In the wake of toddlers getting kicked off flights for bad behavior, there have been a lot of tips on the Internet about how to keep your toddler happy and calm during a flight. We just took our first flight with Baby J to Mexico, and I’ve compiled here the 7 best tips I’ve read (and some of my own) for flying with a toddler.
1. Wrap both old and new toys for added excitement. As Baby Safe Travel says, buy some cheap toys (we like the dollar store) and wrap them. Every toy seems like a present, and the act of unwrapping buys some time too.
2. If your active toddler will be on your lap, pick the bulkhead row for extra legroom or ask at check-in AND boarding if there are any extra seats. While you must hold your child during takeoff and landing, once the seat belt sign turns off, he might fit between two parents in adjacent seats, stand in front of your seat or be able to sit in an extra seat for a small fee. Exhaust all your options before resigning yourself to that squirmy body on your lap.
3. Buy milk in the airport before your flight so you don’t have wait for beverage service. One of my favorite baby travel websites, Have Baby Will Travel, says that some airlines don’t have milk onboard so it’s best to be prepared. Certain things may make it past security, like bottled water, juice and milk, but this seems to be somewhat at the officer’s discretion.
4. I’ve said this before in a post about taking a road trip with a toddler, but learn to change your toddler’s diaper standing up. Airplane bathrooms are very small and have no changing table, and airport bathrooms are laden with germs.
5. Bring baby-safe nasal mist and baby Tylenol (in 3 oz. containers). Your toddler is probably not the most careful traveler when it comes to keeping her hands out of her mouth and nose. On our trip, Baby J came down with croup on the last day. The dry air of the airplane exacerbated the problem, and she sounded really bad when we finally arrived home late that night. As Babies Travel Lite suggests, Tylenol can also help with ear pain from the altitude change.
6. Get to the airport really early, especially in foreign airports where you might run into a language barrier or miscommunication about security or baggage requirements. We ran into a problem coming back from our trip in Mexico when they said we hadn’t paid for our lap child. It was a long and slow process while they verified this, and we were glad that we had arrived early.
7. Seasoned family travelers know that you can check your stroller right at the gate, and they’ll pretty much let you keep it until you set foot on the airplane. This allows you to use the stroller as a cart for small carry-ons or personal items. Of course, your toddler should be running alongside it to burn off energy, not sitting in it. While we brought a cheap umbrella stroller that we didn’t really care about, Delicious Baby suggests to pack your stroller in a bag since airlines may not reimburse for damage.
I hope you’ll check out some of the family travel links mentioned above. They’ve been a great resource to me as far as tips for traveling with a baby or toddler, as well as inspiration for future family travels.