Friday, September 10, 2010

How to keep babies and toddlers seated on a plane?

Today on my flight from Houston to Chicago there were three little flyers two babies and a toddler.
One family had a child restraint for their 9 month old baby instead of a car seat. I really think that is better space wise on a plane than a car seat. It is less bulkier to carry down the aisle. It stows easily in a diaper bag. It keeps the  baby seated safely during takeoff and landing.

The other family did not have a car seat or restraint for their infant or toddler. The Mom and Dad took turns holding the newborn. Their little toddler stood up sometimes during the flight to look out the window. Understandably it is difficult for a toddler to sit for a two hour flight. That's why the child restraint is a helpful aid.

I remember giving my four tots sitting lessons. My grandmother told me to teach them how to sit. In case you are out somewhere and you want them to sit for a spell. So give them sitting lessons I did. First I would sit and read them a story. Then I would make them sit on the sofa in the living and not move without watching TV.

I observe many families or single parents traveling with babies, toddlers and children. I notice what works and what does not work on a plane. Many people think that traveling by plane is similar to a car ride. It is not. Turbulence can occur at any time. A baby or child can be injured if they are not sitting properly.

I have observed parents who allow their babies to crawl in the aisle or toddlers to walk around in the aisle on the plane. This is against FAA regulations and unsafe for the baby or child. When a flight attendant asks them to have the child sit down for their safety sake, the parent doesn't understand. Sometimes they feel the flight attendant is yelling at them to control their child. However, if a child is serious injured by unexpected turbulence it may require an unexpected landing to get medical care.

I have been there as a mother of four. I know raising children is a challenge. I flown solo internationally with an infant and two toddlers. I have the experience and vantage point as a mother and a flight attendant.  So I have a point of view of both sides of the situation.

Some parents believe in giving little ones candy and sweet treats for the flight. When the sugar kicks in, it makes it more difficult for a little to sit. Fresh fruit or veggies are the best snack: bananas, Grapes, apples, melons, blueberries, strawberries, pears, carrots, etc. These are better snacks  for takeoff and landing to ease ear pain that sugar snacks.

Create a game of flying a plane to help prepare your baby, toddler or child.
1. Set up chairs like on a plane.
2. Two next to each other and two in front and or back.
3. Practice boarding the plane with a carry bag or back pack.
4. Greet the flight attendant.
5. Find your seats.
6. Practice attaching the child aviation restraint to the chair.
7. Stow your bags under the chair in front.
8. Sit down in the chairs and talk about watching planes out the window.
9. Give your child the fruit and talk about how maybe their ears will pop or hurt as they takeoff and land.
10. Talk, read to them or watch a DVD. (I always packed books, puzzles, coloring books with crayons, a favorite toy, a new toy, and a blanket in their backpack.)
11. Stress the importance of their sitting down during the flight.
12. Practice going to the lavatory and walking down a narrow aisle holding your hand.
13. Teach them to say please or thank you for the beverage from the flight attendant.
14. Practice taking a nap on the plane with a travel pillow and blanket.
15. Wake-up pack up the backpack.
16. Give them fruit for the landing.
17. Practice walking down the aisle with the backpack.
18. Say good-bye to the flight attendant.
19. Practice leaving the plane and walking across the walkway to the jetbridge.
20. Practice them waiting for you after they cross the walkway.

Start playing this game for a few minutes then build up slowly to an hour or two hours. This is a fun way to prepare for the flight.

There a millions of ways to raise children. Everyone has a different philosophy. Do you have any suggestions of other ways that work for you and your family? Please share your comments.