1. Don't fly with a newborn under seven days of age
"The child's lungs are not fully developed and oxygen levels can get low during flight," says Dr. Mia Lang, a pediatrician at the Stollery Children's Hospital in Edmonton and an assistant professor at the University of Alberta. If you must travel by air, talk to your doctor first and ask the airline about its age policies for travellers.
2. Learn the onboard rules if your child has a health condition
Perhaps you need a letter that outlines what medications your child will need to take during the flight. If your child has diabetes, for example, you should know the airline's policy for bringing insulin and syringes on board. And if your child has a food allergy, you should let the flight attendants know, says Lang. If your child has specific dietary needs, you should be able to bring your own meal, but once again, it's a good idea to check first with the airline.
3. Give your motion-sickness-prone child an over-the-counter antinausea medication 30 to 60 minutes before departure
If you give her the medication before you leave the house, it might wear off before the actual departure. And if you take liquid form of medication, it's best to get the airline's medication policy beforehand. (Medication in pill form is typically allowed, though, says Lang.)
Related: The best family-friendly vacation spots
4. Get your child to suck on something to prevent her ears from hurting during the flight
Younger children have smaller Eustachian tubes (the tube in each ear that helps even out pressure) so they may have a painful time during a flight. “Suck and swallow,” advises Lang. Breast-feeding or sucking from a bottle or soother may offer relief for babies, especially during takeoff and landing, when it can be most painful. As for older children, chewing gum or eating lollipops may help. You can also tell your child to forcibly exhale against closed lips while pinching her nose.
5. Make sure you bring kid-friendly activities
"Children get cranky because they're bored, uncomfortable or in pain," says Lang. Bring carry-on activities such as simple colouring books, handheld puzzles or small reading books, she says.
6. Keep your children seated on the window side to prevent injury from trolleys and other passengers
This may not always be possible, but try it, says Lang.