Flying with a toddler can not only be worrisome for the parents but also cause anxiety to the child. Read on to find pointers and checklist to fly with your little one.  

With this checklist handy, flying with our son has so far been great and fun! It also includes a list of suggested activities to keep your little one busy on the flight. Although I’ve assumed a long flight, if yours is a shorter journey, you may choose to select fewer items.  

 

What makes flying with a toddler a challenge?

Many things can affect the child – unfamiliar surroundings, boredom, flight turbulence, disturbed sleep, or worst of all – ear pain. Therefore, we take the following steps to make it easy for all: (a) Speaking with our child days before about the upcoming flight, (b) Arriving at the airport a few hours earlier (b) Carrying a variety of snacks (c) Packing around 6 activities/toys for a 24 hour journey.   

What to consider for packing toys for the airplane? 

We usually carry toys which are – (a) lightweight, (b) small – but large enough to not get lost underneath the seats, (c) shouldn’t roll down. 

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PDF Checklist for Flying with a Toddler!

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    1. Keep the First-Aid Kit

    Our usual first-aid kit in the cabin contains the obvious must-haves: Ear thermometer, Fever Reducers – Tylenol and Motrin.

    We also carry Oral Medicine Syringe, Mini-Pack AquaphorBand-aid, Antiseptic Cleaning wipes, and any other prescription medicine. 

    Please remember to pack the medicine syringe in your cabin luggage. This year, our son fell sick before boarding. Although we did have the medicine but we had checked in the syringe – it was a far-from-a-pleasant experience.

     

    2. Pack the Essentials

    Diapers, Wipes, toothbrush, toothpaste, a small towel, Sippy Cup – the no-spill Munchkin 360 can help greatly. If your child isn’t using the Munchkin Sippy Cup already, you might want to try it a few days before the flight so that he gets accustomed to it. 

     

    A gentle, obvious reminder to empty the cups out before the security check and fill it again after :).

    3. Talk it out: Use the Books as your tools

    We started reading to our son since he was very little. As a result, this habit helps a great deal when one is flying with a toddler. Amongst all his books, Airplanes is our favorite one and prepares the child before we reach the airport. Moreover, it keeps him excited until and after boarding. I take 2-3 books which he loves and 1-2 which are new in order to surprise him.

    Furthermore, Usborne Flap Books are very educational and can keep the child engaged for long. Since they are a little expensive, we usually buy them one at a time from stores. Here is a link for a bunch of them in a pack, if you’d like to buy. 

    4. Keep Extra Change for you and the baby!

    This is an obvious one but completes the checklist. We also make sure to keep a change for both of us parents for any diaper accident.

    5. Keep the Immunizations Updated

    Regarding immunizations, please speak with the child’s pediatrician at least a month before flying.  Making sure the immunizations are up to date is very important before a flight, especially an international one.

    6. Pack a Variety of Snacks

    We pack 4-5 Snacks in small boxes like these ones. I have used the tin containers with screw tops and also the steel ones with the silicone lid.

     

    My go-to snack list is (a) roasted Makhanas/Foxnuts, (b) Cashew Nuts, (c) Baked Fries, (d) Mathri/Khakra, and (e) Cake or Brownie bites. You can also pack pretzels and raisins. Please adjust the portions per your child.

    In addition, on the flight, we order fruits for our little one. Also, you may want to carry his/her favorite snack. If you’d like to try the ones which I’ve mentioned here, it might be a good idea to offer these to your child a few days before flying.

    7. Carry Stickers – Light and compact

    Reusable stickers from Melissa and Doug keep our child occupied for a good while.

    Our son likes puff stickers a lot but the adhesive wears off after a while. So, they are good enough for the journey.

    8. Paint and Engage: Buy Triangular Colors

    These triangular crayons work great for coloring on the flight and don’t roll down from the table. I also take a small (9″ by 6″) Melissa & Doug notebook (3-4 in number). These are not too big and okay for the tray-table. If interested, you can also try the magnetic drawing board.

    9. Install Kid-Friendly Apps on Tablet/Phone

    We install a few apps which are interactive: like the “Dave and Eva” and the child can be especially engaged during take-off and landing.

    10. Pack Activity Books

    These Montessori-like Activity books are great to keep the child engaged for a while. They also improve kids’ fine motor skills. Therefore, you may want to give them a try. The only drawback: They have a few small pieces which one can lose on the flight rendering that activity of no use.

    11. Pack a little Ghee/Clarified Butter

    This might look like an unusual item on our checklist. But dryness or cold – it is a home remedy which is super helpful during travel. If you’d like to, you may buy it on amazon, and pack a little bit in the storage containers recommended above.

    In Indian traditions, Ghee is an excellent remedy for small bruises, dry skin or rub it on the feet if the child has a minor cold.

    12. Carry Animal Figurines

    Our son spends a lot of time playing with the animal figurines. Although one doesn’t need to buy very expensive ones, I recommend making sure that these are nontoxic/kid-friendly. The ones which we take on a flight are these over-6″ dinosaurs. Our son queues them up on the flight tray-table.

     

    Also, please make sure that the figurines are not too small or else they might bury themselves under the seats. Small Cars for a few works better than the figurines – Again; Cars or figurines – Child-specific! 

     

    13. Organize things in a Zipper Storage Bags

    We keep the books and toys separately in the Zipper bags. It’s good to also keep extra 1-2 bags for the clothes in case of any diaper accident. I like the large Ziploc Bag – 32 Gallons for this purpose.

    14. Take an Inflatable Leg-rest Pillow

    In order to support the legs, we took this pillow along. Inflating on the flight was no fun – so you may want to buy an air pump too. Of course, Business Class travelers don’t need this support pillow.  However, for the economy, this can help relieve the strain for a little while. Needless to say – any little bit helps exhausted parents, right :)?

    Not all airlines might allow this pillow on the flight. Please check with them before you buy one.

     

    The Last Thing – Patience

    In spite of planning extensively, the child could still be uneasy on the flight. Please be patient, try to walk him down the aisle, talk it out or ask the attendant for snacks. Although it may feel challenging, that’s perfectly normal and shall pass. Here’s hoping that you have a good flight! Please comment to let us know what do you do to make the flight experience good for your child.