Hello everyone! I just wanted to get some advice on how to fly with a toddler. My DS will be 18 months when we make this trip and I myself will be 6 months pregnant. My hubby will be with us so I'm not doing it alone but wanted to get any advice I can. TIA!
Flying with a toddler - what do I need to know?
Activities!! My son loves to play a couple toddler games on my iPod that I reserve just for special occasions such as flying (or doctor visits). Bring your own food, of course. If you let your kid watch any TV at all, you can also download a couple shows on your iPod (again, we reserve these for special occasions- they're more powerful of a tool that way!).
The airport can be crazy- get a sling that you can easily get your kid in and out of (for security, for when he wants to walk by himself, etc). A sling is way easier to deal with than a stroller or a larger frontback/backpack- I've tried all three. Let him run around as much as possible while waiting for the plane- that is not the time for nap. Good thing DH is going with you- flying by yourself with a little one is rough!! Is this your first flight with DS? If so, their ears can hurt while the plane is taking off and landing- nursing or a bottle help with this.
I've found people to be very sympathetic to us while we're traveling- esp. older folks w/ grandkids will want to talk to you and the flight attendants are usually great with helping!
Oh, and check as much as you can. You want to be nimble while navigating the airport (which is why I recommend the sling over stroller!). You want to be there for as little time as possible and if you have to build in time to find elevators and deal with equipment, that is more time for your kid to get cranky before the plane takes off!! Good luck!!
Be aware that if your LO does not have a paid seat some airlines will not let you gate check their carseat (and they won't be nice about it).
OP, I am sorry to sound so negative...there were actually some great aspects of the experience. The best was our son who did a great job traveling even though he had a stomach bug on the return flight (no flames please...I felt getting home was pretty important). He sat on my lap for all four flights and was pretty entertained by my iPhone and looking out the window (and the cheesy LOLcat book we brought). At the airport he loved going on the escalators and the moving walkway. Also at the airport looking out the windows at all the planes and trucks entertained him for easily a couple of hours.
One thing that stressed me out is on the first leg of our trip is that I had packed all his important food, toys and extra clothes (he is potty training) in a carry-on suitcase so I would have it all with me during the three hour layover in Denver. Well they pulled us out of line while we were boarding (again, because of the dang car seat) and made us board last. As a result they would not let us take our carry-on suitcases on the plane (and refused to gate check them even though I cried) but instead checked them through to our final destination. So I would recommend that you pack a diaper bag sized carry-on for all your important stuff. If it will fit under the seat they will not take it from you. So that is another thing to think about.
when my son was 18 mo old, me and him flew to europe to see my family. we spent total of about 17 hrs on the planes and then also some in layovers. yes, i second the advice of trying to not let him nap while you are waiting. i literally had my son run from one end of the terminal to the other "chase you to the escalator!!!!" we wondered around and explored, and when we got on the planes he'd usually fall asleep at least for a little bit.
depending on your child's interests, you can bring some entertainment on the plane. i had some of his fav books, and a couple of new ones, he likes to read. he wasnt a whole lot interested in the toys. don't bring too much though, it will just create extra mess.
a friend of mine suggested bringing some paper clips - to make chains and bracelets and what not, it sounded like and awesome idea - even if you lose some, who cares, but my son wasnt really into it that much, maybe yours will?.
i had a few treats, too for emergencies, which did come up.
i didnt bring a car seat. i had a stroller and a bag with wheels. i 'hooked' the long handle of the bag with wheels to the stroller, so when i pushed the stroller, the bag wheeled too. when i carried my son in the carrier, i put the bag in the stroller and would push it that way.
change of clothes is a good idea, for both of you actually. i had to change my clothes twice because he spilled stuff on me all the time.
i had some cartoons on my phone. if you do decide to do that too, choose the ones where sounds and speech dont matter a whole lot. because of how loud the plane is, you cant hear it on the phone, so my son would get really irritated, and he didnt want anything to do with headphones (plus, you dont want to disturb other people), so he ended up only watching a couple where everything was clear without the sound.
good luck with the flight!!!
First off, I've come to prefer getting the aisle seat if I'm alone with dd, or the aisle and middle of dh is travelling with us. It's easier to get up and walk with dd (we went through a phase where we'd walk up and down the aisle a good chunk of the flight), and it also means that when dd falls asleep, she's not kicking the person in the seat next to her if I can get her feet facing the aisle.
Activities: definitely fave books and new books you know they'll love. I like water colors too, just ask for a cup with a tiny bit of water, have paper and water colors ready, it's good for a little while and most of that paint comes off whatever it gets on easily.
If you do let your lo watch some t.v. but are not up to date with ipods etc, they do have fairly affordable portable dvd players and THAT has been a lifesaver (more for car trips than plane trips, but they've been really helpful for a good hour of peace on planes too).
IMHO snacks are a MUST. There is hardly any good snacking provided by planes, and you never know when you'll be in gate or baggage claim much longer than expected.
I know PP prefers slings in the airport, but I prefer backpack carrier because I feel like I can do more with luggage and dealing with tickets/money/carrying food with her on my back. Just personal preference I suppose, but definitely check out some form of carrying on you, it can be really helpful. Although next trip, whenever that is, I'm looking forward to letting dd use her own little wheelie bag that I got at a used kids clothing store. It's Thomas the Tank Engine on wheels and she seems to really look forward to us both wheeling our bags through the airport. Will have to arrive like 3 hrs ahead of time, since that will take time to let her walk herself and keep my hands on her, but it'll be worth it if she enjoys it.
And if you'll be pregnant too, another reason for aisle seating is you can go to bathroom a lot and get water a lot. Very important, especially on long flights, you gotta stretch your legs and walk. Ask a yoga teacher about little yoga things you can do in your seat too. That helped me when flying when preggers. Have a great trip!
I agree with getting a small portable DVD player. You can even find some that will play AVI's. Our Daughter Loves Dora the Explorer, Sponge Bob, etc and Mickey Mouse. So having some DVD's with those helps. Here are some cheap players you can look into: