11 of the Best Tips for Flying with Toddlers

11 of the best tips for flying with toddlers.

Happy Tiny Tuesday! Today’s topic is sure to catch your attention if your a mom of toddlers. Did you feel your body tense up from reading the title? I feel like just hearing the phrase “flying with toddlers” makes me want to grab a glass of wine. Anyone else? In all seriousness though, flying with toddlers is no easy feat. I flew solo with the girls this summer to visit my parents and I’m about to do it again. The girls and I are flying to Chicago this Thursday – 5 days before my husband.

I’m not going to lie, there is no advice that completely eliminates the stress of flying alone with toddlers. I think attitude is everything. Truly. If you going into it knowing it may be a bit chaotic, knowing one child is bound to cry on the plane, you’ll be a lot better and saner on the other side. And trust me, we’ve had plenty of “moments” on the plane. Don’t believe me? Allow me to share our most memorable moment flying with our girls.

When Emma Grace was two and Abby was 6 months old my husband and I flew to Chicago with them. It happened to be St. Patrick’s Day, so once the kids fell asleep on our laps, we happily accepted the free beer the flight was offering. Next thing you know Abby is crying. Travis offers to get up and walk with Abby so he puts his beer next to mine on my tray table. No biggie. But then Emma Grace wakes up. She wakes up crying actually. She’s so upset that I can’t calm her down and so she starts flailing and yes, she whacks the tray table. Remember how I said two open beers were on that table? Well, they fell on Emma and doused her. Mind you Travis is still at the back of the plane.

So I turn on the light and start trying to 1) clean the pool of beer on the seats and 2) console my screaming, cold child. I didn’t have any towels so I grabbed Emma Grace’s baby blanket to clean up the mess. Then I reached into my bag for change clothes only to find out I forgot to pack Emma Grace’s extra clothes. So yes, she had to fly the rest of the trip in cold, beer-smelling clothes. We eventually got help from the flight attendants, but you try handing your beer-smelling child to her grandpa upon arriving. Not our best parenting moment.

All this to say, I’m not perfect by any means and I’m not here to say my tips will make for the perfect flight. But, I have thought through flights in grave detail and have done it solo a couple of times. So, I thought it might be helpful to pass along some tips I use that seem to make the ride smoother.

PS – if you’re driving instead of flying this Thanksgiving, be sure to checkout our road trip essentials for babies.

  1. EASY SHOES – this goes for parent and toddler. For parent, easy shoes are essential to get through security easier. For toddlers, this makes it easy for them to take off on the plane and put back on when you land. Trying to tie tiny shoes while buckled into an airplane seat is no easy task.
  2. CHANGE CLOTHES – always bring clothes because you never know what might happen [see story above].
  3. ONE BAG PER KID – I love this rule because your kids can take ownership of their belongings. My girls carry a backpack that they can wear themselves and inside are all of the items they want for the plane. It also helps keep them organized.
  4. STROLLER – if your little one is calm I recommend an umbrella stroller because they’re easy to collapse. If your little is super active like Abby, I recommend bringing your real stroller because you’ll need the harness. The harness does come in handy when you’re walking through a terminal full of people. And if you’re bringing your stroller I highly recommend a mommy hook because you can hook all the bags to it.
  5. SNACKS – kids are hungry at the most random times and food can also serve as a good bribing tool.
  6. BLANKETS – it always seems to be cold on planes, so I recommend bringing a blanket per kid to cuddle with.
  7. MINI PILLOWS – I didn’t do this last time and I regret it. Emma Grace struggled to get comfy and so this time we’re going to bring a little pillow for each girl. Even a doll pillow would work!
  8. BOOKS – entertainment is a key aspect to flying with toddlers. I recommend packing 3-4 of your toddler’s favorite books to read or flip through on the flight.
  9. COLORING – the more forms of entertainment the merrier. Coloring is a good, quiet activity.
  10. WATER BOTTLE WITH A LID – in an effort to avoid spills, bring a water bottle with a lid to fill up once you get through security.
  11. IPAD – this is always my last ditch effort, but bring your iPad fully loaded with videos for your kiddos. If you want them to wear headphones I suggest buying them well in advance of your flight and let them wear them at home to get used to them.

BONUS: Okay, one last bonus tips for flying with toddlers. If you’re still feeling nervous about flying with your littles, here’s a fun tip I tried last time. I can’t take credit for this either because someone else told this to me. Go to the dollar store and buy a bunch of little gifts. Individually wrap them and put them in your bag. Then, randomly give them out to your kids all throughout the flying experience. This will keep them entertained and can work as bribery for good behavior! Happy flying!