How to keep your child quiet and content when strapped in

..To airplane seats/ strollers/ cars

I’ve made many, countless solo trips with my son overseas, over trains, over night, over cars, whatever, which have lasted from 1 hour to 48 hours of travel, transit and what not. And I won’t lie. My son is an easy traveller. But I’d like to think there’s a part I’ve played in making him the cool dude of all travels. I’ve got this kid strapped into a seat and happy thing down. In one plane ride, a couple generously dumped their 2 kids on me to babysit while they “reconnected”. And I did great. Ok enough boasting. Here are some tips to keep your child happy and quiet within reason in a car, stroller or wherever else

1. Advance preparation

Tell them exactly what’s going to happen. I find that my son does much better when he has an idea of what to expect. So I usually give him a lowdown of what’s going to happen – we fly for x hours and then have a car ride for y hours. But at the end, we get to meet Cousin R. That keeps him going. Well, for starters, at least.

2. Switch around the schedule a bit

You know which kids are quiet? The ones that sleep! So, for long journeys or outings, I keep my son awake a bit farther than his nap time so that he’s out like a match the moment we’re on the move.

3. Tire thee

This is related to the nap thing. The more tired they are, the less likely they are to be the bundles of energy they typically are. So, the day before, or the day of, if you have time, let them run it out, burn that fuel and then relax their bones when the outing commences.

4. Eat right

Avoid the sugar rush! Sugar highs are bad enough when they have the room to run around. But strapped in a car or a stroller, forget it! Make sure to give high fibre snacks that’ll keep them full and quieting snacks such as protein-laden milk.

5. Bring the right snacks

One of the time-passes of these never-ending journeys are snacks of course. In fact, when we used to do student road trips, one of the crucial questions was who was bringing what to munch on. For kids, it’s pretty much the same too. I like to carry non-greasy, easy-to-munch, filling and healthy snacks like Cheerios for my son.

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6. Drug if you dare

Medicinally it’s perfectly ok to give your fussy toddler a dose of Benadryl before a red eye flight. It makes them sleep better and wake up refreshed. And keeps you sane. Well, if that’s not for you, there are so many other things you can do anyway. Read on.

7. Plan games

If your child is old enough, plan to play “I spy” or “Antakshari” or whatever. If not, bring a puzzle book, a sticker book, a coloring book or even story books to keep them occupied for a chunk of time.

8. Bring a busy bag 

A busy bag is one of those great momventions that totally gets you through an hour or too. Per child, pack a specific bag with things they love and will be delighted to find – Lego bricks, train toys, minion blocks, whatever. Make sure you spring it as a surprise on them to keep them entertained for a bit.

9. Bribe before, not after

It makes sense to offer a new toy or make the promise of ice cream before you leave on the outing. Instead of midway during a tantrum dropping the bomb that she ain’t getting no ice cream. Instead promise a scoop of ice cream for tea if she’s well behaved at the mall in the stroller.

10. Technology rocks

When all else fails, iPhone wins. The apps, the games, YouTube, whatever is going to buy you all the time and more than you wanted. Believe you me.

Have we missed some tried and tested method that’s worked for you? Join in and discuss here.

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