Flying with a Toddler Made Easy
Rowan was 2 days shy of 18 months when she flew in a plane for the first time. I was nervously optimistic, knowing we were as prepared as we could be but unsure how things would really go. Mostly, my excitement for Disney World meant that no matter how it went, it was just a short time before we saw the castle. She was fantastic (no crying or fussing at all!) and I owe it to these five things:
Buy your child a seat on the plane
This is often the first decision you need to make and can make a big difference to your vacation budget. We budget $5000 each year for our family vacations so the money was there, but it still meant taking funds from other parts of the trip. Rich and I spent weeks researching and talking to friends who had travelled with children before. What we learned was that it’s safer for babies and children to have their own seat. Ultimately, when it comes down to it – if severe turbulence happens, your child will become a projectile object if they are not secured in a seat. For this reason, we knew we had to find a way to get the money together to buy her own ticket.
Bring your own car seat
Knowing that we now had a seat for Rowan on the plane, we also planned to bring her carseat so we could use it in our rental car. I wanted her to feel comfortable in something familiar and have a seat we trusted to keep her safe in the event of a crash. Since we have no way of really knowing the history of a carseat provided by a rental company, this was the best option for us. We also did something most parents do not – we installed the carseat on the plane. This was an extra annoyance but I believe made the difference in her comfort and ultimately our success in her first flight.
Snacks, snacks, snacks
This one’s a no-brainer because kids love to eat, and is even more important for take-off and landing since the altitude change causes pressure in little ears that can be painful. Rowan still uses her pacifier (“soo-soo” in our house) so we offered it to her along with sips of water and snacks. We brought her favourite Skip Hop water bottle along with a bunch of her favourite snacks. This currently includes pouches of puree (we like PC Organics), Love Child Owlies, Granola Bars, Penguin Crackers, Cheerios, and Fruit Strips. She also got a bit of extra snacks we enjoyed for a special treat.
Lots of activities, toys & games
My parents traveled with use so my mom was in charge of this and boy did she ever deliver – Nana to the rescue! Seriously, she’s awesome. We didn’t get through even half of these on the flight down because Rowan was entertained by the emergency instructions card for the first 30 minutes. She was happy so I just went with it! The rest of the toys were played with during evenings at our rental house and on the way back.
This was a last-minute purchase because we that Rowan is sensitive to loud noises lately and I realized that planes can be pretty noisy at times. My mom grabbed these Baby Banz Earmuffs from Snugglebugz and we used them for the entire trip. Rowan wore them for the entire plane ride down and about half of the way home, plus several times at Disney when things were a bit hectic or during louder rides at the park. I think they allowed her to tone down what was going on around her to make it tolerable (plus they are cute!)
So there you have it – how we had a tear-free first flight with a toddler! How did your child’s first flight go and what did you do to prepare? Let me know in the comments below