We’ve traveled with the kids on multiple long flights to Asia but the most nerve-racking flight I took was when I decided to fly with the two of them by myself. Pack with a backpack full of magic tricks, I survived the 17 hr flight to Asia and the 13.5 hr. flight back to the US when big sis’ was 4.5 yrs old and Lil’ sis’ was 1.5. Here are my 10 Tips for Flying with Baby or Young Kids on Long Flights especially international flights.
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10 Tips for Flying with Baby or Young Kids on Long International Flights:
1. Book a Late Flight when Flying with Baby or Young Kids
Booking a late flight when flying with young kids ensures that they are asleep for the most part of the flight. Our flight to Asia typically departs at 10 PM and the kids won’t immediately sleep right when we board because they are excited to watch or play with the media console in front of our seats. Once they dozed off though it’s like more than half of our travel time already.
2. Make them Nap the Day of the Flight for Late Night Flights
Yes! We want the kids to sleep on the flight and sleep long. But young kids cannot handle not taking naps, at least the 5 and below for sure. So don’t ever think taking out nap time would mean they’d be knock out on the plane. Because if they don’t get their naps, they’d be miserable even before you board the plane and you’d be miserable too.
I would suggest that parents take their nap too if possible, so you’d be more refresh and alert once you get to the airport.
3. Bring an Umbrella Stroller &/or Baby Carrier for Airport Use
Oh, the waiting game at the airport, kids can’t sit still can they? Besides the fact that you can keep the kids entertained before the gates open for boarding by strolling around the airport in a stroller. You would need to bring a stroller so you don’t need to carry your young one from check-in to the boarding gate. Depending on the airport, it could be very far for those tiny feet. We used a Zooper Stroller (no longer available) and at one point used a Phil & Teds Double Stroller at home but would opt for an umbrella stroller for our international flights for easy handling.
Note: We’ve never had an experience bringing a car seat. But I’m sure that will help tremendously when you have a baby so you don’t need to carry your baby to sleep on the plane. We’ve always done place on lap to cut on ticket cost.
Baby Carriers are also great if you have a baby who is used to it more than a stroller. Every kid is different so based it on what he or she is used to at home.
Strollers will be left outside the airplane door right before you board and you can pick it up at the arrival carousel with your luggage. If you have connecting flights like when we traveled with Korean Air they had us wait for it at the door so we can use on the way to the next gate for our connecting flight. It varies by airline so asked before you leave your stroller with anyone.
4. Bring the Appropriate Carry-On with all the Necessities
Airplane Travel with Kids: Which bag to bring when you’re flying with kids? Here are the choices:
- Diaper Bag: If you are traveling with a baby and you are still breastfeeding, your diaper bag will be big enough to fit everything.
- Gym Bag: If you are no longer breastfeeding and will be bringing baby bottles, powdered milk, toys, diapers, etc. I would suggest going bigger than a diaper bag and bringing a gym bag instead. Make sure it’s a size you can stow under your seat after takeoff (under your kid’s foot perhaps). Flight attendants will not let you put big bags on your foot during take-off and landing, I would suggest bringing a drawstring to throw all the stuff you need for the first hour while all the other stuff is overhead.
- Travel Back Pack for Laptops: If you are bringing a laptop or tablet on top of the toys, bottles, change of clothes, diapers, etc. I would suggest bringing a backpack with multiple compartments when you fly with the kids. And the same idea is to have a drawstring bag for all the little stuff in the beginning of the flight when huge carry-ons have to be placed in the overhead compartment. I used a Swiss brand that has multiple compartments and it’s now my laptop bag as well when we take long trips by car.
- Kids Bring their Own Backpack: If your kids are big enough to carry their own backpacks, then go ahead and let them carry their own that has toys, juice, and everything that will keep them pre-occupied after they wake up mid-flight.
On our very first few flights to Asia, I brought a gym bag style shoulder bag. I find it to be easier to find things inside the bag instead of digging deep into a backpack and it’s easier to stow under the seat as well.
On my flight last year with the two kids, I brought a backpack though because I had to bring my laptop with me for the blog during our 7-week vacation to the Philippines. It had tons of compartments so I prepped each compartment by having something for early part of the flight, mid-flight entertainment, “almost there” compartment, etc. and it had padlocks so the kids can’t open them or I risk losing all my tricks early on of the flight. LOL!
5. Pack New Toys and their Attachment Toy or Blanket
Reminder: If your child is attached to his or her blankie or toy, make sure to bring it. Then bring new things. I always pack new toys and a small book for the kids when we fly. Here are some suggestions that worked for us. You can also base it on what your kid/s like to play with at home and buy a smaller size of it or a toy in the same category:
- Travel Size Play-Doh – Lil’ sis’ fave. She also does not have to play with it. When we flew, she wanted to just hold the tiny bin for a long time before opening it. Go figure.
- Travel Size Lego – Lil’ sis’ fave as well.
- Travel Size Blokus Game – Big sis’ fave even when she was a toddler. She doesn’t know how to play it, she just organizes them for hours. We brought this on our very first international flight.
- Stickers Travel Activity Pack – We bring one for each for plane rides and cruises.
- Small Books like Dear Zoo or one of Dr. Seuess Boardbook.
- Surprise Toys like Mini Brands or Unicorn Squad . If your kid watches surprise toys on Youtube, they’d be happy to see this. Bring one or two so if it gets really crazy on the plane, you’d be saved. LOL.
- Crayons, pen and memo pad. They can doodle all they want. My kids like peeling off the crayon cover though, that’s 15-30 minutes of fun for them I’m willing to take.
- If you must! Bring their Tablet! Don’t forget to charge your iPad and load it with the kids’ favorite movies or games.
Check our list of 20+ Best Travel Toys for Kids for Plane Rides!
There are media consoles with cartoons and games available on board, but it’s a really long flight. So the kids watch a bit, plays a bit. And I can say on our way back to the US, they also fought a bit. LOL!
6. Bring your Kids Milk/Juice to the Flight
I’m sure you’re wondering, with the 3 oz. max. liquid you can bring and tightened security. Can you bring your Baby’s Milk to a Flight? Yes, you can!Let’s not get the baby starving and crying on the plane. It would just have to go through a separate security checkpoint where they will scan your liquid and powdered milk thoroughly. Bring an appropriate amount though, not too much and not too little.
A. When we were still using powdered milk when we flew. We only put water on 3-4 bottles or just the amount we need from check-in until we boarded the plane. Then we just requested for water once we were on the plane.
Tip: After you have used your bottle for feeding. You can request for hot water from the flight attendant so you can just shake and rinse and used it again for next feeding without having the need to wash the bottles while on the plane. (Tip from my cousin who traveled with 3 young kids on an international flight, yikes).
B. When we flew and the kids were already drinking fresh milk and Philippine Airlines don’t have them on board. I bought a few of those small packs of fresh milk from McDonald’s at LAX and just loaded them in an insulated bag with ice pack then just filled the baby bottle with it as needed.]
Tip: Don’t give your kid or baby their baby bottle right when you board the plane. Try to distract them if they want it already and wait until the flight is already ascending as they need it for their popping ears. Swallowing helps with the pain.
7. Pack Snacks when Flying with Kids
Both toys and snacks go hand in hand to keep the kids happy on the plane. Make it the ones they love but don’t get to often see or eat so it’s also a surprise while on the plane. The kids fave:
- Cheetos Snack Size
- Yan Yan or Hello Panda or Pocky Sticks
- Gummy Bears or Fruit Snacks
- M&M’s Fun Size
- Organic Pops – you can also use this when the plane is ascending and it’s causing pain in your child’s ear. The swallowing helps clear the ear.
8. Bring Extra Clothes placed in Waterproof Bag
Bring your child’s sweater/jacket, bonnet, and socks as it may get very cold on the plane. If possible bring an extra shirt and pants as well, in case they throw up or spill liquid on themselves. Make sure to place them in waterproof bag or zip-locks so they are waterproof while they are on your carry-on. We want to make sure the kids travel comfortably on the plane and do not get sick as well.
9. Check the Kids Menu Ahead + Learn about Extras on Board for the Kids
Some flights have a kid’s menu just like Korean Air. You can call them ahead to choose your kids’ menu. If this is not a provided service by your airline, they may have baby food on board. Call your airline ahead to check and confirm and asked your flight attendant as soon as you board the plane.
Some flights also give out an activity pack for your kids as long as your child has a seat (not on your lap type of ticket). Philippine Airlines gave out Sponge Bob Activity Pack and Korean Air gave out Pororo Activity Pack.
Related Read: Ride the Star Wars Plane to Japan
10. Reserve the Seat Ahead of Time and Get the Seat Closest to the Exit
If you have a baby, your airline will place you on a seat where they can put a bassinet in front of you. So call ahead to check.
Our last important tip is to not forget to get the seat in the frontmost where you can exit the fastest coz’ the kids may have been an angel all 17 hours but once the plane lands, you’d want to just get out of the plane before they start fighting or you’re out of milk.
Overall though, the kids behave a whole lot on the plane than I thought they would and how they would compare to being at home. Both the bag of tricks I brought and the new experience of being on a plane excited them. So they might actually surprise you on your future long-haul international flight.
Hope you found our 10 Tips for Flying with Baby or Young Kids useful. Good Luck on your upcoming flight with the kids. If you have more questions that we didn’t cover on our 10 tips for flying with baby or young kids, leave your comment below and we’ll try our best to answer.
Note: Check out our Guide on Finding Cheap Long Term Parking at LAX!
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