Going from infant to a toddler on a plane brings a whole new set of challenges. In some ways travel with an infant is harder on the parents than the child. But when they start walking – it’s a whole new world on a plane.
Now 2 ½ , JJ has earned his silver status on US Airways and as parents we’ve learned our do’s and don’ts with a curious toddler.
Bring a Car Seat
Still less than two years old, and on the laps of parents is where they like. But on long flights it can be difficult. Consider getting their own space- and taking over the row of three and making that your own comfort zone. This means a choice – buying three seats, or upgrading to first class. The advantage of first class is there is usually some room on the floor for them to crawl a bit.
If they're walking and past the age of 2, they'll have their own seat. When JJ started walking, nothing was stopping him from wanting to get out of his seat and walk the aisle of the plane. The problem is sometimes, once you let them loose they don't want to sit down ever again! We found that if we brought his car seat on the plane - he would do much better sitting in his own seat. Most car seats are compatible with the plane seats, plus we were able to use it when renting a car. On the plane we were able to lock it into the seat, and he was able to see out the window better (because it was higher) and he was used to being secured into the seat like in the car. This also took the temptation to get out of his seat and run the aisles.
Book Your Flight During Nap Time
Do not think that getting a child tired before getting on the airplane means a quiet ride throughout the flight. Overtired kids do not sleep as well as kids who go through their normal routine. Planning a trip during sleeping hours is sometimes the best way to do it (if you can). The lull of the plane ride and ambient noise are a perfect combination to put your little one to sleep.
Toys & Books
Toys on the plane are key- consider buying a travel doodle pad, it’s compact, fits in the rack, if lost no big expense. Also children love being next to parents, reading books. Especially books they can interact with- books with textures, books with flaps. They like turning pages – or helping you turn pages. They don’t mind re-reading the same couple of books- for them it is new each time (sort of). The airline magazines are fun for children to read – and sometimes tear apart.
If there is a toy that they can play with – think two things: it may be lost – because things roll on planes, and it may be annoying (because it has sounds). We’ve learned that the iPad has a lot of apps for children that will keep them entertained for a quite a bit. These days with JJ, we bring out the iPad (or a smartphone) when flying only. At home it stays locked away – so he knows it’s a special deal when we get on the plane and he gets to play with it.
Food on the plane is essential- but don’t think the airplane food (if they have it) is what they need. Bring food for your toddler. Being out of the formula and into the milk stage means you might have to find some milk in the post area. We stopped in Starbucks- they had some nice milk- filled the bottle and on the plane. Don’t just bring high-calorie snacks--some vegetables mixed with grain cereals are healthier and last longer. Get those squeeze packs of fruit and veggies. The ones that are solid enough not to spill like juice, but keeps them hydrated. (Nothing too sticky is good too!)
Try and Relax
It's very hard sometimes with an unpredictable energetic toddler in any place let a lone a plane, however remember your child can sense you're uptight and if you are they may have a negative reaction to it. Try and be calm - don't worry about the passengers around you. Remember you'r toddler is only 2 or 3 - and while you're responsible for their actions there's not an "off" switch (as much as we wish there was!) If you're sensing an oncoming tantrum, try and diffuse it right away. Now is not the time to teach your toddler a lesson - choose your battles (I've learned this first hand!)
Bringing children on the plane can be fun- it gives you a lot of time with your child that you might not otherwise have – chances are you won’t have time for your book or magazine – but that’s ok. Someday the kids will grow up, not be sitting on your lap- and wanting to sit rows away from where you are. Enjoy this time.
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