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Posted On: 28 June 2017 02:45 pm
Updated On: 12 November 2020 02:17 pm

Traveling with kids this summer? Here’s our top tips to avoid a meltdown!

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By Amelia Miller 

As a long-time expat in Qatar and the UAE, I’ve done my fair share of globe-trotting. I don't profess to be an expert in traveling with a child, but with my 20 month-old son more at home on a plane than in his car seat after a whopping 50 flights, I've learned a thing or five about flying with children and infants.

Here are my Top 5 Tips for making your travel experience as stress-free as possible.

1. Where possible take the overnight flight.
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This not only keeps your child as close ​as possible to their usual routine​,​ but it also gives you a higher chance of having them sleep through at least a good chunk of the flight. The cabin lights are dimmed and passengers are quieter – all of which helps your child to get some sleep.

2. Give them milk, or a drink, on take-off and landing to regulate ears from the pressure.

This is a little trick my Aunty told me, and I was surprised to find how many people don’t know about it. Just as you’re about to take off, and as you’re starting to descend for landing, give them a bottle of milk or a drink. The sucking and swallowing of the liquid assists in regulating the pressure in their ears. Unfortunately, a dummy or pacifier just doesn't have the same effect.

3. Adopt the same approach as you do at home.

If your child cries at home, the first things you do are check their nappy, give them a bottle/breastfeed them, or give them food. While this sounds so simple, too often I see parents with crying children on planes not do this – but instead just try to rock them which rarely works.

Qatar Airways carries two options of baby food: mixed fruit and mixed vegetables. Like you, babies and infants will get dehydrated on flights so it's always good to keep this in mind but also keep things as close to the normal home routine as possible.

There’s no liquid limit when it comes to babies and infants. Always pack slightly more than you think you’ll need in case of a delay. If you’re questioned, or told there’s a limit, always stand your ground and ask for the manager as this is not correct.

4. Don't be afraid to ask for help.
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Qatar Airways staff especially on-board love kids and are always willing to give you a five-minute break during the flight if you need it. If you need to go to the loo, they’ll watch over your little one. If you want your meal later than the service, just ask them to keep it warm. If your little one wants to walk the aisles of the plane once the seatbelt sign is off, or even pop into the galley and say ‘Hi’ don't be fearful. Qatar Airways is one of the friendliest airlines I've flown with when it comes to children.

5. Keep a sense of calmness throughout the airport experience.

Qatar Airways allows you to check in your car-seat, baby-stroller, and travel cot as well as the 10kgs baggage allowance. To keep a sense of calm and familiarity for your child, you might prefer to keep their stroller with you until you reach the boarding gate, where the ground staff can then put it directly onto the plane.

Airports are full of activity, lights, smells, new people, noises, ​and things like passport-checks, plus security checks, which your child or infant might not have experienced before, or which could easily frighten them. Having something they’re familiar with, are comfortable with, and that have smells they know ​and recognize as theirs goes a long way to helping them deal with the chaos around them. It also helps them feel calm –which is always a bonus before a flight.

If you choose not to bring your stroller, Hamad International Airport has complimentary baby strollers placed throughout the airport.

Okay, so you’ve made it to your gate in one piece, but you have a sneaking feeling you’ve forgotten something. When it comes to traveling with infants or small children, remembering everything to pack can seem insurmountable. So here are a few additional tips to make the process easier.

When flying with an infant or very small children, here are some essentials that you shouldn’t leave home without:

1: Onesie/Pajamas with feet.
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Keeps your little one warm and comfy, and makes it easy for you to do mid-flight changes. Without fail, it’s the best piece of clothing for your baby to travel in.

2: Small cotton blanket.

It gets cold on flights and little ones like the smell and comfort of their own bed. The best thing about these is they fold up so small (which is great for carry-on space), and they can also be used for a cover when breastfeeding, or to play peek-a-boo.

3: Wet-bag with nappies, a small wipes pack, and disposable change mat.
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Having these altogether in a little bag that you can just grab and put under your arm while carrying your child to the loo makes life so much easier than juggling with a nappy, pack of wipes, and change mat as well as a wriggling baby! Plus, you can just keep the bag separate from the rest of your carry-on luggage for easy access.

4: Melissa & Doug On The Go ColorBlast!

This solves all your colouring nightmares and is perfect for flying! It’s compact enough to fit snugly into your carry-on, and onto the airline tray when being used. The no-mess marker doesn't cover anyone or anything in colours, and your little ones will be mesmerized with how the special marker brings the pictures to life on each page. It’s a great activity book for little ones who are just starting to find their inner Picasso.

5: Teething links and toys/books that connect to them.
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These will be your new absolute must-have when flying. The links can be used as a toy themselves, or as a chain for other items like books and balls, (the O-Ball brand is great with these!).

You link the toy/book to one end, and attach the other end to your seatbelt or pocket (if you have one). This way, if your child drops the item, it won't go on the floor. This is perfect when flying because you don't want to be searching under the seats or giving your little one a toy that’s been on the floor. When in the bassinet, you can also use the links to create a make-shift play-pen for small babies who are can’t yet sit up by themselves.

Not spending your entire flight on your hands and knees searching for toys is a huge relief, and means you’ll be able to enjoy play-time all that much more. Buggy books are also great to add to these links if your little one is slightly older.

Once you've done that first flight with your new baby or little ones, you’ll wonder what you were worried about! So pack your bags, go see that huge teddy bear, and let’s meet in the skies!

Are you traveling with the entire family in tow this summer? Tell us your top tips for a stress-free transit in the comments below. Also, don’t forget to give us a like and a share – it keeps us going!