The thought of flying with a toddler strikes fear into the hearts of most parents. My family travels a lot. Truth be told, I’ve turned down a few vacations because the thought of flying with my toddler is enough to make the trip not worth it. It’s hard, especially when you have a very active toddler who greatly dislikes sitting still or sitting on someone’s lap. As soon as they are mobile, most kids become difficult to travel with until they are old enough to understand why they have to sit and relax on an airplane, usually around 4-5 years old.
Miss O is two. She only just turned two. Therefore every trip we have taken with her thus far, she has been on someone’s lap. This is a very hard task for us. She is extremely independent and has never really been big on snuggles or needing to be attached to one parent or the other. She’s also very active. She’s unable to sit still for longer then about 5 minutes.
Takeoff and landing are the hardest parts of the trip. Turbulence can also be a bit bothersome as this also requires them to be seated and restrained. If they are under two and on your lap, there is very little you can do to occupy them.
How to Occupy During Takeoff/Landing/Turbulence
- Stuffed animal or other favoured item or “lovey”
- A new toy brought out especially for the trip such as a figurine or other small item
- A new book brought especially for the trip – I like smaller books as it’s easier for them to hold when on your lap
- Singing favourite songs together
- Simple snacks such as Mum Mums, cookies, banana – something they can hold & won’t make much of a mess
- Patience & a calm, soothing tone. This can be one of the most difficult things to muster up but it will help immensely. I’m a high-strung mom who hates when people stare at me and my screaming child but I can attest that being relaxed will help your child remain relaxed.
How to Occupy During the Flight
- iPad/iPhone/iPod/Portable DVD player – basically any form of technology containing their favourite TV show or movie. *This is crucial for us.
- Headphones for the technology – on our last trip we bought her special Elmo headphones
- Colouring books – we really like ones with water pens or invisible ink as this reduces the need for a pile of crayons to easily lose
- New toys – anything new is exciting, even if it’s stickers from the dollar store. Bonus points if it features their favourite character.
- Food. Lots of food. Bring their favourite snacks. Now is a good time to break out the special treats.
- Books. Miss O loves books so we usually have a few new ones for plane rides.
- Again, patience. No one likes the screaming child on the plane but you know what? There’s not much you can do about it. If you remain calm, soothing and relaxed then hopefully your child will embrace those calm vibes.
We have tried many different tactics with Miss O. Up until now she has only been on our laps. Now that she’s two, she will have her own seat on flights. I think this will make a great difference for us as she doesn’t have to be restrained in a bone-crushing hug from daddy during takeoff and landing. If I could bring only one thing on the flight for Miss O it would be the iPad. Although it doesn’t help during takeoff and landing, it occupies her fully during the flight. If I had to choose one thing for takeoff & landing, it would be any new Dora toy – this is always supremely exciting for her.
Flying with a toddler is hard, there is no denying this. Patience and a bag full of goodies is your best bet. Just remember – the hardest part of your trip will likely be the flight. This is only a few hours in comparison to the many hours you will spend enjoying your family vacation.
You got this.