Flying with children is an unpredictable experience. One child may sit quietly on an airplane and observe everything going on, while another may cry or want to run up and down the aisle. Your child may sleep through the flight or demand nonstop entertainment. Here are some tips for flying with toddlers, whatever their disposition.
Consult your child’s doctor before planning a trip if your child has an ear infection. The extra pressure exerted during take off may pose problems. If your child has a congested or runny nose or allergies, your doctor may recommend administering Benadryl or a similar product prior to the flight to ensure a fully opened airway. Have your child suck or chew during the take off and landing to help clear the pressure in his ears. Juice boxes can do the trick.
Choose your flight
Midweek, middle of the day flights are least crowded and allow extra room if your child wants to nap. Children two and older are required to purchase a ticket and are entitled to a seat. Bring along the child's car seat. Some booster seats are not approved for airplanes. Check with the airline ahead of time to find out if your seat is approved for airplane use.
Try to book non-stop flights whenever possible to avoid extra take offs and landings, as well as the inconvenience of locating and reboarding another plane. If a nonstop flight isn't available, request that an electric cart help you transfer your child and belongings to your next flight.
Special order a child's meal when booking your flight or take along food for your child. He may not eat airline food. Take extra snacks and juice in case he is hungry before the meal is served. Pack a child-sized spoon, cup and bibs. Carry a damp washcloth in a plastic bag or disposable wipes for easy cleanup.
Carry a bag with extra outfits for everyone in the family. Include two extras for your toddler–one for spills and one in case your luggage doesn't arrive with you. Dress your child in loose-fitting, comfortable clothes such as a sweatsuit or sleeper.
Provide your child with a bag of toys chosen for the flight. Include toys with lots of knobs and buttons to keep little hands busy. Tie them to the carseat so you aren't hunting under the seats for toys during the flight.
Try to keep your child awake and active before the flight so he will nap on the plane.
If your child tends to get motion sickness, special medicine is available in liquid form and should be given a half-hour before the flight. Pack extra washcloths if you foresee air sickness. Some children get diarrhea on air flights so you may want to pack diapers.
Talk about what he will experience at the airport and during the flight. Visit the airport before your trip, if possible. Point out the boarding gates, check in and security areas, where you will weigh your luggage and where you will wait. There are many good books you can read to help prepare your child for the journey. Finally, prepare to be pleasantly surprised when you and your toddler take off—because with planning, there may be less turbulance in the skies than you expected.