Tips for Surviving Flying With a Toddler

I recently just flew from Kodiak, AK to Tampa, FL with my 18-month old daughter, Madison. Did I mention I was solo? Flying with a toddler is not easy. Throw in 4 time zones and a 19 hour flight and you’ll be dreaming of downing a bottle of wine at the next airport bar you pass. Kid free, of course.

In all honesty, no flight with a toddler is easy. They don’t have the attention span to sit there for hours, but this does not mean that we can’t help entertain them.  After two 19 hours flights, I can say Madison behaved much better than I anticipated. Following the below tips really helped us not only survive an extremely long flight but do so with our sanity in tact.

  1. Pack a New Toy – Pack something they haven’t played with before. New toys always keep toddlers attention longer than something they’re accustomed to.

  2. Baby Wear Through the Airport – My ergo was a lifesaver when running from terminal to terminal. Instead of having to search for an elevator to take a stroller on, I was able to have my hands free and my feet free to use escalators or stairs. Baby wearing also made it easier to keep Madison sleeping when transferring from airport to plane. Since we were flying the red eye flight, keeping Madison asleep and comfortable was important.

  3. Use a Backpack Diaper Bag – This helps free your hands and is big enough to add toys/snacks for the flight.

  4. Pack Variety of Snacks – I know my toddler picks her snacks based on her mood at the time. When you’re stuck on a plane the more variety you can offer them, the happier you’re going to keep them.

  5. Noise Cancelling Headphones – Planes and the people on them can be noisy. Noise cancelling headphones can block the noise and help your little one sleep or concentrate on a movie.

  6. Download a Favorite Movie on Tablet – This was something we used on a long layover and on the plane. I downloaded a few shows from my daughter’s favorite TV series that offered variety and kept her entertained.

  7. Bring a Gallon Ziplock Bag – Dirty diapers happen and can stink up a plane. Having a ziplock bag handy will give you somewhere to stash the diaper and smell. While changing your toddler or baby in the bathrooms is definitely what I would suggest, sometimes that’s not an option. During takeoff of one of our flights, Madison had an explosive diaper. Due to turbulence the pilot announced they would be leaving the seat belt lights on for a while and there was no way I was going to let her sit there any longer in that. Thankfully we had a row to ourselves, so I was able to change Madison in the seat and throw the dirty diaper in the ziplock bag, thus sparing other passengers from the dirty diaper smells.


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