Getting on a flight can be a stressful affair and when there’s a young child involved, that stress level increases exponentially. As a mother who has travelled with her baby no less than five times in the past year, I am fully aware of how difficult it can be. So when I found out that Etihad Airways offered Flying Nanny services — the specially trained Flying Nannies provide an extra pair of hands to keep kids occupied so that parents can have a breather — I thought who better to give our readers travel advice than from one of them.
Here, an Etihad Airways Flying Nanny shares her top tips for making travel with the little ones an absolute breeze.
Get into their world — Children are little people who are learning how to be grown-ups. They are developing their understanding of the world around them through their experiences. Being on the aircraft is a brand new experience, but also a very unusual experience where we ask children to eat, sleep and play in the same seat for several hours and ‘be good’. Many adults would find this challenging, and it is no different for children. Explaining what happens onboard, giving children points in the flight to ‘get-to’ so they aren’t simply sitting for hours will certainly help ensure smoother flights.
‘Get-to’ points — Children enjoy knowing what is going on around them and like to know what is happening next. They feel secure in having a routine and knowing what is going on. Putting them on board an aircraft where everything is new and where they do not know what is going to happen next can be very stressful. Explaining what is going to happen during their flights and giving them certain points to ‘get to’ such as meal times, movie times and nap times can help children to relax and bring normality to a new experience.
Food for thought — Snacks that you know your child will enjoy are always a great idea to bring along with you in flight. It is always good to be mindful of the amount of sugar in snacks and treats because all that extra energy will have to be released at some point. Offering treats toward the end of the flight as a reward for good behavior may help manage your child’s energy levels.
Sleep tips — Flying can be exhausting for your little ones, and it can be very challenging to get some well-earned rest in a seat or if you are over tired. Maintaining your child’s normal bedtime routine as closely as possibly will help. Simple things such as warming milk before bed or even changing children in to their pyjamas can help settle children in to their normal sleeping routine.
If your children need a little extra help to send them off to sleep, some simple tips such as gently brushing your fingers down their forehead and nose at a slow, steady pace can help, especially for little ones. Gently rubbing their stomachs or backs in a slow, consistent pace will also help them to settle for sleep. Also, holding a hand to their stomach but not giving them attention works well. This reassures your child that you are still with them, but does not give them attention to which they will respond and will keep them awake.
Distractions — Distractions are a great way to divert your child’s attention away from doing something they shouldn’t be doing, and you can use absolutely anything as a distraction! Distracting your child’s attention and diverting it by showing them something new, giving it your full attention, will get your child interested in it. This will distract them from doing what they shouldn’t be doing. This works well in the aircraft with all the ‘pings’ of call bells and the seatbelt lights in the cabin that switch on and off.
For more information on Etihad’s Flying Nanny Services, please click here.