Welcome to our dedicated Survival Manual for flying with your little ones. No one wants to be the parent of a screaming infant on a flight, so if you want to avoid looks that could kill, here are a few tips from all of us Original Travel parents to minimise the chances of an incident at 33,000ft. And if your older ones start chucking their toys? Sorry, you're on your own there...
How To Avoid A Meltdown
Babies find it tricky to pop their ears on take-off and landing, so if you can time a feed to coincide with these, it takes their mind off the pain and gets them to work their jaws and pop their ears.
An alternative is to have a dummy in your bag. Even if your baby or toddler doesn't normally use one, give it a go on take-off and landing. For older children, a chewy sweet (or five) may help.
Should all else fail, ask the flight attendant for two plastic cups, put some tissue soaked in warm water (or well drained but warm tea bags) in the bottom of each and put the cups over your baby's ears. The heat from the tissue creates a small pressure vacuum that should unblock the ears. Oddly effective.
'Ditch all ideas about good parenting for the duration of any long journeys. Haribo and iPads are the key to a peaceful trip' Neill Ghosh, Director and Father of Three.
The Science Bit - Why Do Babies Cry On Planes?
Babies and toddlers cry on airplanes because their Eustachian tubes - which allow us to equalise pressure differences - are far smaller, so more easily blocked. It's also kind of difficult explaining to an infant how to yawn or swallow. Also to note: Landing is usually worse than take off when it comes to changes in air pressure so be prepared!
Try to do a nappy change just before boarding to reduce the number of changes you have to do on the plane.
'When travelling with small children, pack spare clothing in your hand luggage in case of nappy explosions or other accidents...' Saskia, Head of Americas Team and Mother of Two
Hand Luggage Essentials
When travelling with a baby, your hand luggage really, really needs to contain the following: nappies; wet wipes; change of clothes; nappy sacks; muslins; sterilised bottles; formula; Calpol sachets; bottles of water (bought after security, obvs); a spare T-shirt (for you, in case your baby is sick all over you - not beyond the realms of possibility); a sling or BabyBjörn so that you have hands free for passports and tickets; and finally, distractions galore!
'It's all about the snacks (particularly ones that take a long time to eat), keeping sticky bubbles, stickers and distractions up your sleeve... oh and having a husband [George, of Sharky & George fame!] who specialises in entertaining small people!' Rosie Whitefield, Asia Specialist and Mother of Two (nearly three!).