Remember the mom who paid to fly first class, but was asked to sit in the back of the plane because her 8-month-old was crying? It was shocking, but not that unbelievable.
Parents flying with a toddler are familiar with the annoyed glances and glares when their kids have moments of inconsolable crying.
The truth is, we as parents don’t appreciate it either. Ryan Reynolds recently shared his experience of flying with kids and said, “I would rather drink a piping hot bowl of liquid rabies than get on a plane with my two children.”
Most of us can relate with the frustration that comes from flying with a toddler. After our most recent flight, my husband looked over to me when landing and mouthed, “We’re never flying with kids again.”
It was in fact an awful experience; my oldest threw up in a bout of motion sickness at the same time my five-year-old was screaming in panic from the turbulence. My normally sweet one-year-old wasn’t so sweet as she kicked the seat back of an angry older gentleman.
Our preparation could have been better. Even the most well-seasoned traveling parents worry about flying with their little ones with questions like these:
- What will be the demeanor of the person you sit next to?
- Will the flight depart on time?
- How will I coax my toddler to take a nap during the flight to avoid tantrums later in the day?
- What if my child’s ears begin to bother him during the flight?
- What do I do if my child gets motion sick?
Something unexpected will always happen, but learning from my mistakes, here are a few ways to prepare yourself and toddler for the plane ride.
The Essential Items for Flying with a Toddler
- Have extra clothes for each child.
- Make sure the throw-up bag is stocked in your seat pocket.
- If you know your child is sensitive to motion, talk to your doctor about medication options.
- Pack a slew of snacks and drinks.
- Have fever-reducing medicine on hand.
- Bring gum (if your child is ready to chew it), to help their ears during takeoff and descent.
Once you have the bag fully stocked for the day, it’s probably worth your time to pack activities to keep your little one distracted and happy:
Activities for Plane Rides
1. Containers of all different shapes and sizes: Try finding small containers. A pill holder, contact holders, travel bottles, empty formula can, small Tupperware, or a Gatorade bottle will do.
Your toddler can play with the container and practice opening and closing. They can also fill each container with favorite little objects or play-doh.
2. Felt board Stories/Activities: If you have the time, you can make your own felt board to take along on the trip, or buy a felt board set.
Toddlers love moving the pieces around the board as you make up a different story each time.
3. Make a Cheerio Necklace: It will take your toddler time to string the cheerios on the necklace, and then they will be able to enjoy eating it afterward.
Perhaps a plane trip is a perfect time to splurge on the Fruity Cheerios so they can make patterns with the colors.
4. Sticker Books: You can buy sticker books, or simply bring a pack of stickers with a notebook. They will have endless fun placing the stickers on the paper, and perhaps even on the back of the seat. But at least they are occupied.
To encourage your little one to keep the stickers on the paper, draw letters that they have to meticulously place stickers over to work on their fine motor skills and letter recognition!
5. Popsicle Stick Puzzles: The best part about these is they don’t take up much room. You can choose your child’s favorite design or picture and easily make a puzzle.