Traveling for the first time as new parents can be intimidating. I remember packing up for our first long drive when Liam was still a newborn and wondering how people do it with more than one child! I’m happy to share that since we’ve done quite a few more drives, I feel pretty confident in that arena of travel with Liam. For our summer trip back to Wisconsin just recently, we were going to be flying with him. It was the first time he’d be on an airplane, so I was a little nervous! It turned out to be perfectly fine and we came out unscathed. Was it the most enjoyable 2 hours of my life? No. Would I let having to fly with a toddler hold me back from doing things in life? No. While it’s obvious that I’m no expert, I wanted to share what things we did to prepare and how our experience was, in case you find yourself in a similar situation soon.
We opted to fly with Liam as a lap child, which worked out fine. In hindsight, he probably would’ve done a little better in a carseat (he loves riding in the car and doesn’t have an issue with being in his carseat for hours at a time). But Mike and I just took turns holding him during the flight and it went okay! Both of our flights happened to be right in the middle of his typical nap times, so he was a little more tired than usual, which worked to our benefit. He didn’t sleep at all, which we were prepared for, but he wasn’t as full of energy as he usually is.
In preparation for all the distractions during the flight, here’s what I brought in our diaper bag:
an iPad with a couple shows preloaded: he didn’t end up watching anything, but I was glad to have the option
new toys from the dollar section: I bought whatever I could find in Target’s dollar section the day before our trip. From foam airplanes, to plastic animals, to stickers. I brought them out one by one during the flight for him to play with and explore. Each one provided about 3 minutes of entertainment, but that was another 3 minutes of time that passed!
so many snacks: the most helpful thing to have for Liam was snacks. We brought things like goldfish, yogurt melts, and pouches. He snacked basically the entire flight, but he was happy!
I also packed a change of clothes (just in case, didn’t use it either flight!), sanitizing wipes, his sippy cup, a pacifier, and his blanket (in case he wanted to snuggle up and sleep). He mostly enjoyed his snacks and smiling at the people in the row behind us.
We offered him a pouch during takeoff on both flights, which may have helped to pop his ears. He didn’t show any discomfort at all, so it either worked or wouldn’t have been an issue for him either way! He also takes a pacifier, so he had that after he finished his pouch for a little bit.
I’ve heard people say that about 12-18 months is the worst age to fly with a kid and I get it now, haha! He just wants to move and walk and explore, which is what he’s used to doing all day everyday. Like everything else in parenthood, I set my expectations extremely low going into this new experience. Now that I’m on the other side of it, I would say it went well! He was a champ, even missing his naps. It was very helpful to have Mike there with me to help pass him back and forth and offer distractions, too.
If you find yourself overwhelmed by the idea of flying with a baby or toddler for the first time, try to not stress too much. You’ll make it through! Most people will be very understanding on the flight that babies will be babies – they may cry, fuss, and make noise and that’s okay. That’s what noise-cancelling headphones are good for!