Toddler traveling tips?

Adrienne - posted on 08/01/2010 ( 17 moms have responded )




My husband and I are about to fly from Tucson AZ, to North Pole, AK with a 1 1/2 year old. We have some toys and snacks for him, but does anybody have any tips or tricks to flying with a young child? Thanks!


Heidi - posted on 08/13/2010




Ugh, that is a long flight, been there done that. TAPE! I took a strip of tape, made it into a long roll, and put it on the seat back tray. That occupied my DD for quite a while. Crayons and paper. Snacks. Benedryl. Also send you SO on the plane first to get your seats set up, and then you and LO board at the LAST call, that way you aren't sitting on the plan forever. A dvd player and some new episodes of a favorite show and head phones. I also take a package of cheap foam earplugs and offer them to the 5 rows directly around us. And I have even bought peoples drinks, to keep the good will. For me the worst was changing a diaper on the plane. UGH.


View replies by

Heidi - posted on 08/16/2010




On the Benedryl subject. DEFINATELY try it at home first. My sister did not and had a hyper 14 month old on a 9 hour flight to Alaska. It was awful.

[deleted account]

** Updated at bottom **

I just went on a flight with my 20 month old son, and we are flying again in about 3 weeks (he'll be nearly 22 months then). The first time the flight was about 5.5 hours from WA to NJ, so I can relate to your worry! I flew alone with him and he was a lap-rider. When they are under 2 you have the option to buy them a seat or have them lap-ride. I will NEVER have him lap-ride again if we are alone. Daddy will be with me on the next trip, and we will be able to "share" him with the lap - but being alone is HARD. So I suggest getting him a seat or at least trying to find a not-full flight.

Take your stroller and carseat all the way to the plane. You can check the stroller at the gate for NO extra charge (and it does not count as baggage). You can also check the carseat if he's not using it on the plane. This is great because it's all waiting for you immediately once you are off the plane.

I took a portable DVD player which definitely helped. Even with low (or no) sound - it helps!

Take a sippy cup or bottle and pop it in his mouth when you are coming down - it will help with the ear popping.

Try to feed him as soon as you are in the air - whether a real meal or filling snacks. Give him some milk if you can & try and get him to sleep. I find that if you plan your travel to be juuuust about when they normally sleep - that really helps! (our trip out was well past his bedtime and it was AWFUL! He was so overtired he cried and couldn't get to sleep... coming back it was just before bedtime, and after he ate he fell asleep like a charm!).

Take lots of diapers. I was paranoid and changed him a lot (there's plenty of room in the bathroom - surprisingly - with the changing table down - but I'd recommend a blanket or something because it's just a hard slab!

Don't be afraid to ask for water or juice when they aren't serving drinks. They will do all they can to quite a cranky baby!

Don't let others upset you! I had some rude people around me (who obviously have never had children) who actually said "can't you stop your baby from crying?" My thought was "don't you think I'd have stopped him by now?" Just love your toddler and comfort the best you can. Standing/rocking/walking can help!

Good luck!! If I think of anything else, I'll post again. It was a very stressful, traumatic, and worrisome time when I had that first flight scheduled. It's DEFINITELY a learning experience (and I definitely recommend NOT traveling alone with a child as a lap-child... always - if alone - get that extra seat!)

HAVE FUN!!! AK is very cool to visit in the summer! :-)

*** UPDATE ***

I saw someone else post about Benadryl. I have a few comments to that (my sister is a pharmacist):

1) It is not safe to give a child under 2 medicine like this - consult your doctor first

2) If you do get the red light to use it - try it at home BEFORE you fly. The reaction for some kids is to become MORE hyper! Most get sleepy - but some (generally boys) do NOT!

3) Administer it after you get on the plane but before you take off. The effect will kick in just as you are cruising. :-)

- Amber

Mommy to Noah

21 Months

Jamie - posted on 08/16/2010




I just took my 20 month old on an international flight with 2 layovers. If you are not able to take a car seat, a stroller in the airports is a life saver. Buy a few new toys and picture books (something that your child is interested in). Talk to your child if you are showing interest in the airplane and what you are doing so will your child. My son loved looking at the clouds when we flying through them. You are able to take a sippy cup with fluids through security for your child so take one of their favorite drinks (they will test the liquids for security reasons but you do not have to look for a drink after security checks) If you are able to take a flight that is around their nap or bed time is better. I also agree that if you are stressed out that your child will be also. Have fun and enjoy your flight.

Arlene - posted on 08/13/2010




If you can afford to buy a seat for him bring the car seat. It will make all of you more comfortable during the flight. I have a 3.5, and twin 21 month olds. We have flown numerous times back and forth to moscow-NY which is a 10 hour flight each way. First get a new toy and wrap it up... While waiting at the airport let the child walk around a bit. The hardest part of the flight is take off and landing. if your child drinks from a sippy cup bring that with you. You want to make sure if your child awake he is either drinking or eating during both times. Their ears bother them with the change of air presure and it can be quite painful.
If you can get the bulk head seats that are right behind the restrooms first row of coach they have more leg room and you can always put a blanket down and allow your child to play with toys there. Bring plenty of baby wipes. Bring a book too. Hope this helps.. good luck

Amanda - posted on 08/10/2010




I just flew with my 2 kids 4 &1 1/2 by myself so i feel i may be of help. definetely change them before boarding, even if you just did like 1/2 hr ago. bring like 2-3 outfits. the one piece outfits take up less room then jeans and t's. let him run around in the airport,even a stroll to get food is good. we brought new stuff like playdough and a few new dinky cars, books, some puzzles. anything new from the dollar store small enough to fit on the tray is good. wrapping each present is a great idea too. we flew from buffalo to dallas with 1 stop in atlanta and we used fruit snacks( if you are ok with him eating them) for the take offs and landings. i did give him gravol since we werent sure how he would be. i find nothing more embarrasing and frusterating then my own child screaming or crying because he is confined or over tired due to flight times. gravol helped him relax and he actually fell asleep on the flight so that helped to. i agree, the flight attendants are great. brody was screaming and one came over and talked to him for like 20 mins until he was calm. and dont be afraid to ask for a drink. they gave me milk when he was tired and that helped to calm him down. a new snack as well as favorites is good. i think you will be fine , just stay calm and if you are ok with it let him play on the seats when you are able. the less time they are strapped down the better. have a fun trip and don't stress too much about it. it will be great and a trip to remember.

Kristen - posted on 08/10/2010




Agree on getting a separate seat and wheeling him in it (we use go go baby wheels which attach to our car seat). Also having toys and favorite snacks/drinks. Let him run around a lot in the airport before getting on the plane. Our airport has an actual play area. We have curious george and elmo videos on our iphones for him in a pinch too. And definitely change him before the flight! Pack an extra change of clothes. I've kept our carry-on down to absolute necessities, though, to minimize what you have to lug through the airport and onto the plane.

Good luck! Have fun! Sing when all else fails!

Kristy - posted on 08/08/2010




My daughter will be 2 in Nov. and we have been on several plane trips. She has been good on all the flights, she usually sleeps most of the time, but definately have snacks and a sippy so they can eat and drink something during take off and landing. I usually take her favorite stuffed animal and blanket, some books and small toys. No problems so far. FYI if your child is not potty trained the changing tables in the airplane are very small. I would recommend changing them before you board the plane.

Dawn - posted on 08/08/2010




And don't forget to ask for help if you need it. The airline staff is always willing to give you a hand.

Jacqui - posted on 08/08/2010




we have flown many times with our 20 month old.. in fact just got home today again. If possible, get a seat for your child! If that isn't feasable (as we have not been able to do that for financial reasons a few times) alway look into upgrading at the airport to business/first class. Depending on the airline, we have paid as little as $69 to upgrade, up to $250. It's still a lot cheaper than a second ticket ( we fly international, so tickets are more for us than domestic flights) but you get more room to move around and I've let V play on the floor in front of me while in first as there is more room. I also agree with the rolling backpack idea..DD LOVES it! And I agree with the sit and stroll carseat idea. We use a GoGo Babyz carseat attachment, and it has been a savior!

Stay calm, and relax. Kids will have their moments, especially on a long flight. But they do pick up on your energy, so that would be the best advice... stay calm, and enjoy! :)

Sarah - posted on 08/08/2010




Last week we flew for the first time with my 1 1/2 year old daughter. She hates small spaces and freaks out around large crowds so I was very worried it would be a nightmare. Luckily, she was fantastic. She cried while we walked thru the aisle but as soon as we sat down, she was great the entire time. I agree with everyone else that you will need snacks, sippy cup and a toy. I would recommend giving him a pacifier or have him sucking out of the sippy cup during take-off and landing. Good luck!

Siobhan - posted on 08/08/2010




We travelled a few months ago via plane with a long layover and it went very well. be sure your little one drinks or snacks during ascent and descent to prevent ear pain. we used an ipod with kids music as a distraction during customs, etc and just handed him the earbuds. he loved it. we used a small portable dvd player on the plane as well as crayons and paper and a few small, light, new toys and treats.

Debi - posted on 08/05/2010




Some good ideas! A few new toys that are saved for the plane might help, heck - even wrap one! What fun for him. I guess I would recommend to relax and hopefully he will pick up on the vibe. good luck!

Ashley - posted on 08/04/2010




The sit and stroll car seat is a life saver when flying. I work for the airlines and the first time I few my son it was hell trying to fly with the stroller and carseat and diaper bag and carry on bags. I just got the sit and stroll car seat and I will never travel with out it!

Louise - posted on 08/04/2010




Im holding out for this 1 too!! We have a night flight so praying she will sleep!!!..good luck!! xx

Moni - posted on 08/02/2010




We took my DD on a 2 week journey when she was 18 months old from Colorado to Texas and then on to Florida, and then home again :) The best thing we ever did for her was get her a small child's rolling back pack. She packed her own toys and some snacks and it was her responsibility to roll it the majority of the time. She loved it! It gave her something to focus on and she loves her back pack to this day. I recommended the back pack to another friend and her DS had similar positive results. I recommend their own seat as well; my DD loves her car seat and typically falls asleep within 30 min into the flight. Stay relaxed and a cup of ice on the plane is always a crowd pleaser.

Join Circle of Moms

Sign up for Circle of Moms and be a part of this community! Membership is just one click away.

Join Circle of Moms