How You Can Keep your Toddler Happy While on an Airplane

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So, you’re going on a plane? With a toddler? Are you insane?

No, no you’re not. It may seem like the scariest thing ever, but, trust, me….you will be fine. There are some people that recommend coming with a note and a treat for each passenger, apologizing in advance for bringing your child on a plane. Um no. While it may be difficult to see the difference at times, this is a child you’re bringing on a plane and not a hyena. In my experience, the best way to tackle what could seem like a somewhat daunting situation is to prepare for it. Think about it; we prepared for the SATs. We prepared our driving tests. If you’re married, you prepared for your nuptials. More than likely, you are going to absolutely kick butt at taking your child(ren) on a plane. Let’s get you prepared. Here are some of the things that I like to bring along when I travel with my little dudes:

If you don’t have one already, you’re going to want a backpack for your little person. They most likely get to bring a carry-on to the plane and, if they’re anything like my boys, it’ll make them feel special. We’ve bought backpacks from this brand before and they’ve held up wonderfully. They’re not too big, not too small; just right for bringing along a few items to help save your sanity and keep them happy. There are a bunch of designs to choose from and they’re reasonably priced. Extra bonus: it’ll be one less thing for YOU to carry.

Now, let’s get to filling that backpack up. These Melissa & Doug Water Wow! pads are worth their weight in gold. Like, seriously. My boys started playing with these when they were around a year and they STILL love them! Basically, it’s a reusable pad of cardboard pictures that gets colored in with a water pen. WAIT?!? WATER?! Yes, water. It’s a small little pen, with a brush on one end. The pen gets filled up with water (pro tip: fill it up AFTER you go through security!) and the littles get to color to their hearts content. After the page is all colorful, it’ll dry up in a few minutes and the fun can start all over again. Trust me, you will thank your lucky stars that you got these. After the plane ride, keep them in the car! This link will get you a 3-pack of these little wonders.

That should keep them busy for a while, but you’ve got to keep your bag of tricks stocked, amiright?! To keep little hands busy, I like to keep a coloring book, a pad of paper, and a new pack of crayons in the backpack. If they don’t want to color in the coloring book, they can use the pad of paper for pretty much ANYTHING! Tic-tac-toe, doodling…tell them to draw a certain animal, a car, flowers…a self portrait? It’ll keep them busy and it’s cheap. All of these can be purchased at your local dollar store or you may even already have them! Win-win in my (coloring) book.

Ok, enough with coloring. At this point they’re probably tired of that and getting hungry because toddlers are ALWAYS hungry! Now, you’re going to be on a plane, so don’t pack anything that’s going to stink up the place (how’s that for honesty?. Bring a few baggies of your child’s favorite finger foods that do not require refrigeration and are fairly easy to clean up. Depending on timing, you could also throw some frozen yogurt pouches or sticks into the backpack – they could be thawed out by the time they’re consumed. If you’re concerned about their ears popping during lift off and landing, consider bringing along some lollipops. Just as nursing or drinking a bottle would help a newborn, a lollipop does a great job at helping to keep the pressure somewhat stabilized in their little ears. Here are a few options that claim to be healthier than your typical lollipop: Zollipops, YumEart Organic Lollipops, and Consciously Crafted Lovely Organic Lollipops

You also know that, if you give them a snack, they’re going to get thirsty. These Contigo water bottles are some of my favorites. They’re easy for little hands to open and close, are practically spill free because they have a spout, and come in a variety of designs sure to make even the pickiest toddler happy. As with the water pens for the Water Wow! pads above, make sure to fill these water bottles AFTER you go through the security check point.

You know what’s fun? New toys? I’m not talking full blown Barbie Dreamhouses and Hot Wheel Garages, but new small toys. Things that don’t take up a ton of space and don’t take up a lot of moolah. Grab a few small toys to put into their backpack and it should keep their attention for a bit.

I like to save these as a last resort (absolutely NO offense to the parents that go straight to this), but a tablet could be a good way to take up time when they’re no longer interested in toys or coloring. You could download a bunch of apps beforehand, making sure to download ones that do not rely on WiFi (unless you’re planning on paying for WiFi while on the plane), and let them go at it. These Fire Tablets are great because they come with a case, making it virtually destruction proof. Be sure to pack the chargers so that you can charge the tablets before your return trip home!

That should do the trick! Seriously, you’re going to be ok! Your child(ren) should love having their own backpack and finding it filled with goodies. I recommend NOT telling them what’s in their backpacks until you’re actually on the plane; it’ll give them something to look forward to and, let’s be honest, it’ll buy you some more time. Enjoy your trip and make so many memories!!

Happy Travels!

Have you taken your child on a plane? What worked best for you? 

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