Flying With a Toddler – How to Survive

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(Last Updated On: February 14, 2020)
a mother sitting on an airplane seat flying with a toddler
By Emily Pham – Vina

Flying With A Toddler Survival Tips

Flying with a toddler can be hard and turbulent because they are totally opinionated, fully mobile, and nearly incapable of all reason. One minute they are content and happy. It isn’t surprising that the thought of flying with a toddler can scare many parents. Don’t worry! Family travel is possible, and air travel does not have to be torture, provided you adequately plan ahead and bring the proper travel gear.

In this article, we will share with you the top 12 easy but effective tips and tricks on how to survive flying with a toddler. These travel tips will help parents survive a long flight with their children, and they will also reduce the chance that your little one will bother your fellow passengers. If you have any tips or tricks your like to share, or if you have a comment or question, please drop us a line below.

12 Simple Tips For Keeping Toddlers Happy While Flying

1. Prepare Yourselves Before Preparing Your Kids

Before you set foot in an airport, it is crucial to prepare yourself for baby travel.  If you are anxious and stressed, it’s likely your toddlers will suffer from similar emotions.  If your little one is old enough to understand, you can let them know they’re going on a fun plane ride.  You can encourage your kid’s mood by turning their nervousness into excitement.

2. Book Early Flights and Reserve a Bassinet Seat

a bassinet seat is important when flying with a toddler

Booking early flights is one of the best tips when flying with a toddler. This is because early flights make sure that everybody, including the flight attendants together with other passengers, has a fresh start. They tend to be more helpful and friendly. Besides, early flights provide us with plenty of time to enjoy the day when we arrived and after nap time.

Call the airline ahead of time to reserve a bassinet seat. Even if your little one won’t sleep in the bassinet, when the fasten seat belt sign is off, it will be nice for her/him to have a place to hang out other than your own seat. Unfortunately, if your tot is more than a year old, she/he will likely be too heavy or tall to qualify for the bassinet, but ask your particular airline for their requirements.

3. Remember The Essentials When Flying With A Toddler

travel gear is important for flying with a toddler

Below is a list of essentials to prepare before flying with a toddler. For items such as a car seat or stroller, simply gate check those.

Medications And Documentation

Remember to pack all non-essential and essential medical documentation and medications in your carry-on bag. Whether coping with a simple head cold or fever or an unexpected medical emergency, the key to flight survival is to keep a sick little one comfortable in the air.

Baby Carrier

Sometime kids just want to be rocked a bit. If your kiddos are heavy enough to tire your arms out, bringing your baby carrier on the flight will be key.

Tissues

It is necessary to keep small travel tissue packs for wiping runny noses and as backup if toilet paper isn’t available.

Extra Clothing

During toddler travel, extra undergarments and clothing for your little one will always be essential. If your toddler has leaked through their own clothing, there’s a good chance they’ve leaked on to you, so don’t forget to bring a change of clothes for yourself as well!

Wet Wipes

These things will help wipe down little faces and hands or dirty surfaces. 

Ziploc Bags

Handy for storing open food or snacks, soiled clothing, dirty tissues or wipes, and other trash. Besides, be always handy for keeping extra clothes and pull-ups easily accessible.

4. Bring Snacks

You will know best what your little one prefers. Too much sugar is not the best idea. Instead, you should pack some healthy snacks for your toddler. Good snacks for toddlers include granola bars, rice cakes, cookies, crackers, cereal such as cheerios, pretzels, fruit rolls, dried fruits, kid’s snacks, such as goldfish and teddies, or chopped fruit/vegetables. Remember to go with things that you know your kid will eat. Also, remember to pack plenty of water to consume, and take sips regularly because water will help prevent fatigue, fogginess, and dehydration.

5. Strategically Plan Your Travel Toys

bring travel toys on your flight

In addition to packing coloring books and crayons, iPads, and your toddler’s favorite toys, buy a new travel toy for the flight. Do not show all the toys you brought for your toddler all at once. Ensure you have toys planned to make them busy during the flight, and bring these toys out one at one time as needed. 

6. Get To The Airport Early

get to the airport early

Getting to the airport early will give a toddler the opportunity to run off all their excited energy. Also, this gives you a chance to ensure everybody consumes something and goes to the toilet before boarding a plane. Now, many airports have a toddler’s area with some play equipment, so if you have time, try finding this to keep your little ones active and entertained before the flight. 

7. Eat Before Flying

eat before you board your flight when flying with a toddler

If you have a lap toddler, eating with him or her on the plane is never easy. If everybody gets a meal in the airport before flying, then you do not need to stress too much about consuming everything on the plane, and this is especially the case if you have fussy toddlers who are unlikely to consume the plane food.

8. Book A Child Meal When Flying With a Toddler

request a baby meal on your flight

A child meal may be a good option even if your toddlers are very fussy and unlikely to take the plane food. It usually comes with a few toddler essentials such as a bib, a few wipes, a diaper and sometimes even a toy or small blanket.

9. Book A Night Flight If You Fly Long Haul

Choosing a night flight will make your kid sleep for a good chunk of the flight, leaving only a few short hours for entertainment. Of course, your child might put off sleep if he or she is excited to travel.

10.  Keep Toddlers Comfortable

While you may want your child to look extra cute and lovely for in-flight photos, this approach can be impractical and cause him or her to be uncomfortable.  We recommend dressing your little one in the softest, most comfortable, and baggiest clothing in their wardrobe. An excellent choice is pajamas. We like footie pajamas, so we don’t have to worry about socks getting pulled off. Don’t forget a pillow if your baby is sitting in a window seat.

11.   Consume Fluids During Takeoff And Landing

As you know, pressure changes may cause both adults and toddlers to be uncomfortable. The difference is, toddlers do not know the way to keep their ears clear.  Drinking liquids is beneficial for clearing their ears, which is why we recommend having a bottle available during takeoff and landing.

12. Extend The Screen Time When Flying With a Toddler

While in normal circumstances we do not advocated increasing screen time for your toddler, on an airplane we certainly do. Before flying, you can load your kid’s favorite shows, movies or games to keep him or her busy on the flight. Plus, don’t forget to bring along child-sized headphones to avoid disturbing other passengers.

Flying With a Toddler Closing Thoughts

These are the simple tips on how to survive flying with a toddler, such as what to carry on, diapering, entertainment, and snacks. We hope these tips help make your journey with a toddler easier and bearable. Do you know other survival tips while flying with a toddler? Feel free to let us know by leaving a comment below!


Emily Pham was born in Vietnam – a country with many unknown beaches, historic sites, and tourist attractions. When Emily realized how famous Vietnam is as a travel destination, she established the blog site vina.com to introduce the elegant beauty of Vietnam to friends around the world. If you are planning a trip to Vietnam, her blog will provide you with essential information on where to go and what to do in her country.

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