Flying With a Toddler: A Complete Guide For Parents
If you’ve ever boarded a plane with an unruly toddler, you know just how quickly the start of your vacation can turn into a nightmarish experience. Here are tips to make your experience flying with a toddler for the first time.
The Lowdown in Flying with a Toddler
Not to put a too fine point on it, but flying with a toddler is quite intense. It’s stressful for the kid, for you as the parent and, often, for other passengers as well. Most parents who have been through it comment that flying with a baby is a breeze in comparison.
Once they hit the ‘terrible two’ stage, kids become curious, loud, and are determined to stay awake at all times. If there’s something even remotely interesting around a toddler (and what can be more interesting than a plane?), getting them to sleep is almost impossible.
If you’re getting ready for your first laugh-haul flight with a toddler:
- Be prepared to entertain them
- Also, be prepared to apologize profusely to everyone sitting around you. That’s simply the reality of the matter.
However, should the prospect of annoyed co-passengers deter you from flying with your child? Should your child not see the world with you? Not visit their grandparents, cousins, and friends? Miss out on vacations just because they can’t sit quietly for hours? Even some adults have a problem with that.
Traveling with toddlers on a plane is uncomfortable for almost everyone involved except (in most cases) the little rascals themselves. However, there are ways to make that leg journey of yours as painless as possible. All you need is a bit of planning and preparation.
That’s why we’re excited to share our 7 tips for keeping your toddler safe, happy, and entertained on a plane.
7 Awesome Tips for Flying With a Toddler
Instead of stressing about what the other passengers might say if your toddler turns into a Duracell battery during the fight, learn what you can do to facilitate your 2 year old’s early flying experiences and make them (and everyone around them) as happy as possible.
1. Ask About Spare Seats
Most airlines don’t charge 2-year-olds and under for a flight (or they charge 10 to 15% of the adult fare). However, this means that your child will have to travel sitting on you. Not only is that not safe, it’s also uncomfortable, especially on long flights.
What you want to do is ask if there’s a spare seat on the plane as soon as you arrive at the check-in counter. Make sure to emphasize that you do not want to pay extra, but also say that your child would be so much more comfortable sitting alone. Say that you can guarantee that they would cry less! Most airlines will be happy to provide you with one if there is room. Like you, they want your child to be comfortable and not to disrupt others.
2. Dress Your Toddler In Layers (Avoid Buttons)
The last thing you want to deal with at the airport security is large sweaters, coats with buttons, or complicated shoes. You want your toddler to pass through as quickly and as painlessly as possible.
That’s why you should dress them in layers with no buttons at all and slip-on shoes. This makes the whole process go faster, especially if a difficult security officer decides to give you any trouble.
Also, toddlers get fussy if they are too hot, too cold, or too anything. Dressing them in layers and making sure that you can quickly put on and take off their clothes means that you can accommodate their needs in an instant, and with the minimum amount of fuss.
3. Pack Sensibly (And By The Book)
When flying with a toddler, there are several things that you have to make sure are in your carry-on luggage. And, none of those things are yours, which is something that will take some time getting used to if you’re a first-time parent. What you absolutely need are diapers, wipes, and some clean clothes, in case of an ‘incident’.
Then, make sure that you pack enough baby food. Most of the times, your kid won’t like the airplane menu so it’s best to be on the safe side. Whatever liquids you do pack, make sure that they are in the correct containers (no larger than 3.4 ounces or 100ml). Pack a couple of small bottles of water as well.
When it comes to snacks, we recommend healthy, non-perishable items – dried fruit, whole grain biscuits, and so on. See to it that your child is chewing on something during take-off and landing, as that will help with the pressure in their ears.
4. Plan for Vigorous Activities at the Terminal (Exhaustion IS Key)
You would be smart to come to the airport several hours before your flight. Other than just being sensible and practical, this gives you an opportunity to tire your toddler out while you’re still at the terminal. Play with them, let them run and run with them – anything to bring them closer to the point of exhaustion. While other items on this list will definitely help you survive the flight with a toddler, nothing beats them sleeping through the whole thing.
5. Make Friends With the Cabin Crew
As soon as you reach the boarding gate, position yourself strategically next to cabin crew. Don’t stand in the line – your goal is not to go in first, as being cooped up in an airplane that’s standing still could make your toddler nervous. Your goal is to engage the flight attendants and befriend them.
You can use your child’s cuteness factor here. Nudge them to say hi to the pretty lady in the uniform, and then approach as if apologizing for the inconvenience. Strike up a conversation and build some rapport. The whole point of this is to appear stay on the cabin crew’s radar.
They have the power to move you to first class if there are seats available; to bring you extra water/juice/food if needed, or to heat up that bottle of milk when your little one gets hungry. It’s best if you can get on their good side. However, if you can’t, or you’re not comfortable with it, it’s very important not to get on their bad side. That could only make a bad situation worse.
6. Make Sure Your Busy Bag Is Stocked & Ready
A busy bag is exactly what it sounds – a bag that will keep your child busy on an airplane. Now, you may or may not get a chance to bring two separate carry-ons with you, so sensible packing is key. Fill the busy bag with tactile objects that your child likes to play with – play dough, dolls, memory cards, multi color bracelets, or gel window stickers. The stickers are particularly useful because your little one will have a ton of fun creating objects and gluing them on the window, and the clean-up is a breeze. Also, don’t forget to pack their favorite binky or a self-soothing toy that they like to fall asleep with.
7. Install Zoolingo On Your Smartphones, Tablets & iPads
Instead of packing a bunch of different toys, such as puzzles or memory cards, and hauling them across the continent, take advantage of the technology that’s always by your side. Your smartphones, tablets, and iPads are your best friend when you’re flying with a toddler. Download a couple of episodes of their favorite Baby TV show, and you’ve bought yourself at least an hour of peace and quiet.
We also recommend downloading the Zoolingo educational app. With more than 1000 games in 12 languages, your child will definitely find something to amuse themselves with while mid-flight. All the popular children games are readily available with Zoolingo, such as learning the letters, animal puzzles, and memory cards. Just make sure to charge your devices before the flight – there’s no guarantee that you will be able to do it on the plane, and running out of battery is definitely not an option in this case.
Flying With a 2-Year-Old Is Now So Much Easier
We hope that our 7 tips for flying with a 2-year-old at least gave you a couple of ideas about how to make your next trip more enjoyable for everyone involved. The key thing to remember is that toddlers are not fussy when they are comfortable, so making your kid comfortable and happy is paramount for a pleasant airplane experience.
If you’ve already had a chance to try out some of these tricks, let us know in the comment section. Also, if you have anything to add to the list, comment with that as well – we’ll be happy to put anything that works up there so other parents have access to a more comprehensive guide on flying with toddlers!
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