How to Keep Your Sanity While Flying with Toddlers3 min read
Have you ever tried to have a rational conversation with an angry toddler at 30,000 feet over the Atlantic? It probably wasn’t a pretty picture. As the holiday season approaches, more families with young children will be on airplanes to visit friends and family. It can be a unique and enjoyable experience for everyone involved, but it requires a lot of planning, foresight, and some good-old-fashioned luck.
If it’s your first trip on a plane with your little one, you’re most likely nervous. Here’s how to survive with your sanity – and the sanity of your fellow travelers – intact.
Pack Plenty of Snacks
Nothing brings down a toddler’s mood, and willingness to be a happy traveler, faster than an empty belly. Keep their blood sugar from dipping by bringing lots of snacks in your carry-on bag. Bring their favorites so you can be sure they’ll eat them – don’t rely on the airport to have snacks that a picky toddler will like. Keep snacks healthy and lower in sugar to avoid peaks, valleys, and mood swings.
Don’t Forget Nap Time
The second key to a happy toddler is enough sleep. Sleeping in an airplane seat can be uncomfortable, but you can make it work if you lift up the arm rest so they can spread out. Bring a few of the comforts of home, such as their pillow and a favorite stuffed animal, to make nap time a little easier.
Buy a Seat for Them
It can be tempting to save money by traveling with your child on your lap, which is an option for children from two weeks to two years old. For shorter trips, it can work. However, trips of more than a few hours can be uncomfortable, both for you and your child. In these cases, you should consider purchasing their own seat. Try to get a window seat for them, which allows you to doze, read or otherwise take a break in the seat next to them, knowing they’re safe and can’t go anywhere.
Wrap Mini Presents
Before your trip, stop at your local dollar store for a few cheap-but-fun toys. Wrap each of the toys in wrapping paper and introduce them at different points during your flight. They can be used as a motivator for good behavior, or “just because” to keep your toddler’s mood elevated. It may seem overindulgent, but flying with toddlers is a good time to relax your normal standards.
Load Up the Tablet
Download your toddler’s favorite shows and movies on your tablet computer. Make sure the tablet is fully charged before you get on the plane, since not every airline provides electrical outlets. Also complete all of your downloading at home – the Wi-Fi at airports is notoriously slow.
Be Prepared for Clean-Up Duty
Let’s be honest, toddlers are messy. You should anticipate at least one spill or accident on the flight. Be sure to ask your toddler frequently if they need to use the restroom, since there are many distractions during a trip that can throw off their routine and awareness. Pack an extra set of clothes in your carry-on in a plastic grocery bag, and use the bag to store clothes that needed to be changed. Bring a full outfit – including fresh socks, which many parents forget.
With a little planning, your flight with a toddler will be rewarding and memorable. Talk to your toddler about what to expect beforehand and show them pictures and videos of airplanes and airports to demystify the process. If your children are old enough, explain what’s happening at each stage in the airport – from check-in and security to takeoff and baggage claim.
Image courtesy of: ABC News