes looking forward to a trip is as memorable as the trip itself. Give the kids a map and share a few photos of their destination to give them a sense of where they’re going. If they are old enough, let them pick out clothes they’d like to bring on the trip. The more the kids are involved, the more excited they will be
Bring one and ONLY one carry on: Make it easier for yourself by not taking too many items on your flight. You will appreciate only having one bag per person to keep track of and carry..
Pack snacks: Flight meals will not necessarily time well with your child’s needs, and airport food is not always suited to the palate of a toddler or child. Bring your kid’s favorite snacks to hold them over until you reach your destination
Bring new toys, books and magazines: Buying new books, toys, or coloring books that the kids have never seen before will hold their attention throughout the flight. The kids will love exploring their new treasures.
Bring headphones, music players and electronic tablets: When used in moderation, these devices are perfect for long trips. These give kids the options to watch movies, play games and listen to music.
Create memories: Apart from taking photographs, there are lots of ways to help your children preserve memories from your trip. Buy postcards and encourage your children to keep a journal or make a scrapbook