Getting ready to hop on a flight for your family’s summer vacation with a little one in tow? We’re not gonna lie. Flying with a baby or toddler can be challenging.
But if you’re well-prepared and have a bit of a plan for how to handle a few potential issues, you’ll be ready to roll with the punches. And the more prepared and calm you are, the more likely your child will end up being a pretty good travel companion!
Top Tips for Flying with a Baby or Toddler
1. Be Prepared for Feeding
Since one of the main things that make babies and toddlers cranky is hunger, be sure you’re prepared to feed your baby while on your flight. If your flight is close to feeding time, try to hold off until you’re on board because eating on a plane can help soothe any discomfort your baby may experience from changes in cabin pressure (see tip number 2 for more details).
If you’re traveling with a toddler, bring a bag of his or her favorite snacks and drinks and spread them out throughout the flight.
2. Protect Your Little One’s Ears
Babies have narrower Eustachian tubes and changes in cabin pressure during take-off and landing can cause extra ear pain for them. Swallowing, sucking and chewing can help relieve the pressure, so giving your baby formula or pumped breast milk during take-off and landing can alleviate any pain or discomfort he or she may be experiencing.
If your child doesn’t take bottles, a sippy cup can work well too. For toddlers, chewing a cracker, cookie or other crunchy snack can help.
3. Plan for Naptime
Next to being hungry, being tired is the other biggest reason little ones get unbearably grumpy. As much as possible, try to maintain your child’s nap and sleep routines – it will greatly benefit both you and your child.
If possible, book flights around nap times – the vibration of a plane often helps babies drift off. For red eye flights, bring pajamas on board and follow your usual bedtime routine as best you can, including reading favorite bedtime stories.
4. Purchase a Separate Seat
While lap children under the age of 2 typically fly for free, it’s worth the extra money to buy a separate seat for your child. It’s a safer option and is strongly recommended by the Federal Aviation Administration. Buying an extra seat for your baby means you’ll also need to bring on board an FAA-approved car seat.
This also provides extra space that you and your family will be grateful for. And, if your plane doesn’t have bathrooms with changing tables, the additional space will really come in handy for when you need to change your baby’s diaper. Have some disposable changing pads and odor-absorbing bags to place dirty diapers in.
5. Bring Enough Necessities
If this will be your first time traveling with your baby or toddler and you’re unsure how much to bring of certain items, a good rule of thumb is to bring twice the amount that you think you’ll need. This goes for formula, diapers, onesies, changes of clothes for everyone, food, snacks and drinks.
This way, in the event of a delay or flight cancellation, you won’t risk running out of any essentials and can remain calm knowing you have enough of what everyone needs.
6. Bring Entertainment
For the times your child isn’t sleeping or eating, you’ll want to have some entertainment options you can count on to keep him or her content on the flight.
Bring favorite board books and picture books, bring coloring books and crayons for toddlers and get some new travel toys. The Mozart Magic® Cube and traveling flash cards are both popular items that little ones love. And be sure to check out our array of creative teethers to provide your baby some gum relief that doubles as a fun activity.
Follow these tips for flying with babies and toddlers and, even if things don’t go exactly according to plan (and they rarely do!), you’ll be able to handle whatever comes your way with confidence and have a less stressful travel experience overall.