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Preparing Your Child for a Flight: A Stress-Free Guide to Smooth Soaring

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Did you book a flight ticket to your vacay destination?

 I understand how overwhelming it can be to imagine your child cooped up in a cabin with strangers, unable to run around and ease their anxiety.

Such thoughts can bring me to wit’s end for sure. I know that feeling.

But as someone who has been flying with her daughter at least twice a year since birth, I’m here to guide you through this experience.

Despite the different phases of childhood, preparing your child for a flight and dealing with their current phase is no big deal.

Trust me, I’m a frequent flier who can help you rest easy and enjoy your vacation without worrying about your child’s in-flight experience.

Phases of flying

Phases Of Flying

If this is your first flight with a baby, toddler, or small kid, it could seem overwhelming for both the parents and the kids.

One might come to think of it as a humongous task. The tantrums, the frequent inexplicable hunger pangs, the numerous urges to use the washroom, and the bombarding of “I’m bored” must seem tiring.

If they haven’t started talking yet and are still in the cutest “goo-goo-ga-gaa” phase, our biggest scare can be the diaper blowout or the relentless crying even when they are well-fed, well-rested and might not be attacked by colic.

So, let’s start by answering a few simple questions that are poking you persistently.

Preparing your child for a flight/ how to mentally prepare kids for a long-haul flight?

Preparing Child For A Flight

Kids act better when they know what they are going to go through. Letting your kids learn about the itinerary is always more helpful if they understand what you say.

My daughter was unbelievably helpful when our flight to Doha landed an hour after the scheduled time, and we had only 8 minutes left to catch another flight to India.

Before landing, I just explained the situation to her. I told her that running was the only way to get on the last flight of our journey.

She knew her grandpa was eagerly waiting for her on the other side of the journey, and she did not want to miss it at any cost.

She ran faster than me, encouraging me to increase my pace when I was out of breath. We made it just before the gate was closed.

A Bollywood movie script, indeed!

Kids tend to get overwhelmed by any new situations. A minor change in schedule throws their world upside down. So the better the picture you can lay down before them, the better it is for them to absorb.

Get into the details about the flight length, how much time they have to spend sitting, why they cannot kick the seat in front of them, how long the transit time is to catch another flight, and so on.

We should avoid making false promises to our children and raising their expectations, only to disappoint them later.

We should always assure them that no matter what, we will be together on the journey, and together, we can make any trip enjoyable and adventurous.

Repeated assurance can comfort our kids and help them mentally prepare for it!

What can I give my child for flying anxiety?/ What sedatives do children take on a plane?

Child Flying Anxiety

We can always carry our kid’s favorite blankie or a plushie or any toy that usually accompanies them most of the time. Anything familiar helps calm down.

If the child leans emotionally towards one parent, they should be with the child while boarding the flight and sitting next to them so that they feel relaxed.

As for us, we have never taken any medicine to calm our nerves on flight.

Talking in a mellowed-down tone and keeping the kid well-rested, well-fed, and comfortable is what we have done to push the anxiety away from us.

When three years old, my daughter flew to San Francisco from Phoenix. She was pretty anxious when the flight started to taxi and then take off.

So, I started saying all funny and silly things into her ear. That diverted her fear to fun. I told her how she would giggle when she felt butterflies in her stomach as soon as the flight finally took off.

I told her that, finally, we could fly above the clouds and meet the sky higher up.

She stopped being scared, and when the flight took off, she was laughing and giggling and was filled with wonder at how the things down on the Earth appeared way smaller, just like miniature toys.

Communicate with your child and divert their fear to fun whenever you can.

For exceptional cases, you might want to consult your doctor.

I remember giving Tylenol to my 1.5-year-old before flying because she was running a high temperature, and in no way could we have canceled our flight since we were moving out of the state.

She was fussy and not her usual self before flying. We consulted our doctor over the phone, and she prescribed one dose of Tylenol to ease her discomfort while flying.

She slept throughout the flight, and her ears did not click while taking off or touching down.

She was absolutely fine. Thank GOD!

If your child is healthy and fit enough to fly, do not lean on any medication. Instead, communicate and provide comfort in whatever way you can.

To most kids, flying in an airplane is a fun experience and not scary.

How do you calm an anxious child flying?

calm an anxious child

Calming the nerves of an anxious child can be tricky but not an unattainable task at all.

We can also prepare ourselves and them by taking a few measures before flying. During the flight, if our child shows signs of anxiety, we can calm them down with a few tricks as well.

To-do’s before the flight:

  • Carry their cuddle buddy/blankie.
  • You can show them walkthrough videos of an airport and inside of a flight. They will have a fair idea of what they are going to experience. Remember to watch the video by yourself first.
    We showed one video every day to the daughter before her flight when she started understanding and communicating back. It helped us both a lot!
  • Talk to them about the dos and don’ts of a flight.
  • Ask them if they want something special to carry or eat on a flight.
  • Many don’t want to wear seat belts on a flight, so tell them why it is necessary.
  • Book seats together; don’t wait for the last day, or you might be separated from your kid. (You don’t want to spend time negotiating with the airline crew at the booking counter and lose your valuable time making the kid anxious.)
  • Try to book a window seat for your toddler so they can look outside if interested.
  • Do not bombard(overwhelm) them with all the information; keep it simple and sweet. They should think of the trip as fun and not bound by regulation.

To-do’s when flying:

  • Divert their attention to something funny.
  • Talk to them in a comforting voice.
  • Reassure them that nothing can go wrong when you are with them.
  • If there’s a kid present on the flight who you can see and is calm, point towards them as an example. Calm your anxious kid, telling them if nothing has gone wrong with that kid, nothing can happen to them. (Examples work best, sometimes!)
  • Lure them with their favorite dessert or any food that they love. (It’s okay when they are cooped up!)
  • If sick, administer medicine. (Of course, as pre-advised by your doctor)
  • Do not feel guilty about giving your child screen time if nothing works.


Prepare your child mentally about how turbulence might look like in a flight while flying. Make it lighter by adding some funny notes to it.

A long-haul flight can cause anxiety in children. To alleviate this, we must prepare them ahead of time.

Reassurance and love can calm the anxiety in kids down.

So let’s not be anxious ourselves, but make the trip happy and memorable!

Bon Voyage!

Welcome To ShuffledMind

Sayani Routh At West Rocky Mountain

I’m absolutely thrilled to embark on this blogging journey and connect with all of you. Hi, I’m Sayani, the voice behind the words you’ll find here. Through my experiences as a human being and a mom living in India, Canada, and the USA, I’ve cultivated a unique perspective that I’m excited to share with you.

Love, Sayani


Sayani Routh
Sayani Routh
A Mom, passionate reader & writer, child advocate: I share my parenting journey, inspired by my real-life experiences.


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