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Traveling with children, particularly toddlers and infants, is always a daunting task. When travel includes flying, the potential for fiasco increases tremendously, but with careful and strategic planning, a less bumpy flight can be had.

BEFORE YOU LEAVE:

*While many airlines provide free tickets to children under age 2, it is important to note that these tickets do not include a seat. For safety during take off, landings, and possible turbulence, it is advisable to purchase a ticket for your child, and bring along an FAA approved car seat. This also ensures you will have a car seat available once you reach your destination.

*With nursing infants, consider reserving a window seat. It will provide more privacy, and less commotion that might disturb a sleeping baby.

*With toddlers and small children, it is advisable to reserve seats on the aisle. The passengers you won’t be stepping over every hour on trips to the restroom will thank you.

*Many airlines provide children’s meals. You must request this service prior to the day of your flight, as all food is made on the ground and loaded on the plane prior to take off.

*Prepare your toddler by reading about planes, airports, and the processes involved. A terrific book, “My First Plane Ride” by Elizabeth Benjamin et al, provides youngsters the opportunity to explore the airport and plane with lift the flaps as well as a pop up airplane in the center of the book.

PACKING FOR YOUR TRIP:

*Use backpacks for carryon luggage. This will free up your hands for wrangling children as you travel through the airport.

*Provide one to two familiar items for your child to play with during the flight. A security toy, a puppet, a book, or some other item your children enjoys that is relatively small would be perfect.

*Provide one or two new items for your child. New things are always exciting, and tend to occupy a child a bit longer than a more familiar toy. You may want to save this surprise until your child grows impatient or weary and hard to manage. A new coloring book and crayons is a good choice for older children, and perhaps a puppet or exciting book for a baby.

*Extra clothing and diapers are a must. Pack enough for an entire day, as unexpected delays are common. Special note: pressure changes affect more than travelers’ ears. Diapers tend to leak quickly while in the air, and should be changed more frequently than normal. This also applies to bottles and sipper cups. Filling bottles above the half way mark will more than likely result in milk spilled all over your diaper bag.

*Extra snacks. Meal times and hungry times may not occur simultaneously.

THE DAY OF YOUR FLIGHT:

*Arrive at the airport sooner than you would if traveling solo. This will allow your child a chance to get acclimated, and provide a more relaxed trek to the gate.

*Take advantage of early boarding. You will be able to get situated before the mad rush of travelers shoving carryon into the overhead compartments, and the flight attendants will have time to assist you in any way necessary.

*Have fun!