Flying With Kids, Demystified

It's summer, which means that millions of people will be taking to the skies and going on vacation. For parents traveling with children, getting off the ground safely and sanely can be a huge challenge. Here's some information about what to expect both at the airport and while flying the friendly skies.

Pack Smart:
Other than an air sick bag—which, beyond its intended use, can be filled with hot water to warm a baby bottle—there is nothing onboard an airplane that can help you help your kids. Think ahead, and bring all of the basics: medications, at least one change of clothes, food, diapers and bags to dispose of soiled items and toys or games to occupy your children. Portable DVD and music players are terrific to keep kids entertained, but make sure you remember to bring junior-sized earphones. Small, wrapped surprises that you can distribute throughout the course of the flight will help, too, or consider packing some mess-free crafts like pipe cleaners or paint-with-water books. The latter only require a small amount of water and kids feel like they're working on a major project.

Get Through Security:
Tell children who are old enough to understand that everyone needs to be screened at security, including children and babies. The Transportation Security Administration workers will not separate you from your children, but each member of your family will be asked to walk through the screener on his or her own, if they can. All non-checked items must go through the x-ray machines, including strollers and car seats. This also goes for teddy bears, binkies and anything else your kids are carrying, so think ahead. A backpack is a good idea for slightly older kids who will need a single place to stuff games or toys they're carrying. Remove and organize items in the stroller so it can easily be collapsed. If items are too large, they'll be inspected by hand. In the United States, medications, baby formula and baby food, breast milk and juice are allowed in reasonable quantities exceeding 3 ounces, but you must declare them before you go through security. Have them separated from your other luggage and in a plastic bag. In many cases, TSA workers will pull you aside and further inspect your liquid containers. You can also bring gel or liquid-filled teethers and canned or jarred baby foods. Check your stroller at the gate so you can use it all the way to through the jetway. It will be delivered to you as soon as you land, just outside the door to the plane.

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