So you’ve got a trip planned with the kids, eh? Thought that was a good idea back when you booked the tickets? Now you have the trip coming up and realize that the fun destination is set, your hotel is booked, but you still have to get through the flight. If you’re a little nervous to fly with your child, we’ve got you covered!

Act Their Age

If you know and understand your child’s developmental age, you can prepare for your child’s reactions with more information. Is your child easily overstimulated? Is your child going through a growth spurt and extra tired, or quick to get upset? What helps soothe your child? A parent, a blanket, a favorite toy? Whatever it is, bring it. And try to be understanding of their big emotions during this exhausting experience. Search “stages of child development” to see charts of behaviors associated with certain ages.

Child Asleep on Airplane

Time the Flight

Most kids can’t sleep just anywhere. If you book your flight during nap time hoping that they will sleep in this new environment, you may end up in a disastrous scenario. If you do happen to have miracle sleepers, book an evening flight. Know when your kids are on their best behavior. Generally, a morning flight works well for children.

Prepare Your Child

Most children don’t just relax in a new environment- they get energized. An airplane is big and exciting, and flying in the clouds is a huge deal! Consider that they also might be scared. Make sure to explain thoroughly what is about to happen. You can even watch a video like this or this video this dad made to help his autistic son prepare for their upcoming flight.

Child with Backpack

Carryon Bags

Have each child carry their own backpack filled with snacks and new activities. “The Pragmatic Parent” wrote a great article here with ideas on what to fill their backpacks with. Sugar-free snacks that will get through security, small noise free toys, and easy dollar activities like decorating the window with window clings.

Child with tablet on airplane

Emergency Electronics

Most parents have a limit for how long their children can have screen time. The airport is not the place to enforce those limits. Nobody cares that your child is happily watching the latest episode of his favorite cartoon. They only care if your child is so upset he can’t be calmed by anything. Put the screen time limit on hold for the duration of your flight. Read here for how a mom flew with her three toddlers with more than just screens.

Don’t Stress

Kids watch their parents for how they should behave. If you are stressed, they will melt down! Stay calm, no matter what happens. Passengers will often offer their help moms to with little ones, and flight attendants are always aware where the children are. Everyone wants a good flight with the least amount of anxiety.

With a little bit of preparation, flying with kids can be easy and stress free!