Talk of the Trains: Flying With A Toddler

Monday, February 27, 2012

Flying With A Toddler

Last week, CT3, AM, myself and a few friends jetted off for a few days on the slopes in Keystone, Colorado.

We had a great time, though I would be lying if I didn't say that I was a bit anxious about our flight to and fro and then anxious about AM behaving during the week with our kidless friends.

Thankfully, AM did great on the flights and was wonderful all week long. We had a few fits, tears and destructive moments but with an 18 month old, it is expected! She slept in a pack-n-play in our room and that was fine. Honestly, she was so tired from being on the go everyday and taking in a new setting that sleeping was the least of our concerns as she was practically begging us to put her down.

On the flight, we did "infant in arms" and did not purchase a separate seat for AM. This meant that we were holding her the entire time so CT3 and I made sure we were sitting next to each other on the flight so that we could both be with AM and help each other. At check in, I took her original birth certificate, but apparently, you only need that if someone were to question the baby's age. We never needed it but I was prepared nonetheless.

As for the flights, I packed everything from baby yogurt to stickers to Elmo DVD's to try and entertain her and while some of it worked, next time I will most definitely simplify.

I had a ton of people tell me to give her Benadryl or something else on the plane. Sorry folks, but that just was not a consideration for us. I am weird about medicine and drugging my kid for an easier flight for myself and others just isn't going to happen. Also, since its not something she regularly would take, its definitely not something I would give her at 32,000 feet in the air for fear that she wouldn't take it well or something and then me not be able to do anything about it.

Anyway, a friend who has traveled cross country {multiple times} with her FOUR babies gave me a few tips and this was the most helpful advice we received. Jen's recommendation was to just to have a sippie cup, paci or something for her to eat on take off and landing. Basically, getting AM to constantly swallow would help relieve the pressure in her ears as the altitude changed. I had a sippie cup armed with juice, one with milk, some yogurt and some puffs ready to go. This worked like a charm and AM was really excited to be getting more "nacks" {snacks}, "yo yo" {yogurt} or "puzzles" {puffs}.

Once we boarded the plane, she was really interested in first checking out her surroundings. She played with the belt buckles and also sliding the window shade up and down. This lasted til take off where I was armed with our snacks.

After take off and once we reached cruising altitude, AM seemed fidgety so I tried pulling out the toys and stickers I brought. One by one AM threw them on the ground or out of reach making this game end faster than it had started. Then she started eating books so I put those away.

Finally, I just opened my laptop, turned on Elmo and she snuggled with CT3 as she watched Elmo and eventually took a little snooze. We are NOT the people who just "turn on the t.v." or have one for car trips, but in the airplane, with hopes of not bothering the 300 people on the plane, we went with it. AM was completely engrossed in Elmo and just sat and watched until she rested for a bit. This was perfect because we could set the computer up on our tray table and then either hold her or sit her between us. I had my iPod in and just jammed while I sipped my Starbucks and baby sang along happily to Elmo's world.

This begs the question, was it during her nap time or were we just fortunate? Probably a little of both. Honestly, the travel is exhausting on little ones and so when we got on the plane with the constant motion and all of our surroundings stopped changing, AM was ready to sleep. We had been up since 8 am that morning and by 3:00 pm she was WAY overdue for a nap.

She didn't sleep on Marta, through check-in, security, or boarding the plane so we just made sure her tummy was full and diaper clean and once we settled in, she napped quite well. Others told me to let her run in the airport prior to boarding to wear her down. This is definitely something we could have done, but she was so over tired by that point that it wasn't necessary for us. 

In summary, here is my basic advice for flying with a toddler:

  • Have something to eat or drink or a paci to suck on for your child on take off and landing.
  • Have a toy or something your child loves and make that special and work it. We used an Elmo DVD.
  • Pack your patience. 
  • Go with the flow. 
  • If you don't need your big stroller, the umbrella one is FINE. 
  • Take your car seat. 
  • Airlines will check your car seat and stroller for free, so its worth it and easier to have your own. Car seat is obviously safer too. 
  • Some of our baby food was checked by security, but we took puffs, gerber yogurt, applesauce, and the squeeze tubes and I tried to make sure they were all individually packaged and under or around 3 oz. We had no problems carrying this stuff on.
  • As for her milk and juice, we just bought some and poured it in her cup after we had gone thru security. I didn't want to deal with anything otherwise and this was super easy and then the left over milk and juice we just took onto the plane and was able to refill in flight. 
If yall have questions, let me know, but I do hope this helps someone out there and I would love to hear your travel tips for toddlers! 

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  1. Thank you so much! We will be flying from GA to CA at the end of March and I'm reading everything I can get my hands on about preparing for the flight! This is a huge help. We, unfortunately, have a lay over and have to do it all twice in one day...both ways. I feel the same way about the Benadryl and that has mainly been the advice I've received.

  2. That is awesome! So glad your trip went super well and so easy! We had the same advice so we brought P's pacifier.


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