J.N. asks from Coatesville, PA on August 13, 2008
Flying with 4 Year Old
just wondering if anyone has any advice. I am flying with my 4 year old to Texas, and it is his first flight. He also has questionable ears, and has always had problems with fluid and his hearing. He was a 28 week preemie and has self resovled of most issues. so medically i feel he is ready to fly. Please no flight horror stories, i am already very nervous about flying with him. Just looking for some positive experiences.(smile)
thanks jenn nettingaham
D.S. answers from Allentown on August 21, 2008
Here are some web sites:
Hope this helps. D.
L.R. answers from Philadelphia on August 15, 2008
Use Benedryl just before you fly.If he is nt to young a piece of chewing gum also.My son ust to cry on the flight .We gave him decongestant and told him to pretend he is chewing gum. goodluck
T.P. answers from Philadelphia on August 14, 2008
My daughter and I flew to Texas too when she was 4. I got the Crayola Color Wonders books and markers, her DVD player and something that she could chew when taking off and when we started to land. The Color Wonder you didn't have to worry about color on the trays or on the chairs and the DVD player kept her busy too watching her favorite movie. Good Luck and have a safe flight.
B.W. answers from Erie on August 14, 2008
It sounds as if you will be having a great trip somewhere. Preparation and patiend understanding is the key for the airline ride. I can't remember the name of it, but my mom found children's book about "We're Taking an Airplane Trip" or something like that. It followed the whole process, how your luggage gets on the plane, what happens, etc. It was also ethnically inclusive, and had an Afro-American co-pilot. what was funniest was that in the airport, my daughter saw a black person for the first time (we lived in rural Maine at the time), and she pointed him out and said, "There's the co-pilot." :-)
But that helped her to learn the process of getting on the plane, and what was going to happen.
There's the length of the planeride to prepare for, and you'll need to bring some kind of activity for him. Something that will be quiet enough not to bother others, and interesting enough to entertain him. I had a friend who solved some of that by purchasing some new inexpensive toys, and providing "gifts" through the flight. They can be rewards for good behavior, but you might also want to hand one out for restless behavior, so think that through before you do anything like tying them to rewards. (Maybe they will be a reward for Mom !! LOL) That kind of thing can brighten up a boring ride.
You may also want to bring some of his favorite snacks. Airplane food is really boring these days -- just pretzels. And while it's cool to get it in the little snack bag, it's not a lot of snack for a long boring trip, either.
In terms of ears . . . . Be sure he has a drink for landing, because swallowing will help the ears pop. Also, going DOWN, he can hold his nose and try to blow out through his nose to add pressure to the ear passages. That helps with pain. Another trick I learned a few years ago - from an F-15 fighter pilot: During times of pressure change just tip your head from side to side. It helps the ear fluid to move around which helps the ear to handle the pressure changes. i don't do that so much, but I do use the nose thing to help me with my ears. chewing gum can help, too, for take-off and landings.
The good news is that he's old enough to do this, and to talk with you, and he will probably have a great time. If he gets a window seat, he can look down at the world from the sky, and that's pretty amazing stuff !
Above all, just prepare yourself to simply be there for your son. Flying is tedious at best these days, and he will have more energy than he has room to expend it. If you have a layover, try to keep him moving while on the ground. Look out the windows, find an unobtrusive spot and challenge him to run back and forth to some pre-arranged spot within your view. Allow him to use up his energy while on the ground so the time in flight, in a seat, with not so much to do will not be so difficult.
And in the end, the airlines may still hand out wings to kids. I don't know. But way back when, when my kids were little, they got wing stickers after the flight. Not a big deal, but it was kind of fun to have them think they'd earned their wings. :-)
Have an awesome trip !!
M.A. answers from Allentown on August 14, 2008
Hello Jenn. I have 3 kids (7,4 and 2). I have flown with all of them on numerous occasions and we never had a bad time. We would bring sippy cups or bottles depending on their age so that during lift off and decent they would have something to suck on to help ease the ear poppingthat comes with the altitude change. For the 7 year old, we would bring some gum for him to chew on for the same effect. We also brought things like goldfish and pretzels to snack on and crayons and coloring books to keep them occupied. New ones work best because they are special for the trip.
H.F. answers from Pittsburgh on August 14, 2008
Couple of suggestions:
1. Take bubble or chewing gum for the take off and landing (alternatives to this are chewy candy that he likes for example, licorice or laffy taffy). This will help with the pressure in his ears during the take off and landing. Give it to him as soon as you start the take off and when they announce you will be landing. (This was a great help with my daughter who had to have 3 sets of tubes in her ears from recurrent ear infections. It is also a great help for adults as well.)
2. For the flight itself, pack light but bring many options for playthings. For a little boy his age, I recommend the following:
- 2 to 4 matchbox cars to allow for interaction between the cars and crashing while playing on the tray table.
- a ziplock baggie with a handful of crayons in multiple colors, a coloring book and some blank paper. If your son is one of those rare children who likes to draw on inappropriate things (like walls and tables), then instead of the crayons and paper, pick up somem color wonder markers and a color wonder coloring book.
- if you have a portable dvd player or laptop, you may want to bring it and a dvd or two just in case.
- if your son has a Vsmile or Leapster, this is a great thing to have to keep him busy on the flight.
- an alternative to a dvd player or game, would be a source of music, whether you own a mp3 player or a cd player or even a walkman. If it is an mp3 player or a walkman, store (record on tape for the walkman) some of your sons favorite songs for him to listen to quietly if he becomes bored.
- check with the airline as to what they allow as far as food goes. This way you will know whether you can bring candy or if you would have to go with the chewing gum.
- if your son likes playing with action figures, same as with the cars, bring 2 to 4 of them. Enough to interact but not enough to become bulky, take up too much room or weigh too much.
- if your son prefers trains, they make a Take-a-long Thomas that my 4 year old received for his 2nd birthday and still loves to play with. The track is also the carrying case. The little windup Thomas, a bridge, a station, 2 trees, 2 horses and 2 fences all fit inside. When in use all of the pieces except the train and the horses fit into little slots on the case. It has been a big help during our trips.
- Also, remember to pack a couple of bandaids. You probably won't need them. But I know with my 2 older kids (the youngest is just turning one next week), if they get a bump or a scratch, even if it doesn't need a bandaid, the bandaid sometimes makes it feel better. If you have a bandaid on hand, then you don't have to have the discussion about how a bandaid won't help. You can just stick it on and let him think it is helping. The placebo effect can be wonderful.
Anyhow, I hope this helps. If you have any other questions, I'd be happy to let you know what has worked for us when traveling just send me a message.
L.R. answers from Pittsburgh on August 14, 2008
I took my daughter who was also a 30 week preemie on her first flight at 5 months. she has flsown many times since then. She is now ten. make it fun. Pack his backpack with a few of his favorite things and also a couple of new things. I always wrapped a couple of small gifts for them. They thought it was great. nothing expensive. Hit the dollar store. Talk with the doctor for something for his ears. At this age I would give mine a small piece of gum top chew during the take off and landing. The landing seemed to have more pressure. I also taught mine to hold their nose and blow to help alleviate the pressure, this seems to help. Don't forget the snacks. We jsut returned from Florida and there is no snacks at all anymore.You still get drinks and you can buy a snack if you want. Remember though you will have to wait to get a drink after you go through security. Make it fun for the both of you like it is a big adventure and it should all go well. Even if it not that great don't worry about it, the more anxious you get he will pick up on it to. have a great time.
D.P. answers from Pittsburgh on August 13, 2008
I'll be flying for the first time this Saturday with my 5 yr old so I will be looking for the answers you get!
S.C. answers from Philadelphia on August 14, 2008
I have 3 kids and the older two have been on several flights. It usually goes better than we expect/ plan for :) (One of our kids was 2 1/2 when we flew 15 hours to Korea!) A couple of thoughts: there are these things I think called Earplanes. They are kid ear plug thingys to help reduce pressure. I know you can find them on onestepahead.com. Also, as a rule of thumb, I read to bring one new toy for each hour you'll be on the plane. Doesn't have to be anything expensive- just something they haven't seen before. Silly putty, travel aquadoodle, little cars or characters, markers, dollar store stuff... Bring a change of clothes (spills) and lots of snacks just in case the plane is delayed while your on the run-way. Not sure about for a 4 year old, but for a kids who was recently potty-trained, I'd bring a pull up because on one of our flights we were delayed and sat on the tarmac and they wouldn't let us get up to use the potty and we came dangerously close to a wet plane seat! I told myself next time I'd bring a pull up to slip on in case of absolute emergency! Also, we read a few books about going on a plane so they knew what to expect with going through security and the ride itself. They got excited and knew a little bit of what to expect. Good luck, I'm sure it'll be fine :)
S.K. answers from Philadelphia on August 14, 2008
When my oldest was 18 mos old, we were flying to Maine from Philly. She got an ear infection 2 days before we were to leave & I was terrified. They gave me some drops to put in her ears to help numb them if it became problematic. So...we go off & she is fine. My ears started hurting & I used the numbing drops. She was standing in the seat next to me looking out the window for a while & just as I get my ears to start feeling a bit better, I look over at her & see buildings at window level. They were landing & I had not heard any notice so she was standing while I had tears running down my face in pain.
You will probably be very surprised. but...if you are concerned, just go to your ped & ask if there is something they can prescribe to address any discomfort that may come up during the flight like the drops they gave me.
B.K. answers from Pittsburgh on August 14, 2008
Hi J.! When my oldest was 4 and my then youngest was 2 we flew to Flordia with them. My first suggestion is to take his car seat onto the plane with you. He is safe (and will be more comfortable) in his car seat on the plane. This also helps out in any car you rent once you get to your destination. Take a big bag with plenty of things to do/play with as well as clothes onto the plane as well...in your case I would just have a really big bag/purse! Cards, crayons (washable) coloring books (the small half page type are easier) a couple of action figures or cars that he can play with on the seat tray and a book or two to read to him should be great. Also you might want to take a few snacks and some gum. Chewing gum, sucking on a sucker or drinking when the plane takes off and lands should help with the ear popping issue. Also direct, non-stop flights are best. Once going up and once going down helps a lot...as well as not having to wait for connecting flights. Make sure you get plenty of sleep before the big day, maintain calm and expect chaos! And you'll have a great time. My girls were great durring their flight and I'm sure you'll have no problems! Have a great time!