Taking your child on a flight? How can you make sure flying doesn’t mess with their routine (and your holiday!)? We spoke to one of WellVine’s sleep experts, Maryanne Taylor. WellVine is a new online service connecting parents to children’s health specialists via video call. Parents can speak to a range of children’s health professionals from their own home, or on the go, so it is great for getting expert advice where and when you need it.
Flying with children can be pretty daunting. Worries about how your child (as well as fellow passengers) will react can put a bit of a downer on the excitement that you should be feeling in the run up to a much deserved holiday. But it doesn’t have to be that way. With a bit of planning you can do a lot to help your child sleep on the flight itself, but perhaps more importantly, set them up for some good nights sleep whilst on holiday. Here are some tips you will hopefully find useful when gearing up for a flight with the kids.
- Think about the essentials from home that will help you to create a home away from home when it comes to sleep time. For example, a sheet from their bed at home which will smell familiar. Bring their nightlight if they have one, and whatever you do don’t leave their comforter and favourite stories behind. Getting hold of a Bunnykins rabbit whilst glamping in the south of France is trickier than you might think.. trust me.
- What kind of light are they used to? If a dark bedroom is the norm, then you will do well to try and recreate that. Portable blackout blinds are definitely worth investing in if your child is used to pitch black.
At the airport
- We all know kids can tell when we are stressed, so my biggest tip is try not to get worked up. Be far more organised than you would have been in life pre kids. Take your time getting to the airport, and getting around. Try and stay relaxed.
- Airport terminals can be great for adults, but if you are on a night flight, getting your baby over stimulated can spell trouble. I always head to the departure gate as soon as I can. They are usually much calmer than the shops and restaurants, and you are more likely to find a little corner for some peace and quiet and a story, away from the crowds.
During the flight
- Your baby may need extra reassurance to fall asleep on the plane. You will want to do whatever you can to help them sleep – even if it means sneaking in some old favourites like rocking or feeding to help them out. It is important not to keep doing this throughout your trip as these sleep crutches can become a habit very quickly.
- Flights can be chilly. Have an extra blanket handy.
- On arrival adapt to local time for meals, naps and bedtime as soon as you can to regulate your child’s body clock. I know it is easier said than done, but it is worth persevering.
- Daylight is key to helping your child cope with jetlag. It will help your child’s body adjust and differentiate between day and night. Get outside as soon as you can. Try to incorporate carbohydrates into their evening meal and keep away from sugary food and drinks. And remember, Bananas have properties that can help aid sleep so a banana after dinner may help too.
- When it comes to naps remember that time is more important than location. Although they won’t sleep as well in a buggy or in a car, its better to do this than skip a nap altogether.
- Wherever you are staying, try to make your child’s sleep environment mimic their bedroom as much as possible. Set a bit of time aside on day one to get their room sorted out. Try to have them spend some time in their cot or on their bed playing before bedtime to help them acclimatise to their sleep environment. Leave enough time for an extra leisurely, calm bedtime. Start as you mean to go on.
By Maryanne Taylor, WellVine.
A brand new approach to accessing children’s health advice, WellVine connects parents with children’s health experts using face-to-face online video consultations. Experts include experienced and vetted GPs, children’s sleep consultants, nutritionists and lactation consultants – available when you need them, through an online video call. You can book appointments online, or download the WellVine app for IOS and Android devices from the Apple Store or Google Play.
Maryanne Taylor is one of WellVine’s certified sleep consultants. As well as helping families directly, Maryanne gives many sleep workshops to groups, companies and law firms; runs Facebook sleep clinics for Bounty and other brands; has a regular slot on a BBC radio phone in show; and has appeared in a recent Channel 4 show.