First Plane Trip with a 13 Month Old

Updated on November 21, 2008
L.J. asks from Jefferson, OH
14 answers

Hello everyone! Next week my husband and I are taking a 2 and half hour plane trip with our 13 month old son. I am becoming quite anxious about the trip. Our little guy is very active. He never sits when we are at home except for when he wants to listen to a story. My plan is to bring his favorite books, his dinner, and snacks but I can't imagine that will fill up the entire flight. Unfortunately, the flights don't fall during his nap times. In hindsight, perhaps that was poor planning on my part. I'd appreciate any other suggestions or advice you might have!

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answers from Columbus on

You got some good ideas. Just to add to some of them. To help his ears during the flight I found that tootsie rolls and suckers helped with that, because that kept the jaws and swallowing going. Cheap toys from the dollar store, like the boards that you write on & then pull the sheet up to make it disappear is fascinating to little ones. Unwrapping the toys is fun for them too. I took one carry-on suitcase just filled with his toys & of course don't forget his favorite blanky or stuffed animal! You should probably check with the airline/airport before packing too many snacks etc., because of all the new restrictions. Put some in yours, his, your husbands, etc. to cover the quantity per person restrictions if there areany. One thing I found out last time we traveled home was that I couldn't bring in my carry-on luggage one of those water/ snowglobes - I had to check it, because "there was no way to test the fluid to see if it contained anything bad". Ugh! Good Luck! Also - if they say you can't take something, they will let you mail it back home & usually have packaging material, but I'm not sure about stamps.



answers from Columbus on

We just did this last summer with our baby. Some of the things that we did were:
1)we paid our older kids to keep the baby awake on the ride to the airport, then I put her in the stroller or carried her through the airport to get her sleepy right before we boarded. Because she was kept awake through her normal nap time, she did sleep for about 1/2 the flight,
2)I carried on a sippy with juice and an empty sippy if she drank all the juice, the flight attendant brought me either more juice or milk to keep her quiet,
3)I carried her in my sling which is comfy for her so she was warm and cozy and ready for sleep,
4) and the best tip was that my husband and I both had aisle seats across from each other so she was able to stand in the aisle and walk between us, I would let her walk as far as she could while still holding a hand as long as no one was coming so she could still move about abit.
Overall our experience was very good. She fussed about 5 minutes then was fine. The other passengers were fine, they all thought that she was cute and were talking to her. You hear some horror stories, but for the most part, flying with children is just a necessary evil, people do it everyday. Its 6 hours of your life, you do what you have to do and get through it. Good luck.



answers from Indianapolis on

We just got back 2 wks ago w/ our 12 mth old. She did great!!! She had her pacifier definitely, she acts like that is her life. I had to sing songs & say nursery rhymes most of the way,, until right before we landed she fell asleep. I would say definitely bring things to keep him engaged. Also other individuals talked to her & playd w/ her. She was well behaved throughout the whole flight & I got a lot of compliments. So as long as you keep him entertained you should be fine.



answers from South Bend on

Take along a few of his favorite toys for the flight as well. I took 3 of my son's favorite toys, story books, and snacks. If I remember correctly, I also brought along a coloring book and crayons. Of course at this stage they just scribble, but it keeps them entertained. Good luck and have a safe trip.


I am 31 and have been married for almost 12 yrs. My husband and I have 3 boys ages 10,7, and 4.


answers from Columbus on

You've got some really great suggestions. We have flown with our kids since they were infants,and I can truly say the anticipation is worse than the flight. Definitely, the drinks for the ears, binkies, comfort items if he has them (lovies, blankets, etc.) The ideas about wrapping the toys is great. Also, not letting him see/play with them until the flight so they are new. The only thing I can add is that when ours were young (toddlers) I tried to attach whatever I could to those toy/plastic chains/links you buy...I found that trying to bend over to pick up toys dropped or thrown was like being a contortionist. Plus, all the germs those toys could pick up from the floor of an airplane...eww. If the toy can't be attached via plastic link, then a ribbon may work. Since you are right there with him, there is little risk for strangling himself! Good luck with the flight and deep breaths and calmness are crucial! :) :)



answers from Indianapolis on

We did it with a 15-month-old, it was fine!
nurse him on the way up and down to help his ears
take a box of kleenex to pull out one at a time
portable DVD player
don't be afraid to ask for things like cups and spoons, extra crackers, whatever you think he'd want - the attendants would rather give you things than have him screaming the whole time ;)



answers from Cincinnati on

Be sure to bring his carseat and put him in it right away when you get on the plane. For him it will be the same as riding in the car. And please try not to worry too much if he fusses on the plane. It can't really be helped. But when my kids were babies I found that airline trips went better than I expected them to.



answers from Fort Wayne on

I would request seating near an emergency exit or towards the front of the seating. They usually have extra room to move around, which little one will probably want. You might try calling the airline as well. Sometimes they have toddler packages. You might try going to the Dollar Store and picking up a few cheap toys that will keep him busy. Generally, you can reschedule your flight time, so you might consider calling to check on that as well.

Also, the change in air pressure in the cabin may make his ears hurt. You might consider buying "Airplanes for Kids". These are little plastic pieces you put in the ears to stabilize the air pressure, which helps to now allow the ears to hurt and pop.



answers from Youngstown on

When my son was 15 months old (last June) he went flew to Brazil. We gave him some Gentle Sleep Complex which is completely naturally, and we only gave him 1/2 a tablet. The adult dose is 4 tablets. He did great. When he wasn't sleeping he was playing. We even had to exchange plains several times. Take lots of toys. You may wish to wrap them up so he gets to open them and then play. When he is tired of one he can open anther. And yes, bring lots of snacks. The bad part about the drinks is that you must buy them past the security gate. I took lots of Shaklee's Soy Protein in powder form and then just had to add water. Let me know if you would like to get the Gentls Sleep Complex, I can tell you how.



answers from Indianapolis on

Our son was always a great traveler so we never had issues on planes as he was so excited to be on one that he wanted to see everything.

A few recommendations that I would make with this being his first flight is:

1. Do NOT do the preboard. You could be on the plane a significant amount of time longer waiting for anything to happen and it can get boring for a child.

2. Get him lots of exercise and let him run around the airport BEFORE getting on the plane.

3. IF it's not a full flight ask to be moved to an area of the plane where there are not as many passengers so you can spread out a bit. That way if he wants to move around a bit it won't be a big deal.

4. Normally they will give your son some wings or if there is time they will let them come up to the cockpit and take a look. The last time we flew we got an upgrade to first class and they took our son into the cockpit and let him look around. He came back talking about all the different color buttons and what they were for..... (Doesnt always happen but sometimes).

5. Make sure you bring a couple videos and the DVD. Bring something to eat that he will eat at takeoff and landing. That's the two worst times for ears popping (due to pressure changes) and swallowing will relieve that pressure. Our son is old enough now where he can do fake yawns to pop his ears but at 13 months that is not going to be possible. You can pack some crystal light sugar free drink mixes and take a water bottle. That way you can mix your own drinks so you don't go broke buying them past security.

6. The car seat might help a bit with familiariity. You might take an airplane book with you so you can show him the different things that will happen on the plane and than take that book with you to show the same things.... Pilot, flight attendant, luggage, etc. They had some really cute ones at Borders.

I would not suggest Benadryl as it has the upper affect on some kids and this is a new situation so probably not a great thing to do. One thing that I have used in the past is Planetary Remedies, "Calm Child". It is an herbal supplement that my son has always responded well too. Each child is different, but I would not recommend Benadryl (as a previous pediatric nurse and mother!)...

Don't work yourself into a stressed out state either. Just take deep breaths and know that this will be another learning opportunity for you and your child. If you remain calm it will help your son. Even if the day starts off a bit turbulent or whatever just keep breathing! Your child will be able to sense if you are stressed and since this is a new situation he will be looking to you for those indicators.

I was nervous the first time we flew with our son too but it ended up being a great trip and we have had many since then.

Let us all know how it goes!



answers from Indianapolis on

I also like the portable etch-a-sketch and light brights for travel. The biggest thing that has worked for me is having the portable kids music (with headphones), you can get ones with stories or just music that he likes. Another trick is bringing along snacks that are new and interesting and stretch them out so that when you need to settle him down, he is interested in the new thing out of Mommy's bag. As a last resort, the walk back to the restroom can break up the boredom - just be sure not to get stuck in the aisle with the drink cart blocking you in!



answers from Cleveland on

I wouldn't berate yourself for not scheduling the flight during his nap time - I did that for my daughter and she was awake the whole time anyway curious about what was going on around her (she was 8 mos. at the time). She stood the entire time, luckily she only fussed a little bit though. I know Doctor's don't really recommend this but my friend swears by giving her kids Benadryl (she has 3) before they went on a flight and they slept a large part of the time - so maybe you could do that if you're really worried about your sanity and of those around you. Good luck!



answers from Cincinnati on

I have a 15 month old and we will be having the same experience next week. We've flown a lot with her in the past, and unfortunately it has gotten harder as she has gotten older and more active. She does wonderfully if she has her own seat with her carseat installed, as she knows if she is in her carseat that she needs to stay there. If your flight isn't full, the airline will allow you to use the extra seat so bring your carseat with you to gate check just in case, if you haven't purchased a ticket for your little guy.

We're also planning on walking up and down the airport continuously before the flight to wear her little legs out so she'll be ready to sit.

We're also taking a DVD player with a Curious George video, as she seems to really like that when it is on (TV shows are newer to her so it is novel and keeps her attention). And of course her preferred toys as well.

And, in the worst case scenario, our doctor previously recommended Benadryl as a back up. We will take it with us in case nothing is working in the case that there are no extra seats for her carseat. While I'm philosophically against this, I did break down and resort to it the last time we flew because it was just plain miserable beyond no end for her as she didn't understand why I wouldn't let her down (no extra seats. The Benadryl takes a bit to kick in, but once it did, she rested comfortably. So, while I feel horrible even recommending it, I have to admit it worked. If you're considering it at all, check with your doctor to find out the dose for your child's weight and age beforehand. Two and a half hours can be a very long time for a little kid who just doesn't understand why they can't run around on a plane like they do at everywhere else.

Good luck!



answers from Columbus on

Do I have a story for you. I'll try to make it short. When my Daughter was about that age we flew from OHio to New York then to San Diego. She was just getting over the flew and still had loose bowls. Needless to say she pottied all over me during the flight to NEw YOrk. It was fun let me tell you. I thought I packed plenty of clothes but ran out and had to buy outfits at the new york airport during our layover. As for entertaining your son, I bought books that have activities in them like lift the flap and puppet books, any little thing that might be fun to do in his seat. Then dont let him see them until you need some entertainment. What I mean is, buy all new stuff for the trip, even wrap them like gifts for him to unwrap. The unwrapping and playing with paper and ribbons will entertain him too. You can also try picking up a portable dvd player and rent some new movies or dvds he's never seen. Get things out in moderation, not all at once. Good luck.

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