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Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Flying with a toddler

A few months ago I shared my tips on flying and traveling with a baby and since Ford is no longer a cuddly little babe who will nurse and sleep during a flight, it's time for a new set of tips. So...flying with a toddler. My biggest tip is:


Just kidding. Well, kind of not. This past weekend Ford took his 22nd flight and it was horrible. Ford was always an easy flier and we loved that we've taken him on so many trips during his first year of life but we may be at a turning point. Although he isn't walking, Ford is always moving and climbing. We are at a weird in between stage where I can't just nurse him the whole flight but he's not interested in TV, iPads, or sitting still. I told Jon this was his last flight until he is 5 but I am sure in a few months when he can be entertained by a movie or coloring book, we will embark on another trip. I thought making the flight during his naptime would be best because he would sleep the whole time. Wrong-o. This was also our first flight not having our infant seat which was so easy for him to snooze in. We switched Ford into a convertible carseat at 8 months (our last flight to Chicago) and checked it. Our flight was full, he was tired, and he squirmed and cried for an hour before falling asleep 15 minutes before we landed. 

I don't want this post to scare you because many 1 year olds love to cuddle into mom and dad and snooze but Ford is not one of those babies. He takes his naps in his crib (which I love) and if we are in public, he is on guard. His head is on a swivel and he has to know what is going on. Pointing, waving, and talking to everyone around us. 

So pretending Ford didn't have a few epic meltdowns on our plane rides, here are a few tips for flying with a newish toddler.

  • Snacks! Pack a few of your baby's favorite snacks and then pack 5 more. Easy, clean, small snacks are the best so you don't fill up their tummies within the first few minutes. Oyster crackers and Honey Rice Chex are my favorite snacks to feed Ford lately because I can put a few at a time on a tray and it takes him a while.
  • Wear baby. I haven't worn Ford in the Ergo for a few months but decided to bring it on our trip on a whim and I am SO glad I did. Because he is such a climber I was able to strap him on me so he'd stay in one place. This helped for nap time because my back was supported. 
  • iPad/Kindle/laptop- Ford isn't quite to the age yet where movies or games will entertain him for more than a few minutes but I know they are great for older toddlers. We packed our iPad and never got it out. Ford loves the 
  • Direct flights or short total travel time- unfortunately you can't get to many places on a direct flight from Austin so we choose the flights with the least amount of travel time. 
  • If your baby can nap on the go, pick a flight during nap time. We tried to keep Ford on schedule throughout our entire trip, adjusting for time zones, and that worked really well. 
  • Always check with the counter to see if it is a full flight. If not, get on early (if flying Southwest) or ask for an entire row so you have extra room for your lap child.

The next flight we are taking is sans Ford in a few weeks (eeeek). It may be a while before his next flight but what are your tips for flying with a toddler?


Unknown said...

This is going to be so helpful for us in a year! Thank you mama! Can't wait to check out your flying with a baby post! With her daddy's new job, we will be flying more than the 3 times she flew this year in my belly ;) Heading there now. Xoxo!!

Bridget said...

This is really helpful as we will be flying with Turner when he is 20 months. This will be his first flight and I am so worried...we made sure to get direct flight but it is a long one (4 hours). Luckily we will have family on the flight with us to help keep him entertained (or less strangers to annoy..hehe) as we will be traveling to Jamaica for my sisters wedding. Thank you Ruthie!

Lindsay @ Pursuit of Pink said...

I feel like I just read a page from my own diary! Kendall is the exact same-used to be an awesome traveler but now she's into everything and has to know what's going on. I told Nick that we won't be flying with Kendall until she understands to sit.

Unknown said...

Can I make a suggestion, buy him something you are sure he will love a new toy and a couple new books for when you fly and give it to him on the plane. I have heard this also works, we do most of our traveling by car (1500 miles to our parents) so each time I always get them something new for them and bring it out when they are board. For us the iPad works great as well,

Unknown said...

Hi Honey,
My advice to moms and dads was to always purchase a seat for your child and get him/her used to being in the car seat that he/she rides in daily. If something were to happen to that plane, or massive turbulence, parents arms are never strong enough to protect a baby/toddler. My dad was an airline pilot and we discussed this many times. Anyway, the extra expense of a ticketed seat would always be worth it to me.

Veronika said...

we flew with our (at the time) 12 month old on a 3 hour flight in June. We installed her convertible carseat on the plane and even though she's a walker, being in her seat was familiar and she slept almost the entire flight. It was perfect! I highly recommend installing a car seat on the actual plane because it helps squirmy babies stay calmer and it's also easier for parents because your child is contained in a safe way.

Hollie said...

Oh my gosh I feel your pain. It's so hard. Ell and I just returned from a trip yesterday, and she was awesome! She's just 3, but super active and I was terrified she'd be all over the place. She had her toys, iPad, and her own seat. It was perfection. Wait until he's a bit older and I bet he'll do great!!

Allena said...

Don't - HILARIOUS advice!

the happy teacher mom blog said...

It is hard!!! But bringing toys and snacks have worked for me only for a few minutes, when my son was a year and a half old I had to booked a seat only for him so he could "jump" and play in his own small space too!

Anonymous said...

This makes me nervous. I'm thinking to fly with my daughter to Germany next year (she will be around 1 at that time). And the flight is 8-9 hours. That's a long time already but then dealing with a fussy baby.... I'm scared :)

Mindy Anderson said...

We had an 8 hour flight a few weeks ago with our 1 year old and man it was hard! He has flown many times(we are expats) but this time he could not settle down to sleep! The Ergo has always been my lifesaver for travel, I don't know what I will do when I can't use it anymore!

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