Skip Nav
5 Things No One Ever Told You About Raising a Toddler (but You Need to Know)
"Jumping For Joy Mom" Is Back With Another Hilarious Back-to-School Photo
23 Great Gift Ideas For 1-Year-Olds

Mommy Dearest: Fearing Flight with Kids

Mommy Dearest,

We're about to fly across the country with our sons and I am terrified of the trip. Spending five hours in the air with my kids who are one and three is my worst nightmare. They both have a hard time sitting still and we'd rather not travel, but there's a family reunion we cannot miss. Do you have any advice on how to keep them in their seats?

—Panicked about Plane Ride

To see Mommy Dearest's response,


Panicked about Plane Ride,

Funny you should ask — I spent an hour in Target last night finding and testing every contraption I could possibly think of to keep my 19-month-old occupied on a two hour flight we will be taking next week. The way I look at it, it's hard to control an unpredictable tot, but you can try and control their surroundings. I am packing a carry on full of easy access snacks and toys — a mini Magna Doodle, animal crayons and paper, temporary tattoos, a barely lit flashlight, a toy voice recorder, one ounce pots of play-doh, etc. — that he has never seen before. I bought enough goodies so I can rotate them every 10 to 15 minutes on the flight and have a fresh stash of new ones for the plane home. If all else fails, we will pop out our portable DVD player and let him watch a movie. I also purchased the two longest Little Einstein movies I could find, as he loves the show.

Traveling with lil ones can be daunting. Our daughter is easy going so we assumed our lil guy would follow suit. But since he's higher strung, we figure we'll anticipate the worst, hope for the best and whatever happens happens. If he pitches a fit and they deplane us, we'll be mortified, but he'll still be our son and we won't love him any less. So keep this in mind and just try to do the best you can. Happy Trails...

— Mommy Dearest

Submit a question for this feature at the Mommy Dearest Group on TeamSugar.


Join The Conversation
hmcmcd hmcmcd 9 years
I have been flying my stepson back and forth from France since he was 3. (it's about 15 hours of total travel time one way)here a few things that i have learned: 1. He loves the one on one attention, last time I taught him to play slap jack and war (we played it A LOT but it really kept his attention. 2. I always let him get up and walk up and down the aisle a few time throughout the flight 3. I have never given him any type of drugs to settle or calm him 4. I always pack a lot of snacks, and new toys, coloring books, activity books, dvd's etc. I always bring a little bag of candy (like m&m's) at the start of each new hour, if was good he gets two's small but a definte motivator w/o being too much sugar. 5. i also always bring him a pair of pj's and his toothbrush, then take him to the bathroom brush his teeth and put him in his pj's so he understands that it is time to sleep for a little while, it works like a charm.
maitri13 maitri13 9 years
Just a heads up-we just flew, 2 weeks ago and our play-doh was confiscated. It was the 1 oz. size, but apparently doesn't make a difference. I second everything in Jennifer76's post. Good luck...
jennifer76 jennifer76 9 years
I agree - brand new things they haven't seen before get way more mileage than just packing toys they play with all the time. I'm not a fan of plopping the kids in front of the tv, but on the semi-rare occasion we're on a plane...? Portable DVD players are awesome. Fun snacks that take a while to eat are also good. Just avoid sugar for obvious reasons. The wrapping idea is fantastic! I've never tried that. Also, be prepared to be very, very patient. It can get easy to be a little rushed, stressed, on edge when you're dealing with airports and travel, etc...but being exceedingly patient and calm with your children (regardless of how you feel on the inside) will do wonders for keeping them calm and happy. Also, there's nothing wrong with moving around the cabin when the seatbelt light is off and your kids are getting antsy. Don't expect them to remain seated and happy the entire time. For younger kids, a pacifier or a sippy cup are a must for take-off and landing. If you're still nursing, that's perfect. Just wait until you are actually taxi-ing before you serve it up, or you might find yourself thinking your timing is perfect only to end up sitting on the runway for another 15 minutes after they've sucked down half their drink. Good luck! Flying with kids is not fun by any stretch of the imagination, but if you're prepared and patient, it can be done far less painlessly than you might think.
milosmommy milosmommy 9 years
My dear husband suggested that when we got to spring training next year that after the weekend I fly home with our son (he'll be 17mos by then) by himself and he can spend a few more days with the guys. Uh yeah right. I put my foot down big time on that one. I'm sure I could handle it if I had to, but who wants to have to do it alone.
mini_pixie mini_pixie 9 years
You know, sofi, I understand where you're coming from, I'm truly not an advocate of unneccessary medication, but the times we would forget to give her Tylenol she was always miserable. Now that she's older it might not be such a big deal, but with the age she was it was really tough. She never would take a pacifier, and by the time we would offer a bottle or sippy she was too frustrated to take it...
sofi sofi 9 years
*kinds- not kids :oops:
sofi sofi 9 years
excellent ideas mommy dearest. Wrap each new thing like a present as well so they can give you a minute or two trying to open it :) pack several little snacks (3-4 different kids to keep them interested. Hopefully you'll get a nap out of the youngest at some point and the older child can watch a movie or something. I really cringe at the Tylenol thing. Maybe some kids need it but I've never given anything to my kids and make sure they have something to suck on (bottle or sippy cup). Good luck- at least they are contained is what I always think to myself. they can't run off now can they. :)
mini_pixie mini_pixie 9 years
My one recommendation is to administer a dose of Tylenol about 30 minutes prior to takeoff & landing (assuming the ride is long enough that the first dose has worn off). This isn't to drug the kids ;) but so that the takeoff and landing don't kill their ears. This worked well for us (at least as often as we remembered to do it)
The Bucket List Family's 30 Stays in 30 Days at Disney
Disney Cruises Halloween on the High Seas 2017
How to Save Money on Disney Vacations
TSA Makes Mom Traveling With Breast Milk Miss Her Flight
From Our Partners
Latest Moms
All the Latest From Ryan Reynolds