Flying Witha 2 Year Old

Updated on October 17, 2008
C.S. asks from Killeen, TX
28 answers

Hello ladies,

My husband and I are getting ready to move to Germany. I have a very active two year old little girl. She is very happy and pretty easy going. My concern is the length of the flight and keeping her content. I don't want to drive the pther passengers crazy. I was hoping that someone out there might have some great ideas. Any ideas would be so helpful.
Thanks so much!
C.

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N.F.

answers from Albuquerque on

We have had luck with stickers and also "I spy" type books. Those books where you have to find things on a very busy and colorful page. Also, snacks that are an unusual treat, that you would normally not buy for her.

Sugar-free candies worked really well to get some chewy sweet treats that he could never have at home. It was like a bargaining chip, but it also worked to help with popping ears on take off and landing. There are lots of sugar-free candies out there that are good, too.

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C.F.

answers from Killeen on

i have a friend that had to fly alone with her three girls to germany let me ask her and i'll get back to you. i myself am moving over there is aug/sept time frame. i hope you have a great flight over. it might take me a couple of days to get back to you, because they just found out she is expecting their 4 baby and she isnt feeling so good. have a wonderful day C.

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L.G.

answers from Austin on

DEfinitely bring some quite toys, and a DVD with headsets.... If she can chew gum that will help with popping her ears or a sippy cup, the swallowing suction will help too. A regular cup because there is no suction when drinking.

Good luck....

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C.H.

answers from Houston on

Wikki stix. Wikki stix. Wikki stix. I really can't say it enough! I love this product (which you can find in the kid's art aisle in Hobby Lobby). They are basically wax covered yarn in bright colors and are very like clay, but no mess! They stick to each other (and you can mold them like modeling clay), paper or other flat surfaces (to do "drawing'), you can make "jewelry" for her (bracelets, rings), decorate plastic animals (when my daughter was 2, this would occupy her for an hour!!). No clean up, no mess, easy to transport, don't take up much room, very good for flying!

Good luck with the flight and your move!

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J.M.

answers from Austin on

My daughter really loves sticker activity books - you can get big ones at Toys R Us. She likes the kind where you pull the sticker from the back of the book and then have to hunt through the book to find where it goes. This worked well for her on the plane just after she turned 2, and now she is almost 3 and still loves them.

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S.F.

answers from Austin on

Hey C.,

We lived overseas when my daughter was born so by the time she was 3 years old she had been on over 100 flights. Her first international flight was at 6 weeks. For the long haul, I packed snacks, 1 water bottle (I asked fore more on the plane), juice, extra clothing for accidents. I carried a 'diaper bag' until she was about 4 - all those pockets came in handy as she grew! I also made sure that she had her own seat even though I had to pay extra it is SO worth it. I also had reserved the bulkhead seats - the airlines used to reserve these spots for families and babies - not sure if that's still true but be sure to ask when making your reservations. It gives you the extra room you need and you don't have to worry about chair kicking etc. I also used my stroller until she was three. It's a good way to harness an active one while you are going thru crowds. I had a Sit-n-Stroll which was a stroller that had wheels that pulled up and then it was a car seat (approved for use in USA, Canada, Europe and the airlines). It's very comfortable and sat and napped in it on the planes I got mine at Target. It's also great for hauling gear (or sleeping kids) into and out of planes coz it fits down the aisle. you can extend the wheels while they are in it.

I used to buy lots of packets of stickers and a blank sticker book and we stuck stickers and made up stories about the pictures. Then I would also have a surprise toy - that came out during boredom. We also colored in coloring books. She had a favorite stuffed dog that came to life on the plane. I was the voice of Spotty. He would try to "act up" and we'd have to teach Spotty how to behave on the plane.

Also, make a plan with your daughter. Tell her what you will be doing ahead of time and what you expect from her. I always told my little one that we would be going on another adventure! We'd be going to the airport and watch the planes get a drink of gas, load food, and people's luggage, then we'd get on board. I explained who would be on the plane and what they did but we always need to listen to the pilot coz he's the driver and when the seatbelt sign comes on we need to sit in our seat with it on until he tells us we can take it off. I also told her the plan. First we get on the plane, we'll play a little bit, eat a snack then it's nap time, then we'll wake up and they will give us breakfast on the plane and we'll play some more until we land. I found out that the more she knew about what was going on and what the plan was the better her behavior. I also took advantage of running her up and down the empty gates before the flight. Also, if she is potty trained go to the bathroom 10 minutes before the plane boards.

The biggest tip I can give you about air travel with little ones is that you need to have something that will pop their ears when the plane takes off and lands. I always used her bottle when she was an infant and a large sippy cup when she was older but not old enough for a piece of hard candy. The sucking with pop their ears painlessly and they won't fuss. The trick is to hold back on the sippy cup until you are rolling down the runway or just lifted off. I hid mine in the diaper bag or she would have gone ballistic seeing it and not being able to have it.

Hope this helps. The other posters have some great ideas too. Have a fun trip and a great time in Germany.

S.

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P.H.

answers from Houston on

I have a 4 boys, and my youngest is 2 year old, and we fly pretty often, and they are all active. We bring lots of books, snacks, and some of his favorite small toys- animals, cars, men. I only give him a few items at a time, so when he gets bord, I pull a new toy from the bag, and he knows he has to sit, to be able to play with it. Of course there are times when he cries, but most people understand that kids get tired of sitting. I have noticed, when I am nervous about the flight, or the way he is behaving, it seems to be worse, so relax, and enjoy the flight. Good luck in Germany!!

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K.L.

answers from Houston on

I also have a 2yr old and have been worried about flying with her in the past. We took the DVD player and all her favorite movies, that seems to entertain her for a while. Another tip, take those Gerber gummy snacks and give them to her during take off and landing. That will keep her moving her mouth which might hopefully prevent her ears hurting.
Good luck!

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W.W.

answers from Houston on

Hi C.,
I know a lot about flying with young kids as we have done a lot. One of whom is autistic. Get a small dvd player and some of her favourite movies. Put them into a disc holder so that they don't take up so much room in your carry-on. Also look into Melatonin. We give it to our kids and it seems to be very safe. It is not a drug but an antioxidant. My autistic son has been having it since he was two and a half. Have zip lock bags with snacks, books, blanket, and a sheet to keep out the light when she is sleeping. Bring sippy cups and bottles too. THe flight attendants will rinse them out for you when ever you want. They use boiling water so it does a pretty good job. You can not take large containers of liquids but you can usually slip in some small juice boxes have a young child. Or even take formula powder. These are some of the tricks that we have used in our travels. Also if you are travelling with your spouse try to take turns babysitting.
Good luck,
W.
PS. Don't forget the gas medicine, tylenol or baby motrim.

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J.B.

answers from Austin on

I took my almost two year old son to India-alone to see my husbands family. Take "surprise" toys with you and don't pull them out until you absolutely need to. Take movies that she likes and couple of favorite toys. We actually had a blast on the flight but my son was already a seasoned flyer by that trip. I got him a toy airplane that ended up being the exact same as the one we flew on for the first leg of our trip and we figured out which window we were sitting next to and saw it on the toy plane. We flew Continental and Emirates and they gave toys and cool meal boxes to the kids. They had good movies on too for kids. Also, it was near his birthday and they gave him a cake!! Very sweet. I also allowed him to walk up and down the aisle with me to stretch out his legs. He slept a lot too so that was good. If you can get a flight that is at night-it is their normal sleep time and they will sleep a lot that way. Maybe you can also prepare her a little by taking some road trips and just talking a lot about the trip and what to expect-how she will not have a lot of space to move around and the safety of staying in her seat. Those conversations also helped.
Enjoy your trip and good luck!!

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S.W.

answers from Houston on

Walk up and down the isles often, this will benefit both of you. The 2 yr old will get some of that build up energy out and help you, it is very dangerous to just sit for hours without getting up and walking or you can excersie your feet while sitting to get the blood moving. Take one of his favorite books to read softly. I would take a DVD player with extra battery and play his favorite programs. Bring new items for her to play with, but only bring one out at a time, like every 2 hrs etc. Hopefully, the toddler will take a long nap.

Some airlines offer suggestions traveling with children, just log on and search for that info.
We had a guest speaker from Germany that said all the stores have to charge the same price. Wal-mart is about to die because they can not mark down any item. So, if you see something you really like, do not shop around to get a better price, because they all have to sell the same price. (Just a bit of info for you). I would love to go to Germany, you are so lucky.
Good Luck.

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L.L.

answers from Houston on

All great ideas and comments so I will only add the following - the walkway to the plane is a scary place. SO be prepared there. Not all airlines and employees appreciate the difficulty of holding onto your child, purse, gate checking, stowing carryons and staying sane while your child wails. Ask for early loading and help, ahead of time. I actually broke a finger trying to get my car seat locked in while everybody was glaring at me and the steward was blasting me over the intercom. As one woman said, keep nerves of steel. The other thing is, watch their suagar consumption and include milk or fat/protein snacks so they do'nt get frenetic. A little prep goes a very long way. And buy them a seat - you will not regret it.

Good luck.

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T.V.

answers from Houston on

Books, games, toys, colors, in her own little carry on. Don't forget snacks and muchies. I think most folks are understanding about kids on planes, well if they have or had their own. If you have a portable DVD player you may want to see if you can take that, if not an iPod or something she could watch a few of her 'shows' on will help. Also, if there is anyway you can fly at night, so she's naturally more sleepy, you will find that a BIG help.

Good luck and best wishes!

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J.J.

answers from Austin on

Pretty good advice already. First, even though planes have movies I agree with taking a dvd player. Also, books, a coloring book/crayons, and a book with stickers. When travelling we were told to bring 1 new toy per hour of flight (they can be small but they need to be something the child has not seen until on the plane). We also like using our kids electronic play laptop on long trips.

Last, regardless of when you travel night or day if your child is awake periodically get up and have her walk around the plane with you - everywhere but first class is ok, just make a circuit. This will interest her and maybe help her get the wiggles out of her legs.

Oh-and if she has any lovies or still uses a pacifier be sure to bring those on the plane with you. Good luck.

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L.F.

answers from Austin on

I recently traveled alone with my 20 month old son to Argentina. It was a 10 hour flight. I highly recommend you book a flight at night, during her regular sleep schedule. I tired my son out during the day and he slept the whole flight.Nighttime flights really make the whole trip a lot easier, as you won't have to entertain her the whole time.

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V.S.

answers from San Antonio on

Hi! First of all, good luck!! I am from San Antonio but we live in Asia so international flights are a way of life for us. Our flight to come home (with layovers) is 34 hours!!! Yikes! I've read the other responses and everyone has great advice. I just have a few other things to add... One, you know your child best. I read below where someone suggested flying at night. That's a great idea if your child is an easy sleeper but it doesn't work for mine. I like to leave mid-morning after a good night's sleep. They are in a good mood and not already over-tired when we board the plane. And another piece of advice that I read was to engage your children. Awesome advice. Forget the book you are reading or watching any movies, it's sticker books and crayons for you!! Just put on your warrior hat and tell yourself that you are "on stage" for this flight. Also loved the advice about limiting sugar (and especially chocolate) on board. I don't even order the kid's meals anymore. They are ridiculous. Last time we got one, my son and daughter had FOUR chocolate treats on their dinner tray. That was fun trying to wrestle those away!! Also, I wouldn't count on any help from the flight attendants. They don't usually help you and if they do, then it will just be a happy little suprise! I actually had one incredibly rude flight attendant tell me that "they don't allow crying babies on their flights". Nice. I don't fly United Airlines anymore. Also, loved the advice about talking to your children about "other people's space". Great idea. That would probably work for my daughter but not for my son. Finally, I think the most important thing that you can do is to just pack well, bring changes of clothing and smile. Have a great sense of humor about it. If you are stressed out, your daughter may pick up on it and stress out herself. Flying with kids is no fun but it's a small price to pay for the opportunity to see the world! Just think of yourself as being in a sitcom and all the other passengers are the extras who are suppose to get annoyed. : ) Bottom line, some kids are great flyers (my daughter) and some kids are terrible flyers (my son). You just do what you can and try your best! Just remember that anyone on board who is truly annoyed at a mother who is doing everything she can to try to appease and unhappy baby/child is probably not a very nice person anyway!! Have fun in Germany!

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A.A.

answers from Austin on

Also if she is getting her own seat, you may want to check out the CARES flight harness for her. It is less bulky than bringing the car seat on the flight. I saw one at http://childtogo.com.

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R.W.

answers from Sherman on

Everyone's suggestions on how to keep her busy are great. I took my daughter Korea to visit my (now ex) husband's family. when she was 15 months old. I used dvd's, books, crayons, stickers, and surprise toys, just as everyone else suggested. It kept her busy on the 22 hour flight. I'm just added my word of caution here. I don't know how your flight will work, but for ours, I had purchased a "child's ticket" on Korean Air. I'm not sure what I paid for beside letting her breathe their air. We boarded the plane to find their was no seat for her! I either held her in my lap the whole time or one of my family (my parents went with us) would stand up, allowing her some freedom. She was also, as I was informed by attendants, not entitled to any meals, drinks, or snacks. As I said, I don't know what the heck I paid for. My mom, dad, and I ended up dividing up our meals to give her something to eat, and when they passed out snacks and drinks we alternated getting juice to drink for her. So like I said, I don't know how your flight will work, but definitely verify that she will have a seat, and the same priviliges as any guest on the flight! If not make sure you take plenty of packaged foods and drinks with you! (If I'd only known..but my then husband was the one who made all the arrangements...in Korean...so I had no clue!)

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T.C.

answers from Houston on

Flying to Germany will be a long flight, so flying during HER night time will ease some of your worries, as she'll sleep through most of it. If you have to fly during the daytime, bring a DVD player, some movies, and some toys.

Sometimes on oversees flights, you can get the entire back row of an airplane. Some flight attendants may be able to move some pasengers around if she starts to get rowdy so you can take her to the back. When you board, ask this ahead of time, so if she gets a little busy, you can flag down the stewardess and say "its time to move". That way they are accommodating ahead of time.

Also have a small backpack of toys, books, enough to keep her a little busy and active, and not climbing the walls.

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L.H.

answers from Killeen on

hi,
the 1st key is when you take off make sure she is chewing on somethinging so that her ears will pop because she cannot pop hers and then she will cry.you know her favorite things to play with take them she will have a tray in front to play on ,you can grt up and walk around its a big plane most people want mind ,unless shes screaming and out of control so dont worry just rember at take off and landindg she needs to be chewing or drinking out of her sippy cup
good luck L.

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A.C.

answers from Austin on

My husband and I fly back and forth to Denmark quite often with our now 2 year old and have since his birth (I have done it on many occasion by myself). The main thing is to not get too worried about it. It is what it is and luckily you know it will end in a certain number of hours (you won't keep flying around indefinitely)!

She will probably annoy the people around you but you will never see them again so don't let it get you too upset. If she will watch a movie, take a portable DVD player (ours won't sit still for it). If she likes music, bring her an MP3 player. Remember to bring both of you a change of clothes, just a shirt for you because spills usually happen. Also a blanket for her and possible her sleeping toy if she has a doll or something that she sleeps with. My son will usually do about 2, 2 hour naps so having his sleeping buddy along helps settle him down. Also, don't be afraid to get up and walk around. My son ends up walking up and down chatting with people most of the flight. I usually take a separate backpack with is toys with a couple of books, a puzzle and some things that light up with button,etc to keep him entertained (remember, nothing too noisy).

Hope this helps...good luck!

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J.H.

answers from Houston on

AGree with the other advice. With the DVD--I try to get one that my 2 year old has never seen (a new one). This way he is more engaged in it.

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M.M.

answers from Houston on

My advice would be to have a napsak of new cheap toys that she hasn't seen before and you can pull one out when needed. I also think you shouldn't worry about other passengers and what they think. Kids are kids and its hard to be on a confined plane that long for anyone.

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L.P.

answers from San Antonio on

Buy a protable dvd player & an extra multi hours battery & pack several of her favorite dvd's. Also remember to pack alot of snock things. I would pack a travel bag just for our daughter with stuff for her to do & snacks, juice, crackers, what ever she likes. Also some coloring books, her favortie stuffed animal & blankie if she has one, & any favorite toy. Don't worry if the toy is a little noisy, so is the plane, most people won't hear it. If you are well prepared then the way things go she will sleep most of the time ;-). We just moved back from Hawaii & traveled with our daughter several times. Just make sure you charge the batteries to the dvd player the day before! If you want you can contact me [email protected]____.com Luck with the move!
L.

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A.H.

answers from San Antonio on

First of all good luck on your move and I hope you enjoy your new surroundings. My husband and I have been trying to get orders there forever without success. Now for your question. We currently live in Texas and all my family lives in Washington. This means that we travel back and forth quite a bit. My son is just about to turn two and I have found that investing in a portable DVD player was well worth it. On this last trip we took I stocked up on Thomas DVD's, his favorite, and I had a bag of tricks. I included new coloring books that he hadn't seen before, crayons, stickers, trains/cars, his comfort blanket and a good supply of snacks. Once you see that she is getting board with one thing, suprise her with something else. If you are at all able to get the bulkhead of the plane, that is a life saver. She will be able to get down and stretch her legs. Just don't stress yourself out worrying about other people. You can only do so much to keep a little one quite. Just keep in mind that people who have or have had children understand, the people that give you weird looks don't know what it's like so don't worry about them. They just have no clue. The flight attendants understand that it is hard for little ones, so if you need to walk the aisle a couple times to burn some energy, it usually isn't an issue for them.

Good luck and have a safe trip!

A.

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P.B.

answers from Houston on

We always went to their favorite store (toys R us) and purchased a couple new things for the trip. Then the 2 of you should pack her backpack together. Explain the plane trip -that you're going on a long plane ride and she'll need things to do to keep busy and what's expected of her - don't let her play with the new stuff till on the plane. I NEVER got on the plane early - always waited till last call or close. From the time my kids could understand me, once we got settled on the plane, we went thru this routine, I'd put my hand on the seat in front of them and ask "who's space is this?" Then I'd point to the person sitting in that seat and say "this is THEIR space - if you kick the back of this seat, you'll be kicking THEIR space" Then I'd work the tray up and down (gently) and ask the same question. Then I'd say, "this tray is IN your space, but it's connected to THEIR space and if you don't treat it with respect, it's like you're not treating them with respect. We NEVER slam it against THEIR space and we don't keep putting it up and down. They can feel it when you do." Then I ask the same question about their chair and explain it's attached to the person sitting behind them's space (tray). Then I ask arc my hand very big and above them and ask "who's space is this?" Then I explain that although the air is part of her space, it's ALSO attached to the space of EVERYONE on the plane and when they're noisy, it effects EVERYONE's space. And that's disrespectful and rude and I expect the best behavior while on such a small space with so many other people." Then I offer to buy the person in the row in front and the person behind us drinks!! I've had flight attendants and other passengers CLAP when I finish!! Just take her favorite toys. Not too many small pieces, those end up on the floor (explain that things dropped on the floor may roll away and never be seen again) and those trays just aren't kid friendly. Coloring books only a few crayons, dolls - you know what she likes to play with. With my very active son, we walked up and down the isle ALLOT and he saw the inside of every cockpit. I made certain we talked before we got onto the plane about my expectations of his behavior and let him know what was acceptable and what wasn't. I did this at home where there weren't other distractions (usually while we packed their backpacks) and also again at the airport as a reminder. If you prepare her, she'll be great. I also had them take benedryl for their ears and to "calm" them. Yes, drugging sometimes is just necessary for EVERYONE's sanity.

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H.G.

answers from Austin on

When we took our 2 yr old on a flight we overpacked for on-board but it was worth it. We purchased a portable DVD player and bought some new movies for her that she hadn't seen before so they held her attention longer. I recommend buying an additional battery since the flight is so long, I think the one that came with the DVD player was a 3 hr one and we bought another 6 hr one. Also, we bought her a backpack so she could have some colring books, a puzzle and a couple dolls.

Hope this helps - Good luck

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A.R.

answers from Houston on

Hello, C.!
Never underestimate your daughter's ability to understand, even at two years old. Talk to her in advance about what it is like on the plane, what she will see, and that there are other people on the plane who could be sleeping or reading.

Engage her as much as possible . . .it works so much better than expecting her to behave on her own. Read stories - some of the best ones are books that have something to look for on every page. (I SPY ones are wonderful - they have ones for toddlers.) Pack a backpack with activities. DO you have a quiet book? You may find one online - my mom made them for my kids - fabric pages with things to do like buttoning, zipping, counting, braiding, etc. Worth an online shopping trip!!

Pipe cleaners are cheap, quiet, and can be twisted into all kinds of fun things - - I brought these on plane trips when my kids were little. I also brought toys that came with Happy Meals or little inexpensive playthings . . . not a big loss if they were left in the seat or dropped on the floor and overlooked.

Of course, there is always the portable DVD player and/or CD player. When mine were this age, we had read along books with CDs. My boys are into Nintendo DS, but are much older now. . . I use sparingly, but it is WONDERFUL on plane trips.

Don't forget something to suck on or chew for take off and landing to help her ears. Talking about that ahead of time will make that sensation less scary for your daughter. Watch for signs of runny nose or cold symptoms in the days before flight and try be sure she is WELL on flight day. If she is having any kind of nose or sinus issues, carry meds to minimize discomfort, especially on take off. Be sure to get travel size and have in ziplock bags - - security, you know!

Going through security can be frightening - - and the whole "take off shoes" thing is a big job with a little one. Explaining it to her ahead of time, and talking to her through the process will be a big help.

Snacks, of course!! Juice boxes are much neater than getting drinks that are served on the plane. And, just in case, carry gallon ziplock bags for messy or stinky clothes if a change is necessary. Double bag so odor is minimized.

Good luck!

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