Sadly summer is winding down, but we are thankful for our summer experiences full of travels and social gatherings. Those travels included seeing family and friends in Florida (several times), Oklahoma, Kansas, and New York. We traveled to our destinations both by car and commercial airline flights.
As most parents would likely agree flying with a toddler is not a favorite thing to do. Toddlers have short attention spans and do not comprehend the concept of sitting in the same seat for a prolonged period of time. With a little planning (and perhaps a glass of wine) you can make your travels with the little ones a bit more bearable.
Below I share some of my tips and tricks on how we survived this summer’s airplane travel with our toddler.
1. Pack snacks and LOTS of them. Pack a variety of your little one’s favorite non-perishable snacks. Try not to feed them large meals or snacks right before the departure to prompt their appetite. Some of our favorite snacks to pack are cereal mixes, graham crackers, fruit, veggie sticks, or squeeze pouches. If you are taking a longer flight throw in more substantial items that can serve as meals (like nut butter sandwiches). One of our flights was scheduled for two hours and ended up being five hours. I was beyond thankful I had thrown in a sandwich, veggie sticks, and banana for a possible dinner.
2. Bring NEW toys. Don’t pack the same old toys your children have been playing with day in and day out. Stock up on inexpensive new toys that your children have never played with. The dollar store may be your best friend before the next trip. I was able to find plastic cars, puzzles, and coloring books at our local store. It’s a little bit less of a loss if these toys don’t make it off the plane.
3. Ditch any screen time rule you may have. I am fully aware of the recommendation suggesting children under two years of age should not be exposed to screen time. In my world, there are a few exceptions to this rule, and traveling on an airplane with a toddler is one of them. Download age appropriate applications and videos on your iPad or iPhone for them to watch. Some of our family favorites are BaBaBear (app) and Little Baby Bum (Youtube Channel).
4. Be creative and pack lightweight toys. When I was planning my in-flight toddler entertainment for the first flight this summer I ordered a block set from Amazon that I thought would keep my toddler satisfied for a longer period. The block set arrived and I realized it was way too heavy to pack. Instead, I loaded up a divider container with little toys from the dollar store my son could reorganize, purchased a foam board with plastic pegs from Amazon, and packed super tiny books.
5. Take advantage of take off and landing views. Choose a window seat for you or the little one. As you are taking off make sure the window shade is open and point out some of the exciting scenery and landmarks. This will keep them busy for a few extra minutes before you have to pull out your bag of tricks!
What are your tips for flying with toddlers?
Your Family’s Dietitian,