Plane Talk

Parental Duty

Air travel can be boring for anyone, adults and children. It's also uncomfortable at times due to the effect of cabin air pressure on the ears, and the allotted physical space, which tends to be cramped. But kids probably have it the hardest and as parents, it's our duty to keep them as calm and comfortable as possible—not only for the sake of parents and children, but also for the other passengers onboard. Here are some tips that should help you accomplish that ultimate goal: a happy landing.

*Ask the flight attendant for a cup of crushed ice and give this to your toddler. The coldness and texture will surprise and engage them as the chewing and swallowing relieves the pressure on little ears.

*Buy some small toys and books and don't let your child see them until you are on the plane. Give him one new toy or book at a time. Each item should give you at least 15 minutes of peace. Calculate how many items to buy based on flight time, coming and going.

*Bring along some of the Crayola Wonder markers which display their colors only on the special paper provided. That means stain-free airplane seats and a worry-free mom.

Allow Extra Time

*Give yourself extra time to get to the airport. Some kids are determined to move with a minimum of haste, so you need to accommodate them. It's best to leave enough time to get to the airport early.

*In most countries you can't bring drinks past security and the flight attendants don't serve drinks until well after takeoff, so make sure to fill sippy cups and bottles just before boarding. Look for a water fountain, or buy bottled water in an air terminal shop. Drinking is very important during takeoff and landing, since swallowing keeps the ears open. Pacifiers work for this purpose, too.

*Bring wipes and give them liberal use. You can wipe down the tray and arm rests with them. Some physicians recommend applying an antibacterial ointment around the child's nose to keep down the amount of bacteria trying to get in.

*Bring changes of clothes both for you and your child, because airsickness is a fact of air travel. Bring along some empty plastic bags which are useful for storing soiled clothing.

*If you can afford it, buy a seat for your child, even if your child is entitled to free travel without a seat. The extra space is a lifesaver. You may be able to get a discount if your child is under two.

*If you bring a stroller, don't check it until you arrive at your gate. You'll need it for those long security lines and during your waiting time prior to the flight. If you're lucky, your child may take a nap in the stroller.