Toddler-fy your Flight

Thursday, February 25, 2010

If you’re a mommy looking for tips for taking a toddler on a flight, here are my tips from first-hand experience a short 2 months ago. Now, my son likes toys to a point. A very small point. A few minutes max. This worried me for his first flight…on a lap, no less. I was sure he’d squirm his way out and bother dozens of aisle-seaters, but he actually did better than expected. The key was to have several “activities” lined up for him, one after the other. Our flight also happened to be during nap time, another good tip if your child is able to fall asleep in your arms.

1. Wear the child out at the airport before boarding. After all, you do have two hours to kill. We walked, looked in stores, looked out every window in the place watching airplanes and workers, found another young boy to talk to for awhile and it was magical how he fell asleep during takeoff.

2. Change the child just before the airplane starts boarding.

3. Take a bottle/sippy cup with for all the ear popping. I think our son finally figured out that drinking made him feel better. Also, don't forget their lovies (Blanky) so they feel more comfortable.

4. Encourage your child to watch out the window for as long as it holds their attention. Point things out and explain the flight to them for extra interest.

5. Bring along a meal to feed the child. This can eat up at least a half hour. Little snacks here and there help as well. Just be sure it’s nothing too messy and you brought a bib.

6. Bring along a Magna Doodle and a few books. Also a few blank sheets of paper and a small carton of crayons. It’s difficult to pack the whole toy box, so just pick a few smaller items that have the most potential to hold the child’s interest. Drawings do quite well in little space.

7. Pack your iPod® and let them in on the head boppin’. They’ll get a kick out of listening to your music.

8. Page through the in-flight magazines and fliers. Pointing out airplanes, doggies, and even refrigerators will keep them occupied for some time. Better yet, pack their favorite Highlights or age-appropriate magazine.

9. Some people will give you dirty looks when your toddler kicks their seat a few times (sorry, I tried to keep the little kickers contained, but sometimes it just happens), but a few will coo. Let them coo for as long as they like. My socialite son soaks it up, especially when it’s someone he’s never met before.

10. If there's an open seat next to you and the flight attendants allow it, try buckling your child in to that seat to keep him "in place." Our son didn't even try to squirm out when we tried this. He somehow knew the seat belt meant business.

11. Pack your carry on with a fresh set of clothes, a stack of diapers and wipes. This saved us on BOTH flights. Don’t underestimate the importance of this seemingly no-brainer.

These are what worked for us. But I have absolutely no tips for changing a child's diaper in-flight. Good luck with that!

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