Flying with a toddler might be more daunting than flying with a baby — after all, babies tend to fall asleep thanks to the handy white noise of the engines, and don’t want to spend the entire journey running up and down the aisle shouting ‘hello’ at everyone they pass. Here are our top tips for making your flight just that little bit easier when you have a toddler in tow.
As much as possible, try and keep the airport experience as relaxing as possible — there’s nothing worse than trying to rush somewhere with a toddler. If you have an early flight, it’s worth booking into an airport hotel the night before so you don’t have a massively disrupted morning. Make sure you have plenty of time to get through security and to your gate; the bright lights and noise of duty free will be plenty enough to keep a boredom-prone toddler amused if you end up having an hour to spare gate-side.
DIY In-flight Entertainment
Instead of relying on a potentially dubious selection of TV shows and films — assuming there are any — pack your own in-flight entertainment. Divide your flight into ten minute segments, and plan an activity for each segment. Our favourite ideas are:
- A tablet device loaded with your toddler’s favourite TV shows, and toddler-friendly apps to play with
- Stickers and a sticker pad. If you’re feeling brave, pack crayons too (although be prepared to intervene pretty quickly to prevent your toddler from recreating a Jackson Pollock style masterpiece on the seat in front)
- Slimline books (your back will thank us) — especially those where you have to find certain objects or lift flaps to reveal hidden animals
- If you don’t fancy risking crayons, a magnetic sketch pad or water doodle mat are mess-free solutions if your child loves drawing (or dictating what you should draw for them)
Airplane food isn’t fantastic at the best of times, so take some toddler-friendly snacks for the flight — or pick them up in duty free if you don’t want to lug them through security. Go for low-sugar options to avoid creating a hyped-up toddler, and to pack an empty beaker if your child hasn’t yet mastered drinking from glasses. Mini sandwiches, crudités and a crisps will help keep any hunger-induced tantrums at bay. Crunchy snacks are also useful to ease any ear pain, if your toddler isn’t ready for lollipops but past sippy beakers or bottles.
Whilst you don’t want to play your own version of airport buckaroo, there are some essentials which will make your flight more bearable — a travel pillow, lightweight blanket, and hand sanitiser gel are all worth taking.
And when you’re twenty thousand feet high with a bored toddler who wants to use the seat as a trampoline, just remember that oft-quoted parenting mantra — this too, shall pass (eventually).