Flying with a toddler. Four words that probably strike fear into the hearts of most parents.
Well, having flown with my soon-to-be three year old for the first time quite recently, I’m here to tell you that flying with your own little
threenager angel can be uneventful and even fun. Here are a few tips and tricks we used that I believe helped contribute to a successful flight.
Talk to your kiddo about the flight.
We started talking to our daughter several months ahead of our trip about going on an airplane. We made it seem fun, and it became a game for her to point out airplanes in the sky. Obviously, depending on your child’s age, what they’re able to understand about flying will differ. We told our daughter that the airplane was going to go fast and be a little loud so she wouldn’t be scared of those two things specifically.
Bring lots of snacks.
Having familiar snacks on hand helped our little one be more comfortable in an unfamiliar setting. She gets finicky when she thinks we are trying to introduce a new food (even if its something she’s already had). So when the peanuts rolled around, she freaked out and wouldn’t eat them. Goldfish, cashews, and gummy snacks saved the day. A hungry toddler is never a happy toddler.
Bring some treats.
Even if you are a parent who staunchly adheres to a “no sweets” policy, a flight may be the time to bend the rules a bit. I packed some suckers and sugar-free gum to give our daughter on takeoff and landing to help her ears pop. On our way home, she had a cold — so the pressure change really got to her as we were landing. There happened to be a small pack of Skittles in my purse. That was the only thing she would try in the middle of her meltdown. They were nice and chewy which got her ears to pop. Plus? Suckers and skittles do amazing things to stave off a normal toddler meltdown, too.
Pack new toys/things to play with.
My mother-in-law went all out and bought a bunch of small toys and wrapped them up for Ava to unwrap on the plane. The whole unwrapping thing backfired because she just wanted to unwrap them all immediately. Womp womp. The new small toys did hold her attention for a little while though. The things that actually kept her the most occupied were stickers. I spent a whopping $8 at Target’s dollar spot and got a ton of stickers and a book full of blank pages. Girlfriend went to town and sat quietly for well over an hour.
Let screen time be your best friend.
This is similar to #3. If you are the parent who is really strict about letting your little one have screen time, now is the time to be a little lax. If your plane has wifi, buy it. It will be the best money you spend all day. I can promise you that. Our flight out of Nashville had wifi. Thank you, sweet baby Jesus. Once the whole unwrapping presents thing was a fail, we went to plan B – the iPad. It made the rest of the flight heavenly. I even got to read a book! Our return flight did not have wifi. Thankfully, however, we had several movies previously downloaded onto the iPad. Thank you, Nemo and Belle, for making our flight a quiet one.
All in all? Every child is different. Take these tips and adapt them to what works best for you and your child. Hopefully, some of these will be useful and help you enjoy flying with your toddler!