Toddler Plane Ride Ideas – HELP!!

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I’ve mentioned it a million times, but we are leaving for Vegas soon (not today or anything, but soon enough(*)) and I am beginning to dread that long plane ride with WB.  Yes, he is the happiest little dude ever.  Unless you trap him in a car (or plane) for too long.  The car I can tolerate because, yeah, it’s just us in the car and I don’t have a million people glaring at me because my kid won’t stop screaming.  But on a plane, we are trapped.  Even when he was a baby (save for his first ever flight), L has always been a dream traveler so I never really had to pull out all the stops for him.  But for WB, I’m prepared to.  I’m packing snacks, play-doh, crayons, trains, his favorite little toy and of course, the iPad loaded with all the Elmo, Thomas and Yo Gabba Gabba a kid could want.

But what else can I do?  Any tips?  Suggestions?  He has his own seat and as much as I dread the thought of it, we’re dragging along a car seat for him because yeah, he’s not just going to sit still (he’s 17 months, I’d never expect him to).  Should I be baking cookies for everyone on the plane to say I’m sorry in advance?  Or is there some super secret toddler plane ride trick no one has clued me in on yet?  HELP!!!

(*) I’m not going to post when because then the robbers would know when to come in and steal my fall candle stockpile and my lip gloss hoard. We can’t have that.
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This Post Has 24 Comments

  1. Judy Louie

    Just kidding. Your ideas are really good and all ones that we have used, too. We would also buy cheap new toys or coloring books at the dollar store and wrap them up like presents. And every hour or so, we’d let my daughter open another “present”. I think your attitude helps a lot, too. I think our kids can feel when we are stressed out. If you can feel calm it helps them to feel the same. And if WB loses his sh*t, don’t worry about it. Only the meanies get their panties all in a bunch over it. Everyone else understands.

  2. Jenny

    hmm I just want to see your fall candle/lipgloss hoard. I might be envious. LOL
    Sorry no help with the flights. N is like L and a dream in the car and plane. He falls asleep as the plane is taking off and wakes when the wheels come out to land. He’s done it all 3 times he’s flown. 🙂 C on the other hand has only flown once and that was enough he was 11mo and just all over the place. He’s 2.5 now so past taking his seat on the plane really but he just won’t sleep I know he’ll just be loud. I don’t think he’d scream but he is so loud. I would say snacks and Ipad are going to be your best friend. Make sure you don’t forget any lovie or blanket that he has to have too.

  3. Kyra

    What about stringing cheerios on string or dental floss (not yarn bc of fuzzies), it would keep him busy snacking for a while and has got to be neat for a kid!
    A few new lift-the-flap books or some sort of new interactive book.
    Stickers – maybe take a placemat that he can stick them on
    Other than that Benadryl (jk, unless your flight gets screwed up then i’m not jk!) and LOTS of snacks! Can you take those squeeze food pouches thru airport security?

  4. Carla

    Girl, now is the time to invest in an ipad. My son was the same way when he was a toddler and then I bought an ipad, downloaded a ton of free toddler apps and he was in kid heaven on flights.

  5. alison

    I will be reading all the comments to come because I’m so interested in what advice people will give you…. I have no advice… I’ve never taken my son on a plane, and if I did I’d be totally freaking out with the exact concerns you have. Honestly, I think the ipad would entertain my son for a pretty long time… and I’d keep feeding him crackers (which I’m think he believes are cookies).

  6. Krystal

    What about those ‘wonder color’ fingerpaints…no mess only works on the special paper type thing?

  7. Lisa

    You will be happy you have the car seat–hopefully he will actually sleep in it (we found that worked for our son last winter when we went to Mexico, he was 2 1/2). Also if you bring all kinds of snacks each in their own container it makes a fun game to open them, they’re like surprises! Try getting freeze-dried fruit (Trader Joe’s sells it) and freeze-dried yogurt melts, in addition to snack packs of cookies/crackers and other fruit snacks (the chewier kind). And milk boxes in case your airline doesn’t have them. Have a great trip! I love reading about how your boys are so great together as we’re expecting our second boy in January!!

  8. Shari Kramer

    The first time my little one flew she was about 18 mo’s. I went out at bought a bunch of cheapo toys (think dollar store) that she had never seen before and I pulled them out one by one as she got bored. Cheap toys work better because there is a good chance they will get lost/broken on the trip. Don’t foget a sippy cup that you can fill up after you go through security.

    Have fun, I just got back from Vegas three days ago.

  9. Victoria

    Just returned from a 6 hour plane ride with an insanely active 14 month old. It wasn’t perfect, but I was pleasantly surprised. My little dude is a P.I.G. so lots of snacks, and then I purposely “saved” some toys from his recent Citrus Lane and Bluum boxes so he had “new” toys. Randomly, we also brought a few post it pads, and he had like 20-30 minutes of fun tearing each one off. Good luck!

  10. Heather

    Benadryl. Don’t hate me but it works, my Ped. actually encourages it, and the other passengers (I’m certain) thank me for it. Ask your Ped. about it.

  11. wisconsin gal

    Been there, still doing that!

    Couple of tricks I pack:
    a) pack premade mac n cheese, it’s still good when it’s cold, and sometimes it’s what they need to fill their belly to fall asleep.
    b) new foods, like chocolate teddy grahams
    c) target $1 section. Figure you can throw it away if it doesn’t work, but a “fresh” toy is always fun, and now they have activity books, with some crayons, stickers, and coloring pages.
    d) left over McDonalds happy meal big kid toys. The toddler toys, meeh, don’t always do it, but some of the bigger kid toys have a function or more. They seem to love that, and bonus they are *unwrapping* the item. Even though it’s in plastic, they’ll think ooh fresh toy. Plus, it’s easy to toss, and not so heart breaking if they drop it.
    e) sticker books. these are a little easier to find online than the stores, but for his age, sticker books, that have you place stickers of like shapes and friendly (and familiar) characters are fun, and it’s supposed to be somewhat challenging, but not so much that you have to pull them through every step. I’m being vague, but if you wanted, I can look up the brand we use.
    f) benedryl
    g) infant tylenol
    h) kids dramamine.
    I know the meds are controversal, but follow the dosage directions, and sometimes it just takes the *edge* off their anxiety when they are feeling REALLY pissed about sitting too long. I would at least carry the infant tylenol as backup.
    I) loveley or familiar blanket

    Hope this helps!

  12. Sabrina Foust

    I saw a really cute idea somewhere. Someone printed up a note saying “hi, my name is so and so and I am 18 months old.” It went on to say that I am always good but I might start crying. It apologized in advance and was in a little baggy with some candy and earplugs.

  13. Annie

    When my brother and I flew as kids, my mom would wrap a bunch of little things – like playdoh, an activity book, crayons, little stuff, nothing big! – in wrapping paper and we got to open one every half an hour or something. Mom says it always worked like a charm! As soon as we got tired of one thing, we got to open a new “present” and play with that for a while. Most of the fun was the unwrapping 🙂

  14. Krista

    My daughter used to love the Sesame Street video podcasts when she was that age. It was the easiest way to keep her stationary and entertained while we were flying. I just gave her the ipod and let her watch wearing kid friendly (comfy) headphones. Thankfully the screens are larger these days and you can even put the podcasts on a tablet if you want to use a bigger screen. Now on long car rides, she spends most of her time playing on her tablet and watching movies and shows we have loaded on her sd card.

  15. Margaret

    I’ve yet to travel with my 19 month old daughters but will be in November. My friend at work told me that when she travels with her children she always pays for the persons around her to get in flight television. Another told me that she gives her child one snack at a time. For example, with goldfish she’ll give him one and then set another one out after he picks up and eats the first one and so on. She said it keeps her child occupied and takes him FOREVER to finish the bag. I thought those were both good tips. Good luck and be sure to share what you thought worked for you!

    1. Jenn

      I like the ideas of giving one snack at a time or the cheerios on a string. I’m not sure about airplane friendliness but in the car my kids will spend 30 minutes eating a pouch of Fun Dip or even an apple. Personally I find the less I bring the better. When I bring lots of stuff I just get overwhelmed with it all and never end up using it all effectively. I don’t like it when parents give away things on the airplane for other people. I may be the only one. It seems offensive to me – it’s attention-grabbing, it’s treating your child like an inconvenience, I don’t know. Doesn’t sit well with me.

  16. becky

    I have seen before where a family put together a little goody bag and note when flying with a toddler. They referenced the ear popping and sitting still aspects in a nice way and asked for forgiveness/patience in advance. My overall thought when I read it was that it was a nice gesture by the parents that I would likely do myself. Something like that might go a long way if your worried about the people on the flight. I had a similar situation but my son was a little older. By pure luck we were seated a couple rows from another child around the same age. The father approached us and asked if our son might want to sit next to his and play for the flight. After some seat shuffling we were all close together and the two boys had a blast the whole time. I know that’s completely by chance, but if you find yourself in a pinch you could always see if there is another family on board with kids around the same age.

  17. Sara

    We brought a mini magna doodle to keep our little guy entertained on a flight to Disney World. It did for awhile but the iPad was the best entertainer.

  18. Elise

    Like a lot of people have said, cheap new toys. I remember flying a lot as a kid and my mom would fill up little backpacks for us with wrapped toys, all cheap, but new to us. Every 30 minutes or hour if we were quiet and polite, we got a gift to open. Part of the fun was just opening a gift! This was back in the day before ipads, tvs on planes, etc so we would color, read, play games, etc. Also get up and walk around, that helps. Good luck!

  19. Jessica

    I totally agree with the post it notes! So much fun for little ones. It sounds like you are already prepared with snacks, toys and the iPad. My toddler loves to watch her home movies on the iPad. That would keep her entertained for hours!
    Another tip I learned was to keep the toddle rear facing on a plane (as long as your child fits properly and the seat fits). This will stop him from kicking the seat in front of him and you will be able to face him to hand him toys/snacks. He also won’t be able to throw things on the floor as they will most likely fall into the seat his seat is in. Just a thought. It worked great with us. The only downside was the person in front could not recline their seat but I am sure that beats a toddler kicking the seat any day!
    Have a fabulous trip!

  20. Sara

    I will have to read through the comments later for all the suggestions you got! We are going on a plan next spring with Mackenzie (she will almost be 3) and Ethan will be 5 months, and I’m already having nighmares/ panic attacks over it. We are also dragging both car seats with us….i’d rather pay the money for 4 seats and have them comfortable in their car seats. I’ve read that having their car seats can help on plane rides. Otherwise your ideas sound good and what I’ve thought about doing….maybe just buy everyone a drink on the plane, or yourself a few. 🙂

  21. kara

    My daughter is loving the Melissa and Doug On the Go Water Wow. They even sell thrm at Target. I found them on an end cap by the Crayola isle.

  22. kara

    Oh, magna doodles would be good too.

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