Flying with a 15 Month Old? - Webster,NY

Updated on February 02, 2010
J.L. asks from Webster, NY
20 answers

I am about to fly with my 15 month old son by myself and I have been told that I should give him some Benadryl to help him sleep on the flight. I am not sure if I should. Any thoughts on giving him Benadryl? Or any other suggestions to help manage him on the flight? He is the best, happiest boy, but he hates to sit still.

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answers from Boston on

My first question to you would be, have you ever given your son Benedryl before? Benedryl either will knock a kid "out" (meaning he'll sleep great!) or make him wired (meaning giving him the equivalent of a cup of coffee!) Obviously, you wouldn't want to try giving a new med to your child without knowing what kind of reaction he is going to have it. (especially if there is a chance it could give him a ton of hyper energy on an airplane trip!) I have friends/family members who swear by Benedryl before a plan trip and those who wouldn't think of it. It totally depends on what you feel is appropriate. I, myself, think you should do whatever it takes to get you and your child through a plane trip. Even if its giving your child a snack every hour to keep him content. Or giving him a "treat" that you wouldn't normally allow to keep him content. OR letting him watch video after video for a long plane trip if it means keeping him content! My husband and I will be taking our twins (who will be 19 months at the time) on their first plane ride in May, and I am fully prepared to do whatever it takes to make for a successful 5 hour flight! (within reason of course!) Best wishes!

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answers from New York on

My daughter flew at 5 months, 8, 9, 16, 20 months, etc. I never gave her anything to try to make her sleep on a flight. So long as your son doesn't have a cold, I wouldn't give any meds.

I don't know if you bought a seat or if he is flying in your lap, bring his carseat either way, while there are fewer and fewer flights with any empty seats, if you happen to be on one, they may let you use it for your son, that way you can tell him it's just like a long car ride, he has to be in his seat. If you didn't buy him a seat and the flight is full, you can always gate check the carseat and stroller.

While you will want him to drink during take off and as the pressure changes prior to landing, don't withhold drinks or feeding while you are waiting for the plane to board. Happy full kids are much more cooperative than hungry ones that are having a melt down.

If he is sitting in your lap, and there is no turbulence, you can probably let him stand in front of your seat or in the aisle. Just remember, the flight attendants can be your best friend or your worst enemy, you want them on your side - don't pick fights with them.

Bring a favorite stuffed animal (preferably one you can throw in the washer after your trip), some paper and crayons, a couple of books, and maybe one new toy just for the trip (make sure what you bring are not likely to roll, because they will end up on the floor).

Also, the bulkhead seats have the trays between them, so while you will have much more room in front of you, it is harder for your son to stretch out in your lap. Because you are flying by yourself, this may not be an issue (he can't sleep half on your neighbors lap anyway).

Bring a few changes of clothing for him, and something (old blanket, cloth diapers, etc.) to put on your lap while he is sitting there. Diapers do strange things during changes in cabin pressure - babies bodies seem to too - you don't want to be covered in anything that seeped out of the diaper during the flight (you may even want to have a change of clothes for yourself in case your barrier slipped out of position).

Have a great trip!



answers from New York on

Do not drug your son! Benadryl (or any medication for that matter) can have a variety of side effects. It makes some kids sleepy and others SUPER hyper. You never know how your child will react. It is a dangerous drug when not used properly- hence the new recs not to give any cold medicine to kids under 6.

We have flown dozens of times with little ones. Buy new toys just for the trip. Buy a ton of interesting snacks. Ask for the bulk head. Once it is safe to get up you can let him stand in front of your seat. If you have a portable DVD or can put video on your iPod, bring some movies or tv shows. If he likes to color, buy the markers that only write on special paper. You are a good mom. I know you can find dozens of ways to keep him happy without drugging him. If he does cry and make noise, know he is not the first or last to do that! He is a baby and only human!



answers from Albany on

Did you pay for a seat for him? Not required but I would bring his car seat and secure him in the seat, not only for safety but to give you a break! If you didn't pay for a separate seat, I would bring his car seat anyways and hope for an empty seat that you can fasten it in. They can always put the seat in the belly of the plane if there is no extra seat on the plane. Bring a binky if he uses it and some drinks so he has something to swallow when you take off and land. Sometimes their ears will still bother them in the air, you can have some snacks on hand so he is chewing and swallowing to help with his ears. Bring lots of wipes to disinfect! I also would buy new toys/books that are not noisy so it is something new that may keep him occupied. Try not to bring any toys that he might launch across the plane though! Let him motor and walk around the airport to tire him out too! Good luck!



answers from New York on

Hi J.,
Right on the bottle of Benadryl, it warns that you should NEVER give your child Benadryl to make him sleepy. My best friend gave her toddler Benadryl for an allergic reaction (doctor told her to), and her son was wide awake for 36 hours straight! If you are still on the fence, talk to your doctor about it.
Good luck!



answers from New York on

Don't go right for the drugs, they may have a reverse affect on him (I know they do on my son 8-). 15 months is a good age to fly (I think). I used to fly with my son when he was around that age. If you can, get him his own seat and bring his car seat. It will give you a break as well making him think he's in the car, which he knows when he's in the car he will just sit there. I also bought a cheap DVD player, so my son could watch movies and some snacks.
I also brought some water, juice (whatever you give your son to drink) and gave it to him when we were taking off and landing. Kids don't know how to pop their ears, so the swallowing while drinking helped with that.
Good luck!



answers from Washington DC on

Do you need him to sleep? How long is the flight? Is it daytime/nigt time? If night time then chances are he will fall to sleep anyway , maybe not at his normal bedtime but soon after. I wouldn't give him medication just because...take some toys to entertain him...books/small notepad & crayon/small favourite toy & some snacks , if he wants to move around let him walk up and down for a won't be the first and certainly not the last person to fly with a toddler.



answers from Dallas on

The best advice I could give would be to ask for the "bulk-head" row when checking in. This will allow room for him to move about. Make sure you check in early to request this.

I agree with Lesley 100%!



answers from New York on

Remember the old candy dots that you pull off the paper. Those kept my son at 18months very entertained. I would go to Target or the dollar store and get a bunch of small odd toys for him to play with on the plane. Mini playdoh, slinky, anything that lights up with the press of a button, sticker or bandaides. We LOVE our portable DVD player. A lollipop or ring pop with keep him busy for a while. Good Luck!



answers from New York on

Benadryl tends to have the opposite effects in children - makes them more wired and awake than sleepy. You should only be giving Benadryl to your son for what it is intended, an allergic reaction.

Hopefully, you purchased him a seat on the plane. This makes it easier to manage him in-flight. We flew with my then 16 month old to Aruba, a 4.5 hour flight. He slept in his car seat for an hour or 2, then he played in his car seat for a bit (toys, books, etc.), he ate in his car seat. But eventually, he had enough and needed to be in my lap, standing by the seat, or I had to walk him up and down the aisle.

You should try not to drink too much, since it will be hard for you to use the bathroom, while holding your son.

Put extra absorbency/ nighttime diapers on him to minimize the need for diaper changes which are hard to do in an airplane bathroom.

If you are not bringing a car seat on board the plane, stay with him by the gate until they do final boarding - let him run around before boarding to blow off steam!

Good luck! It will all be behind you soon!



answers from New York on

I have flown with my son (now 3) at least 6 times since he was 12 months old. The first time we flew he was just getting over an earinfection and the dr suggested Benadryl. I gave it and he did not sleep at all. I now give him Tylenol and if he has a stuffy nose some dimetapp(not even 1/2 a teaspoon) just so his ears don't hurt and lots to drink. I also have a portable DVD player with all of his favorite movies and some new toys as well, coloring books and books to read. This last time we flew, he wore the earphones for the dvd player and watched Cars until we landed. He ate his snacks and drank some juice and was totally fine. Hope this helps!! Good luck!!



answers from New York on

I would give it a trial run if you plan on using it. Gave it to our almost 2 yr old on a red eye from LA to newark & it hit her the other way. She was running up & down the aisles - not fun!!!!!!!!!I have also used it w/the direction of my daughter's pediatric dentist to calm her nerves a bit, usually 1/2 hr before the appt time. Good luck!



answers from New York on

I have given benadryl each time my daughter has flown which is since she was 7 months she is now 2.( flown over 8 times) You are giving it because one of the effects of benadryl is it is a drying agent that prevents the pressure buildup in his ears. Thus they don't get ear pain on take off or landing. The plus is it tends to put them to sleep which makes the flight easier. But in case it makes him more hyper then make sure you have toys/books for him to be entertained. But remember you are giving it to him for PAIN RELIEF not to sleep



answers from Chicago on

We are taking my 19 month old in March on a 2 hr flight. Since he too does not sit still, we got a ticket for him and will be bringing his car seat for him to be in. I will not be giving him medication to put him to sleep.

Get some new toys to unveil on the plane. bring plenty of snacks and baggies. See if there is an extra seat that you can use and bring his car seat. Ask the attendant when you get to the gate to see if there are any seats available, if so they will likely allow you to bring the car seat. We recently got a car seat accessory that is a tray with sides for him to play on, or eat on. I wish we had it when we drove to TN (from IL about 8 hr drive).

Remember this.. You will likely never see any of these people again. So do not worry about what others think about your child. Just try your best to keep him entertained.

Also make sure you bring a bottle or pacifier for him to use during take off and landing.

We went last year he was 7 months old. Down to FL he slept the entire flight except the first 5-10 minutes. Coming home he slept half the flight and we just let him play with a bag of chips, he loved the crinkle sound.

Kids take to the air better that you might think. Relax and enjoy your trip.

Also, bring extra top or two for you incase your little one gets air sick. So you do not have to wear a gross shirt the whole time. And of course bring extra clothes for your little one. And a few extra Ziplock bags to put any soiled clothes in.

Good luck



answers from New York on

I have been traveling with my son since he was 6 months old - and I have never given him anything - bring his favorite stuffed animal, small blanket and lots of snacks and activity toys (quiet ones) even a small dvd player make sure the battery is fully charged. Some airlines have outlets at the seats now.
Alnd most of all during takeoff and landing make sure he has either his binky or a bottle to help with the ear pressure. Also try to get a flt that works with his nap time - this also helps.

Happy traveling.



answers from New York on

My husband and I traveled with our twin boys at the same age for the first time on a plane. i was given the suggestion of Benadryl as well and actually purchased in and had it just in case but did not need it. The boys were so amazed by the plane and the people that we decided not to give it to them. We did purchase an extra seat to have the extra space. I took a diaper bag filled with small toys and lots of books and this seemed to work for our 2.5hour trip. i also had juice in bottles for take off and landing with PLENTY of snacks. new toys and new books help ALOT!!!!! Good Luck to you!!



answers from New York on

benadryl is up to you, personally i wouldnt, and surely not for the first time. remember that it can have the opposite effect also. in any case, a portable dvd player would be great. one of the best things is to bring treats and new toys that you dole out one at a time, but ***toys that you can attach to his straps or something with those rings or something. it is sooooo incredibly annoying to have to squeeze down between the seats every 2 minutes to retrieve things. i tied some of those twist up crayons to a notebook, some stickers, that was good. nothing noisy if you care about ticking off others. something to suck on for take off and landing. extra extra clothes/diapes for him and a shirt for yourself, and packed into a small bag within your bag that you can easily bring to the bathroom to change him, its awkward enough without having a big bag you have to carry, plus you might have a changing mishap in the bathroom and need another, its very tight in there. you dont want to have to carry him naked and crying back to the seat for another. i found the security process to be very threatening, my bags over there, the stroller over there, my shoes over there, and holding the baby. streamline it as much as possible, be sure your bags and pockets will pass through easily. my underwire set off the thing! mostly, plan way ahead, pack your carry on very carefully so everything is convenient, be prepared in case of delays, and get there early. ask to pre board first if you are using the car seat (which i highly recommend). and be calm, his demeanor will mostly be determined by yours.



answers from Santa Barbara on

I have done the Benadryl thing for my son. It helped him with his ears and take off and landing and helped keep him mellow. But I do agree that each mom/parent has an opinion on this. So, if you choose to medicate, do it discreetly.

Actually, it is helpful if you travel with either the tabs or a small bottle. My son had an allergic reaction to the food on the plane and I didn't have any Benedryl with me that time. Go figure. The one doctor on the plane didn't have any and neither did anyone else. I sat and watched my son puff up into one big hive. The pilots were getting ready to do an emergency landing if his airway became constricted. Thankfully that did not happen! Still do not know what his allergic reaction was to. A kid tab would have made it much better.

The rest is my answer for someone who was traveling over the holidays. There is also a link for that question.

When my son was little he flew all the time with me, as I had a job that required travel. One tip I will give you is to try to get the seats in the last row or near the last row. This is a problem if you have a close connection, but not other times. There is usually a lot of activity going on in that area, galley, bathroom etc. Which means it won't be an issue if he needs to get up and stretch his legs. It also means lots for him to look at and lots of people to stop and pay attention to him. The bathroom will be close for diaper changes and such.

I also used to pack baggies with homemade goodies for my son to hand out to our "neighbors". It could be a fun "project" for him. It's kind of a peace offering. And it's always greatly received, even if no one partakes of the goodies.

The portable DVD players are a God send. Take off and landing should cover 30 minutes each. My son loved to watch the plane go up and down.

Have a wonderful trip. Don't stress out too much, for the most part people are really kind and wonderful. Just try to avoid sitting up front where the business people are traveling. They're tired, grouchy, just want to be home and don't want little kids bugging them. They are also usually pretty insensitive about someone trying to get kids out of the row to exit the plane.




answers from Elmira on

We've flown many times with my son (now 3) & tried Benadryl one time. It totally backfired and he was a raging maniac for a three-hour flight. However, he sleeps well at home if he's given Benadryl. What worked best for us when he was under 18 months was to buy him his own seat & take his carseat on the plane. He seemed so much more comfortable and at ease in his carseat. It was worth the extra expense. We also make a trip to the Dollar Store beforehand & load up on "secret" toys & books. I hide them in the bag until we're on the plane, and then we'll do the same for the return trip home. Also, having lots of snacks is an awesome idea. Sometimes it's hard to get something at the airport or on the plane, so be prepared. You can take on anything in less than 3 oz. packages. Give them something they've never had before or something that really isn't allowed at home. Good luck!



answers from New York on

We've been on 12 flights (6 trips) with my daughter who is now 17 months old. I don't give her anything. If it is her naptime she will sometimes have trouble sleeping because there is so many stimuli. She is also a great kid and very active. If you have a portable dvd player, bring it with either his favorite movie or a new one. Pick up some new books with his favorite characters. Bring a favorite book. Does he play with stickers? Get him some - it keeps her busy for hours! Pick up some new small toys - the dollar bin at Target is great. We also have a small doodlepro that is great too.
Bring lots of different snacks - goldfish, animal crackers etc. Keeps them busy. I don't care if she eats a meal - the snacks keep her busy and full during take off and landing when she isn't supposed to be moving around.
Good luck and enjoy!

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