Advice for Flying with a Toddler: Totally Necessary Information
The first airplane trip with a toddler can be the most challenging, even more so than with a newborn. If this is your first time flying with a toddler, don't worry; these tips will help you get some rest, eat well, keep your toddler entertained, and more. I have plenty of travel hacks and tips for you as the parent of a toddler who has flown for 24 hours and on more than 60 flights, as well as as a former flight attendant with 12 years of experience.
Babies are easier to travel with than older children because they are less active, smaller, and can typically fit in a bassinet provided by the airline. As soon as they learn to crawl and toddle, traveling becomes more of a challenge.
My youngest child decided to start crawling the week before our second flight to Australia from the United Kingdom. Perfect timing for a long flight with a toddler who is in the midst of a move Flying with a child under the age of two was the most difficult experience for me, simply because they are more difficult to reason with at that age. Traveling by plane with a two- and a three-year-old was remarkably similar. Don't worry though; with some planning and study, flying with a child of any age, from two to four, can be a breeze. Helpful advice for flying with a young child
I can't guarantee a smooth flight on every single trip. However, I can share the tricks of the trade that have helped us survive long-haul flights with a toddler so far. This list is not exhaustive, and I go into much more detail in other posts. This "How to Fly with a Toddler" guide should come in handy if you're in a pinch, though.
Helpful Advice for Parents of Toddlers Who Must Fly
Make sure you book a flight that works for you.
- Is your kid an early bird or a night owl? Can you get them to calm down with snacks until you get to the airport and either bring your own food or get a baby/toddler/child meal (if your airline offers these) to heat up? If you're traveling with a toddler and the flight coincides with nap time, it's in everyone's best interest to plan the trip around the child's routine as much as possible.
Plan a night flight if you need to take a young child on a long-haul flight.
- Long-distance travel with young children is challenging, and may be the most difficult part of taking a flight with kids of any age. That's why we shoot for a flight during the night. It's worth it, even if it means putting them down for a short nap before you leave for the airport.
Short-haul flights should never be taken at night. From personal experience, they nod off as soon as you touch down and wake up extremely irritable. You'll have to lug your infant and all your luggage through immigration and security with you if you didn't bring a cabin-sized stroller or baby carrier.
Traveling with a young child? Check in early.
- as well as buffer time for safety measures In advance, you should tell your kid that they'll get Teddy back from the x-ray machine. See if there is a family line or if a priority pass (if one is sold) is worth the money on the airport website. Put liquids in ziplock bags to prevent spills and make it easier to quickly remove them for screening.
- Liquids larger than 100 ml are typically allowed on flights with children younger than 3 years old. In rare cases, an airport may set a minimum age of two for passengers. Some airports have allowed me to bring a full water bottle for my 6-year-old son, but this is unusual. Typically, you can find this data in the airport's security section of their website. When traveling with young children, whether for a short or long distance, it's a good idea to bring a refillable water bottle that can be used whenever necessary.
- If you're taking a young child on a plane, you'll need to decide quickly whether to gate check the stroller or check it in. Your stroller must be checked in at the gate before you can board the plane. Unless it is a very small stroller that satisfies the cabin size requirements for carry-on luggage, I recommend gate checking a stroller. Then I'll bring it on the plane to show at immigration and baggage claim. These are one of the best inventions for families on the road. If you're going somewhere with a young child, here are some strollers that can accommodate them.
Use a stroller bag to safeguard your pushchair or stroller while it's in transit. Extra diapers, clothing, etc., can be smuggled in as padding for the pram and count toward your free checked-baggage allowance.
Speeding Up Airport Security Checkpoints: Some Advice
Waiting in lines is the one downside of traveling with a toddler. Keep some drinks and snacks nearby, as well as a couple of toys to play with if necessary to keep them occupied.
- Leave plenty of time to get through airport security. When flying with a baby or toddler, it's best to allow yourself an extra half an hour. Moving quickly through an airport while carrying young children can be a challenge.
- When flying with a young child, it's important to keep all liquids in a convenient location. To avoid unnecessary delays at the airport, just bring one small, transparent, resealable plastic bag that is no more than one liter in capacity and measures about 20 centimeters by 20 centimeters. Your entire booking, including any children younger than two, is permitted one free carry-on liquid bag.
- Inquire about the presence of a family line at the airport if you don't see one.
- Remove doubt about safety in a timely manner If you are bringing your toddler along, you should be ready to remove him or her from the stroller or carrier.
- Over the 100ml /3-1-1 liquid rule, you may bring baby milk (pumped breast milk, powdered or readymade), water for baby, baby food, travel snacks. If you have any perishable items with you for the flight, it is often worthwhile to ask the cafes airside (past security) for ice to replenish your Ziploc bags. Check the security section of your airport's website before leaving home if you plan on bringing an ice pack.
- Pick your seat wisely. Because of the wide range of options, it's important to carefully consider your specific needs, such as the duration of your flight. Even though a young child might do fine in an aisle seat on a flight that lasts only an hour, a window seat is preferable whenever possible.
- If you plan on bringing a car seat for your child, make sure it fits in the airline seat before you leave. The presence of an airbag in the seat belt precludes the use of some of these on certain seats. In the previously linked article, I provide further explanation. Check out seat guru and the online airline seat map before your next flight. A CARES harness designed for adults is another option.
- When flying with children, I always choose a window seat if one is available. The window seat is preferable because it gives the child something to look out of and somewhere to store entertainment, such as window gel clings, during the flight.
If you're flying with a toddler, be aware of the restrictions on checked bags.
- When flying with a toddler, you'll likely need to bring a few extra items along. You can usually gate check car seats and strollers for free in addition to the standard allowance if you are not using your car seat as a restraint device. What follows is some expanded explanation of this
- In the event that your youngster has their very own car seat Once they reach the age of two, their luggage allowance will match that of an adult. Additionally, infant car seats and strollers are welcome without additional charge. However, you should verify, as some airlines only allow one of these for no additional cost. (You can get around this by bringing your toddler's clothing with you and buying whatever else you might need with their allowance.)
Tips for Traveling with a Young Child
- Wear layers that are easy to remove and are comfortable for you and your toddler. If you're feeling hot and you and your toddler are crammed into a small, elegant space, you'll need to pull some Houdini moves to get out of there. While you may be sweating profusely on the ground, you could find yourself shivering after only a few hours in the aircraft.
- Make sure you and your toddler have a spare set of clothes in your carry-on. Several times, we've relied on this, and once, after going through her closet, my daughter wore her first-grade pyjama top because nothing else fit. It's impossible to predict when someone will become ill or when an accident will occur. On one particularly long flight, my husband got sick all over himself and he didn't bring a change of clothes.
- Remember to bring any necessary medications in your carry-on. If it's more than 100ml or doesn't follow the 3-1-1 liquid rule, your airline may require a doctor's note. In the United States, liquid medicines are not subject to TSA restrictions. However, this is not always the case in other countries.
- Traveling with a young child requires a bit more preparation in terms of entertainment. Bring along some brand-new flighttime entertainment. Putting them in a backpack they can carry is also useful. We pick out some old favorites and some exciting new playthings. The more recent toys we gift-wrap and distribute periodically throughout the flight
- Bring your own toddler headphones for the plane, unless you are travelling with an airline that has some good family friendly amenities onboard Don't worry about limiting your toddler's screen time anymore; these apps are perfect for keeping them occupied on the go. A toddler's attention span is short, so a short period of screen time as a reward may buy you 15–30 minutes or prevent a tantrum. Remember to bring a fully charged battery pack
When flying with a young child, Zip-loc bags are a must-have item.
- Whether you're taking a long or short flight, always have a few changes of clothes and diapers in ziplock bags in your carry-on for your child. In the event of an emergency, this makes it a LOT simpler to grab. Separate bags make it less of a hassle to tell your baby's bag from your toddler's, especially on a night flight when visibility is reduced. Ziplocs can be filled with ice to keep milk and other foods cold or to store necessary medications. Read on for more travel advice, including a packing list and information about flying with infants.
- What to bring on a plane with a toddler varies from parent to parent. A soothing object is frequently highlighted. Having a toddler who can sleep through the flight is a huge relief. Don't forget to pack your toddler's pillow or a Travel Snug. They are a lifesaver for parents on late-night or extended-haul flights with young children.
- Use the airplane blanket to create a cover over the seats to shield from the cabin lights when flying with toddlers on long-haul flights.
Tips for Getting Your Toddler to Sleep on a PlaneIn-flight sleep aids for children's use Devices designed to put kids to sleep while airborne Facilitates air travel with young children.
However, before booking your flight, you should confirm that your airline allows them. Inflatable neck pillows and other similar products are not permitted on all airlines, but those that do are listed here.
Don't forget the snacks!
- Remember that toddlers will eat a lot of snacks during the flight. Bring in twice as much as you anticipate. Good snacks include dried fruits, fresh fruit, breadsticks, and miniature sausages. Frozen yoghurt pouches are another option for maintaining a cool environment. Sweets should be avoided because they provide no outlet for the energy they provide. In case the drop in altitude causes discomfort to their ears, we do keep a treat in reserve for them. Here are a few more simple snack options for your next trip.
- When flying with young children, one of my favorite tricks is to ask for a kid's meal. On most airlines (long-distance flights), you can get a child meal for your child if they are at least 2 years old. These are safer for children to eat and more appealing because they often include coloring pages or other fun extras. Some air carriers even provide food for toddlers. This needs to be taken care of at least 24 hours before your flight. See my post on ordering kid-friendly meals for more information.
Can I fly with my toddler's milk in my carry-on?
- You still need to pack snacks and drinks for your toddler when flying. Also, feel free to bring your toddler some food and drink on board. It is recommended that you bring a sippy cup instead of a regular water bottle. Toddlers don't have to worry about the 100ml or 3-1-1 liquid rule if they're drinking milk and water.
Pre-flight child entertainment is essential.
- Use the airport's soft-play area if you're flying with a toddler, especially on a long flight. They are a big help when taking a toddler on a trip. I've compiled a list of airport children's play areas around the world. If there is anything I should change, let me know.
Traveling with a young child? Board the plane last.
- If you're taking a long-haul flight during the day with a young child, you might want to board the plane last with the child and have your travel companion board a little earlier with the stroller, car seat, and other necessities.
- If you're flying with a toddler, there's no point in keeping them buckled in for any longer than necessary. It's usually less of a hassle to just get them on and settled for a short-haul flight, and sometimes even for a very late flight.
- Stop by the restroom at the airport terminal before your flight.
Take advantage of the extra room on a plane.
- At first, you should attempt to conceal the fact that you have the freedom to walk the aisle. However, if you're traveling with a toddler on a long flight, feel free to get up and walk around the plane if your child seems restless or determined. The A380, being a larger plane, has plenty of room. If you can, try to time your strolls around the beverage and meal service so you don't have to wait for the flight attendants to finish serving you.
- Bring a baby or toddler carrier in case you end up needing to pace around for longer than you had anticipated or if you just want to calm your child down by having them rest against you. Baby carriers are not permitted during taxiing, takeoff, or landing. If you're flying with an airline based outside the United States or Canada and the weather gets rough, they'll need to wear a seat belt.
When flying, how can I protect my toddler's ears?
- When flying with young children, earaches are a common complaint. When flying with a young child, the pressure in their ears may feel strange. And toddlers still have trouble yawning and moving their jaw to alleviate pain. Typically, we'll bring along some candy and a beverage for such an occasion. Because of the way swallowing works,
Taking a baby on a plane
Your child can still fly as a lap child until their second birthday, allowing you to save money on airfare. You may only have to pay the airport's local taxes if you're flying somewhere nearby.
Although aviation safety experts agree that using a car seat or a CARES harness is the safest option in the unlikely event of an accident, the decision to purchase a seat or fly with a lap toddler is ultimately yours to make.
My children range in age from infant to toddler, and I have taken them on the plane at every stage. However, on a few flights, we were graciously offered an empty seat. My wiggly 19-month-old daughter made flying difficult; she had her own seat the last time we flew. A child aged 2 or younger must sit in their very own seat when flying.
Flying with a Child Under the Age of Two
When flying with a child younger than two years old, you have the option of bringing them on your lap. That is, having them sit on your lap during the flight incurs no additional cost or a significantly reduced fare. See this link for more information about traveling with a newborn.
Airline bassinets are designed for smaller babies, and generally fit children aged one and under, so the older the baby or toddler, the more uncomfortable this will be.
There are a few things you can do if you need to take a young child on a long flight:
- When it comes to available flight options, alternatives are scarce. You can buy a sky couch from Air New Zealand.
- The other choice is to buy them a ticket. The price will rise, and airline rules are not uniform.
- For taxi, takeoff, and landing, you may need to use your own airline-approved car seat, while others may let you use the infant lap belt (if available) and hold your toddler in your lap. However, you cannot fly with a two-year-old on your lap during taxiing, taking off, or landing.
- Think about using one of the travel pillows or other sleep aid devices we discussed. If your toddler has his or her own seat on the plane, you'll definitely want one of these.
Please report back on your experience taking a young child on an airplane. Do you have any further advice on how to survive a flight with a young child?
These additional pieces of travel gear for kids may come in handy if you plan on venturing out or traveling with a toddler. These fantastic toddler travel toys and activities are also useful for days out, flights, trains, cruises, and camping trips.
Future flying with a toddler? Pin these tips now!
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