Flying with Babies and Toddlers

Happy as a clam with his little toy airplane

Flying is an inevitable part of most of our travels.Once people got over the fact that we were going to travel with our kids they start in on how we would do it. Everything from taking a red-eye flight to drugging them up with a little cold medicine was suggested to us.Drugging our kids never worked, in fact it had the opposite effect. I can’t sleep on planes, so red-eye flights are out for our family. What good is it if my kid sleeps but I am a zombie the next day and can’t take care of them?

Over the years we have developed a few tips and tricks along the way to keep our baby turned toddler happy and pretty darn pleasant if I do say so myself. This isn’t rocket science, it’s just knowing your kid and being prepared.

  1. Start walking. It isn’t healthy for anyone to sit on a plane for too long. If your child is antsy in their seat, plop them in the aisle and start moving. Kids are small; they can squeeze through the tiniest of aisles. They won’t bug other people that much. They usually just want to run. Dek and I have met many lovely passengers and traveling families this way. Once other people see how happy and cute your kid can be, just maybe they will cut you a little slack if your kid cries later on.
  2. Pack the snacks. I travel with a small arsenal of food wherever we go. Goldfish and bunny crackers that can swim and hop their way through the plastic cups your drinks come in. Fruit Dek can munch on, pasta noodles and small sandwiches are always a good way to pass a few minutes.
  3. Break out the Toys. My carry on always has a small bag of “travel” toys. These may be special cars that only pop out when we hit the road or maybe even a new matchbox truck. We often do a toy swap with friend’s kids so everyone has something “new” when they travel. It saves us a ton of money.
  4. Laptop, DVD player, Kindle or iPhone. Yes, the days of you catching up on your favorite shows while on a plane or even getting work done may be over for a bit. You know what, you are on vacation, why are you working anyway? When in doubt, we pull out my laptop, pop in some Curious George, Cars or another PBS show (we pretend our TV watching is educational at least) and all take a little break in our seats. Mike and I get reading time in, Dek gets to chatter with a monkey or cat. Everyone is happy. We always take a break for a walk so his eyes don’t jump out of his head.
  5. Attempt a Nap but Know When to Call It Quits. There have been many trips when it is “nap time” and Dek has no interest in sleeping. Can you blame him? He’s on  an airplane. That’s exciting stuff. My once sleeping anywhere baby boy has grown into a full-blown curiosity hound. I don’t really see this as a bad thing. We try to get him to sleep in the Ergo. I walk the aisles bouncing him. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. If he is perfectly happy doing other things, I just let it go. A missed nap or late bedtime is not the end of the world.
  6. Don’t Give Up. If you have one bad flight, but still dream of traveling with your family, please don’t give up. Every age comes with its ups and downs. You see this often enough at home. You will likely see it on a plane too. Come up with new strategies for each flight. Think about what worked last time, what works at home, what works when you go out to eat together? All the strategies you use at home can work on a flight too.

What is your go-to trick when flying with your kids? 

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