Traveling with toddlers requires lots of preparation. During this developmental stage, toddlers are loud, messy and always on-the-go. Caregivers may feel anxious about flying with them and wonder, “How will I keep them quiet and sitting still during the flight? How will I prevent them from disrupting others?”
Unless toddlers fall asleep, it’s unlikely they will go against their toddler instincts and act like a big kid or adult during the flight. It’s not all doom and gloom, though, when it comes to toddler travel. Caregivers can minimize a potentially stressful flight by prepping wisely.
Pack these items on the plane:
1. Snacks – A hungry toddler is a grumpy toddler. Don’t wait for flight attendants to pass out snacks mid-flight. Toddlers’ little tummies are notoriously impatient. Also, if there’s turbulence, the flight attendants may not serve food or drinks at all. Make sure to bring favorite, easy-to-eat finger foods easily accessible in carry-on bags.
2. Sippy Cup – Those open plastic cups airlines serve on flights are not toddler-friendly. Think spills and wet seats and floors. Bring a non-leak sippy cup. Though TSA prevents people from bringing liquids (more than 3.4 oz.) through security, caregivers can purchase drinks post-security or ask a flight attendant to fill the sippy cup with water before the airplane takes off.
3. Wipes / Tissue – If it’s not a spill, it will be a runny nose or sticky fingers from snacks. Keep wet wipes and tissue handy for quick clean ups. Wet wipes are also great for wiping down germy windows and arm rests toddlers love to touch.
4. Hand Sanitizer – Speaking of germs, caregivers and toddlers alike will not be happy if they catch a bug on the plane that could ruin their trip. Keep sickness away by carrying a gel, foam or spray hand sanitizer.
5. Diapers / Training Pants – Unless the toddler is reliably potty-trained, caregivers should bring plenty of diapers or training pants. Try putting on overnight diapers or overnight training pants on the toddler during the flight — these are thicker, thereby holding more volume and are less likely to leak.
6. Change of Clothes – Toddlers get their clothes dirty. Maybe they drank so much that even overnight diapers could not handle the volume. Perhaps they got airsick and threw up. Or maybe they decided to roll on the gross, sticky floor. Always pack a spare outfit: top, pants, underwear (if potty-trained) and socks for unforeseen events.
7. Disposable Plastic Bags – Whether it is plastic grocery store shopping bags or resealable gallon-sized bags, it’s essential for caregivers to carry disposable waterproof bags. These bags are great for sealing wet or smelly items like soiled clothes. They also act as handy mini trash bags for when no flight attendants are in sight to collect waste.
8. Electronic Devices – Keep toddlers busy by loading tablets, phones and other electronic handheld devices with games, movies and shows they love. Don’t depend on the plane’s entertainment system — the flight may not have one, or if they do it may not air shows that capture a toddler’s attention. Bring headphones if the toddler will wear them. Without headphones, toddlers may need to blast the volume, and it will disturb neighbors.
9. Activities – Though electronic devices are fun, even kids can get bored of them. Try some old-fashioned activities like coloring and activity books, stickers, interactive toys and reading books. A handy tip is to bring triangle crayons instead of the standard round ones since the triangular crayons will not roll off the tray table.
10. Comfort Item – Toddlers may get scared when traveling. Between big planes, loud engines and popping ears, they may find flying scary. Make them feel safe by bringing a comfort item like a favorite toy, stuffed animal or blanket.
Flying with toddlers is not easy. However, these tips can help lessen the stress when it comes to flying with them and increase the likelihood of a smooth trip.