Please help! Flying with toddler — The Bump
Attachment Parenting

Please help! Flying with toddler

I know this is not the first time this has been posted about, and I read every thread, but I still need some guidance ladies.

 I have a very active doesn't sit still well almost 2 year old. We have a 2 hour flight on Friday and we're taking a DVD player with us, but I don't know if it will help for long.

Coloring, stickers, and books are a given, but they won't keep him occupied for long.

What other types of toys are good for keeping kids occupied without being spread around the airplane? Specifics would be good. He enjoys playing with a lot of stuff, but I want this to be as fun and stressfree as possible. We've flown before, but not since he was 7 months, so it is a whole different ballpark.

 Also, DS is kinda obsessed with planes. We've been explaining that he will get to fly in one, but does that actually hold interest for long once we're in it?

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Re: Please help! Flying with toddler

  • I just took a trip with my 2 year old a few weeks ago.  We had a 2 hour flight, 5 hour lay over, and another 1 hour flight each way.  Did you buy a seat for your LO?  It helped being able to put DS in his car seat.  The other thing that helped was being able to breast feed.  I couldn't get him interested in the movies that I brought to watch and toys were of little interest.  The view outside of the plane was more of interest and the fact that he was tired helped him to take a nap for a while as well.  Especially if you are traveling in a smaller plane.  The vibration in one of the planes had him asleep as soon as we started to take off.  The trip home was a lot easier, but that was only because DS was sick and slept most of the day.  I strongly recommend having the strap to attach the car seat to your luggage.  The one that allows you to keep LO in the car seat and haul him around the airport.  It was a life saver.  Didn't have it on the way to my trip and keeping a toddler that wants to run every where when you are going through security is difficult to say the least.
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  • I just flew to and back from Florida with my 18 (then 19 month) old. The flight was 2 hours. 

    Honestly, on the way down she looked out the window, nursed and played with the airmall magazine, as well as a cup of ice from the beverage cart. she was super curious of all the things going on around her. We were lucky and had an extra seat so she could sit next to me, and the man in the seat next to her was very nice. There were a ton of kids on the flight, and all of them were great except one who had a tantrum because the parents had to turn off the DVD player because the flight was descending and it was time to turn of electronics. So I learned a lesson from them - if you are going to show a video, make sure it is over before you have to turn off the DVD. 

    The way back was a different story. The flight was packed, so she has to sit on my lap and the woman next to me was grouchy-mcgroucherton. She would glare at me if I used the armrest or of LO's foot went even close to her. LO was much more restless. We ate cherrios and pistachios (she likes opening them) and looked out the window again. She played with ice again and then "read" the airmall magazine. 

    I try to remain calm and not stressed, because then LO gets stressed. We do a lot of observing while we are waiting to take off - looking out the window at the trucks, people, other planes. It's really not that bad, but a lot nicer if you have people around you that are friendly and cool.

    Also, everyone was sympathetic to the parents of the kiddo who freaked out because her video was over. I think people generally understand.  

    I always try to board first (depending on what airline you are flying, they let you board early with a child).

    My LO also has two speeds - On and Off. she is go-go-go, but on the flights she has been very observant and is kind of fascinated by the whole thing, which helps. I think that is her temperament though.  

    Good luck, 2 hours seems like a long time, but it goes by really fast.  

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  • oh - I wrapped her while in the airport. I even kept her wrapped while going through security. In a woven. They just make you stop and scan your hands. ?? I have no idea what that does, but it only takes a second. 


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  • The only reason we're going on this trip is because we had to cancel an adult-only trip (due to finances) and transferred the tickets, so we couldn't buy an extra seat for DS. We'll have a stroller and an ergo for getting through the airports.

     One thing I've been curious about is whether it is really a good idea to board first or last. I can see it being a good thing for him to get acclimated without all the chaos, but I'm worried that the extra 20 minutes or so will make keeping him calm even harder. I guess we'll see! :)

     DH is at least going with us, so we can take turns and help each other. Oh, I'm definitely planning on him being hungry and feeding him as much as possible. We still breastfeed, but I'm pregnant and don't have a lot of supply, so he is really only interested when HE wants the comfort, not when I suggest it. Also, we don't nurse to sleep anymore (his choice...oddly enough that is the nursing sessions he has cut out since I got pregnant).

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  • RE: getting on first. 

    I think it depends on a few things.

    Do you have assigned seats? if so, then it doesn't matter. If you don't (southwest) then you should board first to make sure you can sit together.

    Do you have a lot of carry-ons? both flights I was on, people had to end up checking their carry-ons because the flights were full and they didn't have enough space.

    I was traveling alone, so for me it was easer to board first because I could get settled in and not have to worry about LO running around the airport. And I was only taking carryons and didn't want to check the luggage.

    Breastfeeding was great for take-off and landing and LO didn't seem to have any ear discomfort.

    If you are both going and LO doesn't freak, you could always send DH on the flight to get your seats and luggage set up, and you could board last with LO.


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  • I flew from here in SC to Sacramento in Dec - so 2 flights that were 3 hours long. I was terrified - anyone who has known Ari more than 10 mins can vouch for the fact that he's "well behaved" but a serious bundle of energy. And napping is hit or miss with him.

    I took a layover in Texas instead of Atlanta. It was a longer layover, but it split the trip in half & gave him more time to run. I was originally planning on eating @ the airport, but brought sandwiches instead so we could maximize play time. I also got great advice to bring tons of food in case of delays.

    I was going to wear Ari in the airport but he really wanted to walk. He was really excited about flying. This ended up being a good thing because I think all that walking at a fast pace helped tire him a bit. I explained that if he wanted to walk, he had to hold hands & stay right with me & keep up. If he didn't he would have to go in the sling. He did great.

    I brought books, coloring books, some DVDs, but the biggest hit was the Mudpuppy On the Farm Play Scene sticker thing. We got that one & On the Town. He did those 2 sticker scenes for 90% of both the flights there & back. I couldn't believe it.

    I was hesitant to lug his car seat on the plane, but a few ppl on this board rec'd it b/c LOs are used to it & know they need to sit when they're in their car seats. Not sure if it made a difference but Ari didn't ask to get down unless he needed a potty break. 

    GL mama. 

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  • We just got back from a trip to Maine (first flight was 3 hours, then a 4 hour layover, then another 2.5 hour flight) and it went fine. DD (21 months) has always been a lap child except when we went to Europe last fall.  It has worked fine. Nursing is great and DD does it a lot when we travel. People always recommend new/lots of toys, lots of snacks, DVDplayers etc. My DD could care less. This last trip I packed 2 or 3 books, a couple of small snacks 1 change of clothes and plenty of diapers (especially on the way out since the chances were very good that we would be delayed due to weather) and my iPad and a coloring book and crayons. She used the coloring book/crayons. She watched the iPad for about 20 minutes on the last flight and that was it. She didn't get a lot of sleep this weekend because of our trip and we had to get up really early for a 6 am flight so she was more tired than usual. She slept for half the flight on the first leg and then for about an hour the second leg. She nursed several times but didn't care about her snacks or even her books (she loves books).

    So it is hard to say what your kiddo will do especially since you haven't flown with him in a long time. We fly a ton so I sort of know that she doesn't care about most stuff and so I don't pack a lot of stuff in my carry-on. My DD loves the coloring books (2 for $1 at Target) and that kept her busy for a while. The skymall magazine she liked as well. 

    I would probably still take a few snacks, books, coloring books/crayons just to be prepared. And a lot of times the people around you will entertain him for a while playing peekaboo.  1 2 hour flight will be over before you know it. Since your DH will be with you  it will be a little easier as well since you DS can "spill over" into his seat (as opposed to having a stranger next to you). My DD pretty much just wants me so my DH isn't able to help out much but it hasn't been too much of a problem. Your DS may want to nurse even if he doesn't do it much at home, just for a comfort thing.

    I guess that wasn't too much help but I think you will be surprised at how quickly it will go by. We always board as one of the first ones (due to frequent flyer status) and it is usually fine. she likes to check out people and usually wants to nurse right away too. He may be very interested in checking everything/everybody out. 

    I think PPs comment on not starting a DVD shortly before having to put it away is a good one if you think your LO may pitch a fit.

    You will be fine! Don't stress/ worry over it too much because he will pick up on that. 

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  • One thing I just remembered. The only problem we had was the first landing when Ari's ears started getting pressure. I had brought suckers but he wasn't sure what to do with it. Given his food allergies, he had never had anything like that & it was he!! finding one he could even have. Anyway, the flight attendant brought some apple juice & he sipped that, which helped his ears pop & he was good to go after that. We did the juice for the next 3 landings & it went smoothly. 

    So I guess bring suckers for landing but have a back up plan too.  

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