5 Tips to Successfully Fly with a Toddler

It doesn’t have to be stressful or nerve-wracking to travel with kids? See these 5 tips to fly with a toddler to be prepared and ready to fly!

A few years ago you were the one scoffing when you realized you were sitting next to the baby that was screaming waiting at the gate — and now the tables are turned. As you prepare to take an unpredictable toddler on an airplane during nap time and you pray to God she doesn’t scream the whole time, what are some tricks to make it all go smoother? Well, I’m here to give you 5 tips to fly with a toddler just a little more awesome!

I promise! It doesn’t have to be stressful or overwhelming if you plan ahead.

Child in airplane seat image.


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1 | the Toy

Does your toddler have a favorite toy? You know the one where they just light up every time they see it? Yes? That one! Bring it!!

That toy will be your best friend when you realize you’re about three seconds from a meltdown. Whip that toy out and see your babies face perk up.

For our first flight when my baby was 10 months old, this was the toy. A year later it was this one.

Tip: Make sure you pack this toy somewhere that is easily accessible. At the bottom of your carry on tucked under all the extra diapers and snacks is not helpful.

And that brings me to #2…

Family walking through airport image.

2 | Snacks Galore

Go crazy! Bring anything you know your kiddo loves that is relatively easy, not crumbly, and will keep your toddler full.

The first time we flew I was concerned TSA wouldn’t let us through security with opened snacks, but they didn’t care one bit.

Here are some good airplane-friendly snack ideas to consider:

  • Cheerios
  • Goldfish
  • Craisins
  • Fruit Snacks
  • String Cheese
  • Pretzels
  • Fruit Leather
  • Animal Crackers
  • Apple Slices
  • Celery Sticks
  • Baby Carrots
  • Clementine — these are my toddlers favorite!!

Tip: Being healthy is super great and I try to feed my kid healthy food 95% of the time, however, stuck in a cramped space with 200 other people is not the time to argue with a toddler who wants fruit snacks. Plan to be flexible.

Grandma holding child up to window in airport image.

3 | App to Distract

As a new first-time mom I thought absolutely no screen time for the first two years. Well, although I try really hard to limit it, I knew that wasn’t realistic. It’s just so handy to have when you’re feeling desperate. There are many educational and fun apps that are great to distract little ones and are perfect for helping kiddos get through a long flight.

Tip: If your toddler isn’t familiar with apps or technology, trial it before you get on the flight. It can take a few tries before they realize how fun and distracting apps can be.

Child on plane eating grapes and watching iPad image.

Here are recommendations on kid-friendly apps to download and try out:

  • Lego Duplo
  • Duck Duck Moose
  • Peekaboo
  • Starfall
  • Zoo train
  • KidsDoodle

If you have Amazon Prime, you can also download a few shows to your device before you leave. Daniel Tiger was a favorite of Clara’s on our trip to Los Angeles when she was 22 months old.

Tip: If you have an iPad or iPhone, make sure to set up guided access so your kid stays within the app. Here’s how you can set up guided access.

4 | Toys & Games

Along with the other things you have packed, have a bag full of fun things. I always imagine it similar to Mary Poppins bag. On our last trip I actually got my toddler her own backpack that had her toys and snacks and she knew it was her job to carry it. This is the backpack we have for her and she loves it! She has learned to hang it on her coat hook in her room like you can see in her bedroom makeover. 

Some ideas of things to pack are stickers and paper, water wow coloring book, or even stop by the Dollar tree and grab some new small toys.

Child with backpack image.

5 | Pouches

Last, but certainly not least…pouches. Even if your kid usually doesn’t eat these, you’ll want these for take off and landing. When my husband and I flew to Europe a few years ago, a little girl a few rows up screamed “mommy my earrrrs hurt!” for about 2 hours. It was so sad! Pouches are a great way to get your little to swallow on take off and landing. I always keep the pouch handy and right when we’re about to take off or land hand it to my little since she tends to down it in about two seconds flat.

These applesauce pouches were her favorite and I’m sure we’ll be using them for baby number two. If you’re breastfeeding, nursing during take off and landing is another great option.

Alternatives to Pouches:

  • If you’re breastfeeding, nursing during take off and landing is another great option.
  • If your child takes a binky, that’s another great option to encourage them to swallow and help their ears pop.

So, there we have it! Five tips that have been a lifesaver for us as we’ve traveled with our kiddo and made flying with a toddler so much easier.

Do you have tips to fly with a toddler?

Share with us!

Are you headed on a Disney adventure? Check out my top 21 tips for having a magical experience at Disney World with a baby! Plus, a lot of these tips are good for Disneyland too!

Child in airplane seat with Minnie Mouse image.

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