Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Twelve Tips for Traveling with Toddlers

I've flown with my (now) 2-year old a half dozen times. Here are my secrets to a successful flight:

1. Pack the carry-on so that you have at your fingertips: bottle (sports bottle or otherwise), infant Tylenol, tissues, wipes, coloring book + bag of crayons or book of stickers and pages to put them on. Hand puppets are GREAT when nothing else works.

My toddler gets infant Tylenol when we push back from the gate. She gets the bottle as we start to take off.

2. Have a convenient bag with toys and snacks. We got a hanging shower caddy and I stuffed the little pockets with various items. I hung the shower caddy from the tray table latch in front of me. Worked really well!

3. Dress nicely and dress your kid(s) nicely.

4. Bring a pack of disposable earplugs. Introduce yourself and your kid to the people around you and tell them you have 6 pairs of disposable earplugs for the first people who ask, in the event that your kid goes off. (I've had the same pack of earplugs for about 8 flights now)

5. Make a point to introduce yourself (or your kid if he's old enough) to the person directly in front of your kid. Tell the passenger that you will not be aware of your kid kicking the seat in front of him, but that the passenger should tell you, "Mom, he's kicking my seat again!" Acknowledging this will happen and telling the passenger in front that you'll do something about it goes a loooong way.

6. If you have a lap child, introduce yourself to the person in front of whoever will be holding the child. Ask her to please let you know when she will be reclining the seat back, so you can make sure everything is out of the way. This will help remind the person in front that you have limited space, but intend to meet the other passenger half-way.

7. Take walks down the aisle when the toddler needs a break from sitting.

8. Keep the air time to a minimum. We and the grandparents are on opposite coasts. I arrange to make a connection or limit the baby's air time to under 2.5 or 3 hours whenever possible. The break makes things easier on her.

9. Have new toys wrapped and ready. For especially long days in airports and planes, I pack several brand new toys and wrap them in gift wrap. If Jane looses interest in the toys she has, I break out something new.

10. Hold the child upside down to clear the built-up pressure in the infant's Eustachian tubes. If the child's ears won't pop, this might just clear them out.

11. Keep rolling toys in open spaces. I have little trucks for airport layovers that I pack away on the flight. Airports get rolling active toys; flights get non-rolling toys.

12. Pull out new / different toys only as a last resort. You have a limited number of tricks in your bag; use them judiciously.

I've never had a bad flight, and my fellow-travelers have always been kind and understanding. Happy traveling!

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