Flying With a Toddler Tips

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I’m kind of rolling my eyes as I typed out the word “tips” because I’m still thanking my lucky stars that June did well on our flight from Aspen to LAX.

She had a complete and utter melt down on previous flights to Texas and the only other time we’ve really flown with her {insert: Covid baby} was when we flew with her before she was walking, talking and expressing her options.

I did a ton of research online after our miserable flight in July 2021. We flew to Texas to see my family and June lost her s-h-*-t on the flight there and the flight back. She was kicking, screaming, wailing in the middle of the aisle. She pushed me, resisted any bribes, efforts or love from Grant and I. It was a mess.

But, I do have a few takeaways to share just in case there’s some mama out there who is reading this and feeling my pain.

1. Don’t Fly Between 2 and 2.5 years of age {sort of}

Kidding. Sort of. At least this was the age that was most difficult for June. I think the main take away is “Don’t Fly Between x and y” ages with your child. Do a gut check. You know your kiddo better than anyway. I knew, deep down, that June was going to lose it last July. I just knew it. But I pushed us to fly to Texas anyway and guess what? We all paid the price. This particular age was right when June was learning how to talk and communicate, yet not 100%. So we could somewhat understand each other, but she couldn’t really reason with us quite yet. Now that she’s through that developmental phase, we can really communicate in a better way. We explained ahead of time what she could expect on the airplane. We would have her repeat the steps of the travel day and ask her a dozen times, “What do you do on the plane?” and she would say “Stay in seat. Wear my seat belt.”

2. Have New Activities/Toys

I used to pack so many toys that my bag would weight a TON. This time, I packed 3 new activities that I knew June would love. They were also things that I had done a lot of research on. A lot of blogs suggested the below toys and I must say, they really kept her occupied. The key is to not let your toddler see any of these toys until you on board the plane. In fact, pull one out if you need to bribe them to put their mask on, put on their seat belt and settle in. Thankfully, June did that part seamlessly. I pulled out this weekly pill box organizer with these Pom Pom Balls stuffed inside as we were taking off. I told her once we were in the air we could play with it. This stretched out the entire moment.

It’s all about slowing down and stretching out all of the activities.

Another amazing recommendation was this LOL Surprise Doll. Parents: If your toddler doesn’t know about LOL dolls, save them for the plane. The novelty will eventually wear off but June is obsessed with these.

One of June’s favorite movies is The Grinch so I just knew she would love playing with this small set I found on Amazon. She played with this for nearly the entire flight and I joined in on the make believe.

3. Shows Shows Shows

We aren’t the household that deprives our kid of screen time (I’ll take all the judgement you want). We introduced June to a few new shows that she really took to over the holidays and I made sure to download them to her tablet for the flight. I also showed her videos of other kids wearing headphones and she was super excited to get her own pair {I let her pick out the color!}.

June’s favorite shows/movies are: Peppa Pig, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, The Grinch, Peanuts Movie, Charlie Brown, Do Re Mi.

4. New(ish) Snacks

Someone, somewhere, recommended this snack dispenser and boy oh boy was it a HUGE hit for June. She thought it was a toy! Also, bring suckers for take-off and landing for ears popping!

In hindsight, I think what really worked for us was the timing. June is at a pretty sweet age where we can explain, reason and communicate with her so it’s much easier to avoid red-zone meltdowns. We also pulled a last minute decision to ditch her car seat and let her sit with the seatbelt. Grant really thinks that this was more comfortable for her, which inspired her to stay in her seat the entire time.

Whatever it was, I’m praying and hoping that her new in flight attitude sticks around because it made for much friendlier skies for us and fellow passengers.

Do you travel regularly with a toddler? Please leave any tips below for our future travels!