Traveling with a Toddler

Hey full feedings fam,

With spring break and summer coming up (for those of us on the Northern Hemisphere anyway) I wanted to share my tips for you to have a successful airplane trip with your toddler!

*Infant parents we have you covered too, check out my blog from last year on Traveling with an Infant and Kelly's blog on Going Home for the Holidays.

The good news is, traveling with a toddler is easier than flying with an infant, so take a deep breath and relax.

Before you fly, I recommend getting books on airplanes and airports from the library to help your toddler get excited for the trip. At this age, they can begin to connect and recognize what they see in the book with what they'll experience during the trip. Reading my daughter books before the flight helped to get her excited to experience the airport and see it all in real life.

Pro tip: if you're not booking a seat for your toddler, try and book a window and aisle seat with the middle seat empty. It's less likely that someone traveling alone will choose a middle seat so you may wind up with the whole row!

In terms of packing, I recommend organizing your carry-on with three separate pouches because it's easier to grab a whole pouch when you need something instead of digging through your bag on the airplane to get something for an impatient toddler:

  1. Everything you need for diapering on the airplane. If your child isn't still in diapers, I'm so jealous of you and you can skip this step! For the rest of us, this pouch should include enough diapers for the whole trip + a few more for delays, wipes, a changing pad and at least one change of clothes
  2. Toys. Purchasing a few new toys or borrowing a few toys from a friend that your child hasn't used yet, is super helpful to entertain them on the airplane. My daughter didn't play with most of the toys we packed, but it was good to have them just in case. Some toys that are easy to pack and lightweight for the airplane are a soft activity book, travel busy board, magnetic travel blocks, reusable stickers and airplane tray cover. We don't use an iPad or TV with our daughter yet, but also pack headphones if you plan to use one!
  3. Food. I always choose food that my daughter loves but also takes her some time to eat like a bagel or homemade flatbread. Also, bring a bib, utensils/plates if you need it, wipes and a cup.

For the parents, pack food for yourselves too! I also find it really helpful to have closed containers for drinks, something like a Hydro Flask, that won't leak no matter what your toddler does to it (because you will need coffee). Also, pack a water bottle for yourself to stay hydrated and to encourage your toddler to drink water throughout the flight, too!

Now for the airport/airplane:

  1. Change your toddlers diaper right before you board to help limit the number of trips you need to make to the airplane bathroom.
  2. During take off you want them to be eating or drinking something so their ears don't pop. I packed a cup with a straw and bought milk in the airport for my daughter.
  3. Pace yourself and your toddler! Try not to take out all of the toys right away. My daughter enjoyed “reading” the safety guide, exploring her new environment, and looking out the window for a while before we even needed to try toys. The fewer toys you need to play with during the flight, the easier the trip will be for you.
  4. Let them walk to the bathroom. Most toddlers love to walk and a big concern of mine before flying was that she would be cranky and want to run around the whole time. Letting her walk to the bathroom at the other end of the airplane really helped to get some of that energy out.

Once you land, change their diaper in the airport again and enjoy your vacation!