For every parent on the planet, the prospect of a long-haul flight with an infant is the stuff of nightmares.
But there are ways to ease the struggle, as MailOnline Travel discovered when it invited mums to share their coping strategies – methods that have actually worked for them in moments of crisis.
Everything from barricading your toddler into their seat and never allowing them to explore the isles, to keeping them entertained by covering them in stickers to pick off, these creative tricks might be just the ticket for next time you fly with little ones.
There are ways to ease the struggle of flying long-haul with a little one, as MailOnline discovered when it invited mums to share their clever coping strategies (stock image)
‘This sounds odd but works,’ said 45-year-old mum Lucy Banwell, from Oundle, Northamptonshire. ‘Buy packs of stickers (those cheap ones that are little coloured dots or gold stars).
‘Then stick them all over your toddler and she or he will spend hours picking them off!’
Another advised against letting your child wander the aisles.
‘Do not, under any circumstances, let your children explore the plane,’ said Charley Mulliner, 33, and based in Hong Kong. ‘Wedge them into the area between your seats – make a barrier with bags – and make this their play pen.
‘Always ask for an extra blanket, that can be used to pin over them like a tent. Take safety pins (yes, they’re allowed) to help attach this to the seat backs.’
Another mum, however, took the opposite approach during one long-haul flight.
One mother covered her toddler in stickers during a long plane journey, which her daughter then spent many contented hours peeling off herself (stock image)
‘We took a full Thomas the Tank engine wooden train set and set it up in the aisle. About 20 kids aged two to seven years old joined in and all the parents got some peace and quiet for almost two hours,’ Jaime Fagan, 38, from Bristol, revealed.
‘Even the cabin crew were happy about it but that might not always be the case.’
Another mum, Rachel Ball de Silvestri from Cheshire, told us: ‘Never give your child an iPad (ever, ever) except on flights.
‘This is my secret weapon and it never fails. We fly a lot and this technique ensures happiness all round.
‘My daughter is so desperate to get her hands on an iPad like everyone else that as soon as she has it on the plane she’s occupied for endless hours.’
Another mum told us: ‘Never give your child an iPad (ever, ever) except on flights. This is my secret weapon and it never fails’ (stock image)
One parent suggested buying a small selection of new toys wrapped up as presents, to help them associate positively with flying, while another often hands out chocolates to surrounding passengers.
‘Make them feel better about your hyperactive, kicking child and then those disapproving daggers will be replaced with nonchalant glances and occasional smiles,’ remarks Natasha Eldred, 40, based in Thailand.
And if you’re travelling with a partner, eat at different times, another suggests.
‘Ask to have your in-flight meal at a slightly different time to your partner’s, if the crew are willing to keep it warm for 15 extra minutes,’ she offered.
‘That way, one of you has your hands free to look after a toddler – who, not being trapped staring at your tray, is therefore less tempted to grab the contents of your lunch with both hands and throw it around.
‘I came up with that one the hard way!’
Finally, don’t just pack a change of clothes for your child in your hand luggage, warns Rachel, 40, from Lancashire.
‘Take a spare pair of leggings and vest for yourself in case of a 30,000ft poonami,’ she said.