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10 top tips for flying with a toddler

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flying with toddler

By Emma Castle

The average toddler loves many things about flying … except the part that involves sitting still for a long time. 

The key to a pleasant flight – for you and everyone else on the plane – is preparation. With a few handy tricks up your sleeve, you and your little toddler friend will arrive at your destination with a smile on your face. 

Here are the golden rules for flying with a toddler.

1. Take your pram to the gate

Check beforehand but most airlines will let you take your pram to the gate, where they will then tag it and place it in the luggage hold. Why take your pram this far? Because the longer your toddler is strapped into their pram, as opposed to running amok in the gate lounge, or trying to run off in the airport, the longer you get to stay sane.

2. Download their favourite shows 

Screen time rules no longer apply. Do not rely on seat back entertainment as not all aircraft have it, and don’t rely on inflight WiFi as it’s unreliable and slow. If you have back-to-back Paw Patrol episodes downloaded, you, my friend, are winning at life.

3. Take an activity pack

Make your own activity pack or buy an age appropriate pack online before you travel. These nifty packs have colouring-in books, games, activities and toys that are all designed for use on an aircraft – meaning no permanent marker attacks or noisy inclusions.

4. Take lots of novelty snacks

While there are rules around what you can get through security in different airports, a safe bet is a small packet of biscuits, popcorn, juice poppers and cut up fruit.

5. Give small gifts

Wrap up small items your toddler can unwrap at various points throughout the flight. This is unadulterated bribery, but if it’s a choice between a Monster Truck or a Beanie Boo and a screeching toddler, we recommend bribery. Mix in some toys from home with some new items – and many layers of different coloured wrapping paper can extend the fun.

6. Have a bottle on hand

Whether it’s expressed milk or formula, if your toddler is into bottles, make sure you have one made up and ready to go for full soothing potential. Also, if your kiddo is on formula, keep a couple of serves in your cabin bag. The crew will happily add the water and warm it up for you.

7. Prepare for take-off and landing

Some toddlers experience inner ear pain with the cabin pressure changes that occur during take-off and landing. You can invest in pressure-filtering ear plugs to help, or try giving a bottle or breastfeeding at these times. Gummy lollies or anything that requires sucking and chewing are also an option.

8. Take a light blanket

It’s invariably freezing on planes so if your little person nods off (HALLELUJAH), it’s handy to have a light blanket on hand. Not all airlines supply them and the last thing you want is the cold waking them up. 

9. Consider buying an inflatable footrest

You can buy inflatable footrests and cushions to wedge into the footwell to create a flat sleeping surface for little people to lay flat on. Just check with the airline that it’s allowed before you show up.

10. Be friendly to the people around you

If all else fails, the support and friendliness of fellow passengers will be the one saving grace that will make the whole thing okay. While you can’t choose who you will be surrounded by, the kindness of other passengers is often the defining factor between a difficult experience and a lovely one. And people are generally understanding – you’ve got this!

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