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Tips for traveling by plane with children

We have all been there. Standing in a long line at the airport and sitting on an airplane for hours with a young child. Traveling with children can be exciting and fun for the whole family, yet a plane ride can also be stressful for both parents and children.

The following information provides safety tips for traveling with children by plane. Hopefully this information will ease your stress and help you enjoy time with your child away from home.

Before traveling
Prepare for delays! Make sure you have extra food, diapers, clothes, medicine and other necessities to help you survive unexpected delays or lost luggage. Consult your pediatrician if flying within two weeks of an ear infection or ear surgery.

In the airport
Let your children know that their beloved toys, backpacks and other personal items will be returned once they pass through the X-ray machine. Teach them not to use any threatening statements that include trigger words, such as “bomb,” “explosives,” “gun,” etc. Even threats made as a joke are taken seriously by authorities and may result in delays or fines.

The airport security officers will expect you to take your child out of a stroller or infant carrier before they are allowed to pass through the metal detectors. Keep your child with you during this process and avoid passing your child to another person in front of or behind you. Do not pass your child to a security officer at any time.

During plane travel
Children should be placed in a rear-facing Federal Aviation Authority-approved child safety seat until they are at least one year old and weigh at least 20 pounds, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Children older than one year of age and 20 to 40 pounds in body weight should use a forward-facing FAA-approved child safety seat, while children weighing more than 40 pounds can be secured in the aircraft seat belt. Seat your child away from an aisle so they do not get hurt by a person or serving cart passing down the aisle.

In order to decrease ear pain during descent, encourage your infant to nurse or suck on a bottle. Older children can try chewing gum, filling up a glass of water and blowing bubbles through a straw (4 years of age or older), or blowing up balloons (8 years of age or older).

Ask for bottles and meals to be warmed well in advance of when you need them. Cabin crew don't have a microwave and have to heat using hot water in the galley.

After traveling on a plane
Travel to different time zones, “jet lag,” and schedule disruptions can disturb sleep patterns in infants and children, as well as adults. Attempt to adjust sleep schedules 2-3 days before departure. After arrival, children should be encouraged to be active outside during daylight hours to promote adjustment.

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