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Tips for flying with a toddler

I can't believe my son is a toddler already.  I've given tips on traveling with a baby before, however with each new stage my son enters; airplane travel changes.  We recently flew from Los Angeles, CA to Washington, DC. It was his 16th cross country flight.

I'm glad we traveled with him so much already, however we need to continue to adapt to his needs. We have the usual things worked out, like diapering, boarding the plane, and which stroller to fly with. Here are a few of my tips for flying with a toddler.  These tips will be helpful at any early age but specifically for your child if they are 15, 16, or 17 months old.

Snacks on the plane

It is not a good idea to surprise your toddler with a new snack or food while on the plane. It sounds good in theory but if toddlers don't like something, what do they do? They spit it out.  Not fun on a plane. Or maybe they are like my son, who takes it out of his mouth and throws it. Try the new snack with your toddler beforehand or I'd recommend only packing their favorites.

We always pack our Munchkin Snack Catcher with puffed wheat as he can feed himself and keeps him busy. He also likes dipping foods, like pita chips and hummus. It's a little messy but I bring a snack pack with us.

Best seat to sit with your toddler: Aisle or Window?

It depends what you think will work for you and your child. If you want to be able to get up and walk around with your son or daughter, the aisle is the way to go. If you think they will like looking out the window, and have space with the wall, go for the window.

I'm a big fan of the aisle but there's nothing that entertains my son more than looking out the window through take-off.  However, he doesn’t sit still for very long, in which case, we typically pick an aisle seat. I usually decide based on the time and length of the flight. I've found that other travelers understand and have no problem getting up to let you out if you pick a window seat.

Bring new toys to play with on the plane

I'm sure many of you have heard the trick of bringing out a new toy every hour for your child to play with. I think new toys are great as there's an excitement of figuring it out.

Here are my two new favorites that worked well:

Melissa & Doug removable sticker

Water WOW! Vehicles - ON the GO Travel Activity

I quickly wrap them in tissue paper before we leave as that adds an activity of something to do.

What's in your travel diaper bag?

Click here for a list from a previous post I did of what I pack in my bag.

Now that's he older, the only addition is food and different types of toys which I already discussed above.

All about me! Videos or pictures of themselves

Our son currently doesn't watch TV when we're at home.

However, on the most recent flight, he was overtired and having a difficult time going to sleep. I decided to play videos on my phone that I had taken of him.  He settled down, laughed, and eventually fell asleep.


Give smiles but I don't apologize, so many times I feel my son crying is him voicing what everyone else is thinking. How much longer? I really have to get back in that tiny seat, sit still, and not touch the person sitting next to me.

I just keep smiling at everyone and I don't let other people make me feel bad and concentrate on my son.

My Advice

Before I had children, I enjoyed flying. The time of the plane to relax and disconnect was always the perfect start to a vacation.  However I know everyone isn't like me. And now with the addition of a toddler, it can add to anxiety. My best advice with flying with children is to be prepared and after that to go with the flow and don’t forget to laugh along the way.

FreshCruiser Tip: Don't let people's looks, stares, or sighs get to you on the plane, as how many times have you flown with another fussy toddler on the flight. When you get to the destination, you'll never see these people again.

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Reader Comments (2)

These tips gave me the courage to book our first flight with our toddler. Thank you so much, I'm nervous but excited.

October 27, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAnna

Plan ahead and allow plenty of time in order not to feel rushed or stressed when getting to and through the airport. Kids love to explore their surroundings, so allow extra time for them to stare out of windows or watch the bags on conveyor belts at the security check.

Wholesale Escapes

January 15, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterWarren Andrews

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