Saturday, July 13, 2013

Mr. Four's First Flight: Toddler Travel Tips

Our family just returned from our adventures in Washington D.C.  It was a crazy, busy, fantastic week.  I don't think I can do just one post and get it all in, so my intent is to break it up into several parts.  I'll give you the highlights, along with some travel tips for those who, like me, think of long flights with little kids and get a bit apprehensive.

I have been prepping for this trip for months, picking up things here and there, pinning ideas and tips, researching places of interest, sewing, crafting, worrying...

The one that I was most concerned about was little Mr. Four, who is 15 months old.  We flew with Mr. One when he was about 4 months old, and it was just horrible.  He had plugged ears and cried and cried, on the plane and the whole weekend we were away.  I did not want to relive any of that headache this time around, nor have a miserable little guy on our hands for vacation.  After a lot of research, reading and asking friends for advice and this is what I came up with for Mr. Four.

*I read several comments from seasoned travelers that a backpack made the best diaper bag, hands free, easy to pack and get into.  This was a great tip.

*Lots of snacks and a few bottles to fill once inside the airport.  I chose things that would take time to eat, but weren't too messy, no sticky or gooey items (well the suckers were sticky, but a good last resort with a fussy toddler).  The Teensy Fruits (Plum Organics) and yogurt and fruit and veggie bites were an especially big hit.  The bottles were good for when the plane was ascending and descending to relieve the ear pressure.  Pack more than you think you need, variety helps with the frustration of sitting in one place for so long.

*I also read that books were a waste of space, since toddlers typically only look at them briefly and quickly become bored, but I did pack two.  They were small and light, the ABC book had lots to point to and talk about, and the Chicky book had very singsong, rhythmic language that I thought might be soothing to a tired baby.

*The homemade fill and spill toy was a favorite on the flight.  I chose items that wouldn't make too much noise and were large enough to gather up easily and light enough to reduce any problems should he throw any of them.  The fabric pieces are just rectangles of cut fleece (about 3" by 8") that I shoved into the Parmesan cheese container.  He loved pulling them out and stuffing them back in.  The circles are just the mini play dough container lids and spice jar lids that fit in the large opening of the container.  The pipe cleaners are folded in half with the ends twisted together to eliminate sharp edges, and can be poked through the smaller holes in the container.

*Finger puppets, which the older kids liked to play with to help keep the baby happy

*A shakey egg (just a plastic egg with rice, taped closed with electrical tape) was light and made very minimal noise to people sitting close by

*The Color Wonder markers and sketch pad were originally for the older boys, but Mr. Four loved coloring with them, and I didn't have to worry about him making a mess, since they only work on the special paper.

*My diaper clutch, with three diapers, a plastic produce bag for dirty diapers and LOTS of wet wipes

*Another necessity was a large blanket.  It was nice to have something that smelled like home to cover him up when he got tired, cold, or just grumpy.  Added bonus?  It was a great to play peek-a-boo with.

*A change of clothes, just in case

*A no spill cup to put snacks, like goldfish crackers, in to help reduce mess

Armed with my diaper bag, I felt much better about flying with a little one.  It also helped that so many people on the plane were kind and would smile, wave and talk to him to keep him interested and happy.

He cried and fussed and threw a few items, but overall, we were able to keep him content.  He even napped a bit on each flight.  A huge victory in my book.

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