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Monday, September 23, 2013

Drugging your Kids and other Ways to Survive a Red-Eye Flight

Earlier this year we took a 6 hour flight with our kids ages then 22mo and 5 years old.  That flight involved angry passengers, leaking diapers and a child locked in the bathroom but at least it was me and my husband working together to keep them entertained.  On the way back from our destination it was just me and the kids on a red-eye/overnight flight.  Ah the challenge!

The flight over involved lots of toddler activity kits, snacks and working hard to keep the kids content.  Night flights bring different challenges, mostly how to convince your kids to sleep!  Here is what I learned.

1. Bring a stroller to the airport and gate-check it.  

This is imperative for night flights with toddlers or even pre-schoolers.  If they might nap while you're waiting for your flight a stroller is a great place.  Once you arrive at your destination you can transfer a sleeping child to the stroller again.  In my case I had a connecting flight at 2 am (our time) and ended up putting my 5 year old (grumpy, groggy child) in the stroller and wore my 22 month old in a baby carrier (Beco).

2. Consider giving your kids medication.

This is a controversial idea and may not be right for your family.  I will say that I am neither a doctor nor a health professional, just a mom who was VERY concerned about flying with her oh-so-active toddler on an overnight flight.  After our somewhat horrible flight to our destination I was understandably apprehensive about getting back home.  So I researched options to help my sweet little one want to sleep. ;)  I ended up going with children's Benadryl, since hey, she'd been a little allergic lately anyway, ha!  I gave her a small dose (between 3/4 tsp - 1 tsp) and said a little prayer.  I'd read that some kids have paradoxical (opposite) reactions to Benadryl and instead of sleeping they become agitated and completely out of control.  Fortunately for me my toddler fell asleep and although it wasn't long lasting (had worn off by our 2nd flight) she did sleep when I needed her to!

3. Bring on a pillow or extra blanket.

We had two seats, one for me and my then lap-child and one for my 5 year old.  After drugging my toddler she fell asleep on me which was great, until I realized how uncomfortable I now was.  Airplane seats are bad enough and sharing space with a toddler didn't help, especially since I was afraid of moving for fear of waking her!  Extra pillows or blankets would have been helpful to pad my seat area and give me something to lean up against.  I used what I had but was about 1 pillow short.  

4. Select seats near the bathroom.

This is especially useful if you are traveling with more than one child.  If you are near the bathroom it is easier to see that your child gets in and out if you can't physically help them to it.  This is also great for you b/c hey, we have to go sometimes too and unless you can all fit in the tiny bathroom you'll have to leave one or more behind.

Which brings me to #5.

5. Ring for the flight attendants to assist older kids.

I hate to bother the busy flight attendants but sometimes a momma needs help!  On my overnight flight once my baby fell asleep I was pretty much stuck in my seat.  I couldn't move for fear of waking her and causing the paradoxical affect to the benadryl that I'd read about.  So when my 5 year old asked to use the bathroom I couldn't take her so I buzzed the flight attendant and she walked her to and from the bathroom. This gave me peace of mind since the cabin lights were dim and I couldn't turn to see the bathroom (even though it was nearby).  Then later on our second flight I had to take the baby to change her so I asked the flight attendant to watch my older daughter while I was in the restroom.

Remember to Pack:
a. Easy comfortable clothes for little ones. Two pieces so that you can trade out a top or a bottom if something gets soiled/wet without having to change the entire outfit.  Also a sweater or a sweatshirt for baby (and you too) since night flights can get very cold.
b. Their sleeping items (blanket, bear, binky, etc).
c. Snacks and activities just in case sleep isn't in the cards for you.
d. Diapers and wipes.  Make sure they are easy to get to, you don't want to be fumbling with the overhead compartment in a dark airplane in the middle of a flight!
e. Baby Carrier - Such as a Beco or wrap carrier just in case you need to walk the aisles to get baby/toddler to sleep.
f. Toothbrush - For your bigger kids/preschoolers because we "always brush our teeth before bed". :)

One last note, at the time I was still extended breastfeeding my daughter.  Let me tell you that being able to give her milk during the flight when she semi-woke up here and there was a lifesaver.  I was so thankful to have the option!  So if you're considering weaning around the time of your travels I suggest you wait until after the trip!

Good luck and safe travels!  

For more Travel Tips check out:
Toddler Airplane Activity Kids
Road Trips with Kids - Tips and Tricks

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