13 answers

Advice on Flying with a 1 Yr Old

I am taking hops back to the states next month with my 3 yr old and 14 mo old by myself, and I'd like some advice on entertainment for the 1 yr old. I've flown with them by myself before, but the baby was younger, and was pretty much content to just sit in her infant carrier. Now I'm not really sure how to keep her happy and entertained on such a long flight.
Also, thoughts on bringing the forward facing carseat on the plane with me. I don't really want to have extra things to lug onto the airplane, but I also wonder if it would be easier to have her strapped into her carseat rather than the little lap belt on the airplane seat. Easier with or without the carseat?
Thanks in advance for any thoughts, tips and advice. This is our first overseas assignment, so I'm still new to this international travel with babies!

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I would not bring the carseat, but it really depends on your child. Mine wouldn't sit in the carseat for such a long flight and then you lose the room. If you do want to bring it, there is a piece of gear called the Go Go Kidz Travelmate which puts wheels and a restractable handle on your carseat so you can get it through the airport easier. I think you are better off checking the carseats and bringing your stroller with you through the airport.

Bring lots of snacks and a few small toys. Bring an extra set of clothes. I like to bring pjs as the extra set and change them into them when they dim the cabin lights to get them in the mood for sleeping. Hopefully, you'll get them to sleep for a good portion of the flight.

I traveled with my 2 1/2 year old and 4 year old over Christmas by myself this year and decided for little ones, a car seat is the way to go. They can't get out. It is MUCH safer for them in case of some air emergency, and it is more comfortable for them to sleep in (which every mom hopes they will do on the plane). To make it easier, I bought these great wheels to attach to my carseat so I could strap my kids in, pull up the handles, and walk through the airport pulling them just like you would pull a suitcase. They loved their "rocket seats" and so did I. Try gogobabyz.com for the wheels. Worth every penny I paid to get it here on time.

On my international flights I could actually roll the car seat down the aisle (but on domestic flights the aisle was too narrow). On one flight, my little one was asleep when we landed so I asked a strong man sitting near me to just carry him out in his car seat, it was great and he didn't wake up. I just rolled him through to baggage claim.

I also took empty water bottles with a sports top/straw top with me so we could refill with water along the way. That was much easier than trying to get either of my kids to use a regular cup while bumping up and down on the plane.

Take snacks you know they will love in case the food is not edible.

And get creative on activities. We went through a lot of pipe cleaners making animals and bracelets and buildings... they are light weight and can be reused, so they are a great option. playdough was too messy, i thought. legos are good, but expect to be on the floor often trying to retrieve them. little plastic animals were a big hit. i doled them out along the way.

If I had been more organized, I would have wrapped each of their travel toys individually to make it even more fun to open. For me, the biggest thing was how can I fill the next five minutes. A present wrapped wtih lots of tape takes more time than just a toy, so I am all about the delay.

Hope some of this helps. Good luck!


I've traveled with kids the same ages on overseas flights a couple different times alone. When my little guy was 15 months, I was really worried about the flights. Lucky for us he slept all but two hours of the twelve hour flight. For the two hours, we entertained him with food (crackers, fruit snacks, cheese, grapes, gogurts) and small activities like lightup toys, cars, coloring, and an occational stroll around the plane...just to get the wiggles out! My then three year old was more of a handful than my one year old...we made her a bed on the floor at my feet so she could sleep...but whenever she had to go to the bathroom, I was always nervous to leave my one year old asleep on the seat without me there (he could roll off - but I wouldn't deal with a carseat on the flight...I have enough baggage to carry around an airport without that...and my kids sleep SOOO much better laying flat than sitting in a seat) Good luck!

flying with a forward facing carseat would be more comfy for your daughter but not so much for you. if you don't have any other big items to lug with you then you can manage. my twins did not like walking so I had to carry one of them and then lug the carseat, luckily my husband was with me because I wouldn't have made it with 2 one year old's and 2 carseats plus a daiper bag. Good Luck!

Definately recommend taking your car seat.. It is a pain but it saved me on our flight to Germany when my daughter was 2.They are use to it and understand they are to be in it, the seatbelt only makes them think they have more freedom..Stressed me out way more without it.I recommend suckers for the take off and landing so the ears will not bother them. As for entertainment i grab a portable DVD and played all of very entertaining movies Baby Einstein was a huge success.Soothing and fun for them. Clay was good because its not messy like playdoe and puppets we did a little puppet show..Some ideas.. I travel alot so i always have to find new ones.. Good luck S. A

I know the extra to carry is a pain, but in the long run it's better to have the car seat. First, the baby will be more comfortable and will likely sit still longer when comfortable. Second, it is the safest thing for the baby in any mode of transportation.
As for entertainment, what does the baby like to do now? Bring that with you on a small scale. Also, make sure whatever you bring it's OK of it all doesn't make it home with you. Mainly, I let my walkers get up and, attended by me, walk a loop around the plane. As long as the attendants weren't passing out food or drinks walking was fair game whenever they wanted it. It's easier to get up and follow them around than it is to get an upset baby to calm down.
I have friends that keep some Benedryl on hand to induce sleepiness. I never had to do this, but it's a decent back-up plan.
Have a good flight!

Hi J. - I would say it depends on how active your 1 year old is. My son (now 15 months) is quite active and really does not enjoy sitting on our laps with the belts, even for short flights. Lugging the car seats around is a pain, but if you have the option to bring them and each child will have a seat on the flight, I would highly recommend bringing them. It's also safer, in my opinion, to have them strapped in a car seat vs. having to hold on to them yourself in case of turbulance.

Especially on a longer flight, I think you'll also be grateful when your little one is strapped in and sleeping, and you are able to eat, read, etc. without a little squirmer in your lap!

Have a great flight!

Hi J.,

I'm a mom of four (9, 7, 3 & 1) and we've traveled a lot with them, mostly to our overseas stations. What I've learned about traveling with them and their ages is that if you know there is something they enjoy like drawing, play doh, a certain character show, then bring those. Because flights and airport delays can be so long traveling overseas...anything will help. We brought a portable dvd player and other things like coloring books, play doh, etc. as well as snacks. If you are flying space-a stock up on snacks because unless you buy a box lunch from the crew, there is really nothing else that you get.

I would recommend bringing the car seat because it's familiar and they are strapped in properly. I noticed that my little ones slept longer and better in them and didn't squirm around compared to when we allowed our 3 year old to just sit in the airplane seat. When she did...she wanted to get up and a few other things.

I hope something I've mentioned helps in some way. I wish you the best on your trip and know that traveling with children is always hard and stressful. Just think that after you get to where you're going, it'll be and was worth it. Take care and have a great day.


I am also at Incirlik and have taken numerous flights with our toddler (now almost 3). The flights have been better for us WITH the carseat (I experimented without the carseat and it was not my favorite). True, it is a pain to lug everything around, but it is worth it to have her strapped into the carseat (which is more comfortable to her little body than the big plane seat). Also, it keeps her from crawling all over me. I would take her out and put her on my lap sometimes, but it was so nice to have the option to then put her in her own space. Then, when we are in line, I put her carseat on the floor next to me and she can sit down while we wait (or strap her dolls into it for play).

As far as entertainment goes, I pack a few small new toys that she has never seen before (a small pony with a brush, a sticker book, a coloring book,etc.). For the one year old, I would take one of those toys that you can hang on a carseat that pull down and vibrate. Do you know what I am talking about? They are plush animals with long legs and arms, and when a baby pulls the arm or leg down, then it vibrates for a few seconds. When my daughter was young, I would just keep pulling on the toy, with it vibrating and it would help her fall asleep (especially on long car trips). I think they have them at the BX (if not, you are welcome to come borrow mine!) Little snacks also provided a nice distraction from crying. Good luck! Feel free to call for other ideas. -5156 Julianna

My advice is to take the carseat. It is more comfortable for the little one and it is also familiar to them. I took my little ones carseat until she was three. The child can sleep in their seat and they are used to it. A regular seat may be more uncomfortable and if she figures out how to unbuckle the belt then that can be a major difficulty for you. The seats are heavy and more difficult to carry but I think the benefits for you are much better. Take lots of little snacks for her and her own cup or bottle. That should help.

Hi! I have flown home on a HOP from overseas to the states. I flew with a 7 year old, 3 year old, and an 20 month old. From what I remember, it was required for my youngest to use a carseat on the flight. She slept some of the time and she ate some of the time. I took some of my girls favorite snacks with us, plus I bought the box lunches that were available to purchase. I tried to take as little as I could, but that is hard traveling with small children. We were lucky, we flew on a c-17 which wasn't hauling any cargo, so we had the whole plane open to spead out in after we hit altitude. The crew gave out blankets and little pillows. The kids on the flight had room to streatch out and walk around when they needed to, unlike on commercial flights. I plugged a portable DVD player into the wall and the older kids watched a movie on a blanket on the floor. I personnally found it to be a lot less stressful than any other flight I had taken with my kids. We also got to go visit the cockpit and meet the pilots. We flew from Mildenhall, UK to Mc Guire AFB in New Jersey. My advice is to travel as light as possible and ship anything extra before you leave or have a friend do it for you. Take a few of her favorite toys or buy a small new one that she's not familiar with so it might occupy her longer. Good luck with your travels!!

Hi, I've flown overseas 4 times so far with my 2 little ones. I do believe if you have one under 2 years old they have to be in a car seat on a military flight. Also, from experience, use the car seat! She will get restless & with the freedom of just the seatbelt, will want to get down & play, etc... Our flight was only 5 1/2 to 6 hours from the Azores, so I'm sure yours is much longer. Mine was fine as long as she was in her car seat, but as soon as I took her out to change her diaper, she was squirming & fighting to get down. We tried a portable DVD player & on the flight neither girl wanted anything to do with it. Maybe if I would have had a new dvd for them to watch they would have. So the next flight we got a small bag of surprise toys that they could have once on the plane. (and snacks!!) Color Wonders are great for flights, they can't mark up the seats! You can get one of those little suitcase "dollies", I forget what they're called, but it might help with lugging the car seat. 2 of my trips I traveled alone with them (ages 13 mo & 3 at the time), I checked in one car seat & took the other one on the plane, since I needed both car seats while on vacation. The last time we traveled, it took 2 days & 4 flights from the Azores to our new base so I bought the girls each a Trunki suitcase (they fit in the overhead compartment) because it has wheels & a strap. They can scoot themselves through the airport or you can pull them. (www.trunki.com, there are other websites that sell them that will ship to APO) I hope this helps!



Our first overseas flight with my son was when he was 15 mos old. So, he was a little older and was entertained by Baby Einsteins and Thomas the Train videos. Of course we had a few new toys and we are fortunate b/c he's always likes books. So, we had a few new books to help as well. As for the carseat, we took our forward facing seat onto the plane. This was a problem b/c the tray would not come all the way down with him "boosted". His toys, food, etc would roll off the tray. We ended up asking the flight attendant to find a place for it, which seemed to be an imposition to her. Therefore, we have never taken it aboard since.

Good luck!

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