How many of you out there have been that mom on the plane with the screaming child? If not, then maybe you’ve been on that plane and said, “glad that’s not mine!” As moms we wear many badges, and let me tell you that I wore them all on my recent flight….alone….with…3 children. Now thank goodness the older two were helpful and self-sufficient and were able to entertain themselves, but then there was my precious, sweet, blue-eyed 15 month-old son. So, based on my ever-so-glad-I-am-now-on- the-ground experience, I thought I’d share my own “Flying with a Toddler Survival Guide.”
1. Novelty. Before your trip, get a few little toys your little one has never seen or played with before. He was so excited to play with something new!
2. Ask and Accept Help. You have to go to the bathroom and you can’t leave your baby? Unless you want to figure out how to go and hold your little one at the same time in that tiny space, just ask. I asked a flight attendant who was more than happy to hold little guy for me. He was happy and smiling at the time of course.
3. Pack extras. Guess what? It happened. He threw up all over me on our first flight. Of course I had extra clothes for him, but not for me. Pack an extra shirt for you!
4. Keep them Hydrated and Fed. Bottles, sippy cups, snacks. Pack enough and extras for emergencies. On the flight home he went through one bottle and needed another. Thank goodness I had two. When going through security as long as you declare your liquids you should be fine. They put it through some kind of test to make sure it won't explode.
5. Medication. Now realizing this may not be for you, I did give him Benedryl. I did ask his pediatrician, and I suggest you do the same, especially for the right dosing. By the way... it didn’t work, no sleep for him!
6. Pack Smart. Need that bottle or toy quickly? I chose to have a bag with no pockets, as I can never remember where I put anything anyway. So, big zip locks were my friend. Toys, clothes, medicine, snacks, all had a separate baggie so I could see it and pull it out quickly.
7. Check Airline Regulations. All airlines are different. I was glad I called ahead. Some may require you to have your child’s birth certificate if they are flying on your lap. Children range in size so they may ask for age verification. Another is to check on stroller weight and size. I was devastated that I was unable to check my BOB in at the gate so I traveled with a smaller umbrella type stroller.
8. Stay Calm and Relax. Easier said than done, right? When your little one becomes upset, do what calms them, I really didn’t care if people heard me sing the ABC’s and Itsy Bitsy over and over and over again. And try and take a deep breathe…you can do this!
9. Plan Travel Around Their Schedule. Again, easier said than done. Thanks dad for booking our flight for free....and putting me on two flights with a three hour lay over ultimately getting home at 11 o’clock at night having to get the kids to school the next day! Get my drift? If at all possible try and book flights that can accommodate your child’s schedule...even if you might have to pay a little extra.
10. Don’t Think About Them. Sounds crass but yes, you might be that mom with the screaming baby, but if you were to survey the people on board, more than half have probably been in your shoes and mostly just feel for you.
Flying can be hard, with or without kids. But taking a few deep breaths, asking for help, and planning the best you can, may help get you through any turbulence you may encounter and most importantly back home safely with your sweet little ones and family.