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Flying And Crying: Tips for Parents

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(credit: CBS) Mike Binkley
Mike Binkley has been covering Minnesota news for more than 25 year...
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By Mike Binkley, WCCO-TV

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Around the holidays, you see more families at the airport, hoping for a peaceful flight with the kids. The other passengers are hoping for the same thing.

Surveys show a majority of flyers would prefer the option of child-free flights, or families-only sections on planes, but no airlines are offering that right now.

The sound of a child crying can reach 110 decibels — about the same as a power saw — which can be quite unpleasant in confined spaces like airplanes.

Dr. Janielle Nordell is a child behavior specialist with Hennepin County Medical Center. She says parents who are planning to fly with their children shouldn’t just show up, hoping for the best.

“You need to actually plan for the worst,” she said. “So even if your child is always very calm and you can calm them down right away, this is a new situation.”

Nordell said parents should carry on several things to distract children and keep them occupied. And parents should also make sure they don’t have a meltdown of their own.

“If you are anxious, your child is going to be anxious,” she said. “So keeping a calm, collected perspective. I know it’s a very stressful situation for everyone, but your child is going to reflect what you’re doing as well.”

For infants, she said it helps to have a bottle or pacifier to suck on, especially on take-off with the change in air pressure. Ear plugs can also help with that.

For older children, Nordell suggests doing some role-playing before the trip so they’re not surprised by all the new experiences.

And among the distractions she recommends: food, games and videos.

As far as other passengers without children, Nordell said dirty looks don’t usually help, but noise-reduction headphones can.

Several parents have written blogs about flying with children, which can give you more ideas.

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