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How to Survive a 13 Hour Plane Trip with a 17 Month Old??

My husband and I are flying from West coast US to Australia next month with our 17 month old son. His favorite word is down and he is NOT a cuddler!!! I am starting to collect a few ideas on how to get through this flight (plus the 2 3-hour flights on either side of it). My pediatricians only advice was to not do it... this is not an option!! We will be there for 3 weeks and then have the same flight pattern home.

Has anyone been in the same spot? What about using benadryl or something to help him sleep? (mind you, I am NOT a fan of drugging my child. I would rather wait out a fever than give him anything.) Is there anything I should ask the airline before or when we get there??

We did not get him a seat and unless someone would like to send us $1200 for one, will just hope that there is an extra one!! =)

Any advice would help. He is not a fan of typical snack foods like gold fish or animal crackers... Dont know what his problem is - even I like them!! So maybe some new and interesting snack food ideas?

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So What Happened?™

Keep the advice coming!!

Wow! Thanks everyone for your advice! I started a list and have one compiled from all of your ideas plus some of mine. I REALLY appreciate your thoughts.

Looks like there are about 4 people who suggested getting a seat: thats, what $300 from each?? I'll let you know where to send the money ;-) Just kidding. I think keeping things in perspective is the best advice that most people agreed upon: Everyone on that plane was once a child. The flight will end. Take it in small chunks.

Check back in a month or so - if I remember, I will let you all know how it went!!
Thanks again!

We made it!!
Benadryl did work wonders. I hated giving it to him, but as he only slept for an hour and then started tossing and turning and fussing, it seemed the only option. May I highly recommend Air New Zealand for any of your overseas travels... they made accommodation for us to either have the bassinet or an extra seat. My 30lb 18 month old far exceeded the weight and height allowances and so they moved us to an empty row on the way there and on the way back, they did a 4 or 5 person switcharoo and gave us another whole row!

The toys were great, so was the itouch with lots of apps. Tip, even if your child is not interested in the TV at home (as the passengers with a 15 month old claimed), the little screen on the airplane is different!!! They finally gave it a try and the little girl was happy for 45 minutes.
Snacks were our best friend. He ate a pack of yogurt melts in about 30 minutes.

End result??
We would do it again!

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well, I was with you until you said you didn't get him a seat. for flights with my son (starting around 15 months) I found having him in a car seat works the best. He knows the rules of a car seat - and knows he has to sit in it. I haven't taken as long of a flight as you have, but the time we didn't get him a seat - was MISERABLE. It was not worth the savings. He is a squirmy, active little kid. those airline seats are TINY. To cram the three of you into 2 seats is asking too much!

you're going to regret that choice... and I know it's too much money. but it will make the flight more barable, manageable and pleasant for everyone if you get him a seat.

Otherwise, I'm with the doctor. don't go.

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Oh dear. I just must say that you are very brave and very dedicated! ;) Seriously, though...good for you, you ahve to do what you have to do and I bet it will be better than what you think!

I don't really have a ton of advice for on the plane...he probably isn't really into TV yet being so young (I feel like right at 2 is when it hits) so a portable DVD player may not really be that good of an option. I would say take a ton of books and games, travel magnadoodles, race cars and wind up toys he can play with on the tray table are all good options. Buy a bunch of stuff that's kind a cheap or start hiding some stuff he already has so that all the toys you use will be new and exciting. Another option is an electronic type book...I think Fisher Price or something makes it and my daughter LOVED them. You can find them at any toy store or Target and they have really big plastic pages and it sings songs and lights up, they're pretty cool. Has he ever flown before? It's possible the white noise may make him fall asleep for a while. Also get a cup of ice from the flight attendant...you'll be surprised how entertaining that is!

As far as snacks...what about granola bars, cereal bars or yogurt covered pretzels. Whole Foods sells freeze dried fruit that my daughter loves. They come in all varities and they are actually very healthy for you. They aren't sticky or anything and they're easy to travel with b/c they're dried and won't spoil. You could also maybe do some mini muffins or banana bread cut into slices. The Glad Press and Seal wrap is amazing so if you make some thing ahead of time you can store them in this wrap and it will keep things fresh and stop things from leaking.

Lastly, a good tip I got from another mom was to take some balloons to the airport with you. Blow it up and let him go crazy while waiting to board the plane. It will keep him occupied and active plus other kids can play too. Before you get on the plane just throw it out or give it away!
Good luck! I hope there's an extra seat!

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I'm sorry to hear you didn't get him a seat. Those flights are usually PACKED (I travel to Japan with my 3 kids every few years and have lots and lots of experience with those long flights, they have not had ANY extra seats for the last 10yrs or so because they all code-share now and pack 'em in like sardines) and that age is the absolute worst at sitting quietly on the flight. I've flown more times than I can count and the worst flight I ever took was one from Japan to Calif with my 18month old on my lap. That was over 10 years ago and I still can't erase the terrible memories of that flight. You won't be able to put down your tray table to eat because your child will be on your lap. You will not be able to read a book. They squirm and squirm and squirm. You can't reason with them at that age. You can't bribe them with treats for good behavior. They don't care that the people around them are trying to sleep (because at some point it will be an overnight flight) and will yell or cry when they realize they can't run up and down the aisles over and over and over and over. Of course, those are all just inconveniences. The most compelling argument for getting them their own seat is this: my good friend, a flight attendant, has seen children literally flying through the air during bad turbulence and air pockets and hit their heads or get otherwise injured. You are not allowed to put your seatbelt around your child. Your child is being held in your lap with only the strength of your arms. Trust me, when the airplane hits an air pocket and drops unexpectedly, you will not have the strength to keep your child secure. Honestly, I don't even know why airplanes allow lap children. Flights are expensive, true, but my childrens' safety would be worth the extra $1200. So my one piece of advice for you: if it's not too late, get your child his own seat. Good luck!

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I would definitely support the idea of heavy medication--for YOU! LOL
Seriously, take some books, small quiet toys and snacks that you know he likes....and PRAY for an empty seat.
Can you take a portable DVD player with you? Or at least rent a movie on-plane for him to watch?

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Hopefully there will be an extra seat on the plane. That would be the best option, especially if he is not a cuddler. That way when you get exhausted fro holding and struggling with him you can at least strap him into his seat/carseat and he might sleep better. I've always had a seat for my babies on the plane because I'm a nervous flyer to begin with and I need my hands free.
You could try Benadryl if you already know the reaction it will have on your child. My son's Dr. told me that Benadryl could make a child sleepy or it could have the opposite effect. It never had any effect on my children at all.
You might try a late flight that way he may sleep half the way or make sure he does not take a nap before you leave.

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A., You will need to pack a lot of patience for the flight. Try getting a seat in the front like a bassinet row non-bassinet seat and take a light blanket with you. In case your son starts to fuss, pull out the blanket and let him play on it by your feet. This will only work in the front row seats. Also, carry some new toys, magic slate, play-dough, some books that you think will entertain him on the flight. I recently flew alone to and from India with my 15 month old who had just learnt to walk. And walk around the plane she did, but only during the second half of the journey. She slept like a baby in the first half maybe due to the white noise.
Your husband and you can take turns eating since it is a hassle to eat with a toddler on your lap.
Don't worry. Take it 1 hour at a time, before you know it, it will be over.
Good Luck!

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I haven't done a trip quite that long, but when our son was 18 months we did about 12 hrs on a plane. Here's my advice--at least try benadryl before you leave and see what effect it has on him. My son did NOT nap when there was anything interesting going on, so it was really helpful in getting him to at least rest for a short period (he is such a light sleeper that it only helps him sleep for about 45 minutes)...so, I am always prepared to not have him nap while we are in route without some "help."

Before our big trip my husband reminded me that we are going to get on the plane, they will shut the door and then no matter how awful the flight is--the doors will open and we'll be there--that always really helped me in my mental processing. It was like I needed to be reminded that no one was going to "turn the plane around" if our son was a pill.

I will say we've done quite a number of cross-country trips with our son and this is the hardest age--but the things that helped us at that age were the little finger puppets from ikea and "gerber fruit treats" or something like that (we typically would never buy stuff like this, but it was an ace in the hole for us). We also would put ourselves on 2 hr shifts--so that one parent could rest or gather his/her thoughts while the other was "on" although we weren't strict about this. I would suggest an aisle seat--our son didn't care about looking out the window at that age, but we did a lot of aisle hiking (also not a cuddler in the least). The hardest part was take off and landing because we had to hold him.

Overall, our flights went surprisingly well--I think it's because compared to the "worst case scenario" we had in our minds it could only get better. You guys will be fine and then you'll be in Australia! Your ped. just doesn't have a sense of adventure--once you do this you'll feel like you can take you kid anywhere and that is such a wonderful feeling.

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Good luck. Remember a few things - 13 hr trips are tough for all of us. He will get upset sometimes... just breathe and try to relax. He will also sleep some of the time : ). My kids don't get sleepy from benedryl, it actually makes my daughter hyper, so be sure that you know his reaction to it first. Bring NEW toys to distract him when you need to. I found lolipops to be great for the ears and take a while to eat - somewhat calming. Enjoy the trip!

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Wow yuck. I fly from Portland to all over the west coast with my 17 month old son and don't look forward to it... ever.
I would say pack a toy bag and a snack bag. Coloring books can keep them entertained for awhile, so can zippers or picture books.
You can always ask the flight attendant for a cup of ice- that usually works at keeping a cranky babe happy for at least half an hour or hour.
Also take full advantage of letting them get up and walk up and down the plain at least once an hour. Long flights are horrible for children, but at least if they can walk up and down the isle they'll find fun people to "chat" up or flirt with. :)
Also the tv/movie would can be a savior.
If none of this works, I would advise switching parents every half hour or so- so that you each get a little tiny break while the other one handles your son. Pray for happy/easy going neighbors- they can make all the difference in the world.
Good luck!

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Well I have never done a 13 hour flight with my kids but I have done plenty of flying with them so here is what I do. Fist I buy all new toys. Like new books, toys that make noise, puzzles, paper, crayons and stickers, leggos etc. Really anything new will help to keep him busy. also bring a DVD player. I know he is young and probably not too into movies yet but my daughter who is 16 months loves the Baby Einstein videos as long as it's the animal ones like Old Mcdonald or Neighborhood animals. As for snacks bring whatever he may like. I even bring a bag of marshmallows, suckers and cookies. I know that's not healthy but it always keeps a tantrum from starting on the plane. So I save those for that moment when you might pull your hair out. lol. Benadryl can work and can help to make him take a longer nap than usual while on the plane but you need to test it on him first before you fly. It makes some kids super hyper instead of sleepy. The biggest thing is bring a verity of toys and snacks. I bet he will do better than you think I know during one flight I just got up and walked up and down the isle with my daughter just to get her out of the seat. She liked it and lost of people were smiling and waving at her which she loved. You will get though it just stay positive.

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My daughter was about your son's age last time we flew to Europe.
I took plenty of new knick/knacks and toys, drinks, snack food (take whatever he likes, not the time to try something new and fail...). My daughter for eample likes cheese for a snack, so I took a little insulated bag, froze one of the drink backs and that kept it cold for hours.
She was allowed to watch a lot of TV on the flight (very limited at home) and did sleep a bunch.

I do have to advise against drugging your child. My daughter took Benadryl per prescription once, it knocked her our alright, but when it wore off she was CRANKY.

You will survive....
Have fun!

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Hi there: we took our 13-months old daughter on a trip to Germany last year (it was a 10-hour flight, followed by a 2-hour flight on the way there and an 11-hour flight back). Our trip to Germany was ok, because it was an overnight flight and she slept quite a bit. I let her walk the aisles a little bit, and in the morning she even went and visited the flight attendants in the kitchen (she's an explorer). The way back was much more difficult, because it was during the day. She basically cried until she fell asleep, woke up and cried again. It was very exhausting to all of us. In a couple of weeks we're flying back to Germany (this time she's 2 and we have a 2-months old baby), and I'll definitely take Benadryl with me. I am very much against drugging as well, but this is a one-time incident, and for our and the other passengers' sanity's sake, I'll at least want to be prepared should she act out again. There will be movies in the plane, in case he likes that, and most of the times the flight attendants will give out toys as well. Bring books, his favorite stuffed animal (or whatever he uses to soothe himself), and maybe a couple of toys. It might help if you buy some new, cheap toys for him, so they are a novelty to him and keep him occupied longer than his own toys. Good luck and have a good flight!

We just flew a 4 hour flight w/ our 17 month old and it went great! We brought a few toys she'd never seen before and some new books and we dosed her up with homeopathic teething drops (I especially like Natra-bio teething remedy)....she has a special cuddly blankie that helped her a lot and she is a cuddler though, so...good luck! Just don't let other people on the plane make you feel bad---hopefully they will remember that they were kids too at one point!


We just took a 4 hour plane ride (2 hour layover), then another 2 hour plane ride w/ our 17 month old and it went great. We bought some new toys and books and didn't give them to her until we were in flight and needing distraction. She has a special "blankie" that she likes, so that was helpful for comforting her and getting her to take naps on me or her dad. We brought all our own snacks and a good variety of things for her to nibble on. She was really entertained just being on the plane and playing with the window shade and rustling through the magazines.

We did dose her pretty well with Natra-Bio teething drops as well. They are homeopathic and the best I've ever tried. She was calm, cool and content to sit on our laps. We were so glad we didn't buy a seat for her...she probably would've sat in it, but was just as comfy in our laps. Since you're taking an international flight, the plane will probably be one of those big jumbo jets with the 5 seats in the middle, you could walk him around and do "laps" in the plane.

And lastly, ignore the hard looks from people who don't have kids. Hopefully, they will remember that they too once were children.


I have done this many times, and it always goes better than you expect it too :). I am a military wife and we have been stationed overseas for the past 12 years, so every other year we make the long flight home. The only thing I can recommend that makes it more comfortable is to call 24 hours in advance if they will let you, or at check in if not, and ask for a bulk head seat. These are the seats at the front of the rows and you have so much more room to move and to let the child stand in front of you and move a little. I have hated any flight I was on with a lap infant were I could not get a bulk head seat simply because the rows are so cramped.

Best of luck

Benadryl can actually make your child hyper or cause what they call "night terrors" if they wake up while still under its influence, so my pediatrician and a friend who is a pediatrician do not recommend using it for long flights. If you're determined to use it, be sure to test it at home some night before your trip (not the night before you leave, but a few days before) to see how effective it is. We have found that simple Tylenol on long flights makes our son drowsey and we've used it for flights to Hawaii (5 1/2 hours) with success.

If your little one is wiggly here's some things that have worked for us (we've gone to Hawaii 1x-2x a year every year since our son was tiny):
-Lots of aisle walks with him walking and you following. People are usually pretty friendly and won't mind as long as your child is being cute and not disruptive during these walks. The walks will be good for you too!
-Bring many many of his favorite snacks and pull them out strategically throughout the flight (don't let him see them all at once). If he doesn't like snack foods per se, bring cut up fruit, cheese, avocado, shelled edamame in a little cooler bag. You can get ice after you go through security and put in a bag (we always ask the girls at Starbucks). Trader Joes makes these awesome freeze dried bananas that melt in your mouth that our son loves and they're not messy.
-Bring a couple of his favorite cuddly toys (obvious suggestion) and blanket.
-Wrap several new little toys/books/games and let him open them throughout the flight at strategic times. These should be new - not toys they've seen before. Be sure to plan for this on the way back and keep them a surprise. I suggest things that don't make a ton of noise and cannot be thrown any great distance. Stickers work great, or balls that squish/light up and are tied to a string so they can still throw them but you can retrieve easily.
-If your child will sit and watch DVDs, bring a portable DVD player and don't feel at all guilty letting him watch DVDs.
-Tag team: Let your husband take an hour and you take an hour (if your child will allow) so that each of you get a break to recharge your energy for entertaining!
-Buy a seat for you child so you have enough space, or check in early and ask if there's any extra seats so you can have more space to spread out. If desk person can't help, ask flight attendent when you board. You'd be surprized how accomodating flight attendents can be since they don't want your kid screaming the whole way either.
-And finally, get some really good rest before the trip. This is for you and your partner! It will be a long long trip, so be sure to take care of yourself - eat, and drink water so you can better take care of your little person.

My final questions is this: Do you really need to take this trip now? Can you wait and take the trip when your child is happy to sit and watch DVDs? I'm half serious - but sometimes its not worth it to subject your child (or yourself) to this kind of trip. If you're going to see family, ask them to visit you :)

Good luck!

You've gotten great advice, so I'll only add this: pack multiple pairs of earplugs. If your little one simply can't hold it together and other passengers start to shoot glares (and don't let this bother you, btw) - offer them a set of earplugs.

I have flown a lot with my kids (now 4.5 and 15 months) - at least monthly with the 4.5 year old, until the baby was born. And we took them both on an international flight last summer at 3.5 and 5 months...not the same as 17 months...I don't buy a seat for the baby, but she is a mover and having just come home on a 4 hour flight - I was thrilled that there was an empty seat and that I had the carseat from my older child. So, while you say buying a seat is out, I would consider it for your sake, for your son's sake, and for the sake of the other passengers. There is something comforting to the child about being in their own carseat. If you absolutely can not buy a seat (I understand it is expensive....but you should consider your child's wellbeing - he is not asking to fly on a this long flight...) I would recommend getting a front baby carrier (like the Ergo) so that your arms can have a break - that's a long time to be holding a 17 month old!)

Things to do on a plane...get the sponge capsules that grow when put in hot water (obviously you need to do this carefully, but you can get hot water from the flight attendant and watch them grow). Crayola makes a watercolor "marker" set - you dip the white marker into little pods and all you need is a cup of water to clean it off. Wickey Sticks are great to play with, little cars, I have never used one, but a dvd player/computer with dvd player (although battery life of either probably won't last the entire flight - there are probably movies on the plane too), little figurines, books, coloring books.

As for snacks...freeze dried fruits and veggies (Trader Joes makes fruits that are amazing, a brand called Just Veggies makes veggies and fruits - my 15 mo old LOVES them all), a little messy - but several companies make squeeze applesauce containers with a spout - just suck the sauce (or other mashed fruit) out, dried snap peas, cereal bars, cheese sticks, hard boiled egg, pumpkin bread, TJ has a rice ball snack that my kids love...

I have never taken a plane trip that long, but I have taken several car trips that long. I am assuming some of the same ideas would be helpful in both situations.

First, I would buy some new inexpensive toys that he might like and keep them hidden from him. Buy a variety, puzzles, little games, stuffed animals, etc. Then bring them out one at a time during the flight. When he seems to get bored of one, put it away and bring out another one.

We always stop for breaks when we get gas. You obviously can't do this, but you can get up occasionally and walk to the bathroom and back. Let him walk and don't worry if he stops to look at stuff, unless he is bothering someone.

We also have a portable dvd player. We try not to use it for the whole trip, but we'll let the kids watch a movie or two. I know the experts say not to let kids that age watch tv, but I think watching a movie to preserve everyone's sanity isn't going to permanently damage him at this age. :)

You could also use the same principle for snacks that I suggested for toys. Buy some new snacks. Put them in small packages and bring them out one at a time so it's a fun new adventure every time he gets hungry.

Good luck and enjoy your vacation!

Firstly, I don't envy you! I completely understand about not being able to afford another seat, though. We took our son, then 22 months, home to Ireland for Christmas one year and it was a 10-hour flight and we were pretty nervous. I don't know how it happened, but even with a full flight we somehow ended up with a seat between us! It was heaven and he slept all night, no sleep aides required (not a sleeper, so I was looking for drugs to help him out, too, though also not a big fan of drugging!). But what you can do is ask for the bulk head seat or the seats just behind first class. We had those seats coming home and it was a god-send. I put a blanket over my legs, rested my feet on the wall and called it a fort and my extremely rambunctious and incredibly social son played under my legs for two hours by himself!!

A few things I would recommend. Firstly, we flew American Airlines home (I will never fly with them again) and one of their stewards was soooo rude to us and kept asking if our son was really under 2 (like they don't check everywhere!). When I asked him if he would like to see his passport, he declined and walked away. Anyway, he refused to give our son any of the airline meals (on an 8-hour flight!!!). Since we had gotten to the Dublin airport extremely early, there wasn't much open, let alone there for our son to eat so I just assumed he would eat on the airlines. Disaster. I was told only customers with seats get meals and that we would have to give him some of ours. They are small enough anyway, and I was 10 weeks pregnant with twins at the time and so incredibly hungry. We waited until the end of the meal serving and did end up getting an extra one, but seriously, he was not going to feed our son otherwise!! That said, make sure you bring a looot of food he likes (bagels and cream cheese? Sandwiches? Yogurt? Fruit? Even chips or raisins or whatever - you can buy all of this in the airport in Seattle, but I've never been to the airport in Portland). Just carry everything that he likes and extra! The airline security (even the crappy ones in Seattle) are usually pretty good about letting us through with even full bottles for our babies, etc. Also buy water or other drinks as it can take forever for the cart to come through...

Pack at least two changes of clothes and lots of extra diapers and even a shirt change for you and your husband (no sippy cups or lids on the airlines and close quarters so drinks can fly in your face pretty quickly!) If you have one, bring a portable DVD player, especially if you have a long layover or long wait in the airport (I'm assuming he'll watch cartoons, but maybe not...). Bring kid-friendly earphones (a lot of flights are switching to earbuds and they're too big for the kids ears!). If you're lucky, you'll get a flight with the individual screens, but it's always good to have a portable DVD player as a backup! Bring lots of toys to distract him with. I usually buy a few new toys for flying so that the novelty lasts longer.

Also, you might want to bring a favourite blanket or toy for nighttime and don't forget a couple of books to read to him when he's really bored and tired and cranky and needs winding down. A lot, I know, but what you can stuff into your bag can really make a difference! That said, I would use backpacks as carry-ons as this will leave your hands free. I usually travel with a small child-carrier, too as this can be very hand for getting on and off the plane (we have three small children, though, so with one you might be fine).

Some airports have family lines for going through security, so ask about those.

That's all I can think of for now! Have a great trip! For the record, I would totally do it - don't listen to your pediatrician (he/she may just not like travelling!).

Oh, and another snack idea - cereal bars. Very handy! You can get the softer ones like the nutribars, I think they're call... or whatever.

I have flown with my kids, 3 and 1 at the time, (granted not that far, but with several layovers). Really the only thing you can do is hope for the best and plan for the worst. Chances are you will find your self somewhere in the middle with bouts on either side. :)
Bought each kid a new "travel" backpack and filled it with new toys and activities. I remembered that my daughter (3) wanted this water-weiner thing from our local aquarium, so I picked that up for her...just things that I knew would "thrill" them. we also took our portable DVD player and bought some new movies (at the $5 bin in Walmart). Tons of snacks, whatever we thought they would eat and treats also. We did not get a seat for our son (1) and it was fine. We got lucky on the way back and had an empty seat!
Our son literally fell asleep as soon as the plane left the ground and slept until it landed each time. Something soothed him. Not that I think your son will sleep the entire 13 hour flight, but he might be more relaxed than you would expect. :)
Like I said, hope for the best and plan for the worst. Pack lots of things for hime to do and make sure you have snacks that he enjoys, even if you have to carry on an icebox!

You have gotten tons of advice so far. We just returned last week from a 12 1/2 hour flight from Rome to DC (delayed due to volcanic ash) and then three connections on smaller flights to get back to the West Coast and our home. We have two kids, one that turned two on the trip and a four year old. The two year old was on our lap on the way there but couldn't be on the way home because he turned two (thanks again to the volcano as originally we would have returned before his bday). Anyway, there is hope. He did great! You will probably have a tv in front of you as now every international flight we have been on does this now. Of course, if your son is like mine, he won't watch it more than 20 minutes at a time max. Other than the toys and books, crayons and things folks have mentioned we found a few things really useful. First, we had a Leapster 2 for the older boy (new for the trip) and while the little one was too little to actually play, he LOVED just pressing the buttons and listening to the sounds (with ear phones). Also, we put a few movies of our sons onto our I-phone and the younger one would watch that for a surprisingly long time. Also, we downloaded some of the free I-phone apps for younger games and he loved to sit and watch that or try to play. So if you have something like this it might work (in the past we have brought our DVD player, but this was way better).

As for snacks, I brought applesauce, cereal bars, fruit snacks...and the best of all - dum, dum lollipops for take off and landing! Remember, you can bring children's food items that are larger than the 3 oz liquid requirement. So if you want to bring milk or whatever you can.

Good luck! It can be done. Just be positive and remember, no one expects your child to be perfect.

well, I was with you until you said you didn't get him a seat. for flights with my son (starting around 15 months) I found having him in a car seat works the best. He knows the rules of a car seat - and knows he has to sit in it. I haven't taken as long of a flight as you have, but the time we didn't get him a seat - was MISERABLE. It was not worth the savings. He is a squirmy, active little kid. those airline seats are TINY. To cram the three of you into 2 seats is asking too much!

you're going to regret that choice... and I know it's too much money. but it will make the flight more barable, manageable and pleasant for everyone if you get him a seat.

Otherwise, I'm with the doctor. don't go.

I flew to London from Portland and back with my then-2-year-old last summer. It wasn't easy, but it was fine. I took a portable DVD player, extra battery, new and favorite DVDs, a huge selection of new, smaller toys to explore, and snacks. Having new toys for him to enjoy was a huge help. I just took them out one-by-one as he lost interest in the last one. I also tried to wrap them each up so that he would have the extra fun of unwrapping them. I bought toys with smaller parts that would be safe for unsupervised play and felt okay about it because 1) I needed to save space! and 2) I was right next to him every second of the flight. After our flight, they were good, transportable diversions at restaurants.

On Benadryl, it seems like you've received lots of advice, but I want to throw in my 2 cents too. I was very surprised that my pediatrician suggested Benadryl when we mentioned we were taking a long flight. He also suggested a safe dosing amount. I didn't use it because, for myself, I am not keen on giving it to young children. There are a lot of articles on why people are reconsidering using it and why it is no longer suggested by the FDA. The packaging no longer even provides a dosing amount. With that said, I have tried it when he had a severe cold, without any luck. It didn't make him sleepy. It didn't make him hyper. It didn't clear his congestion up. If you do use it, keep in mind that some kids get super hyper on it. One of my friends tried it for the first time on his son on a trip from Germany only to discover that it made him super hyper. My friend kindly suggested (as others have here) that if I chose to use it, I should try it a couple of times at home first.

Good luck!

(By the way, at the end of our flight, all of the adults seated around us complimented us on how extremely well behaved our son was. It didn't hurt that another couple let their 2-year-old run up and down the aisles the whole flight. So my suggestion is, try to pack an extra set of travelers with a really badly behaved child too! :-)

a 5 hour flight is long with an active kid (reeeaaaallllyyy looooooong) and that is a tough age. 12-15 mos much easier, 2 yrs, also much easier. i can't imagine an entire day w him on your lap- night would be easier but still tough. I went to AU years ago and it was really long (i was 32, in shape and sans kids, and i'm pretty mellow/even tempered). the flights were hot, boring, and crowded both ways.
Flights have been much more crowded in the last few years with all the cutbacks, and not getting an extra seat is a definitly possibility. you can probably look online and see how full the flight is. if it looks like it is filling up, I would buy the extra seat even at the extreme cost. That's less than 50 bucks an hour (divided out both ways) and my guess is by the third hour on the plane you would pay twice that.
with an extra seat between you a kid has space to squirm around, stand up, sit down, and annoy the people near you less. (keeping a child's arms and legs on your lap is really, really hard)

if you want to try benadryl, make sure to try it twice before you go to make sure your kid doesnt have any kind of reaction and that it does actually make him sleepy. occasionally, benadryl can have the opposite affect and you dont want to find that out on the plane!

good luck with your trip!

go to the local target or walmart and have your sone pick out a rolling backpack. it will store all his toys and entertainment and some of his snacks & will be 'his' carry-on.

I always pack:
empty sippy/spill proof adult cups
double the amount of diapers.
extra shirt for me.
extra, extra & different snacks.
children's ibruprophen.. chewable tablet. or very small liquid bottle.
extra bags!! ziploc,.groc sacks.. and a foldable extra bag - you will pack your carry-ons so tight it's nice to be able 'to take some things' out and not have to be constantly rearranging all flight.

Also .. I would like you to keep in mind.. it's your child's interest you are watching out for. don't let the 'looks' or hummph's and hah's get to you. if for example you have to sing to your son the whole way to keep him happy .. so be it.. your positive attitude will go a long way in the attitude of those you are sitting by.. but remember.. this advice should by chance their is a grump near by - you can smile and nod.. but don't feel like you need to over apologize..

enjoy your trip... have fun..

p.s.. lately flights charge for blankets and pillows.. so bring a cozy toddler blanket from home and use your extra sweater you'll likely bring as a pillow.

Get lots of cheap, new toys from walmart or the dollar store and bring them out throughout the trip. Also if your son will watch a movie I would say invest in one of the portable DVD players. Other than that get up and walk around a lot, visit with other passengers, bring whatever snacks he does seem to like (our son likes yogurt covered rasins if you want to try those). I just try to take every plane trip about 10 minutes at a time! And don't worry too much - it might be hard but you will all live through it and get to where you are going with lots of time to recover.

That's a hard one! The one advice another mom gave me once is masking tape. She said to bring a small roll and they could use it like stickers, wad it up, stick pieces on things,etc. I've tried it before and it seems to work. It's easy to get off. I'd also talk to someone at the airlines. I know when I've flown to Australia (I think it was on Quantas? but I've seen it on other overseas flights) They had lots of parents with small children grouped together. I wasn't sure why until later in the flight when I realized that there were pull-down cribs. I can't remember exactly what they looked like. Some were off of the front bulkhead and some from above. At 17 months he may be too big for one but it's worth asking what sort of accomodations they have for small children. Good luck!

here's a list of toys that might keep him entertained

Play-doh or silly putty worked beautifully when we just did a 6 hour flight. Your son will sleep at least part of the time and hopefully you're flying at a time that he'll sleep most of it.

Books. Just two did the job for us.

Any snack foods that he normally likes are good. Even a pre-made quesadilla is a good thing to take on the plane. I feel like being able to offer a normal food helped my daughter with the whole situation.

If he's nursing, do lots of that! :)

You could use a portable DVD player if you're able to pack it.

Hold his hand and walk him up and down the aisles from time to time. Bring reading materials he likes and read those books over and over. If he is able to listen to an Ipod or other devise load it with stories and music he likes.
We did a 14 hour marathon with a 20 month old and it was okay though he did not sleep and arrived punch drunk with exhaustion.

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