Mom Tip Monday: 10 Tips for Flying With Kids

by Heligirl on November 8, 2010

in Mom Tip Monday,Parenting Articles

Some moms are old hats at taking the kids on an airplane while others are completely petrified by the prospect. I was the later until I finally bit the bullet and took the kids to Hawaii. While I admit there is no way to prepare for or eliminate all potential issues you might have on the trip, there are certainly a number of things you can do to be as prepared as possible. Here are 10 tips I found most valuable for our trip across the Pacific:

  1. Buy a seat for your child, regardless of age. The FAA recommends each person have a seat. And for the price, it sure is worth the ability to have your lap free. Car seats are best if you can manage to bring them because kids are both up higher so they can see out the window and they’re securely strapped to the seat. God forbid there be an accident or incident, including emergency stoppage on the runway. Your little one is far more secure when in his own seat with the seatbelt fastened than in your arms. Granted a car seat is an extra thing to haul through the airport, but if you can do it, it’s best for your child.
  2. Prepare to deal with the TSA. If you’re traveling with children, you can bring “reasonable quantities” of liquids and gels that are for feeding purposes, including water and breast milk. You just need to take them out and put them in the bin. So pack favorite snacks and drinks to help keep the kids happy. Maybe even sneak a little in for you as you never know if you’ll have time to get a snack. I feel I must tell you though, while the TSA is supportive of parents there, be aware that the TSA has started new evasive pat down procedures for people who refuse to use the new body scanners that show your naked body. This includes your child. Child molestation issues are a hot topic now due to these new rules. If this is a concern to you, consider writing to all three members of Congress in your district as this is the only way these violating procedures will be changed.
  3. Pack some surprise toys. Having a little arsenal of never before seen toys that magically appear after takeoff can do wonders to entertain your little one. These don’t have to be expensive. Toy cars, stickers, coloring books, stuffed animals, and even little airplanes keep the littlest ones happy. For a while. It’s a good idea to have several surprise toys.
  4. For kids with a little more attention span, consider loading favorite movies and cartoons on a multi-media device or laptop. Young ones might not even need headphones, instead being distracted by the moving images alone.
  5. Bring favorite books and a favorite sleeping toy in your carryon. Not only do they help on the plane, but also at the destination. I’d add to safety pin your name and cell number on the sleeping toy just to be safe as these can be rather irreplaceable when on vacation.
  6. Pack an extra change of clothes, or two, in the diaper bag. Even if your child isn’t prone to blowouts anymore, any number of things can happen on a plane, from dumped juice to spilled applesauce.
  7. Do a diaper change before boarding and be prepared to change diapers in your seat. Many airlines have few if any changing tables and you’re not allowed to get up if the seatbelt light is on. Laying your little one on the floor at your feet, sadly, may be the best place. You might want to take that bathroom break for yourself too before you board if you’re traveling alone.
  8. Prepare kids old enough to understand about what to expect. There are a lot of children’s books about airplanes, airports, flying and even first airplane rides. Then after getting to the airport, take the time to watch flights board, luggage being loaded, planes taking off, etc. and explain what is going on.
  9. Upon take off and ascent, as well as descent, offer a drink and snack to help kids’ ears pop.
  10. Estimate how much time you’ll need. Add some time. Then add more. Plenty of airports have fun things to do while you wait. Alternatively, most airlines will not wait for you if you’re late. Planning extra time allows you to check luggage, get through security, get to your gate, watch airplanes (a mandatory activity with kids), do a last minute bathroom break and diaper change, then take advantage of pre-boarding. Unexpected things like tantrums, hold ups in security, long lines, and the like won’t increase your stress if you planned plenty of time.

I hope this helps get you planning for your trip. I have a question for you veteran fliers with kids, what additional tips would you offer? Anything specific for a parent traveling alone?


Susan November 8, 2010 at 6:48 pm

Great tips! When we flew this summer, my son spilled his cup of drink on himself and his blanket (mostly the blanket). When we landed and hit the bathroom, I washed out the blanket and was drying it with paper towels when a woman nearby suggested to use the hand dryer. Lots of air! (Unfortunately, it was cool air, not warm or hot- but it did the job for the most part.).

A few years ago, when I had to travel alone with my then 22 month old, I had our 2 suitcases with wheels, that had devices that allowed you to “hitch” suitcases together using a strap and buckles (creating a train- I could connect more if necessary). So, I could use the one handle to pull both suitcases, while I put the carseat on top of them. I wore a backpack for a carry-on, that had a separate insulated compartment that attached onto the bottom of the pack (that was back when I could put an icepack and all sorts of snacks in it). And with my other hand, I had the kid in a stroller. I was able to manage all of our stuff with my 2 hands. I have also found that when I needed an extra hand, a fellow passenger would always offer to help.
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Katie November 9, 2010 at 6:33 pm

Great tips! I traveled with my son when he was a newborn and I was still nursing. Any moms that are in that situation will find that nursing on the ascent/descent will relieve all ear issues. Not nursing? Pacifiers work really well too.

Something I also learned was that Little People and Weebles do not make good surprise toys (see tip 3). Instead they make excellent projectiles – oops!
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November 10, 2010 at 1:37 pm

This is a great post! The surprise toys and the movies have been the biggest ones that have worked for me.
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Colleen November 11, 2010 at 10:16 am

Don’t you find as parents we are lugging the whole house with us to entertain our children LOL. The fun part is getting it to fit under the seat or in the overhead compartment.

Just stopping by to show my love. Not get to do that much, as soon as my Holiday Event is over I’m going to be doing nothing but bloggy LOVE!!!!!!!!!
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