Air travel has become the standard for being able to see places when driving would just take too long.
The thought of your child being that child on the plane – the one screaming at the top of his lungs – can cause even the most stalwart parent to shrink into a nervous mess.
There’s no reason to have to leave the children at home when you’re planning an exciting trip.
How Do You Stop Your Child from Crying on a Plane? To calm a child from a crying fit mid-air, try these tactics:
- Stay calm and relaxed
- Pack special snacks
- Pack some fun activities and games
- Say ‘yes’ to games on your phone or tablet
- Make movie time an option
- Plan an opportunity to visit the cockpit
- Bring a deck of cards
- Book a seat that fits your needs
- Pack earplugs and any necessary meds
- Plan your trip during naptime
Even if your child does cry on the flight, try to relax and remember he won’t be the first or the last.
To help them keep their wits about them – and you, yours – we’ll look at several things you can do to help make the flight less stressful for you, your child, and your fellow passengers.
What are the Best Ways for Me to Keep My Child from Crying on the Airplane?
Traveling with children can be fun. They have a sense of excitement and wonder that we, as adults, can’t help but admire. Instead of getting stressed out, try to prepare in advance with some of these suggestions to help the flight go smoothly.
1. Stay calm and relaxed.
Airports can be crazy. There are all kinds of sights, sounds, and bustling activity. People are rushing because they are trying to make that last-minute flight.
Security is trying to do their job, keep the lines moving, and keep everyone safe all at the same time. The guy trying to meet his quota for credit card applications – you get the idea.
If you can stay calm, it will help your child’s temperament too. One thing you can do to help your stress level is to plan to arrive at the airport earlier than you have to and to make sure you have plenty of layover time between flights.
If you have extra time and don’t have to rush, it will matter less how long the lines are.
It won’t matter if your gate is the very last one in the long concourse. It won’t matter if you have a long bathroom stop. You’ll be able to roll with anything that comes your way.
2. Pack special snacks.
By making this experience extra-special with unique treats, your child will be more likely to be happy. Make sure you have all of the favorites on hand and even those that are usually less frequent treats.
Another benefit to these snacks is that if you give your child something to chew during takeoff, the ascent to cruising altitude, descent, and landing her ears are less likely to plug up and hurt.
REMEMBER: Your child has a high level of sensitivity to sugar and/or caffeine, try to avoid treats that would trigger a higher energy level.
Your little one won’t be able to burn off that extra boost.
3. Pack some fun activities and games.
Let’s face it. Airline travel isn’t always inexpensive. There are plenty of affordable options to keep your child busy during your flight. Plan ahead and visit the local discount or dollar store to find an assortment of fun take-along activities:
- Coloring books
- Connect the dots books
- Gamebooks you can play together
- Blank paper to allow for creativity
- Books you can read together
- Books on tape your child can listen to on your phone or tablet
TIP: This is probably a good time to avoid sticker books. Those seatbacks, tray tables, and armrests are just too tempting – they just look like amazing canvases in need of stickers!
4. Let your child play games on your phone in airplane mode.
Chances are your child is used to playing electronic games. The flight doesn’t have to be an exception.
If you limit your child’s screen time in regular daily life, that’s great. But the plane should be an exception to the rule!
Before heading to the airport, download some games from your provider’s app-store that are not dependent upon the internet.
This way you won’t feel the need to pay extra for the plane’s Wi-Fi.
If you do decide to splurge on Wi-Fi, your child’s favorite games can still be played while your phone is on airplane mode.
5. Make movie time an option.
A single movie typically lasts about 90 minutes. If you have one of your child’s favorites ready, expect your little one to be entertained for a significant portion of your flight.
Airplanes often have many child-friendly movies available too.
They want to help you and your child have a great experience. You may even find something you can watch together, and both enjoy.
6. Ask the flight attendant if the child can visit the pilot in the cockpit.
This can only happen before or after the flight but will create an exciting memory for your child.
It will also give your child something to either look forward to or something else to talk about when you get seated.
TIP: Don’t even mention this as an option, unless you’ve planned it beforehand. We all know that would just be asking for a potential tantrum.
7. Bring a deck of cards.
Go Fish and War can keep both of you occupied.
These card games are still fun activities that kids like to play, especially if they’re beating you.
These games not only keep your child busy, but also aid in building cognitive skills.
8. Book the seat that will work best for your needs.
Would your child get excited being able to see all of the wonders out of the window? Maybe be curious about how the jet engine works and is held onto the airplane’s wing?
Perhaps you are nursing and would appreciate being able to recline against the window wall. Potty training? Grab one of those window seats!
Think ahead when booking your ticket. Whether it’s a window seat for daydreaming into the clouds or an aisle seat so your child can easily stretch those legs once in a while, choosing a seat that considers the level of activity you expect to have, can go a long way.
9. Pack child-sized earplugs and any necessary medications.
Being prepared with Tylenol can help with earaches. If you give your child some painkiller an hour before take-off, you may be able to avoid those ear pain tears.
Another option, depending on your child, could be Benadryl. If your child is prone to allergies, chances are there may be some things on the plane that could trigger those sensitivities. An early Benadryl dose could help prevent discomfort.
Is your child teething? By all means bring the magical teething ring. If you bring a baggie, the flight attendant can give you some ice so you can chill the teething ring.
If that still doesn’t help Baby Orajel works quickly to offer some relief from the discomfort.
The sound of the plane’s engines can startle, or even frighten some children. Earplugs can help dull the roar of those loud jets and provide her some additional comfort.
10. Plan your trip for naptime.
If your child has a typical nap time, you may be able to choose a flight that would take place during those snoozing hours.
Bring along a favorite blanket, pillow, and stuffed animal, and your child may just be able to snuggle into the seat and sleep through the majority of your flight.
What Do I Do if None of These Options Work?
If you’re concerned about how your seatmates or those around you will react, an option could be to pack a small care package you could give those sitting around you. Inside the bag you could put:
- A note written from the child’s perspective. “Hi. My name is __________. I may get a bit grumpy or scared during our flight. If I cry, please forgive me and know that my mama is trying hard to calm me. Here are some earplugs, a few pieces of chocolate, and all the gratitude I can give. Thank you for understanding!”
- If someone nearby offers to help, accept their offer. Sometimes, a different voice or face is enough to mix things up and change a child’s focus.
- Give hugs. As parents, sometimes our first reaction is to get stressed and it shows. Relax, give your child a snuggle and show your understanding. It may just do wonders.
- Plan some emergency distractions. Keep a few tricks up your sleeve, just in case things go wrong. Have some favorite music ready on your phone that your child can listen to on headphones.
- Take a walk. If it’s allowed by the flight attendants, get up and walk around.
When All Else Fails
Accept it and take a deep breath. Sometimes children cry. It’s just going to happen.
You can do your best to soothe, comfort, or distract, but at the end of the day until your child decides to be done crying, the tears are going to continue.
If you can possibly stay calm and roll with it, you both will be better off.
Pace yourself. You’re going to want to have something new to show her at different parts of the trip. Don’t pull everything out at once – save some surprises for later in your journey.
This Too Shall Pass
Whatever your method for working to keep your child engaged during your flight, try to find some enjoyment in your travel and make some wonderful memories.
These are times worthy of taking some pictures with your cell phone and preserving the images of these trips.
One day you two will look at these photos, and you’ll be able to talk about the experience on the airplane and how brave she was during the flight.
Maybe you’ll even have tales that will make both of you smile as you recount how she entertained the people around you.