Flying with a toddler? I got your back !
We went for our first ever vacation outside the country with our toddler to New York. The first thing that came to my mind while planning this trip was the long air travel from Mumbai (India) to New York (USA). We could not get the late night flight and our first flight was in the morning. That was a concern for us, because we were scared on how we would keep our toddler entertained in the air craft. Our total journey by air was 17 hours (9+7) with a 2 hour halt at the Heathrow Airport.
Now when I look back, I feel I can share a few tips on traveling with a toddler from the hits and misses of our own journey. I learnt a lot quite a lot on how to plan our next trip 🙂
How to survive flying with a toddler !
1) Make a check list
I used to work in a company where I had to travel a lot. And thus I made it a habit of using a checklist of all the essential items I knew I couldn’t miss while packing and traveling. I did the same when it came to our first international vacation with our toddler. I jotted down the most essential items and kept updating the list as and when I remembered some new items.
2) Pack favourite foods
Kids love munching and it also helps in clearing the discomfort in the ears due to the air pressure. Some airlines do provide baby meals which contain pureed fruits or vegetables. If your toddler eats solids, he might not like it. So it would be better to be prepared for his meals. Also pack their favourite snacks for the travel. Be it biscuits or wafers. We carried teething wafers from Mimmo organics, roasted foxnuts, biscuits and yogurt. Your kid might not like what the airlines provide, so it will be better to be prepared with food for the whole journey. You may also carry fruits like bananas, grapes which do not perish quickly.
3) Things for entertainment
This is the most crucial one. Haha !!
Here are a few things we carried or suggest you carry when flying with a toddler
a) Flash Cards
We carried Shifu Safari Augmented Reality Learning Games – iOS & Android (60 Animal Cards). You may like to carry whichever theme your kid likes. These flash cards are easy to carry and can be used in multiple ways. You may pick the 20-30 of them to carry with you.
My son loves his books, so we picked a few of his favourites and some other small board books which could be easily carried.
c) Toys :
Small toys like cars, shape sorters etc can be carried. We shopped last minute and bought Fisher-Price Brilliant Basics Baby’s First Blocks from the airport. Because it was a new toy, my son played with it for a long time during the journey. And it kept him busy when we were indoors at our apartment in New York.
d) Quiet Book
I would definitely recommend this if you’re travelling with a toddler. These books are designed to keep your kid busy and learn and play at the same time. We took our FAST CAR – VEHICLE THEMED QUIET BOOK form Cubs and Calves in the aircraft and it was a boon. There are so many activities that can be done like matching colours, counting, identifying numbers, playing the the vehicles.
e) Sticker Books :
We had Reusable Sticker Pad Vehicles There are many other themes from Melissa and Doug and my son loves them.
f) Colouring book and crayons :
This is old school. Would keep toddlers busy for sure
g) Old wallet with expired cards :
This is my personal idea 🙂 My son loves taking out my debit and credit cards form my wallet. So I took an old wallet with me and put all my unused cards like the membership cards form brands etc in it. He can play with it for a long time plus it enhances his fine motor skills.
h) Magnetic Doodle :
Fisher Price Doodle Pro Slim, Blue is slim and easy to carry on the aircraft.
i) Screen time :
We generally discourage this but sometimes this is the only way to keep kids entertained. I download youtube videos that my son loves on my phone and show them whenever things get out of control. Elder toddlers can play games of their choice.
4) Pack the diaper bag intelligently
The diaper bag or the bag which will go in the flight with you should be packed intelligently. Here is a list of items that should be packed.
- Diapers and changing mat – Pack them in abundance to be ready for the worst situations.
- Three set of fresh clothes – in case there is an event of vomiting or food spills.
- Jacket/sweater as the temperature in the plane is quite low.
- Baby blanket
- Sippy cups
- Reusable ziplocks
- Toys and books
- Medicines like pain killers in case of ear pains due to air pressure.
- Hand Sanitiser
- Washable Bibs
- Formula and bottles. You can carry your hot water flask or get hot water from the airline staff.
5) Baby Gear
You can carry a stroller till the aircraft which is given back to you when you reach your destination. Include other gear like baby carriers. It gets difficult and tiring to carry the kids in arms, that is then these carriers come handy. We own Chicco Bravo Stroller USA (Pulse) It is foldable and easy to use. We also carried ourSSC from Soulslings.
Some other tips for parents flying with a toddler
- Try to reach the airport at least 3-4 hours before the departure of your flight. That way you would have more time in case there are any last minute problems lie getting a cab etc. Also it would give you a good time to check in and move around at the airport.
- Let the toddlers run around before the flight so that they get tired.
- Try to schedule your flights at night because the kids sleep for a long stretch during the flight and you wont have to worry about entertaining them.
- Ignore the passengers who give you looks in case you toddler has a melt down. Take your time and calm the child and let him feel comfortable and warm with you.
- If you are traveling alone with you toddler, warmly accept if anyone sitting next to you is offering help. Like to watch your child while you use the restroom.
- Do not lose your patience at any time. Irritated parents make the toddlers worse.
- Prevent leaks in the medicines and toiletries that you carry with you by keeping them in the plastic bags which can be resealed.
- While checking in, try to get seats where you can find an extra seat. It makes the travel more comfortable.
- Flying with a toddler who sits in the lap can be tiresome. Take small walks in the aisle. But do not let him loose and run around.
- In all the motion and commotion with a toddler, please make sure that you keep your passports, wallets, important documents and the valuables safe with you.
What are the tips and tricks that you swear by when flying with a toddler ?