View Full Version : Tips for long haul flight with toddler?

11-01-2007, 04:01 AM
Hi, thought I'd post this question here and see if anyone has
any ideas! I'm leaving next week for a month long visit to family
in the States. I will be travelling with my dd who is 2.5 years old
and hope someone has tips on keeping her from having a total
meltdown. The middle portion of our trip is an 11 hour flight and
that is the portion I am concerned with. The rest is short flights
and some layover time in an airport but I think I can handle those it's
the 11 hours stuck on an airplane with a busy busy toddler I'm
getting an ulcer over....anybody got any tips?

Libbie :)

11-01-2007, 05:47 AM
Sleeping pills LOL. I did 12 hours with a 2 and 1 year-old and almost no help from DH. The plane had tvs in each seat so having it on helped with the 2 year-old. Travel dvd player might help too. Remember snacks, and little toys that has never been seen before so they are new toys to the little one. Good luck.

11-01-2007, 08:00 AM
Benadryl. Seriously. Helps with the ears, and helps them to sleep. 11 hours is waaaay to long to entertain someone that age!

11-01-2007, 08:57 AM
Whatever you take, call ahead to be sure it won't be confiscated by security! Some airlines have really cracked down on electronics. Things with small and/or round roll-down-the-aisle-ready pieces are trouble on planes, too.

When we lived overseas, my mom would get us a special book or other activity for the plane ride, but we couldn't have it until we took off. That made for less painful plane rides, because a good chunk of the trip was spent checking out our new books or toys.

11-01-2007, 08:59 AM
We took playdough on one of our trips. I use the diaper pad as a cover on a lap table so that I could contain any mess. I also had a small toy we could break every hour or so that he hadn't seen.

11-01-2007, 09:41 AM
I have made 2 flights from Los Angles to Amsterdam with my little ones who I think at the time the oldest was maybe 4 (I have 3). And it was not that bad really, I think on one of the flights back, my oldest wanted only me to hold her (I think she was maybe 2 then) and I had to walk the aisles with her but she was quiet at least! I would suggest to buy her a little backpack, maybe with her favorite character on it, and get her some new little toys. Nothing really expensive, playdoh is a good suggestion, a couple of coloring books with a box of crayons, maybe some books. Somethings that you think would hold her attention for a while is best. Also contact your carrier and see if they provide meals made for little ones, that is always helpful. For the flight I would also bring a change or two of pajamas or sweats, something comfy for her to wear in case of accidents. (This saved me as one of mine had 2 accidents on the plane) And maybe you can also check with your carrier and see if the bulkhead seat is available, we had that and it was great.

Try not to worry too much, she can feel your worry and that might make her act out a little bit more than normal. I just read a blog of a woman who took her 6 kids (I think the oldest is 10) on a flight, and although it was quite a bit shorter than yours will be, he kids were fine for it.

I hope this helps you out, and if you can, try not to worry about it so much. Good Luck!

11-01-2007, 11:17 AM
small, dollar store type toys the child hasn't seen before; a book of new songs/ hand games; Books on CD or iPod with kid friendly earphones....

about the benadryl etc- it actually hypes my kid up, so you might want to see ahead of time whether or not the benadryl would be a good idea.

we also had lollypops for balancing out the ears at takeoff. since they were a treat, she was happy, and kept the mouth closed! LOL!!!

favorite blanky and sleep toy also required- especially if you are expecting the child to sleep. for a while, there was no sleep in our house without "B" (the blanket). woe unto the person who had left it at daycare that day.....

And, just my opinion, and I know you didn't ask for this part, but I would highly suggest paying the $ for their own seat if you haven't already. while the child might sit in your lap for a while, having an actual space for them really helps. (even if it just holds their toys!) and the idea of holding a 2 1/2 year old in my lap for that long gives me a headache. I know not all airlines require you to buy a seat for a lap-child; but we really really were glad we did.

11-02-2007, 10:16 AM
Thanks for all the great ideas. Gonna skip the benadryl as it is not
readily available here and dh said he felt weird about "doping" her.
Easy for him to say, he is not going on this trip hehe... I did
put together a little travel pack so we'll see how it goes. I found
a website that has just about every cartoon character you could
want on coloring pages so printed off all her favourites and put them
in a binder and then took colored pencils and tied them to holes
punched in the binder so that they won't go rolling everywhere and
then I found a paper doll book which I htought might be fun, a
stuffed dragon (dragons are her favorite), and then on the 1 euro
basket at our local store I found some little toy figurines that will
be all new so hopefully that will keep her entertained for awhile.
Supposedly Lufthansa has a really nice kids pack that they will
give her too so that will also be fun and new. I really like the
idea of the lollipop for take off, thanks marykz for that one! I don't
usually give her candy so that will be a super special treat and
will hopefully help with the pressure changes!

Thanks again for all the helpful advice!
Libbie :)

11-02-2007, 10:38 AM
Most airlines are great about children.

I grew up flying. We lived overseas and were on a plane at least once every two months.

Ask for bulk head seats. Or close to a door. They are more spacious.

You might be pushed to take the back of the plane. If it is a BIG plane, that should be fine. But you will feel more disturbance there. As children we liked sitting back there, but it left my mother sick every time. The thought of the airlines is that there are less people behind you to complain!

Also, two of my younger brother's loved the clouds. And would literally stare out the window until... :sleepy: My other brother... well it drove him NUTS!

Take a second to find out approximately when they will run the meal carts. And take a potty break BEFORE the run the cart! Or you can find yourself stuck! And run your child up and down the aisle a few times... Err... walk swiftly!

You will always find one staff member who will be super helpful! That is so great. The rest won't 'not' help but are likely tired or just busy with other things.

Good luck! I was the oldest and remember flying with my younger brothers. We'd fly half way around the world once a year... with sometimes long airport layovers. As an older child, I loved it! And I did fly by myself a few times... [I remember teaching tourists how to fill out tourist visa applications on the plane!]

11-02-2007, 01:54 PM
I was on a flight last week from Chicago to Palm Springs. There was a couple with a toddler seated nearby. That kid screamed his head off for two-and-a-half hours. :grrr:

So, please, sedate your child if you need to. It will make a better trip for your daughter, you, and the other hundred or so passengers who will be secretly plotting to jettison your kid if she's screaming incessantly. [Not that your child would, I'm just saying.]

FWIW, we were on American Airlines and the flight attendants didn't help the situation at all. The parents were totally on their own and it had to be really frustrating for them.

Good luck. It's not something I'd ever want to do, so I'm sending you good vibes. ;)

11-02-2007, 06:30 PM
My kids are 7 and 4 now, but I flew a lot with them when they were younger.
The tip about the lollipops is a good one. They both had trouble with their ears on takeoff and landing.
My boys loved having their own backpacks/bags filled with little toys or books, but what really saved the day for us were a few "surprise" little toys that I could just tuck into my purse ... things they'd never seen before that I thought would hold their interest. If you have time to wrap the surprise toys, that's even better.
The single best thing to take with you when travelling with a toddler? Baggies, diaper wipes, and tons of napkins. Most any horrible spill or accident can be wiped up and zip-locked away and then disposed of later.
Good luck on your flight!

11-02-2007, 09:00 PM
My toddler (3) is quite the little traveler and we have only had a problem once. That time it turned out she had an ear infection and our first stop in Lake Tahoe was Urgi Care. Please don't feel pressured to "sedate" your child. I don't give mine benadryl because I know it makes me sleepy. I do, however, give her Claritin since sinus issues run in our family. It does not seem to have any side affects for her.

And please others on the plane, no parent wants their child to scream on the plane, and if we could make it stop we would. Sometimes there just isn't anything that we can do.

I do wrap up tiny gifts that she can open during our travels. She has an appropriate sized backpack, coloring books, crayons, stickers, playdough and snacks.

I agree with the baggies and wipes. I also bought disposable placemats that have double-sided sticky tape on the back. It makes clean-up super easy.

If you will be traveling at night, take pjs along. They will help your little one be more comfy and signal sleeping time.

One more thing is about what type of bag to carry. A backpack is great to keep your hands free, but I hate looking for things in a backpack, it just becomes a big black hole. I have a Tumi cosmetic bag (soft-sided with strap) it zips almost all the way around and opens WIDE.

Happy travels!


11-02-2007, 09:09 PM
We fly with our little ones (3 and 17 months now) a few times a year, so we've learned what works and what doesn't :)
Definitely put your kiddo in comfortable clothes - PJs are great, or sweats or something like that. No one wants to be uncomfy on a long flight.
Ditto everyone else on the new toys, various snacks, new books. If you have a portable DVD player, thats a lifesaver too.
I liked your idea of the coloring binder with colored pencils attached - I might have to steal that for our trip to Florida at the end of the month :)

Good luck, and have a good time on your trip!

11-02-2007, 09:57 PM
I am a Child Passenger Safety Technician, and the easiest way to control your toddler on the plane is to use their regular car seat on the plane. It will keep them contained, and they will feel safer in a familiar seat, not to mention its a lot safer than your lap or their seat in just the lap belt. A good way to entertain them is to bring a bag with some new cheap toys that you can give them one at a time. I know when I flew with a little one in her car seat, she was so comfortable that she fell alseep before we even took off!
Here is a good site about safely traveling by plane with your child: http://www.cpsafety.com/articles/airplanetravel.aspx

11-04-2007, 06:03 AM
Are you potty training? I flew w/DD once in the midst of potty training at about the smae age and the self-flushing toilets in the airport and odd looking one on the plane totally freaked her out. She absolutely refused to go to the bathroom -- wiggling around and everything but still saying "no". I was totally stressed and flying solo w/o DH to boot. In the end I double diapered her, wrapped her 2 airline blankets and bought extra (very expensive) sweat pants at the airport gift shop. I kept telling myself that (A) I was sure I was not going to be the first Mom to have a child have an accident on the plane and (B) I was never going to see any of these strangers again so what did it really matter. Anyways, as predicted, as soon as she dosed off on the plane she wet herself. Luckily, only a bit leaked out into the blankets -- a quick change and we were OK -- didn't even need to change into the new pants I had bought which I even managed to return unused when we went back through on the return portion of the trip :) On the way home, I carried a spare set of clothes and a 'little potty' like we used at home and had no toilet issues. She's scared, even today at nearly 6 of any 'noisy' or self-flushing potty.

I have flown on the occasional airline that doesn't have a diaper changer in the bathroom-- rare, but they are out there.

I would also recommend the 'drugs'. Just a bit of fever-reducer (pain-killer) before you get on. First, it will help take the edge off the ear thing which is painfull. Second, it will help them relax a bit. At least take it with you so it is an option if the flight goes badly -- but personally, I'd put my foot down with DH and say too bad -- and what does it really hurt anyways, it's only a one off thing and the ear pressurization is uncomfortable.

Also, at that age, I took the carseat and didn't let on that she could roam the isles -- like the car, once you are in, you are in.

11-05-2007, 02:01 AM
Ok, thanks everyone again. More good advice! She definitely has
her own seat but the car seat thing is not an option. I do have one
(though I don't have a car) but it is an enormous thing and super
heavy so no way I can rush to make some of my connections with
a kid, a carry on plus a car seat! And, no, lucky_alf2, I am not
potty training...we should be but I knew this trip was coming up
and there was no way I wanted to be dealing with that and the
trip so we are just using diapers. I am taking plenty of spare pj
pants as I know leaks will be inevitable and I know she will probably
hate the whole tiny noisy airplane toilet scenario so I have switched her to using pull ups so hopefully I can change her quickly and easily, as need be. She is thrilled with her new "airplane underpants"...kids,
gotta love 'em! :)
The portable dvd player is a great idea for us, I will probably check
into getting one for the return trip. (things are so much cheaper
in the States...haha)

Well, my trip starts in the early hours of Wednesday so
wish me luck!

Thanks again everyone for your helpful input!
Libbie :)

11-05-2007, 09:23 AM
All I can say is GOOD LUCK!!