Traveling on planes can be cramped, you may miss a meal and be hungry, and without the right provisions a flight can be boring. Flights with your toddler in tow can compound travel woes to a whole other level. How can you keep your child comfortable and well behaved? Preparation is key. With a these tips for flying with toddlers on airplanes and innovative new product designs you and your little one will be flying high and happy.
Preparation Tips for Flying With Toddlers on Airplanes
Pick Early Morning Flights
When it comes to picking your flight, if your schedule is flexible—opt for the earliest flight possible. Young ones who are bright and fresh after a full night’s rest often have a more pleasant travel experience. By the time you arrive at your destination, it may sync perfectly with your toddler’s nap time. Maybe Mom’s nap too. Oh, to be so lucky! Book a direct flight if possible to save you having to transfer toddler from one plane to another. If a direct flight is not possible, make sure to get a longer layover so you don’t feel too rushed while trying to get your toddler to cooperate through the transfer process.
Buy A Separate Seat
Children over 2 must have their own seat according to the Federal Aviation Administration. Even if your child is under 2, you probably want to book them their own seat for both of you to have the most comfort and safety.
Getting Through Security.
Babies and toddlers are not required to remove their shoes in security. I always recommend parents keep things simple as possible since they have the added job of keeping up with a toddler. This means slip-on shoes for parents themselves so they’re not juggling toddler while trying to lace up their shoes again. Save jewelry and belts for another time so you only have to worry about removing your shoes. Ladies, maxi dresses are awesome for airport travel. Pack a cardigan in the diaper bag in case you get chilly. Combine diaper bags and purses while traveling so you can carry one less thing. Check what you can to keep your carry ons minimal to have to manage.
Use airport restroom facilities before your plane takes off.
Both you and your child should use the airport bathroom before you take off. The bathrooms on planes are tiny and can be tricky to manage taking your toddler in with you. Make sure you packed plenty of extra diapers in the carryon diaper bag because you never know what can come up, like a delayed flight or a surprising number of poops! To be fully prepared, bring an extra change of clothing for your toddler.
Let early birds fly ahead.
Families with small children have the privilege of being part of the first-to-board party. Ask a partner or flight attendant to install your car seat (aka child restraint systems- CRS) before boarding begins. If they can do that for you, you can pass on the early boarding privilege. Instead, wait until the very last minute to board the plane. If you have an active toddler like my son, it works wonders for in-flight behavior. There is no fidgeting or settling in – just a simple buckle and go!
Gate Check Baby Gear
Ask a flight attendant for a gate check tag for your baby gear so you don’t have to carry the stroller on board and stow it yourself.
Yes, your toddler’s favorite snacks are a good idea for flying with toddlers – but being inventive and creating a novel experience will engage them. Try an assortment of new crackers, animal cookies or dried yogurt, fruits and veggies. I try any small container to create a “new” eating experience for my son while traveling.
If your toddler is not one to doze off on a flight—I can relate! I rotate from a short activity to a snack, and then around again. We literally passed an entire 2.5 hour plane ride with a half a dozen small snacks and a handful of 10-minute activities! What did we do?
In Flight Activities.
- iPad/Tablet apps for toddlers are good. Test them before leaving home to see if they are age appropriate and make sure the device is fully charged.
- Load extra personal/home videos and photos on your smartphone. Let’s face it, most toddlers are incredibly vain and sometimes nothing is more entertaining than watching themselves on “TV.” It can also be comforting to see their personal spaces when traveling or in new and unfamiliar environments.
- Travel magnet boards and reusable stickers books help to keep little ones occupied in between a snack and their next activity.
- There are a lot of travel-sized coloring books and board books that use one simple “magic” pen (water-based) to “color”. Genius mess-free product for toddler travel fun!
- Mess free craft activities for kids that come in ready to go activity packs.
More lightwight portable strollers and baby gear
Designs are constantly improving! Umbrella strollers are great for short trips or if storage is lacking. For trips that are longer or if you have more packing space, try a Combi Stroller. The tray attachment allows for easier dining out, especially when dining al fresco in the warmer months. We typically pull the stroller right up to the table and don’t have to bother with germy highchairs. You might prefer to rent baby gear as that is a great option for some destinations. They even have inflatable travel booster seats for kids 4-11. The less gear you have to bring and the lighter weight it is, the easier travel is for you.
I hope you found these tips for flying with toddlers on airplanes are helpful. Let us know if you have questions or toddler travel tips of your own you want to share @familyfocusblog.
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