How to Survive A Flight with a Toddler

How to Survive A Flight with a Toddler

Navigating Air Travel with a Lap Toddler: Tips for First-Time Parents

Traveling with a toddler for the first time can be a daunting and stressful experience. When my little one turned one, we took a couple of flights before he was two years old, including trips to Los Cabos, Mexico and Toronto, Canada. Along the way, I picked up a few useful tips that I would like to share with you to make your experience as smooth and enjoyable as possible. Here are five tips that can help you navigate the challenges of flying with a toddler. Let’s go!

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Travel Tips
  • For flights, Skyscanner is excellent for comparing the best airline deals.
  • For accommodations, our family trusts for reasonable prices.

Flying with a Lap Toddler for the First Time: Airline Policies

Since our baby was under two years old, we didn't purchase a separate seat for him. However, our airline was kind enough to provide us with an extra seat where he could stretch out his legs while sleeping. When travelling with a toddler seated on your lap, there are specific takeoff and landing procedures to follow for safety reasons. The child must face you, and you must hold onto them even during turbulence. This rule proved challenging, particularly when our little one was already asleep, and I had to reposition him to face me instead of lying on his back.

Also check out: How To Survive a Flight with Your Baby (Less than 1-year-old): Choosing the Right Airline

Making Flying with a Toddler Easier and More Enjoyable: Tips and Tricks

1. Flight Time Considerations

Consider booking a flight that coincides with your toddler's nap time. This can make things much easier, especially if it's a shorter flight. If it's a longer flight, at least you'll be able to catch some sleep while your baby sleeps.

Avoid seats near the aisle

When traveling with young children, it's best to avoid aisle seats. This is because your little ones might be bumped by other passengers and could accidentally reach for food or drinks from the trolleys during meal service.

Before Boarding

2. Preparing Your Baby for the Flight

Allow your little one to walk around the airport before boarding. We must let our toddlers get all the exercise they need, so they can use up their energy and hopefully sleep through the flight. This worked for us on our flight from California to Los Cabos, Mexico.

3. Change Diaper Before Boarding

Traveling with young children can be a real challenge, especially when they are still in diapers and not yet potty trained. This was precisely the case when my little one and I flew together when he was less than two years old, and his communication skills were limited. Now that he's nearly three, things have changed. However, for parents, ensuring a comfortable and stress-free journey is vital. The 
most important tip for traveling with toddlers is to make sure you change their diapers before boarding the plane. 

Here are other reasons why diaper changes before flight time is vital:
  • Airplane restrooms can be small and cramped, making it harder to change diapers mid-flight. Additionally, there might be a queue for the restroom, which can add to the inconvenience.
  • Changing their diaper before boarding time can also help avoid any unpleasant odors or accidents during the flight, which can be uncomfortable for you and other passengers.
  • Toddlers tend to get fussy when uncomfortable, and a wet or dirty diaper can make them irritable. 
  • Some airlines might not have diaper-changing facilities on board, or they might be limited. 
This works so well for us, especially with shorter flights. However, it’s still necessary to carry extra diapers and wipes in your carry-on luggage, just in case you need to change your toddler’s diaper during the flight.

After Boarding

4. Bring out the Wipes: Protect your Toddler from Getting Sick

Toddlers have a habit of touching everything in sight and often put their hands in their mouths. While it may seem overcautious, wiping down tables and chairs with sanitizing wipes can help protect your little ones from germs left behind by previous passengers who may have been sneezing and coughing. It's always better to be safe than sorry!

After spending a month dealing with my toddler's sickness, I’m taking extra precautions to prevent my little one from getting sick again. This is especially important since we'll be far from home after the flight.

During Takeoff

5. Relieving Air Pressure in Toddler’s Ears During Takeoff and Landing

Air pressure changes in airplanes can be uncomfortable for young children during takeoff and landing, but there are several ways to ease the discomfort. Here are some helpful tips: Offer milk or water to your toddler to help equalize the pressure.

When my child was an infant, I used a pacifier to reduce air pressure, and thankfully, he was willing to use it just for the flight. If your toddler is willing to use one, it can make the flight more comfortable.

If your toddler doesn't want to use a pacifier, encourage them to swallow or stick out their tongue to help regulate pressure. This technique helped our little one during our flight.

How to Survive A Flight with a Toddler

During the Flight

6. Tips for Keeping Them Entertained

One of the most enjoyable aspects of traveling with a baby is the fun of packing their entertainment package. Here are some small items you can include in your baby's entertainment package:

For iPhone users, here’s a trick

To save the video, use your iPhone's screen recording feature to capture your baby's favorite YouTube video. You can then play the video on your device and sing/hum along with the song for added fun and keep your toddler entertained.

Don't Forget Your Baby's Travel Kit!

In addition to bringing a diaper bag stocked with extra clothes, milk, diapers, wipes, emergency fever medicine, and rash ointment, don't forget to pack a travel entertainment kit to keep your toddler occupied during the trip.

For your next flight adventure, be sure to pack these must-have items: a first aid kit, favorite small book, and a favorite small toy. If you want to add some extra entertainment, a small coloring book, crayons, stickers and sticky notes can be a great addition too.

7. Snacks and Water

Healthy and Mess-Free Snacks for Your Toddler's Flight

To make your flight with your toddler a little more stress-free, pack some healthy and mess-free snacks, such as biscuits, granola bars, and pretzels.

Bring a Reusable Water BottleReusable Silicone Straw and Splash Guard for those bumpy flights.

Save time and stay hydrated at the airport by bringing a reusable water bottle on your trip. Simply empty it before going through security and refill it once you've passed through security. To prevent spills, consider purchasing a splash-proof cover for your wide-mouth bottle, especially if you're traveling with a child. Bringing a silicone straw is another great way to avoid mess and reduce waste. Not only are silicone straws lightweight and eco-friendly, but they're also reusable.

Other Important Tips to Consider When Flying with a Toddler

8. Benefits of Pull-Up Diapers for Air Travel

Pull-up diapers can be a lifesaver when traveling with a toddler who’s not potty-trained or has recently been potty-trained. Though we didn't explore them early on, they're an excellent hack to avoid seat accidents or waiting in line for the bathroom.

9. Use A Travel Planner: Avoid Overpacking

Remember not to pack excessively, as you will be responsible for carrying everything off the plane, in addition to your toddler.

Opt for a Compact Stroller for Convenience

Swapping your oversized stroller for a compact umbrella or travel stroller is a great idea for travel convenience. During our trip to Disneyland, we used an umbrella stroller, but bear in mind that there isn't much storage space available beneath it. We used a travel stroller for our flight instead, as it also allowed us to carry our diaper bag inside. 
For travel convenience and when they're more than 6 months old check out GB Stroller, it's lightweight, easy and you can carry it inside the plane. For budget-conscious check out  Mompush.

How to Survive A Flight with a Toddler

The Benefits of a Travel Planner: Packing Smart for You and Your Toddler

Travelling with a toddler can be challenging, especially when it comes to packing their essentials. To avoid overpacking and ensure that you don't forget anything critical, consider using a Travel Planner. This travel planner includes a detailed packing list, reminders for things to do before your flight, and plenty of space for notes. You can even use it to plan out your flight, accommodations, and itinerary for your destination. To make the journey more enjoyable, there's a self-care and habit tracker to help you and your family stay hydrated and healthy. And when the trip is over, you can use the included journal to jot down your favorite moments and highlights.

Flying with a Lap Toddler Checklist

Here’s a checklist that we normally bring inside our diaper bag. Less is more, but it's a challenging ordeal with a toddler on hand. 

10. Ask For Help

Lastly, remember that happy parents mean a happy baby. So try to stay calm and relaxed throughout the flight, and don't hesitate to ask for help from the flight attendants or other passengers if you need it. But honestly speaking there’s a rare chance you’ll get some help so better equip yourself with your baby travel kit and hang on tight. You got this!

These small steps can go a long way in ensuring a stress-free flight with a toddler. Keep these tips in mind to ensure a smooth journey on your next trip.

Explore our Amazon Storefront for additional suggestions on essential travel items for toddlers. Create unforgettable family vacations without breaking the bank.

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