Family Travel: Toddlers on a Plane

Family Travel : toddler on a planeKeeping toddlers busy while flying….can it be done?  How do you do it with success?

When choosing to fly for your holiday travel this year, you may be a little anxious about your little one’s behavior during the trip.  After all, you don’t want to break out the emergency toy stash before you have even left the tarmac, right? And, let’s not forget about your sometimes less-than-patient travelers.  I remember a story I heard once that went something like…

There once was a mother and baby on a plane.  The baby got upset so the mother, sweet thing that she was, started preparing the baby a bottle (you know the kind where you add the powder and shake?….do you see it coming yet?).  Well, as the sweet mama shook that baby’s bottle… it’s just possible that the lid wasn’t as secure as it should’ve been since as she shook that bottle to make sure the formula was mixed just right for her baby….the nipple came flying off dousing the passenger behind her with 8 oz of slighty warm baby formula.  (Thanks for the story Shannon! ;-))

But, I digress….

Here are some activities you can use with your children without the need for extra luggage or expense.

While everyone is still in a good mood, have them introduce themselves to their neighbor passengers before takeoff. Smiles and winks, or even playing peek-a-boo will improve other passengers’ moods while making them more understand later on if your toddler decides to be a little less than cooperative.  However, try no to be too obnoxious.  Not all of your fellow passengers will think it’s as cute as you do – some of them might even dread the flight not understanding how prepared you really are.

There are always magazines provided by the airline available for you. Turn one into a game your little ones, by having them locate a certain item on each page. You can give them a list of things to find, and just hand them the magazine to go through on their own.

Load up your digital camera with pictures from past outings and those of people you will be visiting on this trip. During the flight, you can have your toddler look at these photos and remember the fun they had at the zoo, or reacquainted themselves with the faces of those they will be visiting.

This is a great time for learning. Zippers, buttons and snaps can keep them busy for quite some time, possibly even getting a few giggles out of them.

Carry a few colored markers with you in your carry-on bag. Making puppets out of those wonderful paper bags available in the pouch attached to the back of the seat in front of you (ok, so this isn’t the primary purpose…) is a great way to keep your little ones happy.

Over all, there are many things your imagination can spark with the use of things found on the plane itself. Games like “I spy” can be interesting for older children, and this is also a great time to practice multiplication tables too.

Don’t forget things like gum or sippy cups for when the air pressure gets to the ears of your little one.

Flying can be a scary and new experience for young kids. Learning to keep them occupied makes the difference between a harrowing experience and a pleasant first airplane ride.

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  1. Sandy Nielsen says

    I agree that preparation is key! Along the lines of your suggestion about buttons and snaps, an inexpensive box of bandaids keeps little ones occupied for a looooong time. My son spent many minutes concentrating on opening each wrapper with his chubby fingers and then peeling off the flaps and sticking it on the seat or his clothes. When he finished with one bandaid, I’d hand him another. The wrappers are easy to pick up, and the bandaids come off of surfaces easily. He liked it since opening bandaids was a novelty and is usually part of a grownup’s ‘job’.

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