Tips for Flying with Toddlers 9

tips for flying with toddlers

I feel like my tot and I are pros at plane travel.  I can’t count the number of times we’ve flown since she was born, and she’s only two! Most of those flights were just the two of us, so I had to get good at flying solo with a little one.  With the holiday season approaching I know many people will be traveling by plane to visit their families, so I thought I’d share some helpful tips I’ve learned along the way that help make for a successful flight with a young child.

Two words: technology and snacks!


  • I know not everyone has a tablet or smartphone, but if you do, you can make your life a whole lot easier by downloading some apps that are age-appropriate for your child.  There are plenty of good, free ones out there. Be sure you choose ones that don’t require wi-fi connection that way they can be played in flight. Downloaded videos are another great sanity saver! Check out this list of apps.
  • Snacks, snacks, and more snacks! Some flights still give out free snacks, but not all airlines do.  I recommend bringing your own in small separate packages to dole out periodically throughout the flight.  (Don’t forget one for yourself – a granola bar can work wonders for restoring my sanity, especially if it’s one with chocolate!)

As an alternative to apps (or in addition to them),

Bring along other forms of play for your child.  These should be small things to fit in your carry-on that goes under the seat in front of you for maximum benefit.  Here are some things I often  include in the diaper bag.

  • An interactive book  -“Pat the Bunny” is one of our favorites that only comes out on trips, and my daughter still finds it exciting. (Affiliate link – disclosure)
  • A hands-on toy of some sort – individually wrapped play dough (one pack for each way), crayons, small MagnaDoodle, tiny sticker book w/stickers (reusable if possible), or homemade toys like a DIY I Spy bottle.
  • A non-toy – small sticky notes are entertaining for little hands and work well in small spaces. Coins (taking them in and out of the coin purse) and elastic hair bands have helped us pass the time peacefully as well. Basically, you can make a game of whatever you find in your bag – get creative. (Many of the items mentioned are choking hazards, so, as always, keep a close eye on your child when using any of these sorts of things.)
  • Songs and finger plays – when my daughter is getting particularly grumpy, I softly sing songs like the “Itsy-Bitsy Spider” to distract her.  Don’t worry about sounding/looking silly.  The other passengers would rather hear nursery rhymes than a crying baby.

To see more about what I pack in my daughter’s carry-on, check this post.

Other useful tidbits:

  • Be prepared to buy a water bottle after you pass thru security since you can’t bring a filled sippie cup.
  • The changing tables on planes are the smallest on the planet.  I’ve learned to change my daughter’s diaper while she’s standing up (on top of the toilet), which is much easier to do than trying to cram her onto that tiny table.  (Obviously your child has to be old enough to stand before you can do this.)
  • A stroller blanket comes in handy on the chilly plane and can be used as a pillow for your tot to nap in your arms.
  • IMG_1060I like to book my seat in the back of the plane for two reasons. 1. If there’s any chance of an open seat, it’s usually in the back meaning more space for us. 2. The loud noise of the engines blocks out baby’s crying (and mommy’s singing) and also acts as white noise to help lull her to sleep.
  • Don’t board the plane right away when they call for families.  The longer you’re on the plane, the more entertaining you have to do.


  • Always have your child sucking on something during take-off and landing to help prevent pressure problems in the ears (bottles/nursing, pacifier, fruit puree pouches, etc…)!
  • During the bumpy parts of the flight, I make it into a game and say “weeeeeeee!” over and over.  I think this is part of the reason my tot has never cried on take-off or landing. And now she even thinks that turbulence is an amusement ride!


  • While waiting in the terminal, look for the kiddie play area that many airports now offer, or try to hang out by the window and watch the activity on the runway. (It’s a great teaching/learning opportunity.)


Happy Travels!

For more travel tips be sure to check out this post and our packing list.

You can also see more of my travel articles on my Family Travel site on Bella Online dot com.

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