Flying with Your Toddler

Having just returned home from two international 14 hour flights, I've been pondering the successes and pitfalls of our flights. You certainly can't control everything that may occur with your toddler on a long flight (or a short one!); you can, however, certainly bring along a bag of tricks to make the journey more tolerable. Here are a number of helpful hints as you get ready to hit the friendly skies.


Always prepare ahead with your food. It is often a good idea to have a picnic ready for the airport. Give your toddler the foods that he loves and set off on the journey on a full stomach. Food usually doesn't come for at least an hour or two after you've taken off, and airplanes don't always supply the types of foods that toddlers will eat. Therefore, head this off at the pass and bring your own food along. Have extra snacks, in addition to your pre-boarding food, so that you'll always have something to offer to your child.

Pre-Boarding Exercise

Try to get your child's energy out before the flight. Usually, when you travel with children, you'll want to do everything early. Get to the airport as early as possible so that you can check in before the rush, go through security calmly, and give yourself extra time for all of the extras that it takes to do things with kids. This usually means that you'll arrive at the gate with extra time. Use this time to get your toddler running around! Explore the area around your gate, do some errands, go to the bathroom, etc. The more that you keep your toddler running before the flight, the less (hopefully!) energy he'll have during the actual flight.

Think About Using a VIP Lounge

If you travel a good deal, you might want to consider joining a VIP lounge. One of the biggest issues with traveling with children is with delays. Inevitably, a flight will be delayed and you'll end up in the airport, forever trying to entertain your child. If you are a member of a VIP Lounge, you'll be able to sit in a far more comfortable environment while your child watches t.v., lounges, and relaxes.

On Board

Make sure to bring along a few of your child's favorite activities for the plane. These should be activities that can be done in the child's seat and that will occupy his time. If he's willing to watch television - let him! Even if you don't usually let your child watch t.v., this is not the time to stand by your principles. Take walks up and down the aisles whenever possible and make trips to the bathroom frequently to keep him occupied. Try not to offer your child sweets, chocolate and soda to distract him and keep him occupied. The short benefit will be crushed by the sugar high and subsequent drop. Try to stick to your child's eating schedule and nap schedule as much as possible.

Bring Alone Comfort Items

Make sure that you offer your child comfort items when possible during the flight. If he has a favorite pillow, let him bring it! Similarly, don't deny him his blanket or his favorite pacifier just because you don't want to take up the space. The more comfortable that he feels, and the more that he has his routine, the easier your flying will be.

Most importantly, try to keep your sense of humor throughout. Things won't always go smoothly. You have to remember that your toddler may throw tantrums and may not act perfectly on this trip. Traveling makes you tired and frustrated at times; why shouldn't your toddler react in the same fashion? Enjoy your time away as much as possible and make the most of it as a family!