Must Haves for Toddler Plane Travel

When I flew with BB for the first time this summer, I was terrified that I would be the mother of the child who would not calm down. The plane would have to land and they'd kick us off and it would end up all over the internet for strangers to argue over. Luckily, BB ended up being a fairly good flier thanks to a few things that made everything easier.

Get To The Gate Safely

Traveling Toddler Car Seat Travel Strap: This is a tiny little strap, easily stowed away when not in use, that attaches a car seat to a rolling carry-on bag. I had a couple of people traveling with me who were able to help me navigate the airport with a stroller but if I had been traveling alone, I would have checked the stroller and only used the car seat, this travel strap, my rolling carry on bag and a baby carrier, like a Tula. (Pictured above as #3.)

Gate Check Bag for Car Seats or Strollers: These bags are absolutely wonderful if gate checking a car seat or stroller. The storage areas on the plane for gate checked items can be dirty or exposed to the weather before and after landing and the bag will keep the dirt and some degree of water at bay. Further, it makes it easy to attach the gate check labels and notifies the airplane baggage team to be careful with your item. No one wants a damaged car seat or broken stroller when traveling. (Pictured above as #2.)

Lightweight Car Seat: We purchased a car seat specifically for travel because we have Diono Radians and though they are designed to travel with a back strap, those buggers are heavy. We bought an Evenflo Tribute LX but many swear by the Cosco Scenera or other very lightweight and inexpensive car seats. It now serves as a backup car seat for Grammie's car. 

Baby Carrier: Obviously, I'm a big believer in babywearing but traveling is the perfect time to babywear. Hands free and soothing for the child, as long as BB is letting me wear him, I am going to use this tool. I was able to navigate through crowds, on and off the plane with all my stuff, and quickly get from Point A to Point B in the more complicated terminals. I have a variety of carriers but defaulted to a canvas Tula because it's reliable and avoided taking anything that would require wrapping.

Keep Them Busy

iPad: If there is one thing I believe is responsible for BB being a good flier, it's an iPad filled with his favorite videos and apps that he can play. I cannot tell you what a lifesaver this was from the car ride to the waiting area to the plane ride. Just remember a charger and headphones.

Crayola Color Wonder Coloring Pad and Markers: For every half an hour of plane ride, expect to provide a new item to play with. For BB, I brought items to color in a book with and the flight attendants also gave us a coloring book and crayons. If I had to do it all over again though, I would go with Crayola Color Wonder items so I wasn't constantly worried about BB coloring on things that I would have to clean off afterwards. Also, make sure to bring a ribbon or string of some kind to attach the markers to the book in order to avoid trying to pick up dropped markers in a cramped, possibly dark plane. Trust me on this. (Pictured above as #4.)

Stickers: Stickers, with various of BB's favorite characters, were really great. He put them on his coloring books, on his hands and arms, on me and gave them to the people we were traveling with and it was surprisingly engaging. Thumbs up for stickers.

My Quiet Book - Fabric Activity Book: I intended to get one of these in time for our flight but I forgot. If the flight had been longer, this would have been a must have. It's a compact, organized and quiet book of multiple activities that teach various skills toddlers need to learn anyway. (Pictured above as #1.)

Reading Books: Books, especially BB's favorite bedtime stories and those with his favorite characters, came in handy. The downside is that they are heavy so I opted for small board books and limited 3 to my carry-on. We often buy books as souvenirs on trips so we came back with more books than we left with in our luggage.

Feed Them

No Spill Cup: Any no spill cup that requires a sucking mechanism, like a straw or spout based cup, will come in handy during take off and landings. We brought the Contigo Striker Water Bottle, which is adorably plane themed, and one of BB's favorite types of bottles. Remember that there can be no fluid in it while going through the security check so have enough time before your flight to go into a shop to pick up a bottle of water or juice to fill the bottle before hopping on the plane. Also, keep in mind that some no spill cups will pressurize with cabin pressure changes so be careful opening them or you might end up squirting water in your face. Don't ask me how I know. (Pictured above as #5.)

Meals: Pack a meal for the flight. I can't stress this enough. Some kids can't sleep unless they are full and the best toddler on a plane is the one that is sleeping. I packed a meal that I knew BB would eat so we wouldn't be restricted to only the things available on the flight or in the surrounding terminal restaurants.

Snacks: This is a no brainer. Snacks are what toddlers live for. Bananas, apples, string cheese, nuts, crackers or anything that travels well is a must. BB had to had gone through at least 5 different snacks in an almost 3 hour span in addition to the airplane snacks, which he also loved. Because he's a snack monster.

Emergency Treats: This is basically the bribe bag. A bag full of things that no one wants to stuff a child with but when faced with a plane full of tired fellow passengers who probably won't appreciate a crying toddler, have a bag full of shut up. That could be anything from fruit snacks or fruit leathers. In my case it was lollipops. Heaven sent, meltdown diffusing lollipops. To assuage guilt, try organic ones like YumEarth Organic Lollipops. (Pictured above as #6.)

Comfort Items

Light weight blanket: I brought an Aden + Anais muslin blanket to block out cabin lights. It didn't take up much space but gave the cozy blanket feel that BB sometimes needs to fall asleep.

Change of Clothes: My philosophy is to keep my toddler as comfortable and sleep ready as possible. Unfortunately, things like spilled beverages in laps happen. Or even worse, a poopsplosion blowout. Always pack a change of clothes to address this possible awful occurrence.

Favorite Stuffed Animal or Lovey: I think lovey is a given. I do recommend taking extras of lovey. One in the luggage and one in the carry-on, especially for toddlers who have meltdowns without their favorite stuffed animal or blanket.

Chapstick and or Lotion: This might be something particular for just my special snowflake but BB loves chapstick and lotion. He'll ask for it if he feels dry. Plus mommy likes to have it on hand for herself too. Just make sure to pack only the travel sized lotion to stay within TSA standards. 

Things to Avoid

Anything particularly noisy, smelly or messy. I picked up some cheese from Beecher's Handmade because BB loves cheese. I realized I couldn't open any cheese on the plane in case it would smell. My sister bought a salmon perogi from Perogi Perogi. Big fishy mistake.

Anything that is expensive or has parts that you wouldn't want to lose. I bought a Tegu block set that turned out to be a big mistake. The blocks kept ending up on the floor and since they aren't cheap, I felt the need to not lose all the pieces. It was unnecessary stress.

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