I’m originally from Costa Rica but moved to Washington D.C. when my husband and I got married. This means every year I fly back home to see my family or they come to DC to visit us. I hadn’t been to Costa Rica since March 2012 because I got pregnant in April of that same year and didn’t want to travel during my pregnancy. Once I had my baby I knew I would go back home but was nervous about flying with her and how she would react to it.
I postponed flying for a while and finally flew with her for the first time when she was 10.5 months old (November 2013). Now looking back I realize I could have flown with her much sooner. The younger the baby the more they sleep and if you’re lucky, might sleep through the entire flight. I flew again with her on our trip to Portland, Oregon and will fly at the end of July (2014) when we go to Costa Rica again.
I was so nervous about flying with a baby… I spent so many hours online looking for tips and reading what other parents had to say. Honestly, your baby or toddler will do way better than you can imagine and if they don’t, there is probably not much you could have done about it anyways. Don’t let your fear of flying with a younger child stop you from travelling. It’s not worth it. Really. You’ll be surprised to see that most people are very helpful and understand, and if they are not, they’re not worth you pleasing them anyways.
After reading about flying with kids and actually flying with my daughter I came up with a short list of what worked for us.
Tips when flying with kids:
- Nurse or give something to suck on (bottle, Organic Lollipops, sips of water) during take off and landing to avoid ear pressure. I always carry a set of these Kids Earplane Ear Plugs in case the pressure is too intense but haven’t had to use them yet.
- Bring new toys to keep them entertained when they start getting bored.
- Bring an iPad or tablet with games, favorite TV show (ours is Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood) or a movie. We use this as a last resort and thankfully we’ve only had to use it once. I also brought these headphones in case a stranger sat next to us and didn’t want to listen to kiddie cartoons.
- Bring food (lots of snacks).
- Bring extra clothes for your kid, for you and enough diapers to get you through 2 days (in case your luggage gets lost).
- If possible, book your flight during nap time.
- Take advantage of all the cool things they can see on the plane.
Now into more details…
Make flying fun! My daughter was fascinated by the plane. All the lights and tiny windows. I made sure we got a window seat so she was able to see the take off and landing. This kept her busy for a long time looking at the window, fascinated at she was seeing. She also loved looking at the magazines and the safety brochure and pressing the buttons on the TV in front on the seat. Take advantage of all the things around you before you start taking out toys or your tablet.
When flying with a younger child you are allowed to bring pretty much anything your kid will need during the flight. Check out the TSA site for more info. I even brought a sippy full of water and didn’t have any issues with security. So after finding this out I decided to bring my own food and snacks. This is what I did…
Since most of the food you buy on an airplane sucks I always make sure I bring enough food and snacks for my daughter during all our flights. Yes, this means my carry-on looks like a portable restaurant! To avoid having spoiled food I followed a friend’s advice: I prepare a meal the night before (I always make organic chicken with organic veggies) and leave it in the fridge overnight. I bring a few empty ziploc bags and once I go through security I ask for ice in any airport restaurant or to the flight attendant during the flight. I fill up 2 ziploc bags with ice and put them around my daughter’s meal. If the flight is very long you can always get more ice to make sure the food doesn’t spoil.
I also bring snacks for my daughter and if we’re taking a short flight I usually don’t bring a meal, just snacks.
Snacks I bring:
- Organic Fruits (usually berries and a peach or apple)
- Organic Apple Chips
- Just Fruit Salad (freeze dried fruit)
- Happy Yogis Organic Yogurt Snacks
- 2 food pouches (since we don’t use these often I just go to Whole Foods and pick 2 of the ones that are made with veggies)
- Nuts: so far she’s only had cashews or almonds
I brought different toys each time: new toys she’s never seen before and a few of her favorite toys. These are toys she usually plays with during our travel days and also on the flight back. I don’t get new toys for the flight back.
I’m going to list the toys I brought when flying since I was hoping to find a list like this when I was researching about flying with my kid. I’ll update this list after every flight.
- Jellycat Jungly Tails Book
- Munchkin Traveling Flash Cards
- Fisher-Price Travel Doodler Pro, Purple
- Finger puppets
- Melissa & Doug Slide and Seek Safari
16 months & 18 months:
- Mr. Potato Head
- Crayola Color Wonder 10 Mini Markers (this is a must if you don’t want your kiddo’s drawings on the airplane wall and tray)
- Crayola Color Wonder Drawing Paper
- finger puppets
- 2 little stuffed animals: a bunny & a zebra
She loved these toys and since our flights are just 2 months apart I put the toys away after we got back and will take them out again when we fly in July.
One last thing…
A baby carrier is a must for me. I had one particular flight where my daughter was tired but didn’t want to sleep because she was too excited. I put her in the carrier and sway side to side for a few minutes and she was out.
Do you travel with your kids? Any tips? Is the a must-have toy you recommend for flights?
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. By buying from these links I will get a very small commission (without this affecting the price you pay for the item) – you can see it as a contribution to help keep my blog running. Thanks! 🙂