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21 Secrets to Flying with Kids from Flight Attendants and Pilots

Flying with little ones can be harrowing—but it doesn't have to be! We gathered top travel tips from people who are seasoned vets both as parents and as airline professionals.

Flying with children: two year old baby sleeping in her own car seat setting on an ordinary seat on a commercial airliner. Concept photo of air travel with baby. Natural in-plane lightning conditionsAlina Reynbakh/Shutterstock

Make sure their car seats are airline approved


"If you're bringing car seats for your kids, make sure they are airline approved. Not all seats will work in airplanes and then you're stuck with something you can't use at the gate. Plus kids are used to being confined when in their seats and they are usually happier there." —Mike Gudmundson, pilot 26 years 

Baby plastic gyro bowl, plastic cup, spoon, bib.csivasz/Shutterstock

Use disposable sippy cups


"Having a sippy cup is a good idea as it can help children's ears and comfort them. We are a big fan of these disposable cups. They work great and if we accidentally lose one on the trip it's no big deal." —Christie Poulton

chewing gum wrapper lying on a white isolated backgroundStudio KIWI/Shutterstock

Pack lollipops, gum, or pacifiers


"Infants have very small Eustachian tubes which allow the pressure to equalize in their inner ears. This can mean a lot of pain and crying during takeoff and landing because little kids have no other way to tell you their ears hurt. Having something for them to suck on during the ascent and descent, like a lollipop or pacifier, will help lessen the pain—for everyone." —Mike Gudmundson. Here are 7 more ways to soothe your kids' ears on your next plane ride.

family travel by plane- mother wtih two kids in flightNadyaEugene/Shutterstock

Consider buying a separate seat for your child

"A big problem is when people buy one ticket, designating their baby as a 'lap child' to save money. Often they will then put the child in an empty seat next to them but that's actually illegal. A lap child must sit on your lap. If you're unsure what you can do, ask the flight attendants, they know all the rules." —Ryan S.

close-up stacks of baby diapersoiv/Shutterstock

Diapers, diapers, diapers


"Bring more diapers than you think you'll need because we don't have any on the plane." —Christie Poulton

Christmas background with decorations and gift boxes on wooden board good photoLDWYTN/Shutterstock

Wrap up some cheap gifts


"Go to the dollar store and buy a few inexpensive toys (sticker books are a great option!) and wrap them in fun, sparkly, colorful wrapping paper. Then hide them in your carry on bags and reveal them one at a time. Kids love a surprise and unwrapping the gift will add to the fun and keep them occupied longer." —Agnes J. There are even some road trip games that might be helpful while you're on the plane with kids.

glass of milk, a carton of milk on wooden table.BigBigbb1/Shutterstock

Buy a carton of milk in the airport, after security


"If your child prefers to drink milk, buy a carton from a store in the airport since you can't bring any liquid through security, even if it's in a bottle or sippy cup. Most airlines do not carry milk." —Christie Poulton

Little child with tablet computer on the lap sitting by the illuminator in the planed13/Shutterstock

Splurge on entertainment


"Bring as many new toys and activities as you can fit in a carry-on and can afford. New toys are always better than old when you're a kid! You just spent a gazillion dollars on tickets, $50 or so dollars on entertainment that will keep them riveted for a seven-hour flight is a good investment." —Mike Gudmundson Mom bloggers shared things that are lifesavers whenever they travel with children.

waste recycling, reuse, garbage disposal, environment and ecology concept - close up of rubbish bag with trash or garbage at homeSyda Productions/Shutterstock

Bring extra bags for your kids' trash

"Bring baby wipes for quick clean ups and extra plastic bags to dispose of any trash that you create. I can’t tell you how many times parents and kids leave crumbs and trash strewn across their row despite us having walked by to collect trash multiple times over the course of the flight! Think of it like a national park—you pack it in and you pack it out." —Christie Poulton

Sugar coated gum dropsRobert Hassenpflug/Shutterstock

Bring sugar


"Kids are all about the snacks. Small snacks, like cereal, will keep them entertained longer. You can try to feed them healthy snacks if you want but often treats make better bribes. Don't worry, they can go back on their regular diets after they get off the 14 hour flight to Japan! This works especially well on grumpy teenagers." —Mike Gudmundson. Traveling without your kids might seem easier, but here are the lamest excuses for leaving the kids at home.

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Originally Published in Reader's Digest