M.C. asks from San Pablo, CA on August 11, 2009
Upcoming Flight with Toddler
Hi Mamas! We're leaving on vacation to Michigan on Friday, and I'm starting to get a little nervous about the flight. We've never taken our daughter (2 yrs 3 months) on a plane, and I'm scared it may be chaos. We bought a couple little new toys, and we'll be bringing some books, but I can't imagine she'll sit still for more than 15 minutes!! As far as snacks, can we bring our own through security, or do we have to purchase them in the airport? Do they allow children to walk up and down the aisles? If not, I have NO idea how we're going to make it through a 4 1/2 hour flight!! I wish we had a portable DVD player or laptop to play her videos, but we don't... Should we take our car seat on the plane? I'm sure you mamas have some experience and advice on this issue, and I'd love to hear from you. Thanks in advance!
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Thank you ladies for all of your helpful suggestions!! I'm prepared and feeling alot better about the upcoming flight :)
K.V. answers from San Francisco on August 12, 2009
You've gotten some great suggestions here so my only advice is to check your carseat. When our oldest was 2 we flew to Hawaii & brought his Britax on the plane. Not only did we have a hard time installing it tight enough, the lap tray wouldn't come down all the way cuz the sides of the carseat blocked it but he then also had no place to play. On a previous flight (when he was 18m) we didn't have his carseat & he was able to stand in front of his seat & use it as a play space. In fact, after that flight at 2 yrs, we have never even taken carseats w/us on plane trips. We rent them when we rent the car. So, that would be my 2nd suggestion: if you're renting a car, rent a carseat as well so you have less heavy & awkward things to carry thru the airport. Best of luck!
J.F. answers from San Francisco on August 12, 2009
Your child should do OK on the flight and I know other Mom's with younger children than mine will have some good advice for you, but here a couple thoughts. First, I would definitely bring the car seat - kids are used to using it whenever they go somewhere and the plane doesn't need to be different (I'm assuming you've had to pay for a seat for her). Also, a suggestion that I bring up in my Gymboree classes is to bring a small box of kleenex and let her pull them out one by one and then put them back in one by one. Kids like to put things in and out of containers. Many Moms who have tried this have come back to class and told me it kept their child occupied for quite a bit of time and it's an activity that's different from home.
As for the DVD player, I think you might be able to rent them but I'm not sure. You also can bring your own snacks, except for liquids.
One last thing that I mention in my classes when we talk about travel, is to bring more than you think you'll need in terms of food, diapers, clothing, etc. Hopefully this doesn't happen, but if you were to get stuck on the runway, your flight might be longer than expected and you don't want to run out of food or diapers.
N.P. answers from San Francisco on August 12, 2009
Hi Meredith - Nice to "meet" a fellow midwesterner! We relocated here from Chicago 5 years ago. Anyway, I would GREATLY urge you to get a portable DVD player. You still have time - go to Best Buy. We have the Sony portable DVD (I think it was around $150) and I will not even consider getting on a flight without it! We bought it before a car trip to Portland - and after that trip I was a convert. Amazing how mesmerized they were by "Cinderella" and "Charlotte's Web". SO, now when we get on a flight, I'm like, how soon can we start the DVDs. I also bring plenty of other stuff - like the color wonder coloring activity books (no mess); books; etc... But a DVD player is a must!
Yes, they allow you to walk up/down the aisles with children. Have them walk as much as you can at the airport. You can bring snacks through. I usually bring a cooler bag. Can even bring milk - just make sure to declare it. It's sometimes impossible to find milk in the airport (although they have milk on the flight). I find it hard to find kiddie-friendly food at the airports. So, I bring crackers, fruit, yogurt, cheese. Although you can usually find pizza, bagels, muffins, fruit cups at the airports.
Oh, and I always prepare myself that they will NOT sleep on the flight; and then if they do -it's a bonus. Much better than thinking that they will fall asleep and then get frustrated b/c they wont.. :-)
Good luck and have fun!
D.T. answers from San Francisco on August 12, 2009
I have flown twice with my 2 year old. He was 1, the first time and 1 week away from turning 2 the 2nd time. The 2nd time he sat on my lap but it was a short flight. My best friend is a flight attendant and has a 2 year 4 month old. She has made some wonderful recommendations for me. Bring the car seat. We have a Go Go Baby Travel Mate that pulls the car seat while kid sits in it to get them around the airport. Don't board the plane first unless you absolutely have to. If you are traveling with someone else, let them bring everything on and get the car seat strapped in you bring your child after everyone is seated. This minimizes seated "boring" time. Your child would much rather run around the airport. Bring some small toys - crayons, stickers work exceptionally well. The plane might have built in tv monitors showing kid-friendly shows if you don't have a portable DVD player. We are tv free here and always manage to entertain somehow. So don't worry about that. If you have an iphone you can download some great kid apps. My child loves the bumble bee app and some others. That will entertain for a little while. And your child will sleep in her car seat.
J.C. answers from San Francisco on August 12, 2009
i have made this trip from CA to MI with my daughter myself. anything you can do to have her well rested before each flight might help. this may seem counter-intuitive, since you might want her to sleep on the plane. i had a lot of flights where we left early in the morning on the way out and they were a delight, but late in the afternoon on the way home and they were a disaster. i finally realized it was because she wasn't getting a proper nap in the afternoon before our flights.
for our last trip i found a $1.99 play-doh pack at the check out stand at target. it has two small containers of play-doh and an extruder. this was a huge hit and resulted in 30 straight minutes of play (we now take it with us to restaurants).
finally, for me the dvd was magic. while i don't want to have the tv babysit for us, it was really, really nice on the plane. if there's any way you can borrow one from a friend, i highly recommend you do.
T.H. answers from San Francisco on August 11, 2009
I found flying with my toddler was actually easier than when he was an infant. The airport is the most exciting part (watching planes take off and land - he could have done it for hours!!). The plane might offer an in flight movie which will help otherwise bring things she can't usually have. We found coloring with one of mom's pens vs crayons makes for a much longer art session. Connecting straws and blowing a piece of paper off the tray was also a ton of fun - go figure.
If you expect you may fly home often check out the CARES restraint (http://www.kidsflysafe.com/). And you can walk up and down the isles a bit but only if the weather is cooperative. :)
Hope this helps!
Don't worry about other people if she gets upset, they will survive and if you can stay cool she'll calm back down easier and more quickly. Oh and snacks are a good idea too and yes, you can bring your own. I like dried fruit because it takes some work to eat (ie it takes time).