31 OCT 2018: When you fly a lot, you get to hear and see a lot of babies, most of whom seem to be objecting to going on holidays. It brings back memories. Once on a flight, when the babies cried in shifts and the Club Transat-class passengers all asked for ear plugs, one parent said loudly. “Why aren’t they more understanding?”

Well, if the flight attendant on the flight could have jumped off and found ear plugs, he would have. He was not only the best flight attendant I’ve ever had, he even offered to rock the babes, while trying to appease the rest of the passengers who had taken up drinking to deaden the noise.

As a mom, I have had some expertise in travelling with babies. When my daughter was two, she shrieked for an entire flight, I don’t wanna fly like a birdie, I wanna get down.”

Jayne, if I could have, I would have.

Nowadays, Jayne is all grown up, but I can still sympathize with parents and I realized there are tips that might help make the trip less stressful for them and other passengers.

Unless you’re going to Grandma’s, choose a vacation with children’s travel in mind. Don’t choose a destination that involves several flight changes and then a long car or bus transfer once you get there. That’s just asking for trouble.

And when you’re flying even though it is tempting to ask for seats close to the galley don’t do it. These areas tend to be busier on a flight.

Pack a cope kit that includes enough diapers, bottles and formula for the flight and unexpected delays. Parents should also pack a spoon, lots of snack food, bib, two dozen pacifiers (or at least 3), baby aspirin, two changes of clothes, for the kids, and at least one for Mom and a bag for dirty clothes. Dress both the kids and the parents in layers; some areas of the plane can be hot while other sections are so cold passengers ask for heat.

Pack toys the kids haven’t seen before.

Those toys shouldn’t be noisy ones. I saw unbelievable air rage when a father with three kids gave each of them hand-held electronic toys that made such annoying noises, the police met the plane and arrested a senior who seemed to fall apart. There are lots of electronic devices with quiet entertainment, explore the options. A tiny flashlight works like a charm.

Reserve bulk head seats in advance and if possible don’t sit on the aisle. Passing food trolleys and passengers who drape themselves on seats while waiting for the washrooms will wake a sleeping babe.

Try to book a flight that coincides with the child’s normal schedule. It may cost a little more to fly midday rather than at 7am, but it could be well worth it.

Board early. When there’s a boarding call asking for families with children, take it. Stow the gear and then take the baby to the back of the plane and out of the way. Stand with the baby. Sitting for half an hour before take-off will make the child restless before the plane even takes off.

Although it is awkward, the best time to avoid lineups for the washrooms is just before the food trays are taken away. Reminder! It is never safe for children to run in the aisles even though it is so tempting to let them.

Breastfeed or bottle-feed the baby on both takeoffs and landings as it helps babies cope with pressure earaches caused by the rapid changes in altitude.

Be considerate of other passengers. Take children’s shoes off and don’t let them kick the back of the seat in front of them. I once saw a considerate father turn his child toward him, take off his shoes and let him kick Daddy. That game lasted about an hour. (Dad’s pain threshold?)

It goes without saying you need to pack a medical emergency kit and you should also consider joining the International Association for Medical Assistance to Travelers. (IAMAT).

Be conscious of cleanliness. Don’t let strangers hug and grab your child. Wash your hands and the baby’s often. If a toy or a soother falls on the floor at the airport, wash it and sanitize it before giving it back. Be careful about the water.

Don’t forget to check to make sure the cribs at your destination are up to Canadian standards. And finally, although you should talk about the trip to prepare the children, don’t build it up so much that they’re sick with excitement before they leave the driveway.

Have fun and smile a lot.

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Sam Ion

The expert on All Inclusives, Sam delivers up-to-date info on alternate Wednesdays in her column Not Just All Inclusives.

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