Top tips for flying with a toddler

Flying with a toddler this summer? Mumsnetters have clocked up plenty of air miles with toddlers in tow. Here's what they've learned.

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1. It all begins with the bag of surprises

"Buy several small items, wrap them individually and produce one when you need a new distraction. Bear in mind that security can be strict about stuff that's wrapped, so play it safe and 'wrap' them in party bags - you don't want to be that person unwrapping 25 Poundshop items at security."

2. To Trunki or not Trunki

MNers are divided on whether or not taking a Trunki is the way forward. If all goes to plan, your DC will happily pull their own hand luggage along - but if not, you'll be carrying them, a Trunki and your own hand luggage. A backpack for your DC is an alternative option. 

"We had one, and it was a pain. It was heavy to pull with him sitting on it, it was banging into people when he pulled it, and you can't open it easily in a confined space (ie a plane). I'd leave it at home."

"Absolutely love DC's Trunki - he rode on it the whole way, in the airport, shops, the walkway to the plane and down the aisle as well."

3. Bring a buggy

Even the most confident walker can get irritable traipsing around airports and walking at toddler pace can be somewhat taxing after a while, especially if you need to run to the gate. Consider taking a collapsible buggy, which you should be able to take right up to the aeroplane door.  

4. Preparation, preparation, preparation

Talk to your DC about the trip beforehand, you can even play 'aeroplane' where they can line up all their soft toys as if they are sitting on the plane - this is where you can 'teach' that you sit and stay in one place for a very long time, that they should not kick the seat in front (although they're probably too little to reach) and that people around you might enjoy some quiet. 

"We used to practice doing our 'aeroplane voices' and everything." 

5. Take off

"Remember to take a sippy cup so they can drink water or juice on take-off and landing. The sucking will stop their ears hurting."

6. Once on board, try to get maximum mileage out of EVERYTHING

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"We spend a long time looking at the plane safety card and talking about every bit of it. Also the in-flight magazine - look at ALL the pictures." 

"Make a big deal out of the take-off, drinks service, food service, going to the bathroom. It's all so exciting for children that this can easily amuse them for a while." 

7. A DVD player/tablet is a great idea

"We found a personal DVD player to be worth its weight in gold. They could watch all their favourite cartoons."  

"Both DH and I have no qualms about using TV, iPads, phones etc to entertain for the whole flight if necessary. If it keeps them quiet and happy, it is absolutely fine." 

Editor's tip: Take your DCs' own headphones - more often than not, those provided by the airline will be too big/uncomfortable. And you'll need to invest in these too.

8. are any of these flight toys

"Definitely stickers."

"Favourite books or comics that can be read then left behind."

"Mini Aquadraw - can fill up the pen 100 times in the bathroom."

"One of those doodle magnetic thingy-ma-jigs with the pen attached."

"Crayons and colouring books."

"Little cars, few bits of Duplo and some mini-dinosaurs or animals."

"A note book and pen. DS loves 'writing' at the moment."

"Horrid Henry joke book - read loudly to terrified 4 year-old as a distraction during take off and landing."

"Favourite teddy or blanket."

9. Fill 'em up

"It's fine thanks, I don't want a snack" said no toddler ever. Frequent snacks during a flight are a good distraction and time killer. Fiddly ones (eg raisins in little boxes) will take longer to consume. Remember that chocolate, while nice, will be messy.

10. Spare clothes - just because

"Carry spare clothes for yourself as well as for them in case they vomit all over you on the flight. Ziplock bags will be useful for any dirty items."

11. Ditto spare nappies

"Two or three more nappies than you think you will go through. I swear the pressure changes made both of mine poo more than normal!"

12. Sleep? Sleep?

"Pyjamas and toothbrush and usual bedtime story/blanket/cuddly toy so you can do as much of the usual bedtime routine as possible to signal it's time to sleep."

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Last updated: 3 months ago