Tips on flying with a year old?

Corah - posted on 11/09/2012 ( 14 moms have responded )




Me and my 12 month old are traveling to England (alone) one stop in Detroit, and I'm wondering what moms who have traveled recommend to bring? He has his own seat, should I bring his car seat to lay in or just lay him on the seat? Also what things are best for entertaining on the airplane?? Stroller or carrying pack through the airports? Help!


Jill - posted on 11/13/2012




You need to go to the site The woman who runs the site is a nurse and travel expert. She has traveled the world with her own kids and has some great tips! Good luck!

Michelle - posted on 11/12/2012




Since we travel often, here is what we’ve shared with other families before. While all children are different, here’s what worked for us. Best wishes!

Here are a few replies to your specific questions:

Car Seat -- Use it! They will sleep better in it for the long flight. You will need it at your destination. It will allow you to use restroom/eat while baby sleeps uninterrupted. Baby will be most comfortable. Must be next to the window or the middle of the row. Airline will move your seat if needed to accomodate.

Entertaining -- see below

Stroller or carrying pack -- BOTH. You are traveling solo. Carry pack for baby (I usually have to take my out for screening by TSA). Stroller to haul car seat and diaper bag/carry on. Then you only need to push it through the airport and not lug both. This is provided that your stroller you are considering will HOLD the carseat without it falling off.

Car Seat Suggestion: If you want a trim car seat -- designed for traveling and compact for carrying -- look at sunshine kids. Their carseat folds into 7 inches thick and ranks up with Britax for safety. It is a trim side to side car seat as well and will hold infant up to 80 pounds or more depending on which one you buy. Comes with a rear facing kit adapter that you can remove when child is forward facing. Recommended to my by a friend who's husband is a pilot and she travels solo with three kids in tow. We bought one and love it! It is HEAVY though... Solid frame, so you won't want to carry it and baby.

SLEEP: If your child in accustomed to sleeping in their carseat and your flight is during naptime, I’d suggest taking on board if they have their own seat - along with any lovie or other sleeping aid (this is what we do). If you are in the window section the carseat must be closest to the window (for evacuation safety in an emergency so you don’t have to “climb” over it) or in the middle of the section if you have aisles on both sides. If you use a white noise sound – check it as the airplane automatically has some sound from the engines. It is usually the loudest behind the wings. Alternatively if your child requires it to be silent to sleep – ask your Dr. about Benadryl and what dosage – it will aid sleep in most children. Or consider a homeopathic alternative. I’d also advise trying it at home PRIOR to your flight because in some children it makes them hyperactive and you won’t know until they’ve had it.

LIQUIDS: Carry a sippy/bottle or whatever they are accustomed to drinking from that is least likely to spill. It’ll help your piece of mind! Most, but not all, airlines have cow milk. My older child drinks it from the carton with two red coffee stirring straws. Some airlines pour from a large container and don’t have the individual box. If your child drinks soy consider carrying a powder version (unlimited since it’s not a liquid) or you may carry a reasonable amount for your trip length. Thermos makes a wonderful spill proof (with the lid down) straw drink/cup that will keep beverages cold for 10 hrs. They often have apple juice or a version of it. If your child is young and particular you can carry through a reasonable amount for your trip of what your child will drink. We opt for powdered versions in single serving portions as much as possible! No need to refrigerate and keep cold and if we don’t use in flight we can use throughout our trip. Craft stores carry baggies smaller than a snack size for crafts and we pre-measure to a single serving. Also if you use formula consider the 4oz sticks that are ready to mix and go. Most (but not all) airline attendants will aid you in cleaning a baby bottle in flight after baby has eaten.

SNACKS: I suggest having favorites/treats/well enjoyed options available. Not necessarily sugary ones (we don’t use many sweets in our home), but things that are not the most common daily eaten foods. My child won’t want to return a favorite treat baggie until it is empty or he is stuffed so I suggest pre-packaging into single serve size baggies! What you choose to take depends on what age your child is and what they will eat. Also consider if they are young enough to “squeeze” the food and make a mess or pick up and put into their mouth!

SOME OF OUR FAVORITE KID FOODS: Some favorites of ours are baby cucumbers sliced into sticks and rubber banded to keep from getting “squished” and packaged 1-2 per snack bag. We also enjoy teeny tiny tomatoes that are the size of grapes, blueberries, and grapes (blackberries and raspberries are far more messy IMO). Whole bananas are a favorite always ready to peel and eat (if you have a small child who only eats ½ of a normal banana consider the “baby bananas” for travel or have mom/dad/sibling share. Dried veggies – made by “Just Veggies” can be bought at a health food store. Ritz crackers come bite size with PB or cheese. Oyster crackers are great for small single bites. Goldfish (cheese and more), animal shaped (neutral/basic cracker), or Annie’s bunny crackers (variety of flavors). Pretzels in all different shapes – skinny sticks, nuggets, waffle squares seem to travel easiest for us. Chewy granola bars make less mess than crunchy ones (FYI chewy often have more sugar). Baby puffs and yoghurt melts (yes, they are sweet!) and the disposable squeezable food pouches (disclose these as they are a “liquid”) are favorites with an infant/early toddler. Sliced apple sticks and carrot sticks with dip (declare as the dip as it is a liquid). Pre-packaged cheese sticks/cubes/ slices (to keep cold -- we put these into a small insulated bag with a baggie of ice cubes inside too – just before security we throw away the ice cubes in the trash and keep the baggie. Once through security we go to a restaurant/food vendor and ask for ice for our ziploc baggie). Naturally any of the gummy fruits that are pre-packaged are super fun too. Right now my oldest is very much into lollipops (I buy the “dum dum” brand as they are the smallest) and they will work for entertainment that is relatively quiet! And while my list is focusing on kids, don’t forget to pack snacks for mom and dad!!!

MEALS: Sign up for the meal if the airline provides one (depends on route and seat assignment as most coach seats no longer do today). Choose what you think your child will eat and then plan to bring along something else in addition to supplement in case your child strongly dislikes what is available. Hungry child usually makes for a tougher flight. Del Taco burritos (the 59 cent size – or any homemade skinny burritos) are a favorite with my son. Also, sandwiches cut into fourths (PB, hummus, cheese slice, meat or veggie meat slice, etc). If you are at the airport at mealtime – you could eat a meal there before/after flying. I always suggest carrying snacks – delays can always occur!

TOYS TO PACK: If you have older children – let them decide while mom/dad retains “veto power” and check before you leave the house! If kiddos are young and mom/dad is packing -- pack a variety. Even if your boy only plays with cars at home or your girl only plays with dollies – take options as you can’t change your mind once you are on board! Also pack a bag for each child if they are old enough to manage their own. I really like Crayola mess free draw/paints. They look clear and go on with color – plus they don’t mark up clothing or the airplane. Doodle pro slide to erase boards. Small clings to lift and erase. Small matchbox style cars – especially ones that “do something” like a dump truck that can carry a small ball of paper and “dump it” – yes this makes a small mess, but it’s won’t ruin things like markers can. Aqua coloring/draw books – that work with just water. Lift the flap books. Vibrating teething toy for teething baby and light up rattle toy (in lieu of rattle without light because they are hard to hear on the airplane – the light one I have does make noise, but it is very soft and hard to hear, however baby likes to see the lights and it has an on/off switch by infantino). Magnetic or cling books (clings are cheaper) – where you can recreate the scene over and over. I opt for the copy/print paper activities vs white board erase (pens are really hard to get out of clothing IMO) and use pencils. I also prefer traditional pencils vs mechanical and have not had a problem with a basic pencil sharpener going through security. For baby keep things on a leash as much as possible (pacifier and sippy cup straps work great for toys too) as it will aid keeping items off the public floor. Naturally I don’t pack all of these for every trip, but all of these have gone on different trips at different times!

WHAT WE DO WITH TOYS: We have done all sorts of things depending on the length of the trip. If your child likes to “open” things consider wrapping in tissue paper (I often carry unwrapped through security with scotch tape and then Daddy takes the kiddos for a walk while I wrap at the gate – we do this more for longer flights than short ones). Tissue paper opens easily for younger kids than wrapping paper and is lighter weight to carry. Also I don’t necessarily buy new toys – just wrap toys that I’ve put away for the 4-6 weeks before the trip and that way they are “new again”. Also I don’t take along favorites – if they get lost tears may result. You know your children best and if a favorite toy is needed – take it, just keep a close eye on it so it’s not left behind!!

ELECTRONICS: Leapsters/gameboys/DSI/IPAD/Itouch/Cell Phone in airplane mode/DVD/TAG pen players – just a few of what I have seen families use to help their children stay entertained (we use Leap Frog educational electronics since ours are still young). Remember headphones – especially ones that your child is familiar with and that are comfortable for your child to wear! Most airplanes have them, but they may not be designed for your child’s head size and they might not be as comfortable or fussy therefore they toy may not be the ideal one at that time.

WIPES: I pack extra wipes and wipe down all the surfaces around the kids. Alternatively consider using hand sanitizer to wipe down surfaces. Visually the plane will look fine, but in reality they have lots of germs (unless of course you are the lucky first flight since cleaning). Airports have lots of people from lots of places and traveling you are more likely to get an illness – so be preventative!!! Clean the hard surfaces as soon as possible. Wash hands frequently. Use hand sanitizer (they come in perfect 1oz bottles for travel). The smaller 40 ct size is always more than enough for cleaning, hand wiping, and baby on a plane – round trip if saved for the plane at the destination (even the long international ones round trip).

LONG FLIGHTS: We carry a toothbrush and tiny toothpaste tube for everyone and a non-liquid deodorant for those who use it. I also carry disposable washcloths (1-2/child) in a baggie for young children/babies. If child/baby gets ill and vomits – you will want this. Thankfully I haven’t needed it, but I did have a friend who needed it once. Usually if you have it – you won’t need it. Also as long as your child is a happy child, most people won’t mind if you take “laps” to walk your child around the aircraft to help get some of the wiggles out. Some airlines have limited bassinet space. I have yet to utilize it as all airlines have different rules as to their use (some are 6M and under, some are 2 yrs and under). My SIL has used them and been very happy with them. She prefers international carriers as they tend to allow the older children (up to age 2) longer than US carriers (some only up to 6M).

CLOTHING: Spare outfit for each child – bathroom accident/spit up/etc… Spare top for each adult who helps with the children (spit up). Ironically when it’s all packed – we don’t need it. The one flight we took without a spare top for daddy within 60 minutes baby had spit up onto daddy. If you have a larger family, consider one roller board for mom/dad’s carry-on to hold all the non-essentials for “just in case”.

DIAPERS: I carry diaper bags for diapers as a poop diaper can be really stinky – the entire aircraft full as passengers will be grateful! They are also ideal for wet clothing if an accident occurs.

Potty trained child: if they use diapers at night – I travel with the child in a diaper the entire flight with spare diapers. I also then REWARD them for keeping it dry while they are awake once you are at your destination. Here are some reasons why: The fasten seatbelt light could be on for an extended period of time. Your child may want to go to sleep with a line at the restroom – waiting to change will seem like forever. Plus the bathrooms are tiny and changing them is cramped!

TIME MANAGEMENT: I like to break the flight into small “segments” and rotate items (especially long flights). I will tell my child it is nap/rest time or book time or car time or snack time etc… to intentionally change up what they are doing BEFORE they say “I’m bored”. You know your child best and if this works for them or not!

CRY/SCREAMING: At the first sign of it we go to the restroom – because my children are very social. It is very cramped and there is no audience which for my children limits it fast. Also, they are reasonably well insulated so if it does go into a temper tantrum, it will not be shared with the entire plane.

AIRPORT TIME: Walk near the windows to watch the airplanes. Stroll and have your child walk all they can – even if they are easier in a stroller – walking on a plane is harder and your child will be more ready to sit on board if they have been up and moving around!

TAKE OFF/LANDING: I strongly suggest your child have something to make them swallow if they are young it is even more important!!! Anything that will make your child swallow -- snack, gum, hard candy, beverage, pacifier – something so their ears will not build up pressure. If you have a baby and want to use a bottle or nurse, fine – but not as you leave the gate. Wait until the aircraft is at the end of the runway as sometimes there is a lineup of several planes (I learned the hard way once as my child was full as we went down the runway to takeoff).

TSA/FLIGHT CREW: Consider printing out their requirements IF you have a lot of the items that are questionable. If you are taking liquids to serve your child some may say you can’t and then it can be helpful to show them their rules in writing. They are human too and all humans make mistakes at times. Remember if they say no, stay calm. They can refuse to let you through if they view you as a threat. I have seen security take people from the gate before and deny boarding. Plus what example do you want your child to see? How do you want your child to learn to act?

Darcy Sharman - posted on 11/11/2012




If he has his own seat yes bring the car seat as long as it is airline approved. It is the safest thing to use for takeoff/landing/turbulence when he needs to be buckled in and the fact that it is familiar will probably help as well.

On long-haul flights like that you can ask for a bulkhead seat and a fold-out bassinet for the baby. At 12 months he should still (just) qualify for one. We always flew with our daughter as a lap passenger so the bassinet was nice for her to have her own space, stretch out to sleep in or play quietly, etc. I'm sure your son won't want to be in his seat the whole time so he might like it as well if you can get one.

Definitely make sure that you have SOMETHING he will suck on during ascent and descent. He needs to be able to clear his ears. I always breastfed but if he has his own seat he will need to be strapped in and will need a pacifier or bottle or something.

Bring favorite books, blankets from home, favorite toys, and maybe something new that you can introduce mid-flight when he is restless. Prepare for a certain amount of walking up and down the aisles :) Also be SURE to pack some extra clothes in your carry on in case of diaper blowouts, spills, what have you.

Also if you have a baby sling or baby wrap wearing your baby can be an excellent strategy--in the airport and on the plane.

Amidy - posted on 11/11/2012




I have taken my two oldest kids on that flight several times. My husband was stationed there and my kids were born there. The first time I made the trip on my own (yes, I was crazy) My son was almost 2 and my daughter was 4 months. I asked my pediatrician for some tips and he flat out said Benadryl. He said he deals with a lot of infants and children that take that flight and the stress of a bad flight is much worse than a small dose of medicine. It's not about not wanting to handle your child or not being able to control them. It's about how well your child can handle the stress.

Give them the appropriate dose as soon as you sit down on the plane so it has time to work. If they fall asleep before take off their ears will regulate themselves otherwise give them a bottle or pacifier ect.

Before the flight buy him some books about airplanes and flying. Let him read them while the plane gets ready to take off. I bought several small trinkets like hotwheels and stuff from the dollar store and had them all wrapped up. When a bored moment hit I would pull one out and it would diffuse the situation.

It depends on how long your layover is whether you want the stroller or carrying pack. You will have to remove the pack to go through security which might be difficult if you are alone. If you go with the stroller try not to load it with a bunch of stuff cause it will all have to come off at security and at gate check.

Good Luck!!

BTW if you are military look for a USO lounge in the airport! They are a god send!

Jean - posted on 11/10/2012




Not sure about the seating, but I know that you should have him suck on something while the plane is taking off and landing. This will help relieve ear pressure and popping inside his ears. If you can have him suck on a bottle or pacifier, or have him suck a liquid up a straw in a big cup.

Good luck with your travels!


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Corah - posted on 11/15/2012




Thanks everyone for your suggestions, we are getting stationed at lakenheath and this flight will be our first adventure of the 3 years we will be there!!

Cherylcatanzano - posted on 11/12/2012




Michelle, THAT was very impressive!! I no longer have babies, but sure do wish I had a copy of your suggestions when I did!

Great job, mom!


[deleted account]

Definitely use your car seat on the plane, it'll be more comfortable for them and that is too far to take a child in your lap, I've done that before and it's very cramped. Check the regulations before you make any plans, but I brought food, a couple toys and books. I think most let you check a stroller when you board, so definitely do that if you can, it makes going through the airport and everything easier. DVD players are also great. It can be a lot of stuff to juggle and you may feel totally disorganized, but it's far better than having a screaming child. Oh and have a bottle or pacifier handy to protect their ears. Have fun

Rebecca - posted on 11/12/2012




I have traveled with my 1&2 year old I would recommend a car seat and stroller for the airport as 4 entertaing him just take a few of his fav toys and u never know he might even go sleep !! X

Nytasha - posted on 11/11/2012




Check the rules of the airline. Some require either a car seat that meets the specific air requirement or a safety belt specifically made for airplanes. It's a harness that fits on the seat. Pack lots of liquids. Airlines are ok when for children. Depending on where you leave some will test your liquids. You can also bring food. Hopefully your traveling during nap times or sleep hours makes it easier. As far as entertainment. Depends on your child. Movies. Books. Music. All are great. Be prepared to break down your stroller and empty your bags when going through security. Not as easy as it sounds.

Keri - posted on 11/11/2012




Most children under 2 years can be considered "lap children" by most airlines. Obviously you're flying overseas and don't want a baby in your lap for 11+ hours. Most airlines don't allow rear-facing child seats on the plane, you'll have to gate check it. Get one of those booster seats without the back on it. Make sure when you buy it that the sticker says it's FAA approved for travel. Overall, just CALL THE AIRLINE(S) you're travelling on and ask what their policies are. As for strollers in the airport, get one of those folding umbrella strollers. They take up less room and are easier to deal with. Entertainment on board: QUIET toys that won't bother other passengers - nothing with sound or flashing lights. Maybe some books or a special stuffed animal. Pack as much as you can of it in the diaper bag to aviod bringing more carry-on stuff than necessary.

Kim - posted on 11/11/2012




If you have an airline approved seat BRING IT! Since your child is not going as a lap baby you will be required to have them strapped down for landing and take off. Although I didn't allow my kids to have candy at that age I did make one exception for take off I gave my one yr old, a child safe handle sucker (he was breast fed and refused a pacifire or bottle) Otherwise surgary snacks will likely upset their tummy so stick to crackers, or cheese n crackers. Basically protein and carbs of the foods your child is used to. If you need to bring foods like apple sauce, you can buy the individual cups, take them out of the wrapping that labels how much is in there but leave them sealed! Bring baggies they work for a place to put partally used stuff or as an ice pack! Fill with ice after security but before getting on the plane.

Toys-- Measuring cups work great colored one are better, they stack funny, don't roll far, and are great snack containers with a handle, when you get to the other end they are also fun tub toys! (Note your child probably will not be able to use the tray on the seat in front of him/her.) I also brought a note pad and pen and let/helped my little one draw for the first time. Otherwise other smallish toys that your child likes at home, if you have an electronic device with apps, flight mode and play some simple game that they can watch you play or even help.

Bring medicine! The airlines will allow baby meds even if they are >3oz.

Try to remember that the calmer you are the calmer your child will be. If you are supper nervouse your child will pick up on that and make you miserable for sure. Remember that if your kid is usually crabby before nap then they will be that way on the plane. Don't worry about the passengers just calmly take care of the needs of your child. If you are nervouse and worried about everyone else your baby will be even crabier. Bottom line, do your best and stay calm. The plane trip will end. I have had flights where my babies were perfect and a delayed flight that delayed a nap and so my little one screamed for hours before passing out.

Leah - posted on 11/10/2012




If he has his own seat, I would recommend bringing his car seat, since he's slept in it before and is used to it. They do sell carseat strollers that can change your car seat into a stroller, but I just put the car seat in a regular umbrella stroller and strapped it down with bungee cords and that worked fine. You might want to bring his favorite snacks/crackers, etc as he might not like the strange food offered. When I traveled alone with my 9 month old son, I was lucky that our first flight was a night flight so we both slept most of it... you might try to get a night flight. It makes a difference if he's walking yet or not. Pre-walkers can be easier to keep on your lap, walkers might need a few laps up and down the aisle throughout the flight. Hope this helps.

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