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Family Travel Tips | Surviving a Flight with Your Toddler

I recently took a flight to Arizona alone with Kennedy…my curious, active, very mobile, 16-month old toddler.  I brought a lot of in-flight entertainment for her, and I am so glad I did!  My goal was to bring things to entertain her without turning my diaper bag in a bag of heavy toys.

At her age, she needs activities that have a function to keep her occupied:  Opening and closing boxes, placing pegs in and out of holes, placing stickers, etc…With a 4 and a half hour flight ahead of me alone with no help, there’s no such thing as being over-prepared.  So, here are a few tips that helped me tremendously!  I hope it helps you, too.

KEEPING YOUR TODDLER ENTERTAINED FOR HOURS ON A FLIGHT:  First, make sure to wear them out and play hard before getting on the plane.  This is super important!   Before our flight, I took Kennedy to a gate that was empty and let her run around all over the place.  She really loved looking out the window and watching everything below.

surviving a flight with your toddler

  1. Snacks:  Pack snacks and lots of them.  I packed small snacks like goldfish and gummies.  They didn’t ever fill her up all the way, and she was constantly wanting to eat more.  A snacking toddler = an entertained one!  Try to bring snacks that aren’t completely filled with sugar…that will just make things interesting.  The last thing you want is a child with an upset stomach, because they had too much sugar…and then they lose all of their cookies (AKA projectile vomit) all over you 3 times in a row within 30 seconds of the plane taking off and you haven’t reached 10,000 feet so you can’t get up from your seat or do anything about it.  Yeah, that actually happened.  Nick can tell you about that one!
  2. Sippy cup:  You’ll definitely want to have a full sippy cup when the plane takes off to ease the pain of any ears popping.
  3. Busy bags:  Make a few different plastic baggies of small, entertaining toys.  I made several:  Sticker bags, finger puppet bags, and a bag with rubber shapes, toys & pegs.
  4. Book:  I suggest just bringing 1 book along in your diaper bag.  They get heavy with everything else you’re carrying!  Kennedy loves the, “first 100 words” board book.  There are so many objects and things to look at on each page.  She points at everything on each page.
  5. Window clings:  Thank you Target for your $1 spot.  I bought 5 packs of them to stick to the airplane window and they were a hit!  She placed each cling on the window and took it off…about a hundred times.  These are especially great because they’re super light and kept Kennedy entertained for a while.
  6. iPad:  I know a toddler probably shouldn’t watch a movie on an iPad…BUT, the goal here is to keep them occupied.  And an iPad on an airplane is a total LIFESAVER.  If you forget to pack every other toy or busy bag…do not forget this (or the charger)!

*Also, do not show any of these toys to your toddler prior to getting on the flight…it will be that much more interesting to them when they see it for the first time!*

surviving a flight with your toddler

The great thing about all of the entertainment you’re bringing is that you will use it for the whole trip!  Whether you’re at a restaurant, driving hours to the next city, or hanging out at your hotel room, you can use everything to entertain your toddler anytime.surviving a flight with your toddlerTaking selfies on an airplane also counts as keeping your toddler busy…hey, whatever works for you!!surviving a flight with your toddler