Flying with a Toddler

September 4, 2012 | By More

Flying with a toddler can be tricky. I learned this first-hand this past weekend.They are kind of in that in-between age where they may or may not sit still or they may or may not pitch a fit and cause a huge scene. We aren’t flying pros by any means but we’ve done our fair share. Caden had his first flight to Chicago when he was only about 2 months old. He’s flown across the US to California and even trucked it all the way to Hawaii. Overall, he’s a pretty good traveler but like all kids he sure does have his “moments”.

When flying with a toddler, there are a ton of questions that go through your head and the decisions you make could make or break your flight. Here are my opinions on the some of the most frequently asked questions by parents.

Should we bring a stroller? Yes! Absolutely 100%. I would never recommend trying to carry a toddler all the way across the airport. If you are looking for something cheap they have umbrella stroller at Babies r Us for like 20 bucks and if it gets broken who cares, you can just buy another one.

Should we rent our car seat or bring it with us? I like to bring mine unless someone I know has a car seat where we are going. I know mine is safe and I’d prefer to have him in ours. We have the Britax travel cart so it’s super easy to transport.

Should we check our luggage or Carry it on? I’d say check it whenever you can. Pushing a stroller, carrying a diaper bag and carrying a carry-on is A LOT! But it’s do-able especially if you aren’t traveling alone with your toddler. If I am alone and bringing my carry-on I tend to check it at the gate so I don’t have to worry about it on the plane. I just pick it up with my stroller once we land.

If we have a choice on where we sit; do we pick Window or Aisle seat? I say it depends on when your flight is. If they are going to be awake I’d say aisle. If it’s a night flight I’d say window.

Do we get our toddler their own seat or have them sit in our lap? I think it depends on their age. I think Caden is really close to getting his own seat. Luckily, and this never happens to me, we had an open seat next to us on both flights this past weekend! He didn’t want to be held after a while and wanted to stretch out and sleep and it was perfect putting him down in the seat next to me. It also depends on the length of the flight. If it’s a short one, I wouldn’t waste the money. If it’s a long flight I would certainly think twice before having a baby in your lap for 8 hours. I did it on our flight to Hawaii (he was only 6 months old at the time) and it was tough. I didn’t get any sleep because I was holding Caden and my arms were so tired. Let’s just say it’s not the most comfortable way to fly.

Should we fly during the day or at night? I’d go with nap time if it’s a short flight. If it’s a long flight I’d personally go with a night flight and get their own seat.

What happens if our flight is delayed? Let them run! We got stuck on the plane for about a half hour and I just let CK watch the iPad and run up and down the aisle. Trust me the other passengers won’t mind, at least not as much if he was screaming.

How many toys should we really bring?  It depends on your child. I would bring a few “small” favorites and then maybe one or two small new ones. Honestly, I brought two new cars for CK, books and the iPad. He looked at the cars and books maybe for like 10 minutes before he moved onto the iPad. And this was before the plane took off. Once the plane took off he slept. For longer flights, I would maybe even recommend coloring books.

What’s your favorite time to fly with your children? 

Category: Adventures and Travels

Comments (4)

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  1. Colleen C
    Twitter: Momentspassslow

    We have flown a few times with Lyle and here are a few other suggestions (on top of your great ones)
    If you are a baby wearing mama – even a toddler! – bring your carrier an stroller. You will def want your stroller but for us the ergo is the trick to get him to sleep!!
    If you are traveling with someone: as soon as you get to the gate go and chat with the gate agent and bring said toddler with you! Show your faces. Let them know you would love it if they could help you find an open seat/row. Be nice!! Also at this point point out that parent A will be boarding early with the stroller, bags, etc and that parent B and toddler will be boarding the plane LAST! Parent A gets on the plane and unloads and organizes everything you need. Empty the pockets on the seat (give it to flight attendant) and fill them with your stuff. Clean the trays with antibacterial stuff, get the toys, iPad etc ready all while toddler is still running outside! Boarding a plane takes about 20-30 min. If you board last that is a huge time saver!!
    Great post!

    • Susan says:

      That is a great one, they get so bored and antsy when you bored first! I’ll be using that one next time Nate and I fly together with CK :)

    • Lisa @ The Splattered Apron
      Twitter: SplatteredApron

      So far, we’ve only ever brought the Ergo to the airport because we’ve only flown to visit my parents and they have a stroller, car seat, etc. at their house. Talk about convenient for us! The first time we fly somewhere without everything waiting for us will be a rude awakening for sure. Colleen, that is a great tip about one getting on with the stuff and the other waiting until the last minute. I cannot believe we didn’t think of that! We’ll be doing that on our next flight at Thanksgiving. Thanks for the tip!

    • Emily
      Twitter: emilytsutton

      great tip about parents boarding separately – and toddler boarding last!