I have a trip coming up in December, flying for the first time with toddlers. . . what will I need and what can I use? My kids are not the type to sit! I’m almost afraid to have them on a airplane! Any thing you can share would be great! -Amanda, mom to a 2 & 3 year old
We’re all big proponents of traveling with kids here, as early as possible. But we realize that flying with kids, especially really young ones who haven’t quite mastered things like an “indoor voice” can be anxiety-provoking. I hope the tips below will ease your mind a bit and make your flight as enjoyable as possible for your entire family. -Christina
Prepare now with books
Since you have a little time before your family trip, now is the time to start talking to your kids about being on an airplane. I love reading and then play-acting using age-appropriate books like Airport (above) and The Noisy Airplane Ride which is especially great if either of your kids seems nervous about being on an airplane.
Dress them for travel
While some moms swear by Crocs, we prefer those that aren’t so easy to kick off and lose under the seat while on the plane.
Put the kids to work
I highly recommend each child tote their own little toddler-size backpack, like those from favorites like Dante Beatrix or Skip Hop (above). It makes children feel very mature. With
restrictions on carry-on items, this is a great way to bring some of
the kids’ treasured toys without filling up your own bag. Just make sure
you pack them yourself; I’ve left the
packing to my kids and my youngest once brought about 10 pounds of
Prepare for altitude adjustments
The two standard tricks for helping young ears adjust to take-off and landing are generally sucking on a bottle or chewing gum, but those may not be ideal for your toddlers. I’d turn to something chewy, but not too chewy, like Tasty Baby’s Organic Fruit Snacks. (Just keep an eye on your kids if you’re worried about choking hazards – you know yours best.)
Busy kids = happy kids
Inside the kids’ backpacks, include items that will keep them occupied for longer than five minutes but–and this is key!–don’t have a million pieces to lose under the tray table. I love small, lightweight items like Klutz’s Incredible, Outrageous Sticker Book, Bendaroos or something called a Quiet Book (shown) for younger children, which your neighbors will appreciate.
Of course you can always turn to crayons. Or a deck of cards for a game of Go Fish.
Phone apps are your friend
If you own an iPhone or other smartphone, chances are you already have embraced the awesomeness that is their many kid-friendly apps. My sister swears by the Spin Art App (shown) and Air Hockey App which even little ones can do. Or search our archives, under Tech, for our favorite kid-friendly apps, from educational ones to pure time-killing frivolity. Just remember to adjust your phone to plane settings and shut off the connectivity.
Don’t fear the DVD!
No matter how you feel about television in moving vehicles, I think that Jet Blue’s decision to put DVDs in each seat was genius for us parents who can’t compete with the attention-grabbing genius of say, Yo Gabba Gabba. If you are flying an airline without personal DVD players, CMP Publisher Kristen swears by her Sony 7-inch Portable DVD Player.
You might also invest in a pair of Airdrives Headphones for kids if you’ve got older toddlers. They grip on the outside of the ear, to protect those little ears, and still let in ambient sound.
Hey, Kristen’s husband is a pilot, she has three kids (soon to be 4!) and flies a lot. She definitely knows a thing or two about what works to keep kids happy on the plane!
Any other tips you’d share with our readers about traveling with toddlers? We’d love to hear them!