Flying with small children sparks anxiety in even the most unflappable parent.The trick to keeping your offspring calm and collected in an environment where there is absolutely nowhere to run and hide? Patience, preparation, and packing like a pro. Lucky for you, there is a spate of new gear to make your trip relatively smooth.
MaxiCOOL 4 Bottle Cooler An insulated bag (with reusable ice pack) that holds four standard bottles and food jars. $13, www.rightstart.com
Panasonic Portable DVD Player DVDLS86 With two headphone jacks for private listening, a built-in battery, and up to 13 hours of playback, this is like Valium for small children.$200, www.bestbuy.com
EarPlanes Hypoallergenic filters regulate changing air pressure, eliminating discomfort while reducing noise. $7, www.onestepahead.com
Go Diego Go! Diego’s Animal Discovery Laptop from Fisher-Price Keeps preschoolers occupied in a virtual animal kingdom. Double-sided pages demonstrate letters, numbers, and animal facts. $30, www.toysrus.com
Pink Nitro Notebook Laptop from VTech This high-tech laptop is a learning tool that reads stories aloud and helps kids master math, logic, social studies, and science. $50, www.toysrus.com
Mom’s on the Phone by K’s Kids With the press of a button, your kids can hear favorite songs and prerecorded messages from Mom (and Dad). $20, www.world-of-toys.com
Ocean Wonders Portable Mobile Soft textures, music, and colors fascinate infants for hours. $6 with teether, www.fisher-price.com
Dadgear Messenger Diaper Bag Lightweight bag with a changing pad, eight compartments, exterior bottle pockets, and a wipe case. Did we mention it’s very manly? $79, www.target.com
Baby Sherpa Diaper Bag Boasts a soft-sided cooler integrated into the backpack for storing bottles, snacks, beverages, and medications; an oversize changing pad; and a padded pocket to hold a video camera or a breast pump. Fits ascarry-on luggage for all airlines. $89, www.babysherpa.com
The First Years Take & Toss Variety Bag A 28-piece assortment of brightly colored cups, bowls, and spoons. $12, www.toysrus.com
Simplify travel with the handy Sit n Stroll Car Seat Stroller, which converts to a stroller, a booster seat, or a flight seat. $250, www.rightstart.com
To prevent volatile scenarios -- hunger, upset stomach, cooties, vomit, head congestion, and, of course, boredom -- plan, and pack, for everysituation. Here’s a checklist:
• Always pack for triple the amount of the time of your scheduled flight, because there’s no drugstore at 32,000 feet. If your flight is delayed, you’ll be well prepared.
• Leave complicated, fashionable gear at home and dress your infant in a simple, snap-happy onesie that can be changed in a narrow airplane bathroom.
• To prevent ear pain, bring extra bottles and pacifiers for babies (lollipops for toddlers) to suck on the way up and down.
• For toddlers, pack at least one bribery item per 45 minutes to diffuse tantrums.
• Eradicate germs with antibacterial wipes.