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My toddler loves flying. For days after we come back from a trip, he’ll be pretend-packing his own little suitcase to go off and see his grandmother.

This is great, because I hate it. That’s a slight exaggeration, but goes some way to explaining the nervousness and anxiety I get (and inflict on my husband) in the build-up to a trip.

With each flight—and I have done more than 30 of them with him now—the challenges grow as he does.

Flying with a baby for the first time can be nerve-wracking, but as your little one starts to crawl, walk and talk, the task to keep them quiet and occupied becomes a little harder.

Here are some tips that I wish I’d known two years ago:

Baby boy holding British passport

Jake has his passport and is all set to go!

Food and Drink

  • Bring way more food than you think you will need, as kids become starving monsters in the air. Lots of small, interesting snack packs will keep little fingers busier for longer—introduce these in waves throughout the flight.
  • Pack your own kiddie meals as in-flight options vary from airline to airline and chances are they won’t go down as well as you’d hope.
  • Vacuum flasks are very good for keeping toddler meals hot until you’re ready to eat. But remember if you want to keep things cool, some airports (London being one) won’t allow frozen packs through security as they’re considered liquid!
  • Ask the crew to reheat your meal when the kids are asleep. Or if there are two of you traveling, to serve you and your partner at different times so you can take turns looking after the kids.
Boy watching planes at an airport

Kids will spend hours just staring at the planes

Fun & Games

  • Wrap up some toys for the kids to open at intervals on the journey. These can be new toys or old, forgotten ones. The paper can be just as interesting as what’s inside!
  • Turn their seat into a ‘den’, using a blanket to make a tent. This is fun for playing but will also hide all their toys and mess!
  • All kids love stickers. These can create hours of entertainment, both sticking them on things and then removing them again.
  • You may be tight on hand luggage, but forget their coveted toy at your peril! Whether it’s a soft toy or Play-Doh, it’s worth making space in your bag.
  • On a long flight, an iPad loaded with their favorite shows or songs will be a lifesaver. If you limit screen time before you fly, this will seem like an extra treat. 

“No one ever gets bored of socializing with a smiley happy baby, including the babes themselves,” ~ Yoke Yee Chang

Toddler wears pilot's hat

It's really fun to dress up in a pilot's hat!

Sleep + Other Practical Bits

  • Strollers count as free baggage and most airlines let you roll them right up to the plane door.
  • I swear by barricading my toddler into his seat area, with bags to block his exit. This becomes his play area and he can only leave with an adult to go to the toilet. If he knew he were allowed to walk up and down the aisles, he (and I) would never sit down again!
  • Try and keep your child’s patterns as normal as possible for the journey to prevent any meltdowns.
  • Change into pajamas at bedtime and form a cozy bed on the seat, to simulate their home cues as much as possible.
  • Take safety pins with you and ask for an extra blanket: you can pin this over the top of the seats to block out any light at night.
  • An inflatable pillow for the foot well will help your child lie flat to sleep. The 1st Class Kid Travel Pillow is one that is still allowed on most airlines, but do double-check regulations before you fly. 


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