Flying with a toddler is no walk in the park, and definitely not something to enter into without preparation. We’ve all heard the terror stories; how so-and-so’s child cried all eight hours of the eight hour flight, leaving her parents stressed and frazzled and making every other passenger on the plane, no matter how mild mannered they might usually have been, ready to do anything to smother said toddler and punish her parents. We might have been on flights with fussy toddlers ourselves; flights which left us exhausted and tired and determined never to inflict that kind of torture on any other human being.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. Flying with a toddler can be a relaxing, fun experience for both parents and toddlers—and for the toddler’s fellow travelers as well. The trick is in the preparation.
You don’t run a marathon without having practiced. A successful marathon runs means the runner has been practicing for months, and if he began unconditioned, he’ll have started by running short lengths and then gradually working his way up to long, long segments. Think about flying with a toddler as his race; if it is a long flight, it is a marathon; but even a shorter flight is a noteworthy race requiring conditioning.
How can you condition your toddler for flying? By teaching him obedience, teaching him patience, and teaching him how to sit quietly when he needs to. None of those are particularly easy lessons for toddlers, and your little boy or girl won’t get them down perfectly before marathon-time, but whether or not you have worked on them will definitely show.
A toddler is a toddler, and even a ‘perfectly conditioned’ toddler may fail when push comes to shove if mom (or dad, or whoever the accompanying caretaker may be) doesn’t do his or her part. What is that? Besides helping your toddler prepare, you need to prepare yourself and your carry-on bag to make it a fun, toddler-friendly, relaxing flight for both of you.
When flying with your kid, it’s not within reason to expect him to sit for hours in an uncomfortable seat with nothing to do and nothing interesting to watch. Toddlers simply aren’t made for that. But a flight doesn’t have to be a boring, uncomfortable sit-in with nothing to do. Bring with you fun things to do, comfy things to make your toddler comfortable on the flight, and tasty snacks to eat. Here are some suggestions:
You may also want to download a few cartoons or new games for your phone, just for the trip—even if you prefer your child not spending all his time on electronic devices, it’s always good to have a back up for emergencies.