Daytime flights with a toddler are a unique challenge. Unless its naptime, your mini-me will likely be full of energy, trying to get into anything and everything and certainly not interested in sitting very still. And that’s if they happen to be a good mood. Not exactly the best recipe for a stress-free and easy flight.
We know that the thought of flying with a toddler can be quite overwhelming and lead to lots of pre-travel stress for many parents. We want to help alleviate some of that stress and set you and your family up for success on your next trip. We can’t guarantee your flight will be perfect but follow these tips for the best chance of successful daytime travels!
Bring a mix of new toys and books along with old favourites to keep your little entertained: We recommend matching books and games as they often have many pictures that your toddler can look at and not get bored. Don’t forget to load up your tablet with learning games and videos. It wouldn’t be the first time an episode of The Wiggles or Peppa Pig saved the day.
Bonus Tip: Pack some post-its in a variety of colours. They can post them on the seat in front of you, take them off, arrange them in patterns and even draw on them. Guaranteed to provide minutes upon minutes of fun (which is basically hours in toddler time).
Pack snacks: Avoid a hanger strike (the unpleasant for all combination of being hungry and angry) and pack lots of snacks for everyone. I always pack at least 2-3 times more snacks than I think we will need. You never know when your flight is going to be delayed or your toddler outright refuses to eat the in-flight offerings.
Make friends with your flight crew: The flight crew can help turn a disastrous flight with a toddler into a success. They can hang with your little one if you need a quick bathroom break, play peek-a-boo with each service and help you out with any needs you might have (e.g., need a bottle or food warmed).
Avoid showing your toddler that they can walk the aisle on the airplane: It’s natural to want to get out of the confined space of your seat but once your toddler knows they can walk up and down the aisles, that is all they will want to do. Which will ultimately lead to major meltdowns during turbulence, meal service or landing when you are required to be in your seats.
Take advantage of the in-flight entertainment: No I don’t mean the in-flight movie offerings. I mean all the other passengers on the flight. They are all doing interesting things from playing games on their tablets, to eating snacks or molding their neck pillows. What might seem mundane to us (not to mention quite creepy if an adult were to stare) can be quite entertaining for a toddler. Even better, most passengers are interested in playing a quick game of peek-a-boo or having a chat with the flight’s littlest passengers as they cross paths. Take advantage of these distractions to help keep your toddler occupied.
Pick your battles: Flying with toddlers requires a combination of mental and physical endurance and heaps patience. It’s essentially a multi-hour negotiation where you give in to every demand to keep the peace. At least that’s what we do. Try not to worry if your kiddo eats too many snacks or watches too many videos. The flight will only last few hours and in my opinion, a little indulgence is worth my sanity.
Bonus Tip: To help with all that screen time – pack some toddler headphones. Toddler headphones are great. They can plug into the in-flight entertainment system or let your little one play games on the tablet with volume. Even better, they come equipped with decibel limits to protect your toddler’s hearing.
If you are lucky, and your flight overlaps with naptime, pack naptime comfort items: Whether its a soother (don’t forget the soother clip to avoi all those plane floor germs), a stuffed animal or a favourite book – make sure you bring them to start mentally preparing your babe for naptime. For more in-flight sleep tips check out our post on taking the red-eye with a toddler.
How do you handle daytime flights with an energetic toddler who doesn’t quite understand the meaning of yes, no, or sitting still? What are your pro tips?