Tips For Flying With a Toddler

From long check-in lines to packed flights, there’s no question that airline travel can be stressful. And the stress can increase significantly when you’re traveling with a toddler!


But there are ways to make the experience more enjoyable!

When it comes to flying with a toddler, preparation and patience are key to making the flight a great one for both of you.

Keep these tips in mind to ensure you and your toddler take to the skies with a smile.

Key Takeaways:

  • Preparation is Key: Familiarizing yourself with airline policies and packing essential gear can make all the difference.
  • Engagement and Comfort: Make use of airport play areas, and bring along engaging activities for the flight.
  • Embrace the Adventure: Beyond the challenges lie incredible memories worth every moment.

1. Pre-Flight Preparation

Before heading out on a high-flying adventure with your pint-sized co-pilot, you’ll want to dive into the pre-flight preparations that help ensure smooth sailing.

First and foremost, arm yourself with knowledge of airline policies. Each airline has its unique set of rules, especially concerning travel car seats and gate check strollers, essentials when traveling with a toddler.

This research not only prevents any last-minute boarding gate surprises, but also empowers you to make informed decisions about what to bring along.

Next, it’s time to decide just what to pack into your little one’s carry-on bag. Try to find a balance between necessities and gear that will make your little one’s flight more enjoyable.

Start off with snacks. Nothing keeps a toddler occupied quite like food, after all! Healthy and portable goodies like granola bars, string cheese, and applesauce pouches are all good choices.

If your child is still breastfeeding or using formula, pack a cooler bag with a few bottles as well. Otherwise, bring along a sippy cup that you can fill with water for your little one to sip during the flight.

If your little one is under 24 months of age, formula, breast milk, juice, and other toddler drinks and food are allowed on board even if their volume exceeds liquid restrictions for flights.

Next, ensure your toddler has something to do when hunger and thirst aren’t an issue.

Pack a few small toys or simple games, and consider bringing along a mix of both favorite items from home and new, inexpensive toys.

This way, your child will have something that provides comfort and familiarity if they’re feeling stressed, while also keeping themselves occupied with the novelty of the new items.

Finally, don’t forget that essential baby gear! Estimate the number of diapers you need in your carry-on bag, and then add at least three more, just in case.

A container of disposable wipes can be used both for diaper changes and for cleaning up sticky fingers and faces.

And, at least one full change of clothing is a must! Whether your little one has an unexpected diaper accident or spills their cup of juice, having extra clothing will ensure they’re not sitting in discomfort for the rest of the flight.

Pack the clothes in a large Ziplock bag, which can then later double as a bag for any soiled items you need to store.

2. Plan Activities For the Airport

With the carry-on baggage ready to go, it’s time to head to the airport!

Toddlers are bundles of energy, so one of the best ways to start your journey off on the right foot is to let your child burn off their energy before ever setting foot on the plane.

Airports, with their expansive spaces, offer unique opportunities for little legs to stretch and explore. Take a stroll with your little one and point out fun sights along the way.

Many airports also contain free airport play areas, which are a godsend. These specially designed spaces provide entertainment for kids, while allowing parents a moment to catch their breath.

You’ll also want to make sure you locate the nearest family restroom. Larger, private, and equipped with changing stations, they help ensure that last-minute bathroom trips are stress-free.

Popping in to use the facilities and ensure your toddler is clean and dry before boarding will make for a much more enjoyable time flying with your toddler, and hopefully let you avoid awkward diaper changes on the plane itself!

3. Benefits Of an Aisle Seat

Whether you’re holding your toddler on your lap for the duration of the flight, or splurging and purchasing them their own seat, having access to the aisle will generally make the flight easier.

If your little one has their own seat, put them in the middle and take the aisle seat for yourself.

You’ll be able to easily get to the washroom or grab gear from overhead bins as needed, while still keeping your little one safely in place.

If your child is sitting on your lap, then sitting together in the aisle seat is likely the best option, since it will let your child get up and walk the aisle to stretch their legs when they start getting restless.

4. In-Flight Entertainment Strategies

Once you’re comfortably seated, it’s time to make use of that well-packed carry-on you prepared for your little one.

But remember, there’s no need to pull it out right away if your toddler is enjoying themselves! The novelty of the environment may keep little ones occupied for quite some time.

When your child does show signs of getting restless, then it’s time to break out the food and entertainment. Let them look through their options to choose the food, toys, or activities that interest them.

If nothing catches their interest, don’t overlook simple, toddler-friendly games like Patty-Cake or I Spy! Sometimes your child will be happiest just spending time playing fun games with you.

5. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help

When you’re flying with a toddler, everything you do will likely take a bit of extra time. Arrive to the airport early, so that you’re not rushing to get to your flight.

Airport staff are generally more than happy to help if you need a hand getting through security with your little one. Don’t hesitate to let them know if you’re struggling!

And, since boarding can take extra time with a squirmy little one, make sure that you take advantage of pre-boarding offered to families traveling with infants and small children.

Being able to comfortably settle into your seat without being rushed or jostled by other passengers will make boarding less stressful for you, and more comfortable for your child.

airport security line

In a perfect world, flying with a toddler would be as easy as rolling straight through security and hopping on an uncrowded plane.

But, of course, most busy families can’t manage the cost оf flying оn a private jet or booking that cushy first-class ticket!

Luckily, that doesn’t mean you can’t still maximize the comfort of your travel experience.

With proper preparation, the right gear, and a little help along the way, you and your child can still have a great flight together.

Remember, flying with your toddler is about more than being ready for every little problem; it’s about approaching things optimistically and enjoying the experience.

Let’s take to the skies with confidence and joy, knowing that we’re creating a world of wonderful memories for our families!

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