Flying with a baby or a toddler doesn’t have to be a scary experience. Annabelle took her first flight at just a few months old. Before our trip, I reached out to my friends for tips for flying with a baby. The advice I received saved us from an epic meltdown on numerous flights. Now that our baby is a toddler, I’ve had to switch up the rules of the game. Here are ten tips for flying with a toddler that you will want to put in your back pocket before your next flight.
1. Attempt to nurse on takeoff and landing – if she refuses (or doesn’t nurse), encourage use of pacifier or sippy cup.
2. Umbrella strollers are your friend. Wearing a baby after a certain age can become dangerous to the wellness of your back. Find a good umbrella stroller that’s a great height and you can fold and open with only one hand. We bought a cute Ladybug stroller from Target that was on the short side and the wheels gave out after three uses – it was only $15. We upgraded to a $29 lightweight stroller from Target (that I can’t find online).
3. Backpacks are also your friend. Invest in a durable backpack for flying with your toddler. It is near impossible to rangle a little one, stroller, and roller bag/tote bag through an airport on your own, so buy something you like. My Under Armour Backpack has survived 8 flight, 2 roadtrips, and countless outings so far. It is spacious, with many pockets to hide snacks and toys, easily adjustable for when B comes along, comfortable, and feels weightless even when its loaded down with supplies. Since I fly a lot solo with A, my trusty backpack and I have become BFF.
4. Bring lots and lots of food. I pack all of Annabelle’s favorite snacks in Ziploc bags and hide them throughout my backpack. Since she is dairy free, I don’t trust the airport shop snacks. Peanut butter crackers, Veggie Sticks, Chex Mix, Annie’s Gummy Bunnies, Plum P0uches, Cheerios, Annie’s Chocolate Chip Granola Bars, and more, can be found in my bag. I also bring a sippy cup and my own juice boxes. Security NEVER gives me a problem when I bring my own drinks on board. OH – always have a super secret snack. My super secret snack trick is a little piece of dairy free chocolate that I only pull that out in case of an emergency.
5. A seemingly endless supply of toys. Not only do we travel with an iPad stocked full of Sesame Street, Peppa the Pig, and Baby (herself) videos, but I also bring a variety of non-electronic toys. Books, stickers, a mini pad of paper, crayons/markers, baby dolls, tiny cars, squishy balls, and a tube of chapstick are some of Annabelle’s favorite toys.
6. Sanitizing Wipes. There was once a time when I wiped down the entire area on the plane as soon as we arrived in our seat. Now, I might use the wipes for the window (if she is trying to lick it) and the tray if I am feeling ambitious. I really bring the wipes for emergencies – sticky fingers or BARF. Yes, Annabelle threw up on takeoff last month. All over her poor Daddy. The Purell Wipes worked wonders cleaning up her vomit.
7. Two or Three Sets of Clothing. Now that Annabelle got sick on the plane once and also spent her bedtime waiting to board a plane, I bring an extra outfit and a pair of jammies. I don’t usually pack clothes for myself because of a limited amount of room in the backpack, but since A threw up on her Dad, I will find a way to pack a change of clothes for emergencies.
8. Extra Birth Certificate – if your child is under two. It’s always smart to bring two birth certificates in case you lose one in your travels! If your child is under two and doesn’t have their own seat, TSA requires proof of age.
9. Thin Blanket and Spare Lovie. Since Annabelle loves to drag her Bunny and Paci all over kingdom come, I always have a spare bunny and paci in my backpack. There is nothing more gross than thinking about her rubbing her bunny on the bathroom floor and then snuggling up with it on the plane. Also, it can get chilly on the plane so I never leave without a thin blanket.
10. A trusty traveling outfit. I learned quickly that trying to look stylish while traveling with a toddler can be extremely difficult. I’ve developed guidelines for my trusty traveling outfit, ensuring it is always comfortable, versatile, and can be reused when you reach your destination.