Before flying with my son Noah for the first time, I was a bit concerned. I’ve witnessed screaming and kicking kids on flight – and their mortified parents. It’s uncomfortable for everyone, and I wasn’t going to let that be me. It took us a few times to get it right, but we’ve found a system that works for us and keeps him happy, even through long days of travel and connecting flights.
What’s in our Flight Bag
His Favorite Foods
Blueberries: These are an easy finger food and can keep him occupied. We like to keep things easy on the flight, so the night before we rinse them and pick out any bad ones then throw the whole plastic container into a ziplock.
Cheese: We cut some up and put it in a ziplock. Our son LOVES cheese, so we keep this for the moments we need to pull out the hail mary. If he starts to throw a fit, out comes the cheese, and he forgets what he was mad about.
Cookies: We don’t actually pack any cookies. On most airlines they have cookies in addition to the peanuts or pretzels they serve. You just need to ask.
Pouches: We bring at least 2 of these per flight with us. They’re simple and easy.
Cheddar Bunnies or Goldfish: These are another simple snack to keep them occupied.
Milk: We bring a large water bottle with enough milk in it for him to have 2 drinks per flight (one as we’re taking off and one as we’re landing). The swallowing movement helps his ears to “pop” as the cabin pressure changes and keeps painful pressure from building up in his ears.
If your toddler doesn’t like milk, bring whatever their other favorite drink is. Something that they can’t resist. Most children I’ve seen crying on flights start doing so right around when the takeoff or landing, and the ear pressure is a very likely culprit.
For children under a certain age, you’re allowed to bring liquids with you through security. They will test the liquid to see what it is, but it doesn’t take any time at all and it is a lifesaver.
Water: We bring another water bottle for him to add to his sippy cup. He gets thirsty from all the snacks we feed him.
iPad Mini: On long flights we’ve found that books and toys aren’t enough to keep our son entertained. We bring along our iPad Mini filled with shows for him to watch. He’s a big Daniel Tiger fan, and at the time I’m writing this they have a lot of episodes on Amazon to watch for free if you’re an Amazon Prime member.
Amazon Video: Unlike Netflix and a lot of other video streaming services, Amazon Video will let you download shows and movies. You can’t rely on having internet on your flight, and even if you do have internet, it’s expensive and not very reliable. We’re Amazon Prime members, so you can download and watch a lot of shows for free, including A LOT of kids shows. We download 4 episodes of Daniel Tiger the night before our flight, and we’re set to go.
If you’re not Amazon Prime members, you can still rent or purchase kids shows on Amazon for a couple dollars – and it’s worth its weight in gold for having a peaceful flight.
External Battery: For longer flights, bring along an external battery to charge the iPad and my phone. They’re pretty cheap, and can be a life saver.
Diapers: Do we need to cover this?
Wipes: See above.
Change of Clothes: We like to bring 2 changes of clothes with us after a recent incident where he went all Houdini penis on us and somehow managed to pee out of the side of his pants without touching his diaper. You don’t want to have to carry a pee soaked toddler…bring 2 changes.
Be careful with sippy cups with straws. We learned the hard way that during takeoff when the pressure drops in the cabin, it causes water to come out of the straws into our bag. It took us a few flights to figure out how our bags kept getting wet.
You can bring drinks past security. I mentioned it before, but you are allowed to bring drinks for your child on the flight. Here is the TSA article. The rules state you are allowed to bring breast milk, formula, or juice, but we’ve never had an issue with regular milk or water. I guess it’s hard to tell regular milk from breast milk, and the water could always be used for mixing formula.
Ask for extra seats at the boarding gate. When we arrive at our boarding gate we always ask the attendants if there are any extra seats available. If so, they usually move us so that we get three seats together, when we only paid for two. This gives our son room to roam and saves us from having him on our lap the whole time. As long as your kind, they will usually help you out.
Ask for extra cups. One of our sons favorite entertainment on flights is playing with plastic cups. When they come around serving drinks, just ask for a few extra cups. They’re always happy to oblige.
Board after first class. Recently I haven’t heard the boarding agents announce for parents with small children to board early. You’ll want the extra time to get settled, so feel free to board after first class has boarded. We’ve never had any problem doing so.
Two Layers of Defense: When we get 3 seats together, we like to put our son in the window seat. This helps keep him contained and allows whoever is in the aisle seat to relax a little more. When we used to sit him in the middle seat, both of us were on duty, so there was no down time for either of us.
I hope this helps you as much as it has helped us. Let me know if you have any other tips below.
Thanks for checking in.