Four Tips for Plane Travel with Toddlers

Anyone who has flown with a younger child knows it is not an easy task to accomplish. Nevertheless, you and your toddler can have a successful adventure, letting you and the other passengers feel some relief. Being an ex-pat mom whose under two toddler has been on almost 50 flights (including several long international ones), I’ve found a few ideas that have helped us fly the friendly skies.

Tip #1: A small bag of toys. Find a small, durable bag, preferably one that zips and can be stored inside a larger carry-on to have ready access toys. Choose toys that are small enough to be enjoyed in a confined space and that your little one won’t easily be bored with. For our son, we bring some small cars, animals, and action figures in our bag. Our bag is smaller enough to fit inside our carry-on so all we need to do is quickly remove it while boarding.

Tip #2: Whenever possible, board first. While most airlines do have a policy in place that allow parents and kids to pre-board, most don’t actually enforce it unless you ask. Before you have to worry about others pushing past you with their carry-ons, you could have yours stowed and any necessary items out, ready in the seat pocket or under the seat in front of you. Having a few extra minutes to settle in without a rush of passengers is a key part in preserving your own sanity.

Tip #3: Comfort for sore ears. As adults we have chewing gum and medicine to help us with our sore ears. The pressure from take off and landing are the main reasons for screaming kids on a plane ride. Many steps can be done to help your toddler with earaches. If your toddler uses a pacifier, the sucking can help pop ears. Having a bottle or sippy cup with water also helps, as you drinking also helps with the sucking reflex. Warm water can be even better than cold, so don’t be afraid to ask a flight attendant for help with this. Finally, rubbing gently behind your child’s ears can not only help him or her to feel comforted by your touch, this motion can help relieve pressure.

Tip #4: Predict possible needs. Depending on the time of the flight, you can predict what other needs your child may have. If your toddler’s meal may be delayed because of the flight, make sure to have food on board for him or her. If you are on a longer international flight with free meal service, call ahead to make sure you book kid-friendly meals for your little one. If it’s an early morning or late night and your child may fall asleep, have items with to help. Bring a blanket, a stuffed animal friend, or other important bedtime items to help relax your child. Thinking ahead is a key part of a successful trip.

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