Not sure how to keep your toddler entertained during an airplane flight? Here are some tips that helped us survive!
Oh man – flying with a toddler. I’m pretty sure not much else in terms of parenting gets my blood pressure rising than the thought of being on a plane for 3+ hours with Lars. Don’t get me wrong – he is a GREAT kid – but like I’ve said in the past, he’s a mover.
While he actually does great sitting still for an hour run in the stroller or and rocks a 3 hour car ride in the car seat, he’s not a lap sitter. Which brings me back to my airplane anxiety, because the only option on a plane is lap sitting unless you want to fork over the money for another seat, which I’m not even sure would be any more helpful.
Although we’ve successfully flown with him 5 times (that’s 12 flights counting layovers!) I feel like every flight is a little different and this last time flying to Seattle was definitely the most challenging now that he’s walking.
Before the flight I did some serious research and prep to give us endless options of entertainment and I thought I’d share some of our tips on how to survive flying with a 1 year old!
1) iPhone entertainment. This can be as simple as taking selfies (babies love to look at themselves!), playing with SnapChat filters, or downloading an interactive app. I downloaded a bubble popping app which was great for a couple of reasons. For one, we never let Lars use our phones at home so it was completely new to him. Also, it made noise and vibrated when he popped the bubbles which made him want to keep popping more. He loved it.
2) Stickers. Or Post-It notes. Or anything else sticky. Put them on your kiddo, put them on yourself. Just don’t forget to take them off your face when you go to use the restroom.
3) New toys. I went to Target and bought a bunch of cheap toys that I thought Lars might find interesting and didn’t introduce them to him until the flight. I also bought some cheap finger puppets from Amazon and a wand that lights up every time you tap something, which he loved. Interactive and books that encourage you to touch things were also a big hit.
Another great tip I heard from a friend was to wrap all of the toys in wrapping paper to give your kid even more of a challenge. I didn’t do that this time but will definitely try it on our next longer flight.
4) SNACKS. No brainer. I tried to make sure we didn’t give him a snack before we got on the plane so the snack trick would definitely work once we were on the plane because Not-Hungry Toddler = snack trick fail. Some of my favorite on the go snacks are Lara Bars, FLYJOY Bars, apples (which doubles as something to occupy his hands with because I just let him gnaw on it), Cheerios/cereal, dried fruit, and my homemade Cheez-Its. Lars also loves the pouches but we’re still not really at the point where I trust him with one of those in public without making a huge mess so that is definitely a snack that I have to hold.
5) Baby carrier. I honestly don’t know what I would do without my Infantino Fusion Carrier because it has some magical powers that make an otherwise squirmy Lars, not squirmy. It’s amazing. On one of our flights, I put him in the carrier and then stood in my aisle seat so he could see all of the people standing in line for the bathroom, as we were in the second to last row. This lasted for an entire hour, as there was an oddly long and never-ending line for the bathroom. Once the line cleared up, I walked up and down the aisle a few times too.
6) Movies on the iPad. Or whatever watching device you have. This was my first time downloading movies on my iPad and I just used our Amazon Prime account to find something free to download, which just happened to be Barney. Lars has never been into watching television, probably because we never have it on when he’s up, but I figured I’d give it a try on the flight. Kind of like a last ditch effort if things were a disaster. Things never actually got to the point of being a disaster, but I was getting tired of standing up with him in the carrier, so I brought out the iPad so I could sit down for 5 minutes and guess what! It actually worked. He watched Barney for a solid 10 minutes.
7) Schedule a flight around nap time. Both of our flights to and from Seattle were in the same general time frame of Lars’ normal naps, so our game plan was to get on the plane and try to put him down for a nap after take-off. Marc has been awesome at getting Lars to sleep on planes so for the flight out he stood in back (next to a grumpy flight attendant) and rocked and shushed Lars to sleep. On the flight home, we were in the middle of the plane and Lars was getting pretty fussy before take-off so I nursed him to sleep, and he slept for over 2 hours of that flight. Aside from a numb arm, I called this a major success.
That’s it! Do you have any other tips for flying with a toddler? I’d love to hear them!