Adam and I have traveled quite a bit this offseason and a few of those trips we brought little man with us. So I thought I would share what I learned from traveling with Mr Asher and offer a few tips for handling little ones on an airplane. The first thing I would say before I get to my 10 tips is to try and schedule your flight around nap time (if you can help it). I know it's sometimes difficult to do this so it's fine if you can't, but it's especially helpful if they are an "on the clock" napper. It really will help you and your sanity if they sleep for even some of the flight.
Here are my 10 tips below...
1.) Snack , snacks, snacks, and more snacks
Luckily Asher is a great eater...always has been and still is! So when he's acting fussy or can't seem to sit still we pull out his favorite snacks. Whether we are in church, in the car, or in an airplane snacks come in handy big time. Asher has many of his teeth now so he can eat pretty much anything. I usually bring his favorites which include goldfish, animal crackers, fruit, pb & J, and sometimes I'll get a greek yogurt before we board so he can snack on that for awhile too. If your child has a favorite snack I suggest bringing that:) Eating can keep them busy for at least a little while...and sometimes I play a game with Asher and his snacks. (I like to put a goldfish in one hand and he tries to guess which one it's in)
2.) Favorite show/ video game
Asher started watching shows when he turned one...obviously we don't let him watch too much tv but when you're on a three hour flight you let your kid watch 3 hours of Mickey Mouse if he's willing to sit still;) Asher's favorite shows right now are Mickey Mouse and Elmo. I suggest bringing an iPad and downloading some of your child's favorite shows (if they have any). If they don't have any shows maybe download some that look fun or some with music... anything that you think will hold your child's attention. Asher will watch in spurts... like 15 minutes watching Mickey and then he'll want to stand up or do something else. So we'd do something else and then eventually come back to the show at some point and he'd keep watching. Having a show or video game your child can watch for a while is very helpful. Asher also loved watching Adam and I compete on a basketball shooting iPad game.
If your little one is into books then I'd at least bring a couple along on your trip. Asher loves books and will actually sit on my lap and listen to them! I usually bring two or three of his favorites in my backpack. Books are another great distraction. A good idea (I've never done) would be to get a new book that you think your little one would love and show it to them for the first time on the flight. It might hold their interest longer!
4.) Favorite stuffed animal/blankie
I know many kids usually have a favorite blankie, pillow, or stuffed animal that helps comfort them. It would be a great idea to bring that with on your trip. Asher doesn't really have one specific blankie he likes..he just loves balls and a bunch of random stuffed animals lol! I actually have brought a mini football on the plane for him because it's his favorite (although it's not the best idea to bring a ball on the plane because he just wanted to throw it the whole time.. whoops:)).
Asher still loves his nuki! We usually only give it to him during naptime and bedtime. Being on a flight is a different story. We give it to him on airplanes or car rides when he's being extra fussy and loud. It really does help calm him down...plus when he is being whiny it usually means he's tired so the nuki helps put him to sleep. If your little one still takes a nuki I'd definitely recommend bringing a couple (and some wipes for when if it falls on the icky airport ground).
Asher drinks whole milk now days. So I usually either ask the flight attendant to heat up a little for us and then I pour it into his bottle or I buy some before we board. Milk is something that has always been soothing to Asher. When I was breastfeeding him it was so much easier and more convenient to do on the airplane and he would usually fall asleep right away. I suggest having some milk (whether whole milk/breastmilk) on the plane with you...especially if your little one loves it/ helps put them to sleep.
7.) Coloring/ Activity book
Asher has a couple activity books that he loves. Some activity books that could hold your child's attention might include sticker books, coloring books, or interactive books. Asher has one that I usually bring that has pictures that when he touches an object it says the word. If your child has a specific activity book they like I recommend bringing that (unless it's super big).
8.) Walk up and down the aisles
Adam and I have taken turns walking with Asher up and down the aisle just so he can let a little steam off. Especially if your toddler seems super wiggly and won't sit still to do anything else, it's ok to let them stand up and move (unless the pilot says to stay seated). If they are too young to stand and walk then carry them. I remember when Asher was about 6 months old he loved to look around and observe everything going on so I would get up from my seat and just stand in the aisle. It distracted him for awhile because he got to see what everyone else was up to.
9.) Change diaper before you board
Only one time have we made the mistake of not changing Asher before boarding the airplane. Halfway through the flight I turned to Adam and said, "I think Asher's pants are wet!" It was not smart of us to not change him before we left. Asher had peed out the side of his diaper onto his shirt a little and on his pants. It was not fun having to then change his soaking diaper and take his dirty pants off on the plane (and of course I didn't have a second change of clothes). Good thing the final destination was warm because he was just walking around, rocking his onesie with no pants. Change your baby before you board! Even if you just changed him before you got to the airport..it's better to be safe than sorry:)
10.) Ignore the haters
Ok so you know before you had kids and you would sit next to babies/toddlers on a flight and you would be like oh boy this could be a long flight. Yea, well that was me. Now that I have a child I know that the parent feels the same way. It is stressful enough bringing a child/children on a flight with you that you don't need the nasty looks and comments as well. I try and ignore people as much as I can when they look at us weirdly because we have our baby onboard with us. Most of those people doing that have never had kids so they have no clue what it's like. If your baby is acting out on the plane just try and take deep breaths, try anything you can to calm them down, and always remember...this too shall pass.
Hopefully this list can help some of you who are looking to travel with little ones! Many of my tips may seem like common sense but it's nice to have these reminders. It is wonderful to take family trips and you get so many amazing memories out of it, but it IS stressful traveling with little ones..packing for them (and yourself), the traveling part, and just trying to keep on a schedule. If the traveling part doesn't go as smoothly as you wanted, thats ok...just remember it's happened to me and it happens to the best of us!