Woman with child in an airplane

Checklist and Tips for Flying with Infants and Toddlers on Long Flights

During our children's early years, we routinely flew the Atlanta-Europe-Nairobi route, which lasted between 22 and 27 hours. These experiences gave us important insights into managing long-haul flights with toddlers. Despite the challenges, we learned numerous strategies to keep our children calm and comfortable during these extended trips. In this essential survival guide, we share the lessons we learned and the effective tactics we employed to ensure a smoother and more enjoyable travel experience for us and toddlers alike.

How to entertain toddlers on long-haul flights:

  • Interactive books: Bring books with flaps or textures.
  • Coloring books: Pack crayons and coloring books.
  • Favorite toys: Bring familiar toys for comfort.
  • Tablet or device: Load games or videos for entertainment.
  • Snack time: Offer a variety of healthy snacks.
  • Sing-along songs: Sing nursery rhymes together.
  • Cabin walks: Take short walks around the plane.
  • Download toddler-friendly apps or games on tablets or smartphones.

Managing toddler sleep on long flights:

  • Create a comfortable sleeping environment with travel pillows and blankets.
  • Establish a bedtime routine onboard to help toddlers wind down.

Strategies for reducing toddler tantrums on airplanes:

  • Communicate with your toddler about the upcoming flight and what to expect.
  • Use positive reinforcement and rewards for good behavior.
  • Be prepared to distract and redirect their attention when necessary.

Preparing toddlers for their first long flight:

  • Talk to toddlers about flying and explain the process in a child-friendly manner.
  • Involve them in packing their carry-on bag with their favorite toys and activities.
  • Flying with toddlers: Snack ideas and meal planning:
  • Pack a variety of healthy snacks that are easy to eat and not too messy.
  • Consider bringing familiar foods from home to ensure toddlers eat during the flight.

Choosing toddler-friendly seats on long flights:

  • Opt for bulkhead seats or seats with extra legroom to provide more space for toddlers to move around.
  • Consider booking a seat for your toddler if they're old enough to have their own seat.
  • Tips for navigating airport security with toddlers:
  • Allow extra time for security screening and be prepared to remove shoes and jackets.
  • Use a stroller or baby carrier to help navigate security checkpoints with ease.

Managing toddler jet lag after long flights:

  • Gradually adjust toddlers' sleep schedules to the new time zone.
  • Spend time outdoors and expose toddlers to natural sunlight to help regulate their sleep-wake cycle. 

Safety Considerations for traveling with an infant in Lap

When traveling with an infant in your lap, it's crucial to prioritize safety to ensure a smooth and secure journey for both you and your baby.

  • Ensure that the infant is properly secured in your arms using a suitable infant seat belt
  • Be aware of turbulence warnings and follow the flight crew's instructions to secure your infant 
  • Avoid using blankets or pillowsn in a way that may obstruct your baby's breathing or safety
  • Familiarize yourself with the nearest emergency exits and procedures for evacuating the aircraft
  • Consider using a baby carrier or sling to keep your hands free while navigating through the airport 
  • Communicate with the attendants if you need assistance or have any concerns regarding safety

Flying with toddlers: Survival tips for parents:

  • Rest when your toddler sleeps, even if it's short naps.
  • Hydrate well and eat nutritious snacks for sustained energy levels.
  • Practice mindfulness or meditation to reduce anxiety and tension.
  • Stretch and move around during breaks to relieve muscle tension.
  • Set realistic expectations and be patient with yourself and your toddler.
  • Use noise-canceling headphones to minimize stress from cabin noise.
  • Be kind to yourself and remember it's okay to ask for help

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