Flying with your toddler?

Raychel - posted on 05/08/2011 ( 13 moms have responded )

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At the end of June we will be flying from TX to PA and it is a 2 1/2 hour flight to Chicago, then we have to change plans (2 hour wait but I was told with pottying and feeding that it will go by fast) and then a 1 1/2 hour flight to Pittsburgh. This will be my and my sons' first time flying and we will be by ourselves. The airline told us that it would probably be best if I just bought one ticket and had him on my lap and there might be some empty seats if he gets restless.



What I want to know is, has anyone ever flown with their toddler and what I need to take and what to expect...thanks!

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Chenee - posted on 05/12/2011

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I took my 19 month old to Jamaica which was a total of 7 hours with an hour layover and it was not that big of a deal. I tried to make it to where she would sleep on the flight and then just make sure she had some new toy to distract her when she started to get restless. I just had her sit on my lap and she went back and forth between my mom and my husband and I, but they did have some extra seats as well. I don't think she would have sat still if I did have a seat for her anyway!!!

Colleen - posted on 05/12/2011

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I have flown a few time with toddlers. I usually get a few items from the dollar store and only bring them out when we are on the plane. It usually holds their interest long enough. Also, after going through security, make up something for them to drink. Have them drink on take-off and landing. This will help with ears popping. Good luck!

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I've taken my son on multiple long distance (think 5-6 hours) flights, both by myself and with my husband. All I can say is it is about 10 times harder doing it on your own! I always buy a ticket for him and take his car seat on the plane. I just feel safer that way, and it gives us more space on the plane. I've never flown with him on my lap so I hope this isn't too challenging for you. I wouldn't count on any extra seats, every flight I've been on in the last few years has been OVERbooked. Our most recent flight was just last month (at 20 months old) and it can be a miserable experience if you aren't prepared. Some tips:

1) You can take your stroller all the way up to the gate and down the gangway, they will gate check it for you there and it will be waiting for you when you get off. This is a huge help for navigating everything through the airport.
2) Make sure to check whatever luggage you can, and only take ESSENTIALS on board with you. It is hard enough navigating the narrow aisle on board with a toddler, let alone multiple bags.
3) Take as many snacks, bottles, and juice cups as you can on board. You are allowed to take this stuff if you have a baby, just make sure they are aware of it when you go through security. Food and drink is always a good way to pass time and occupy your little one. Just make sure to have extra diapers, my son always drinks more liquids on a plane than normal.
4) Have LOTS of options for entertainment: books, toys, coloring, etc. Not sure if your son watches any TV but we bought a portable DVD player specifically for plane use. Hands down it has been the NUMBER 1 LIFESAVER! We just take a few of his DVDs such as Yo Gabba Gabba, Disney, and Dora and the player sits right on the tray table in front of him. I turn the volume all the way down since he can't use earphones yet, but he doesn't mind just watching with no sound. Honestly, this has been the BEST thing for keeping him happy on long flights.

Good luck, I hope your flights go well! :)

Marla - posted on 05/10/2011

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I flew from Toronto to Vancouver (5 hrs) with a 7 month old and again with a 2 1/2 and 9 month old by myself, Toronto to Costa Rica (7 hr commute with a stop) with my hubby and a 14 month old. It is not as bad than what you think it will be.



Just be prepared...

- Have some new toys (and some old favourites), remember things with sound can't be heard too much with all that ambient noise, don't worry too much about bothering people with that noise.

- I had some special ear phones for the TV for my 2 1/2 year old. He loved it.

- Have lots of fun treats that they can play/make. Especially with waiting between flights.

- Try to schedule it that they nap while you fly.

- If you are traveling alone make sure you have everything you need in one bag and back up of diapers, and clothes for both of you in the one you stow away in the over head.

- Make sure you have free hands and I recommend using a baby carrier so you don't have to navigate elevators and collapsing and setting up your stroller before you board the plane.

- Bring advil/tylenol just in case the little one gets a tooth or ear ache on the plane. And make sure they have something to suck or chew while the plane is taking off and landing.



The flight will be over before you know it. Your little one will probably be so thrilled to see everyone that the first hour will fly by. Everyone loves a cute baby.

Kelli - posted on 05/09/2011

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I just recently flew from New York to Texas with my daughter.. We just bought the one ticket because it was cheaper. We got lucky and three of the flights we had the row to ourselves, But one we had to share and that was miserable. Make sure you have plenty of snacks. I brought a portable dvd player with her fave dvds, coloring book and some toys. She did amazing. It was our first time flying alone as well. She loved the planes. Really watching them take off. We had a 2 hour layover in PA and that was simply miserable. She didn't want to walk and the airline we went with made us pick between a stroller or car seat. We choose car seat.. but if you can bring a stroller it would be great. but yes being able to change them while waiting and feed them is amazing.

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Jen - posted on 05/13/2011

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Hi! We flew 4 hrs when my son was 15 months.......he did great. Airline told me if there were extra seats they'd put his carseat in. We lucked out on the way there and there were extras. On the way back he sat with me, which was ok too. I took lolipops for take off and landing, it helps with the ears, also lots of books and snacks. Take an extra outfit for sure! My son got messy!

April - posted on 05/13/2011

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I flew with my little one from DC to FL. We scheduled our flight during his naptime. Since we had to be there two hours early, i woke him up early, we walked around the airport until he was walked out. Once we boarded the plane, in 10 minutes he was out and slept the entire way there. Coming back he didn't last till be boarded, he slept for about two hours and woke up with about 30min left to land. I advice, try to set flights around set naptimes, and at least two of his/her favorite toys. Also, there is TV on the planes that have Nickelodeon. Purchase some earphones and let him sit and watch or play with the earphones.

Amy - posted on 05/13/2011

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Buy him a seat! We took our 18 month old from LA to London for his first flight. OMG I wish I had bought him a seat. I suppose for a shorter flight it might be ok. Just sayin what I wished I had done.

Aimee - posted on 05/13/2011

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Our family flew from FL to NY which is about 2 1/2 hours and he did fantastic. It was his first flight, but it was me and my husband. Our son was 19 months when he flew. We took advice from our pediatrician and he was so well behaved and comfortable. As we boarded the plane we gave him a dose of tylenol in case his ears hurt this would prevent it or at least help. On take off my husband held him and he drank a bottle of milk to help keep the ears clear by swallowing. We had plenty of snacks for him and we each had our own seat. Trust me your toddler will not want to be held the entire time. He is going to want a little freedom. We flew on JetBlue, which has TV screens on the back of all the seats. We found Nickelodeon and he basically was fasinated by that alone. People told us they saw the baby but would have never known he was there because he was so well behaved. We gave him a set of ear phones for the TV and he figured out how to use them all by himself. Tyleno, snacks and keeping him occupied is the best advice I can give you. Good Luck!!

Jane - posted on 05/12/2011

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I flew several times with my kids when they were little, beginning at ages 1 and 3. We always bought tickets for everyone because seats are small enough as it is. We also brought child seats both to keep the kids safe but also keep them comfortable in a familiar seat (and effectively tied down). We checked all the luggage except for the diaper bag that contained several changes of clothing, and a bag with toys, books, crayons, paper and snacks. We made full use of the airline pre-boarding for folks with small children and brought our small umbrella strollers right up to the plane where the flight attendant stored them in the little closet at the front. We also took advantage of the front set of seats where the seats face each other (not found in all planes but wonderful when they are). That kept the kids from kicking the back of someone's seat.

The flights generally went well, but I ended up exhausted simply from keeping the kids entertained without bothering the other passengers. On one flight, however, my son managed to escape and went under the seats all the way to the back of the plane. Fortunately, our fellow passengers thought it was funny (I didn't at the time).

You will find that the 2-hour layover will fly right by. Getting from one gate to the other with toddlers, dealing with security, and making sure everyone is fed and changed will eat up the time.

Good luck! If your child has a stuffy nose, you might talk to your doctor before you go about giving the child a decongestant, to help keep his eustachian tubes open and prevent ear pain. If it also makes him sleepy that could be a good thing.

Lindsey - posted on 05/12/2011

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Hi! I just flew my 5 yr old and 20 mos old from CA to NJ by myself. We had three seats-only way to go. My 20 mos old was able to stand, wiggle, kick, and attempt to crawl out to the aisle under my legs. I placed him in the seat under the belt when applicable. He played cars, animal figurines, ate, slept (unwillingly) and looked at the scenery inside/outside. Surprisingly, he did very well. We had very little layover out to NJ but a 4.5 hour layover in MN back to CA. Luckily, MN airport has playgrounds, fun stores and eateries + arcades (for the big guy). The flight back to CA was a little trying due to the time change but we did all the same things that we did heading east and it seemed to work. I even tried a DVD (on our portable DVD player) for a bit (he's not a tv watcher). Delta was suprisingly helpful and supportive too which helped a lot! Good Luck! I hope he enjoys it!

Kelly - posted on 05/09/2011

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We also just flew NZ to Australia Amba :)
Our son is 20 months old, on the way there he sat on my knee most of the way, listened to some wiggles on the inflight entertainment and ate a lot of snacks! We took, a toy car and a few books, snacks - banana slices, crackers, little sandwiches, etc, and a small bag with a couple of nappies, a travel pack of baby wipes (for hands and if nappy change is required), and a pacifier if your son uses one (as it helps their ears for take off and landing). On the way back he slept on my knee from take off to landing - easy :)
Some airlines will lend you a stroller for in the airport, or you may be able to take one onto the plane for the stop-over. I hope your trip is as good as ours was!

Amba - posted on 05/08/2011

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Hi there,
I flew from nz to Australia, 3 hours. Didnt have to have a stop over though. But i took some panadol, otrivin nasal spray, as the pharmasist recommends taking the spray to clear the air way so there ears wont pop. I took her favourite toy, books and booked the ticket around the time my girl would normally have a nap so she could sleep on the plane. She was good flying over, they also have childrens tv chanels on the planes. On the way back it was a bit of a disaster as she got sick over there and had sore ears and runny nose, One way to get through customes fast is with a screaming child! Was so distressing!!! Once she was on the plane i gave her some water to sip while taking off as that helps with the ears too. Glad i packed panadol as she certainly needed it on the way back. Other than that just play with them walk down the aisle a couple of times to stretch there legs. Show them the clouds if you have a window seat and make shapes out of them like that cloud looks like a bunny etc.. The flight attendents where great always asking if we were ok, My daughter was on my knee the whole time as it can be a bit scary for them, i had my 4 year old boy too he had his own seat and it was his first time flying but he was great :) Back some snacks if your allowed talk to the travel agent on what is allowed, change of clothes and crayon, paper. Good luck im sure you guys will enjoy it! :)

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