Here are nine tips that I have learned from traveling with my little Mia on airplanes over the years – this post is specifically about traveling with a 3-year-old.
1. Layers. Layers. Layers. (Use layers for your child’s clothing).
Use layers for your child’s clothing to make sure they stay at a comfortable temperature. Airplanes have very unpredictable temperatures when on board – and trust me from experience that children are NOT happy when they are hot (I personally get very cranky when I am hot too).
My advice: Put your child in a t-shirt, and bring a light jacket that they can wear over the t-shirt.
2. Use a scarf as a blanket.
A blanket is always good to bring, but one thing that I like to do in place of a blanket is to wear a scarf around my neck and then use the scarf for their blanket (to save space in the diaper bag).
3. Surprise your child with a toy airplane.
If your child is afraid of airplanes or unfamiliar with airplanes, then going on the plane can become a lot more fun if you surprise them with them very own toy plane.
TIP: A lot of airports sell toy airplanes in the airport stores in the terminals.
Southwest Airlines Plush Toy Airplane with Sound
4. Do your “Ear Check” due diligence.
Ask your doctor what your options are to help relieve your child’s ear discomfort during the ascent and descent in the air.
5. Consider using the Best Travel Potty ever…
The Kalencom 2-in-1 Potette Plus Travel Potty has saved my sanity so many times while traveling with my potty-training toddler, and we still use it for traveling with our Preschooler. It is amazing. I never thought I’d be so passionate about a toilet seat in my life. I would post pictures to show you how we use it, but that would be gross and my child would never forgive me.
6. Bring Wet Wipes.
….because airplanes are dirty.
7. Apps for Kids
Download age-appropriate apps for your child on your cell phone. My daughter’s two favorite apps are “Make it Pop” and “Peek-a-Boo Zoo.”
8. Find the “Family Restroom” at your airport.
Family restrooms are SO much better than the regular restrooms at airports – see the photo below for an example of the Family Restroom at LAX airport – this airport has child-sized toilets and child-sized sinks, which made me extremely happy.
9. Look for pull-down step stools in airport bathrooms.
Some airports, including LAX, have stools that you can pull-down from right underneath the sink, which is fabulous for when your child needs to wash their hands (with this stool, you don’t have awkwardly lift your child up to the sink – it’s amazing).
I have just returned from what was seriously a flight from Hell with my 20-month-old toddler daughter. I wish I would have thought to bring headphones for my little one…(or a Xanax for me…just kidding…kinda) because holy sh**, it was so bad. My little girl is usually such a happy little tot – I don’t understand what even happened to cause this crazy side of her to emerge. I can’t help but wonder if her ears were hurting her because she turned into a crazy little devil thing. This hasn’t happened since I brought my toddler to a baby shower (that was located in a VERY non-baby-proofed home).
Do you remember, “Taz,” the crazy Tasmanian Devil cartoon character from Looney Tunes? If so, I want you to try and imagine “Taz” as a feisty 2-year-old toddler. Then, I want you to try to imagine what it would be like to fly with to fly with little toddler “Taz.” I found a Tasmanian Devil Iron-On Patch (shown below) from Amazon.com that makes for a fairly accurate depiction of the “Taz” that emerged in my little tot on our 2 flights.
My 20-Month-Old Toddler On Airplanes = Tasmanian Devil
For starters, my little toddler seriously threw her stuffed animal(s) at the poor, unsuspecting woman who was sitting next to us (my LO wasn’t actually intending to throw it at the woman but was merely throwing a tantrum and decided to throw her stuffed Abby Cadabby doll in a fit…which happened to fly and hit the woman who was sitting in the window seat sitting next to us; it was awful…oh yeah, and this happened twice).
Why did this happen? Because, apparently, I have NO CONTROL over my child! I’ve never seen such behavior from my child. Before kids, I would have judged the parents who had a child who behaved this way.
I shi* you not – the flight attendant brought Mr. Mia his cup of ice water to drink (which was in one of those plane cups), and before he could even take a sip from it, my LO (who was sitting on his lap) swats her hand at the water cup really hard, causing the entire cup of water to spill ALL OVER THE CROTCH of her daddy….he seriously looked like he wet his pants (it’s really funny now…but it was seriously not funny at the time).
Oh yes – and our entire flight (flying out of Denver) was pretty turbulent so the seat-belt sign was on the entire time. So, of course, whose child decides to take the most stinky poo in history? Yep. That’s right – my toddler. Oh, and yes – the seat belt sign was still on…and the turbulence continued to get worse…and the smell of the poop in my toddler’s diaper also continued to get worse. THE WHOLE GOD D*MN PLANE SMELLED LIKE MY TODDLER’S POOP! People were seriously staring at us, with a look of disgust and hatred on their faces. Eventually, despite the turbulence, I made my peace with the situation and I pressed the “call” button for the flight attendant. When the flight attendant came to our seat, I told her that my LO had a poopy diaper and I asked her if I could please leave my seat (despite the turbulence) so that I could bring my LO to the bathroom for a diaper change. The flight attendant’s response: “OH MY GOD, YES! THAT’S WHAT THAT SMELL IS?! YES, GO!”
I’m supposed to be flying next week with my toddler – BY MYSELF this time (we’re going to visit her daddy who is stationed for work in a different state right now). FML. How am I going to handle this by myself? Seriously?
At the very least, I have next year’s Halloween costume for my toddler:
Truth be Told: The title of my post says: “Do not do it! Save yourself” in regards to traveling with a 20-month-old, but the truth is that seeing family was worth every miserable second that we spent on with our toddler on the flight. If you have an opportunity to see family that lives far away, take it. It’s worth it. Just learn from the mistakes that I made (i.e., stay tuned for an upcoming post regarding “lessons learned” on traveling with a 20-month-old).
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