Traveling on airplane with toddler



Hi, Amalah,

Congratulations on your soon-to-arrive newest boy! That’s so exciting! You make some darn cute babies!

I’ve been dragging my feet on asking this question but I finally have to ask for help: My husband, 2.5 year old son, and I will be flying from Portland, OR to Chicago, IL in about 2 weeks and I don’t know what to do to help make the trip easier for my son. The first and only time he flew, it was a disaster. I wasn’t prepared, he was 6 months younger, and it was just a mess. He was miserable, I was miserable, and the sweet, kind people on the plane were miserable.

Do you have any suggestions for how to make this trip go more smoothly? Toys, tricks, anything? We have a row of three seats to ourselves and we’ll be toward the back of the plane. We’re going to get a portable DVD player, some new toys that he won’t get until the day of the trip, his security blanket (of course), and some good, nutritionally-lacking snacks.

I hate the thought of him being miserable and sad and confused and anything that we can do to make it a less annoying trip for him means a less annoying trip for everyone else on the plane. And less gray hair for mama.

Thank you!

Honestly, your existing plan sounds extremely solid. There’s probably not a whole lot I can add to that list, other than “take a deep breath and accept that sometimes, IT JUST DEPENDS.” Sometimes, your kid will get on a plane and be miserable. Sometimes, your kid will get on a plane and make everybody else miserable. And sometimes, your kid will get on a plane and be an absolute perfect angel and the other passengers will give you a standing ovation after you land because your kid has been so wonderful…but then it’s time for your return flight and that same wonderful child decides to SPROUT HORNS and KICK TRAY TABLES and WHINE and WAIL and THROW THINGS.

I have not, personally, taken my kids on that many flights, but the Internet advice I received lined up pretty well with what you’re already planning: a DVD player or laptop, a generous supply of new small toys, and an even more generous supply of crappy special snacks. I would probably qualify this list with a couple additional tips, including:

1) Making sure your son is okay with wearing the headphones for the DVD player BEFORE the day of the flight. This ended up being more of a challenge than we expected.

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