Flying with a Toddler

Flying with a toddler

Keeping travel exciting to a toddler, especially on a plane, can be tiring. The last few months I have had the opportunity to travel a fair amount with my two and a half year old daughter, and these are a few tips & tricks that have really helped me out along the way.

I have broken everything down into a few different categories because there is a LOT of details when you are talking about flying with a toddler!

In the airport
Making it through security
Luckily kids don’t have to take their shoes off when going through security, but you still do so make sure to wear flats you can take off/put back on easily.

You can fill up a backpack and make sure they wear it through security. It is much harder for them to run away when they are weighted down with a backpack. You can also posture it that they are helping by caring their own bag, getting them involved in the process

The Best backpack

A lot of airports have a play place available for kids to play, so before you head to the airport check to see if they play areas is anywhere near your gate. If it is, that is the PERFECT place to get out some last minute wiggles. The always offer hand sanitizer at the entrance/exit of the play place, and I would highly suggest using it. :)

On The plane

Toddler Toys

Once on the plane, you need to think in terms of time segments. The length of that segment really is different for each child & each activity. The point here is to know that you will need to keep switching up what they are doing/playing with in order to keep them occupied.

It is very helpful to have new toys to be able to share as well as any small favorites from home. The Dollar Store/Big Lots & the dollar bin at Target are all great places to get smaller toys. I bought magnetic blocks on amazon (link below) and they have been a HUGE hit!!

My friend Jen from Mamma.Pappa.Bubba just posted this AMAZING gift she made for a friend, and I HAD to share it for all of my DIY friends- a Portable Activity Kit for Little travellers!! I will most defiantly be putting something like this together for Zane in the future! (Please check it out – her blog is absolutely amazing and FULL of amazing toddler ideas!)

Something to think about when choosing small toys for airplane entertainment – think of toys that can do double duty as a bath toy as well! Little People are GREAT for this, as well as any type of small fish or Dinos.

I also like to keep a small pack of Boogie wipes available for quick clean ups, and they are AMAZING for runny noses!! Also, I love the fresh scent, which is a plus ALWAYS when traveling.

Helpful Snacks
I find that finger snacks, things that will time a longer time to eat, or things that are FUN to eat are the best so keep these things in mind when you are packing snacks!

* Cereal – There are great for building motor skills too depending on the age. We usually use Rice Chex.
* carrots or peppers in slices Crunchy is fun! My daughter likes to pretend that the carrots are her nose, like a snowman. She is OBSESSED with snowmen. Sliced Apples are a great, easy way to bring something sweet.
* Packs of gummies – we use the Annie’s Organic, but anything that is a little sweet and has a shape of any sort will do. I once found a bag of Alphabet gummies and that did the trick for a long while on the plane.
* Suckers (dum dums) for take off and landing – and for bribing :) Sorry I am not above bribing when you are traveling. Use the sucker trick sparingly so that it is a treat and not something that becomes usual, but I use them for long security lines, take off or landing or if we get delayed. Maybe it is just because Zane doesn’t usually get much sugar, but MAN she will do just about anything for a DumDum! LOL

Changing a Diaper
The dreaded task of any parent. Change a diaper on the plane.

I always change Zane’s diaper right before we get on the plane. If it is a short flight, there are times you won’t even HAVE TO change a diaper. But, in the unlucky and very highly likely event that you need to change something smelly, here are my best tips for you.

* WIPES – Make sure for your sake that you have packed wipes. I did forget this once (which is my I am mentioning it here) I like to pack the smaller packs of wipes in my carry on so that it isn’t so bulky. Obviously you know your child and the length of trip, so plan accordingly. In a pinch, you can also use the Boogie wipes (expensive, but they are a wipe in an emergency)
* CHANGING A DIAPER – If you haven’t started potty training yet, but your child is too long for the changing table, you will more than likely have to change your son/daughter while they awkwardly stand up on the toilet giving you hardly any room and frantically trying to get them to NOT TOUCH ANYTHING. I suggest using pull-ups, even if you haven’t before. They will be standing up to change them anyways, and they are so easy to just slip on instead of having to attach the side of the diaper while the squirm around.
* DIAPER DISPOSAL – don’t forget to take the “sick bag” from your seat and wrap your diaper in the bag before throwing it away. This will save you money if you use your own bags, and it will save the others on the flight from smelling your child’s diaper, thus putting you BACK in the good graces of all of those passengers that are on edge about a child on the flight to begin with.


I usually attempt to limit the amount of time my daughter is entertained by technology (ipad/tv) but when we travel, it is almost a necessity. Car rides/security lines/airplane rides – it can all be easier to handle when you can split it up with a little movie or game on the iPad – LETS BE HONEST. I do try to bring out the iPad LAST in the rotation of entertainment, but she is not at the age where she can just ask for a certain game or movie so it usually only works for so long :)

I try to make sure that Zane is playing with educational games catered to her age and learning development stage.

Our Favorite Apps
our Favorite Apps

You will also need a pair of child headphones – they limit the volume so that your child can’t turn it up all the way and damage their hearing. Sometimes a flight attendant will require your child to use headphones, while sometimes turning the volume very low will suffice. I have been on flights recently where both were true, and you never really know if they will require them or not (technically they are supposed to require them for the comfort of the other passengers).

Shopping Links

I have added a few of my affiliate links for you for the items I mentioned for easy online shopping!

8 Piece Tegu Pocket Pouch Magnetic Wooden Block Set, Tints

Skip Hop Zoo Backpack and Lunchie Set, Ladybug

Disney Princess Little Kingdom Magiclip 7-Doll Giftset

Fisher-Price Little People Disney Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs

Blue Crayola MyPhones Kids Volume-limiting Headphones

Pink Crayola MyPhones Kids Volume-limiting Headphones

Boogie Wipes Gentle Saline Nose Wipes Original Fresh Scent – Set of 3 (90 Wipes Total)

Underwater Friends Sea Animals Asst. (12 count)

Please comment below with anything you feel like I missed!! I am always wanting to expand my knowledge of traveling with a child!!!

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38 Responses to Flying with a Toddler

  1. Jessica May 28, 2014 at 5:09 pm #

    Great info – a friend of mine was just asking for tips on traveling with her 2 yo. I’ll be sure to send her this link!

    • Life by Lindsay May 28, 2014 at 5:22 pm #

      Thanks for passing it along Jessica!

  2. Devon May 28, 2014 at 5:58 pm #

    With that little bear too cute!!

    • Life by Lindsay May 29, 2014 at 3:20 pm #

      ALWAYS with bear!!! He goes everywhere we go!!!

  3. Trisha Brantingham May 28, 2014 at 6:31 pm #

    Great tips for traveling with kids! Thanks for sharing them with us!

    • Life by Lindsay May 29, 2014 at 3:21 pm #

      Of course! I figure I have the knowledge – lets share it!!

  4. Logan May 28, 2014 at 6:50 pm #

    This is an awesome list and very informative! I will be pinning this for sure.

    • Life by Lindsay May 29, 2014 at 3:22 pm #

      Thank you Logan!!!

  5. Shipra May 28, 2014 at 8:07 pm #

    As a Mommy to a 2.5 year old boy who is hoping to travel soon, I can’t thank you enough for this post. I will be bookmarking it for our impending travels! <3

    • Life by Lindsay May 29, 2014 at 3:23 pm #

      Awesome!! That is so great – traveling with young kids CAN be fun and very successful – it is all in how you plan for it!!

  6. Bekkie May 28, 2014 at 8:13 pm #

    Fantastic tips, thank you! We’ll be traveling next spring to California with a 5 year old and an 18 month old so many of these will come in handy!! Pinned for future reference :)

    • Life by Lindsay May 29, 2014 at 3:23 pm #

      Thank You Bekkie!!!

  7. Ruthy T. (@DiscoveryStreet) May 28, 2014 at 8:30 pm #

    I’ve found that now Parker is older, flying with her is easier. She’s been on many flights and (cross country) ones where she refused to nap and was so wiggly and it was tiresome for all involved! I’m not sure when she’ll fly next but she will no longer be a lap child and that should make a difference too!

    • Life by Lindsay May 29, 2014 at 3:28 pm #

      Such a great point Ruthy – when they get old enough to have their own seat it is a game changer!!! I know it obviously costs more because now you have to PAY for them, but MAN it makes it easier for everyone to be happy!! Age 1 to 2 when they are a “lap child” but they can walk is probably the HARDEST time to fly because they just want to be DOWN and running around.

      Zane has always napped very randomly on planes. Never when I wanted her to, or when it would have been good for her to nap – she honestly usually falls asleep right at the END of the flight if she is going to and then I have to carry her all the way to baggage claim. A sleeping toddler is VERY heavy!!!

  8. Amberly May 28, 2014 at 8:53 pm #

    These are great ideas! I’ll have to remember this later on down the road when I have kids :)

    • Life by Lindsay May 29, 2014 at 3:28 pm #

      Thank You Amberly!

  9. Meagan May 28, 2014 at 9:14 pm #

    I do not miss having to fly with a toddler. My youngest is 7 now and it is so much easier. Great tips though for those in that phase of life still

    • Life by Lindsay May 29, 2014 at 3:30 pm #

      Thank You! I do feel like each time we fly, and the older she gets it makes it a little easier. Being a toddler can just be a hard job and when you are coped up on a plane – DRIVE YOU CRAZY!!!

  10. Myrabev May 28, 2014 at 9:43 pm #

    This are really good ideas, I think with kids (though I have none) is the attention they have I like how you have your daughter entertained and only using iPad as v.v last resort and even then it’s educational and limited x

    • Life by Lindsay May 29, 2014 at 3:32 pm #

      YES – educational is SO important at this age – she is like a sponge right now, so I really try to make sure she is soaking in the right things!

  11. Lara Becar May 29, 2014 at 6:54 am #

    Good tips! I flew a lot as a toddler. I was a nightmare for my parents. Would that they had this post back then…

    • Life by Lindsay May 29, 2014 at 3:33 pm #

      Yeah, I don’t know what our parents did with us! There are so many modern conveniences these days to make out lives better!!!

  12. Starr May 29, 2014 at 7:51 am #

    These are great tips! Looks like you have it down on a professional level! Zane looks quite happy too! So cute :)

    • Life by Lindsay May 29, 2014 at 3:34 pm #

      Yeah, She is really starting to get the hang out flying – which is nice for us!!! Thanks Starr!!

  13. Deidre May 29, 2014 at 9:55 am #

    So glad to have someone post this. I don’t have kids but I have a flying tips post and people always ask me for kid tips. Now I have somewhere to direct them!

    • Life by Lindsay May 29, 2014 at 3:35 pm #

      Thank You Deidre for sending people my way!! I plan to keep developing this as I learn more! I really appreciate it!

  14. Mandy@ a sorta fairytale May 29, 2014 at 11:57 am #

    Yep I agree with all of these!! I flew with my toddler last Summer and snacks were our best friend!! lol

    • Life by Lindsay May 29, 2014 at 3:35 pm #

      right?!?!? I always have TONS more room when I arrive at our destination because all the snacks are gone! :)

  15. Pech May 30, 2014 at 8:20 am #

    HA, I love the tip about weighing them down a little to slow them down. Also, you are right on thinking about segments of time in their eyes of activity. I even do this for myself because I can only read so long before I need a trashy magazine for an eye break…

    • Life by Lindsay May 30, 2014 at 11:54 am #

      YES!!! Flying back from San Antonio last week I *MAY* have indulged in a GLAMOUR for a little break while Zane played :)

  16. Laura May 30, 2014 at 12:50 pm #

    I need these tips for me – I hate flying and I’m so uptight! Great tips!

  17. kristine foley May 31, 2014 at 1:59 pm #

    These were all super helpful and things I agree on. We’ve been lucky to be able to travel with our littles and man oh man is it so much easier on everyone to be prepared :)

  18. Heather @ FitMamaRealFood June 3, 2014 at 5:43 am #

    Pinning and saving! We’ll be flying in January from Washington to Florida with a 2.5 year old and almost 1 year old. I’ll definitely need to pull out as many tricks as I can to keep them entertained.

    • Lindsay Stewart June 3, 2014 at 11:00 pm #

      Thank you! YES – and I am sure that having TWO will be a whole nutha level! They key is all in the preparation, and if you prepare, you will have a fantastic flight! (unless they decide to be grumpy – which of course is always out of our control and the thing we pray doesn’t happen!!!)

  19. Toni June 3, 2014 at 4:42 pm #

    Hi! These are great tips for the actual flight, but I’m wondering the best way to travel with a toddler & his car seat alone. This is the first time my son & I are flying without my husband, so I’m just wondering how you managed with your toddler & the car seat through security & through the airport. Thanks!

    • Lindsay Stewart June 3, 2014 at 11:10 pm #

      Hi Toni!
      I don’t actually bring the car seat on the plane with me – we send it through with the bags. I never have had Zane in a car seat on the plane. How old is your son? Do you think that you need to have it with you? Is it a safely concern for you or do you think he will del more comfortable in his car seat vs. just the seat with a seatbelt (which is unnatural for a toddler so I see why it can be a bit weird for them)

      I know that they actually have metal frames that you can put the car seat on and it rolls just like a suitcase would – it would probably depend on the car seat you have if that option would work, but it is always a thought if you are looking to bring the car seat.

      When traveling by yourself with a toddler, keep in mind you only have two hands, and a toddler usually requires both :) They want to be carried, or they runaway from you – it is best to make sure the bags you are carrying are either back pack to messenger bag style so your hands are free. Now, I HAVE brought my stroller through security before and had her strapped in all the way to the gate – then you just hand check it right there before you get on the plane. When she was a bit younger (basically until about 2.5 years old) I loved haven that option. Now that she is a bit older, she wants to walk and participate in the trip so we don’t usually bring the stroller.

      I hope this helps you Toni – feel free to ask any more questions. I am alway willing to talking about my experiences!

  20. Monte June 13, 2014 at 12:39 pm #

    Thank you so much for this Great list! I’m flying alone with my 3 year old son and 12 month old daughter next month for a 10 hour flight. I have already started making some busy bags and even went as far as buying my son his own ipad mini (which he will only get to use for the trip) and loading it with educational apps and movies. This was very helpful and I love reading other mommies tips because I am extremely nervous to do the flight alone – but I just keep telling myself its only 10 hours of my life! I will get through it… haha

    • Lindsay Stewart June 13, 2014 at 1:55 pm #

      Monte – you will do great! Preparation is key, and you already have a jump start on that so that is great! Good luck with your kiddos, and last piece of advice – don’t pay attention to the people that give you dirty looks because you are trailing with kids – it is only because they probably don’t have any kids – anyone that HAS kids knows what you are going through and is sometimes even willing to help out!

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