PARENTING ADVICE from Parenting NI

Q. We are taking our son abroad for the first time in July, he’ll be 3 years old by then. Since we booked it I have been worrying about everything especially the plane journey. Do you have any tips for taking a toddler on holiday?

A. When travelling with children it is better to plan ahead. Try to arrive at the airport in plenty of time, this means you wont be rushing to catch your plane or panicking if your son decides he urgently needs the toilet or a drink. You can also give your son his own mini-suitcase which will make him feel more grown-up and part of the holiday experience.

Bring along simple snacks such as dried fruit and biscuits in case he doesn’t like the airline food and his favourite drinking cup on the plane. Distraction is a very good tecnique for helping children cope with sitting in one spot for a long period of time. His favourite toy, books and crayons, a small pot of playdough that can be played with on the folddown tray, or stickers will help deal with his boredom throughout the journey.

When choosing which toys to bring it is usually better to pick silent toys as this will be appreciated by other passengers. On planes changing cabin pressure during take-off and landing can be uncomfortable, you can ease your sons discomfort by giving him a sweet to suck on. When on holiday it helps to stick to your normal meal and nap routine as much as possible, this will help your son settle in a strange environment. Children are more vulnerable to the sun’s harmful effects so be extra cautious when you’re out and about. Use a sun hat and make sure his shoulders are covered, apply a high-factor sunscreen to exposed skin and reapply sunscreen frequently.

It is important to keep young children hydrated in the heat, so offer him plenty of cool drinks and especially water. It is also helpful to research beach and swimming pool safety before going on holiday, as these are the most common activities children enjoy.

The Parenting NI helpline offers a freephone and appointment service throughout Northern Ireland, including Craigavon, Armagh and Newry. If you would like to talk through a family problem or make an appointment, contact freephone on 0808 8010 722 or e-mail help@parentingni.org

For further information on the range of services which Parenting NI offers, including parenting courses log onto: www.parentingni.org