Flying hundreds or even thousands of miles with young ones can be quite overwhelming as well as stressful. As adults, it is simple for us to distract ourselves during long flights by listening to music, reading, watching television on the small in-flight screens, or even just chatting amongst ourselves. For babies and toddlers though, it is quite different. They are still developing, growing, and taking in information that they have yet to fully process and understand. As parents, it is our job to entertain them and keep them fully engaged in order to distract them from any unsettling subconscious fears or pains they may experience when flying.
For babies up to 12 months old, it is often about comfort more so than their dyer need to be entertained, though it is a part of it. Starting the flight with a light snack or piece of candy will ease the child through takeoff. Shortly after, it is important to remember that babies are very visual and a change of scenery alone can distract them for the boredom or stress of flying. Walking about the cabin or taking them to the restroom, even short, brief, up and down trips can alleviate crying or discomfort.
Babies that are 12 months old and younger are also easily entertained by other forms of stimulation, such as baby books with lots of pictures, comfort snacks that can rest on a tray in front of them, and some medium sized toys from home that they seem to enjoy no matter what. Comfort items are the best ways to keep a baby happy and entertained while flying.
As for toddlers, your one-three year-olds, it is best to keep in mind that they are more vocal and mobile. They will require slightly more entertainment, as they also become bored quickly when there is much excitement surrounding them. Activity books are an excellent way to keep toddlers entertained, even if you have to help them with the pencil or crayon parts. The activities vary page-by-page and will allow them to remain engaged. Having a portable DVD player or previously downloaded movies or TV shows on tablets or iPads/phones, will be of great value. Learning games such as Leap Frog are wonderful on long flights and toddlers often get excited to participate in them. Magnetic games are a fantastic way to relieve your own stress. The young ones can play and it’s less likely that you’ll be crawling on the floor looking for missing pieces as they are mainly magnetized to the game board/booklet.
Coloring is not a recommended option for most parents unless your child is of school age and desperately loves coloring. It is likely that you will spend the majority of your time picking up or searching for lost crayons.
Whether you are traveling with a baby or a toddler, having the perfect combination of entertainment as well as comfort can solve nearly any in-flight issues or concerns that may arise. Keep in mind that staying entertained or involved with your young ones can drastically help maintain their level of focus and excitement as well.