Play Foam on the Plane: A Twos Class Travel Tip by Nidhi Kirpal Jayadevan

There’s something pretty awesome and intriguing about play-foam, or “floam” if you may. It is light, sticky and gooey in a weird way. Floam has this beady texture; plus it’s inexpensive and not messy.
One of the things that I almost ALWAYS travel with when I’m on a plane is this ball of blue floam. My kids, 2 and 5 (boys, at that, too!) who are generally shifty, LOVE floam. Otherwise easily distracted, they find immense joy and comfort in squishing this amazing “thing.”
After the kneading, pounding, pinching, “ball-making” is all done, the boys start jabbing plastic dinosaurs into their respective floamy piles. This is followed by putting all of this on Hot WheelsTM cars.
Once all this is done, I usually pull out coffee stirrers, and somehow the game is all about dinosaurs in fast cars out in space….You get the drift 😊
At the end of ALL this, either it’s time to land, or nap, or a snack is on the horizon! Time passes, and the kids have clocked in a fair amount of self-driven creative play. Win-win?
Sure, there are books, crayons and digital tablets that are intrinsic plane activities. Throw floam into the mix too, and you won’t regret it, I promise!

Find floam (and benefit QACP) at Amazon: http://amzn.to/2lytKI2

 

 

 

 

 

This post contains affiliate links.

Early Intervention for Long Lasting Benefits, by QACP Parent Educator Rebecca Hoyt

The earliest years of childhood are a period rapid development unlike any other time in our lives. It is a period punctuated with many firsts that parents will always remember: first smile, first word, first steps. These enormous leaps are the product of a myriad of complex processes that integrate development across five domains: fine motor, gross motor, communication, social/emotional, and cognitive. Development tends to happen in a predictable sequence which provides parents with a schedule of growth in children – we know that a baby will babble before she speaks and crawl before she walks. What we do not always know is when it will happen for individual children. Children change and grow according to their own individual developmental track and most arrive at their developmental destination within the expected age-range. According to the CDC, however, 1 in 6 children do not reach their particular milestones within the normal time limit and have a developmental delay.

A developmental delay is simply that – a delay in a child’s development – and the best course of action is early intervention. Because development builds upon itself and multiple domains are involved in the culmination of milestones, a delay in one domain can have a cascading effect that interferes with development in other domains. A motor delay – or a difficulty coordinating muscle groups – can contribute to a speech delay if a child can’t move his tongue to form certain sounds. Intervention, such as physical therapy or speech therapy, can help to alleviate the root delay, as well as stem subsequent delays. Early intervention is especially important because of the unparalleled brain development that occurs in early childhood. During this critical period, the neural circuitry that supports learning is at its most flexible and, therefore, most open the change. By taking advantage of this window of opportunity, early intervention can change the developmental trajectory for a child.

Your pediatrician performs developmental checks during your child’s Well Check appointments. If you happen to have a Well Check appointment coming up, you can use the Bright Futures checklist as a point of reference for measuring your child’s development. These are questionnaires were developed by the American Academy of Pediatrics specifically for Well Check appointments. If you are feeling uneasy about your child’s development or a loss of developmental gains and you do not have an upcoming visit with your pediatrician, schedule one right away and let your doctor know you would like to discuss your child’s development. Prior to your appointment, you can check your child’s development against a developmental milestone checklist that covers a wider range of skills than the Bright Futures questionnaire. Checklists available through the CDC and and the Department of Early Learning may help you identify areas where you are concerned. It also helps if you write down a few concrete examples to illustrate your concerns to your doctor. Observations from caregivers and/or preschool teachers are also useful. Your doctor should gather information from you and your child to determine if an evaluation is warranted. If your doctor urges you to “wait and see,” ask for clear guidelines as to just how long you should wait before coming back. If you aren’t satisfied with your doctor’s response or can’t ignore that voice in the back of your head, there are several things you can do that do not require a doctor’s referral.

The Early Intervention Program for Infants and Toddlers With Disabilities, or Part C of the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), is a federal grant program that offers statewide program of services and supports for children birth through 2 years old with developmental delays. In King County, WithinReach facilitates evaluation and early intervention services for children 3 and under. You can get started by calling their Family Health Hotline at 1-800-322-2588. They also offer a free online developmental assessment for children under 5 ½ years old called the Ages and Stages Questionnaire. It will be expertly scored and results returned to you within a week with recommendations. If you child is between the ages of 3-5, you can request a screening through the Child Find program sponsored by Seattle Public Schools. Call 206-252-0805 to set up a screening. Lastly, the Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers (M-CHAT) is a screening tool for toddlers between 16 and 30 months of age to help identify children who may benefit from a more thorough developmental and autism evaluation.

Speaking from personal experience, it can feel frightening to first consider that your child might be delayed, followed by a rush of emotions when your concerns are confirmed. We all know that parenting is not for the faint of heart. It takes courage to acknowledge the tug of parental instinct that refuses to be ignored. As Mark Twain said, “Courage is resistance to fear; mastery of fear – not the absence of fear.” So we must master our fear so that our children can master their potential.

Your Parent Educators and Children’s Teachers are here to support you. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have concerns about your child’s development.

Policy Highlight: QACP SCHOLARSHIP GUIDELINES*

Queen Anne Cooperative Preschool (QACP) offers a tuition assistance program. Any family that feels they need a reduced tuition for their child to attend QACP is urged to apply. Each year, QACP sets aside a fixed budget for tuition assistance.

There are two ways QACP awards tuition assistance: financial aid and scholarships. Financial aid is awarded first to eligible families who meet pre-defined income guidelines (see our co-op’s handbook). These are based on the Department of Health and Human Services guidelines, which also form the basis of the National School Lunch Program income eligibility guidelines.

If funds remain, scholarships may be awarded to families whose income exceeds the limit for financial aid, but who have expressed a financial hardship. All award decisions are confidential and are made and approved by the Board of Directors. To apply, complete the Scholarship Application and submit to the QACP Treasurer by the applicable date listed in the “Important Dates Calendar.”

Applications received after these dates will be reviewed on a first come, first serve basis if funds remain. The Treasurer will review and present the application confidentially to the Scholarship Committee, which consists of the Treasurer, Assistant Treasurer, and one Board Chair.

Internal applicants will be notified of their tuition assistance decision prior to the registration lottery. External and late registering families will be notified after class lists have been prepared. Families submitting applications after the deadline will be notified after the next scheduled Scholarship Committee meeting.

With respect to QACP’s refund policy: (1) for internal families registering in March, internal scholarships will be processed the same night as registration lottery, and (2) you will be contacted before checks are deposited as they will be returned to you before official class list is set, or (3) for external/late registering families, registration and other fees will be refunded if you did not receive 75% of the scholarship listed under the income guidelines.

If you have any questions, please contact the Treasurer at treasurer@queenannecoop.org

*QACP reserves the right to modify the financial aid policy and the amount of financial aid provided at any time.

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Member Spotlight: Jamie Djelosevic

Why did our family join co-op? I wanted to be involved in the class on a weekly basis and it seemed like co-op would provide a smoother transition into school for my son and myself (which it has!) QACP was a cost-friendly option in a wonderful neighborhood, plus I wanted my family to meet other kids in the community. When we toured I also loved our co-op Admissions Team Member because she was energetic/fun and lit up the big, bright classroom space.

Why we continue to register at QACP? I don’t think I fully understood what “building a parenting community” meant until co-op, but what a great feeling it is knowing and having so many friends nearby! Those moments are energy boosters and stress relievers! QACP gave me purpose and even a few challenges because being a board member can be hard work at times. We do feel that the rewards of helping members of your child’s school and the local community are addicting in a great way because of the responsibility a co-op parent has outside of watching their own kids (which has been very motivating for me!)

What do you really enjoy about co-op? I especially like being in the classroom with my own child watching his interactions outside of his home-life because it is fascinating to me. The QACP routine has been great for the whole family and I LOVE Teachers Linda and Amy! The play-based curriculum/structure of the classroom also fits our family’s style and the multiple adults in the classroom is a great fit for us too. I also appreciate the diverse personalities of teachers and parent assistants working with my child. My son is eager to always talk about and show us his school things because he is proud that he has friends and responsibilities at school (bell ringer is a big deal at our house!)

How is Pre-K unique at our co-op? For example, the kids have more responsibilities (a job everyday), projects must be done at some point (they may choose to wait five minutes, but then need to go work on the project), children are learning to write and are given multiple opportunities to do so daily, classroom sharing involves the other kids asking questions, our school offers many field trips, almost daily adventures to the playground, cooking weekly, and reading comprehension lessons.

What were we looking for in a Pre-K to get our child “Kindergarten Ready”? Our family wanted daily exposure to a school setting, introduction to writing and phonemic awareness (pre-reading skills), a play-based curriculum (versus a strict academic routine), and an actual non-daycare type pre-kindergarten nearby so my son could hopefully meet friends in the neighborhood.

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Friends and Making Amends by Pam McElmeel

novblogcoverphotoWhat can a parent do to help a child develop the skills needed to become the sort of person others will want to have as a friend? Isn’t it a natural progression of the maturation process for children to just pick up the behaviors that attract and maintain friendships? Much of the research focusing on young children and the development of “friendly” behaviors indicates that there are some very specific skills that make a child be a sought-after playmate. These skills must be modeled and/or directly taught. More importantly, there must be an expectation the skills will be applied when the appropriate situation arises.

Some skills are obviously important for developing friendships. Data tells us that children look for a playmate who has good ideas for play interactions and who knows how to take turns. They want someone who listens to them and does not insist on being first all of the time. A child who smiles is inviting even when no words are used. Most children also want their friends to be trustworthy so when they build a tower they can be assured their friend will not knock it down before they are ready to have it destroyed. However, one of the most important behaviors for helping children learn about being a good friend is often one that is forgotten about. Teachers and parents alike frequently forget to help children learn to make amends.

Making amends after demonstrating inappropriate and unfriendly behavior is very important to the playmate that was the “injured party.” Frequently, an “unfriendly” behavior is apologized for by saying “sorry. ” This means little to the victim and can be totally meaningless to the perpetrator because it is so easy to say and then be done with an uncomfortable situation. Whether the injury is to body, property or pride, the result for the injured party is a broken trust with the friend who caused the injury. In order for that bond to be restored, the friend must do something to reassure the victim that this kind of injury will not happen again. There has to be some cost to the unfriendly acting friend.

We know that the brain learns best when the levels of stress-related neurotransmitters are raised but not flooding the dendrites. When a child must plan how to make amends to rebuild the bond with a friend and then implement that action new learning is taking place. At the time of a break in the friendship bond, the victim may not want to be hugged or touched by the perpetrator, but a drawing, a flower, a new toy or a favorite treat presented at a later time can act as a request to start over, to try again. Young children recognize at an early age how to comfort someone although they may not understand why. It is our job as teachers and parents to help children learn how to be a good friend and the value of attempting to rebuild a relationship that went off course. The work the perpetrator must do helps him learn about controlling his behavior and the victim learns something about forgiveness.

As you interact with your friends, remember your child is watching and listening. You will teach them a great deal about establishing friendships and how to treat friends by the actions you take. As you interact with your child, model “friendly” play skills and explain why you are acting this way. If you are witnessing his interactions with others, pay close attention and make positive comments when he demonstrates any of the above skills. If an interaction goes awry, then help your child go beyond saying, “I’m sorry.” Help them understand how precious a friend is and how making amends is how he can show his wounded friend that he has learned a lesson and wants to be a good friend. Before a playdate, outline your the friendly behaviors you expect him to use. After the playdate debrief with him by asking for examples of one or two ways he acted like a good friend. Supporting his learning about friendship will be learning that will last a lifetime.

Emergency Information and Community Disaster Skills

As a mother of an almost three-year-old son and an active member of the Puget Sound community, I am forever finding myself in need of notifications about what is going on in my region. With autumn now upon us and winter only a few months in the future, having the ability to access the maximum amount of available information about health, safety, weather, travel, road conditions, events, and traffic challenges is important to me.

Seattle’s Office of Emergency Management (http://www.seattle.gov/emergency-management/) serves to prepare our community by minimizing potential dangers and current hazards through training and organized planning. OEM also is responsible for resolving the damage incurred to our region by natural disasters, disease, and/or city-wide events. Seattle’s nationally accredited OEM does this by networking with our neighborhoods, businesses, and local/federal agencies and has proven excellence in emergency preparedness, responsiveness, and recovery.

The Seattle Office of Emergency Management website features a/n:

  • series of interactive maps that highlight many of the city’s top hazards
  • calendar of local presentations at area libraries on emergency preparedness
  • emergency alert and real-time notification subscription system (AlertSeattle)
  • hot topics listing, emergency news, preparedness blog, and upcoming events.

In addition to OEM’s hazards map, being able to request community training, and check the neighborlink map, concerned citizens may also access pertinent city of Seattle-based information on:

  • earthquake home retrofit classes, preparing for “The Big One”,
  • “Stop the Bleed” seminars, disaster skills/basic aid workshops,
  • home hazards/plans, and local emergency preparedness.

Seattle Neighborhoods Actively Prepare (SNAP) is a part of OEM and encourages citizens to not only organize their own households, but to also speak to their neighbors about potential regional hazards. It is imperative that communities can work together to make certain a plan is in place ensuring care for everyone in times of emergency or disaster (http://www.seattle.gov/emergency-management/working-together/seattle-neighborhoods-actively-prepare). SNAP also offers online toolkits and customized presentations (such as the one Queen Anne Cooperative Preschool hosted earlier this year). For more information about SNAP, call 206-233-5076 or email them directly (SNAP@seattle.gov).

Additionally, our very own Queen Anne Cooperative Preschool (QACP) is hosting a CPR/First Aid Certification on Saturday, October 22nd, 2016 from 9AM-3PM through “I Know CPR, Inc.” (http://www.iknowcpr.com/) for approximately $50 in our co-op’s main classroom. For more information about this training workshop, please contact: QACP’s Health and Safety Coordinator (per the CPR/First Aid event registration form), your class officers (via our co-op’s google groups) or one of QA Co-op’s Board members (https://queenannecoop.org/about-2/the-board/).

Knowing that I have many local options to educate myself/family, our neighbors, and community helps me feel more secure about my son’s safety in the event of an emergency. Being confident that our region is consistently striving to prepare her citizens also makes it a little easier to relax while also enjoying my child grow up. Since climbing trees (while waving a magic wand fashioned from a stick) tends to be one of my son’s favorite pastimes, I have already registered myself into a handful of basic aid workshops and seminars to grow my safety skill set this autumn/winter season…won’t you join me?

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Vehicle Travel Preparedness for Parents

As the summer travel season draws to a close in much of the United States, many parents cannot help but reflect on their various vacation attempts and accomplishments over the past few months.  Fortunately for Seattleites, King County’s departments, agencies and offices (http://www.kingcounty.gov/depts.aspx) have also worked to provide easily implementable solutions to lessen citizen concerns about regular traveling, especially during an unexpected vehicle emergency.

This blog focuses on advice relating to the preparation and storage of necessary supplies during a potentially stressful travel-related event (e.g., car accident, traffic gridlock, non-functioning vehicle).  Co-op parent, Lisa McCluskey, not only relates her personal experiences below when creating a “Travel Preparedness Kit,” but also hopes that the steps outline in this article will assist other parents in feeling confident to tackle this often challenging topic.

Research industry best practices of personal/family travel.  On three separate occasions during my son’s inaugural year of co-op preschool, I found myself in unexpected emergency situations: twice when my SUV was hit by another driver (see image included in this blog) and once when he needed to go to the emergency room after tripping at a local holiday celebration.  Because of this, I always keep a personal backpack full of items we would both need if a travel-related emergency occurred plus, I store a smaller purse-sized tote in a second accessible place (in case I am unable to use my primary supplies).

King County’s website offers all of us a variety of helpful planning options in case of an emergency (MakeItThrough.org).  As a first line of personal vehicle preparedness, all drivers should thoroughly service their car, truck, RV and/or trailer regularly before hitting the road.  In addition, every individual that would be potentially riding in your vehicle (humans and pets) not only should always be completely secured per federal, state and local laws, but also have had emergency supplies packed for them in advance of travel.

What items have you chosen to include in own household’s “Travel Preparedness Kit”? I have included in this blog a list detailing the items in our family’s supply backpack that is kept with us at all times and/or independently stored in our vehicle:

  • water and non-perishable snacks;
  • games, books and crayons;
  • first aid kit, medications and sunscreen;
  • cleaner, disinfectant and towel;
  • electronic device chargers/cords; AND a
  • complete change of weather-resistant clothes.

All items fit in a standard 25-30L (Liter) foldable outdoor daypack (suitable for light hiking, backpacking, running and camping).  I replace it due to wear a few times per year and have never paid more than $20 for any one I am currently using.  Additionally, depending on your own family’s travel plans, you may wish to also consider always having quick access to:

  • extra cash (in local currency),
  • roadside emergency reflectors,
  • basic tools (e.g., screwdriver, adjustable wrench, pliers),
  • jumper cables, car jack, and spare tire.

Be safe, organized and aware of your surroundings when out and about daily.  For more information on what King County, WA recommends regarding personal and family travel preparedness (including for adults, kids and pets), please visit: http://www.kingcounty.gov/depts/emergency-management.aspx

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Creating a “Comfort Kit” for Emergencies

As our kids get older, they spend more and more time at Queen Anne Cooperative Preschool (QACP) without their parent or caregiver. This growth is great for kids and parents alike. In the event of an unxpected emergency, however, this could result in your child experiencing a temporary separation from mom and/or dad during a stressful time. QACP members have worked to identify easily implementable solutions to help parents provide means of comfort in such unusual events. This blog post focuses on when we as parents would not be able to be with our children during a stressful event (e.g., natural disaster, classroom or daycare lockdown, personal/work-related illness or injury).  Co-op parent Lisa McCluskey offers the following advice on creating a “Comfort Kit” to leave with your child’s caregiver and to help parents feel confident in addressing this safety topic with family, friends, and within their own communities.

Research the policies/practices of the individuals caring for your children regularly.  My son, Yuli, spends a significant amount of his time at QACP as he is there almost every day either in the main or multi-age classroom (MAC).  I have familiarized myself with the policies of QACP in the event of an emergency.  Additionally, if my son needs to be in the care of another adult during that time frame, I have also accounted for “common practices” of the co-op plus instances that may be unique to my family’s own requirements/culture/situation.  

QACP implements a variety of emergency plans in case of a natural disaster, classroom lockdown or sudden parental illness.  Our school’s budget also has provided for the supplies necessary to care for the individuals that may find themselves at the co-op when an unexpected emergency occurs.  I have considered those items when I chose to make my son his own “Comfort Kit” to avoid duplication.  Yuli’s personal kit was created to care for him until I am to be safely reunited with him.  It cost about $50.00.

What items have you chosen to include in your child’s “Comfort Kit”?  I have included in this blog a photo showing the items in my son’s comfort kit that is kept at his preschool.  All items fit in a water resistant, one gallon, zip top style eco-friendly labeled plastic bag (see image).  QACP will provide the necessary personal products and foodstuffs for multiple days along with prudent tools (flashlight, whistle, can-opener, thermal blanket, etc.) for each member in the classroom.  I chose to add for Yuli:

  1. Soft, pull-on hat
  2. Adjustable aqua shoes
  3. Extra diaper
  4. Pack of tissues
  5. Personal letter with stickers and family photo
  6. Change of clothes (onesie, long-sleeved shirt, stretchy pants)
  7. Lightweight and thicker socks
  8. Take-n-toss sippy cup
  9. Soft, hug-able toy
  10. Small board book

Observe safety and implement best practices when out and about daily.  Despite the fact that I have left a “Comfort Kit” in each of my son’s QACP class tote bags in the co-op classroom, I also always keep a personal backpack full of items we would both need if disaster suddenly struck.  Additionally, I store a smaller diaper bag-sized tote in a second place in case I am unable to access my primary supplies.   Doing this has already been beneficial to us on three separate occasions this year: twice when my SUV was hit by another driver and once when Yuli suddenly needed to go to urgent care and eventually the emergency room.

For more information on what King County, WA recommends regarding personal preparedness, your kids and creating comfort kits for use during an emergency, please visit: http://www.kingcounty.gov/safety/prepare/residents-business/PersonalPreparedness/Kids/ComfortKits.aspx

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Kids & K-9s: Interpreting an Animal’s Body Language

Queen Anne is a popular neighborhood in Seattle for dog owners and many QACP families count a pet as at least one of their family members.  Co-op parent and certified professional dog trainer/behavior consultant, Lisa McCluskey, offers the following tips on canine body language to help parents feel confident in addressing this important safety topic with their children.

We hear what dogs are telling us with our eyes.  Consider how as a parent you would describe to your children the skill of observing animal body language.  Picture in your own “mind’s eye” what you feel a friendly, safe, well-behaved dog looks like when he/she is wanting to interact with small children.  

Ask yourself questions about energy level, attentiveness to the owner (versus environment) and the level of relaxation you feel the dog should be displaying at that moment in time.  What would a dog need to be doing (or not doing) in order for you to feel fine about allowing your children to pet him/her?  Realize this would be the dog of a complete stranger and take into account that you may never see the dog or human under consideration ever again.

Next, mentally list various nonverbal cues demonstrated by the “safe” dog you are envisioning in your mind.  What could any caretaker of your child point out to kids for consideration/education in a situation including a possible dog interaction?  These should be notes an adult is easily able to store as talking points before any attempt is made by the children to touch an animal owned by someone else.  

After you feel that you have a solid vision in mind for what you hope would be a good dog experience for your children, personally test your hypothesis out in your community without children being present.  Then, disseminate your results.  Were you correct on which dogs ended up being “friendly”?  

Additionally, how would the dogs you met have done if you were also accompanied by one or more children at the same time?  Best practices would dictate troubleshooting the common problems you encountered when out alone meeting the dogs of others BEFORE adding children you are caring for into the mix.

Many misconceptions exist in our culture when interpreting an animal’s behavior towards encountering humans (adults and children).  At the very least, a dog that you introduce to your children should have the wholehearted permission of the person holding the animal’s leash to do so.  Children should wait until their caretaker gives an “all clear” to meet a dog.  Permission to interact with a pet must include simple, age-appropriate instructions for the child/children to carry out at the beginning, middle and end of the interaction.  

Generally speaking, professional dog trainers and behavior consultants recommend when putting kids and dogs together, “If in doubt, don’t.”  There are a lot dogs in Seattle.  Consider the fact that in the course of one day, there will be innumerable humans that may not be in a position to stop and interact with you.  Therefore, we could also estimate that there would be a similar magnitude of dogs out being walked in the same position and of identical persuasion.  

Observe safety and implement best practices when allowing your children to interact with animals.  Learning to understand and process information about body language is an invaluable tool for building empathetic and powerful adult communication skills.  Dogs are able to be phenomenal teachers both up close and at a distance for our children.  Encourage the power of observation (before action) when introducing animal awareness education every day to kids and the benefits will be immeasurable.  For more information on fostering healthy relationships between children and dogs, please visit https://www.aspca.org/parents.

 

Tips for long haul flights with a toddler

Community Member Alina Metjie of the 2’s class wrote this post for us earlier this year to share her experience:

I recently traveled alone with my 3-year-old son from Seattle to South Africa and Namibia via Europe, which included eight flights, four of which were long haul flights. I thought some parents might benefit from my experience, so here are a few tips to make the trip easier for your child and yourself.

Travel route

I had two long haul flights in each direction (9 and 11 hours) with a 6-hour layover in London. I booked a hotel room at the airport for the layover, which I found helpful as my son could run around, bath, and sleep and was in a much better mood afterwards. Some big airports (like Heathrow) have Jungle gyms, which can be very helpful during waiting times. Check out the airports online before you get there.

Car seat

Since my child needed his own plane ticket and seat (from 2 years onwards) and we needed a car seat at our destination, we had the option to bring our own car seat on the plane. Bringing your own, a seat you are familiar with and know how to use, is the safe option, and most children can sleep much better in their own car seat anyway. Here are some links about FAA recommendations:

http://www.faa.gov/passengers/fly_children/

Leaving on a Jet Plane – The CSFTL Guide to Safe Air Travel with Children

The issue is how to transport the car seat on the long ways at the airport, especially if you’re the only adult and have to carry all the hand luggage too. Note, you don’t pay for extra hand luggage when taking the car seat on the plane. There are lots of different options available e.g. using a car seat travel cart, connecting your toddler’s car seat to your rolling carry-on suitcase or using the stroller for the car seat. Below some links of the most popular options:

http://goo.gl/1K06KR
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http://goo.gl/iDlkLe

Packing hand luggage wisely

I had a small rolling suitcase and an extra backpack as hand luggage. I stored the suitcase in the locker above me and put the backpack underneath the seat in front of me. I made sure I had everything I needed for my son for the whole flight packed in the backpack and easily accessible at all times. Our backpack included snacks, spare clothes, a travel potty (see below), wet wipes, an iPad, a bottle and formula. My son still drinks warm milk out of a bottle when he wakes up and since there is usually no milk available on planes, besides the small tins you get for your coffee, I bought some formula just for the trip and checked at home if he would drink it.

Travel potty

My son doesn’t wear diapers anymore but sometimes he refuses to use public toilets, so I was worried if he would use the plane toilet and if we would both fit into the small bathroom. Further, waiting times at gates can become tricky since there are not always bathrooms nearby. A travel potty was the perfect solution. I purchased http://goo.gl/Y4RHKC and was extremely happy with it.

My son could wee anywhere he needed to. I would either take him to the bathroom or look for quiet corners at the airport. On the plane I even used it in front of our seats without anyone noticing. You can just knot the plastic bag afterwards and throw it away. It saved me when he needed to wee urgently after the plane landed.

We even used the travel potty at our destination so we didn’t need to buy or carry an extra toilet seat ring (which we usually use at home). There is an extra inlay available, so you don’t have to use plastic bags at your destination. The potty looks quite small and I was at first concerned if my son would be able to ‘aim’ right and not make a mess, but I tried it at home first and it worked fine for him.

Entertainment on the plane

I found travelling with my 3 year old much easier than when he was 2 years old as he could keep himself busy for quite long stretches. I took an iPad with and, very important, a headset for his iPad. We bought http://goo.gl/dqpI55, which has a volume limit cable to limit audio volume. For the first time my son was also interested in the on plane movies.

The headphones they have on the planes are usually poor quality and not suitable for children so I would strongly recommend bringing your own. The best ones are active noise cancelling headphones. There are many different types and price ranges available. I got one free, so have no idea how expensive it was. They are extremely comfortable (the cheap plane headphones really made my ears hurt after about an hour) and reduce environmental noise (especially the noise from the plane itself) a lot, so one can watch a movie properly. I even ended up sleeping with them as the plane noise bothered me.

And lastly

Always stay calm and don’t stress about a melt down. Every so often, you see a travel article about people who think babies and kids should be banned from air travel or moved to a separate section of a plane. These curmudgeonly business travelers assert their right to a library-silent, no-wails-allowed flight. But your child is just acting it’s age and you can expect adult fellow passengers to act theirs. I luckily never had really bad experiences, but I usually just ignore child unfriendly passengers.