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Flying with Babies and Toddlers: Here’s How to Do It

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Traveling these days isn’t always a pleasurable experience, let alone when you add in young children, cranky fellow passengers, and exhausted parents.  And that’s all before take off.  

A lot of us in the Bay Area are transplants, so flying with children is just a way of life.  Both my family and my in-laws are a flight away, but not a short one. My kids took their first flights before eight weeks old.

So if we can’t (and don’t want to) avoid flying with our kids, at least we can make it as easy on ourselves as possible.  

Some basics we live by when traveling.  

  • If we need a stroller for the trip, we check it with our luggage.  It isn’t worth the hassle getting it through security and then having to package it up while the kids are going nuts at the gate.
  • Rent car seats when you can.  Trust me on this one.
  • Minimize the junk.  We bring one water bottle, one milk bottle/cup, and one snack cup for each kid. Everything else is disposable. 

Babies

Babies are the easiest.  It can be nerve-wracking to think about all the stuff you need to fly with when you have your first baby, but in the end, these babies don’t need much.  I always wore my kids when they were little, and they loved the extra snuggle time. Don’t get me wrong, by the end of a cross-country flight we were all feeling a little claustrophobic, but in the end, it was only for a few hours.  

  • Simplify simplify, simplify!  Less truly is more.
  • Bring extra pacifiers and a clip like this one. It’s not worth digging around under those seats to find a rogue binky.  
  • Bring a bottle or extra formula.  Even though I nursed, I found it easier to give a bottle during takeoff and landing.
  • Pack a super soft swaddle or two.  Our favorites are from Aden + Anais
  • A change of clothes for both of you!  You’re guaranteed a blow out on your first flight. If you’re lucky, your outfit will be spared but still better to have a backup.

Toddlers

The nightmare age. For my daughter, I kept her in my lap until she was almost two, but for my son, we needed to get him a seat even before his first birthday.  He couldn’t sit still to save his life.  Or ours.  So for now, at 18 months, we lug his car seat on the flight.  Make sure yours is FAA approved

  • Once that dreaded phase has passed, if you feel your child still needs a little something, we love the Fly Safe safety harness.  It is the only FAA approved child restraint device.  It gives them the feeling of their car seat with minimal bulk for you.
  • Unfortunately for us, my daughter isn’t super enamored with her iPad. These mini puzzles have been a lifesaver.
  • Lacing cards!  They come in a cute little case and are great for restaurants or hotel toys, too. 
  • Magic Sketch Boogie board.  This is amazing!  We use ours for both kids and always keep one in the car for restaurant entertainment.  This model comes from different pens and tracing cards so your kids can practice letters.
  • Travel pillow & blanket.  Recently, my daughter has been really into bringing her pillow with her.  I bought a toddler pillow from Ikea and a few pillowcases that are easily washed.

For even more activities, toys, and helpful travel gear check out these posts:

If all else fails, remember that flying is pretty magical for kids.  They love to look out the window at the stars, clouds, or other planes. Try to embrace it and not worry too much about all the extra stuff.  Happy travels!

 

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One Response to Flying with Babies and Toddlers: Here’s How to Do It

  1. Terry April 19, 2018 at 3:13 am #

    Love your writing style. Your parents must be very proud of you

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