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Flying is terrifying if you’re just one person on a plane, never mind with a toddler. You just feel the anxiety at the gate skyrocket as soon as you arrive. Because the smiling giggling darling apple of your eye looks like a ticking time bomb never mind, you’re not supposed to say that on a plane. Anyway, we survived it, and you can too! Here’s a short list of things I recommend and a few things I learned on our recent flight to California.

BRING FOOD.

Snacks. Forget Dinner. “What did you have for dinner? Pretzels and banana bread.” When flying from New York to California, bring enough food or else endure the sugary banana bread laden guilt you get while stuffing your kid full of snacks instead of something more substantial. We got to my parents’ house at about 9pm that night (midnight our time) and she was fast asleep, but hadn’t had dinner. I rolled the parenting dice and decided to wake her so she could eat. What resulted was a meltdown of epic proportions and she barely ate anything. Shoulda woulda coulda, let’s try again next time.

BRING TOYS!!!

Crayons, coloring books, this magical water painting thingy, their favorite stuffies…anything you can fit into a bag and within the rules of air travel, BRING IT. Maybe bring something new that they haven’t seen before so the novelty lasts a little longer. What I really love are these wipeable dry erase crayons and dry erase coloring books! You can even use any dry erase book they have out there, these crayons will work fine!

PRAY.

Pray you get peaceable seatmates. God bless the two seemingly single people on either side of us on this gigantic metal tube. Too bad they weren’t seated next to each other. They would probably get along great. Super chill. Except the guy called me ma’am. Hmph.

I don’t believe in giving “treats” or “bribing” fellow passengers just because I have a small child with me on the plane. She has just as much right to be on that flight as you do. I will do what I can to keep her entertained and quiet because there is no escape while we are all trapped inside a big metal tube in the sky. And believe me, I don’t like hearing a child cry or scream any more than you do. However, her well being is the only one I’m responsible for. Get a pair of these and get over it. Also read “Why you shouldn’t give out goody bags while flying with a baby” by Rebecca Dube

AIRPLANE HARNESSES.

Good for safety. Not for sanity – kiddo HATED it and wouldn’t stop complaining because she would slouch and get the strap all up in her armpits. Halfway through the flight I said f*#k it and unhooked it. She did fine with just the lap belt though I was a little uneasy. Here’s the one I used if you’re looking for one. It’s very easy to use and probably better (for us) when she gets a little bit older.

SCREEN TIME LIMITATIONS GO OUT THE WINDOW

Make sure all devices are charged and loaded with movies, games and videos. No guarantee any of this will work but it should buy you some time. Take time to download your kid’s favorite movies and shows from Netflix. We watched A Curious George Christmas TWICE, lol.

And why oh why wasn’t the wifi working? C’mon United.

GET CREATIVE

Kiddo wanted to hide, so I fashioned a tent out of the free blanket they gave us and turned on her favorite movie. She kept pulling the blanket down between us and wouldn’t let me watch with her. Exiled.

MAKE SURE YOU HAVE WATER

Make sure you have enough time to buy water before boarding, or you’ll have a parched throat and whiny toddler because she’s been inhaling pretzels for an hour. The flight attendants go as fast as they can but nothing is fast enough when you’re two.

Check out these links for more tips on peaceful flying with little ones!

  1. 25 Top Tips For Keeping Kids Happy On Board
  2. How To Enjoy A Plane Trip With Children
  3. Packing Checklist for Traveling With a Toddler
  4. Flying With Babies, Toddlers and Kids