I have flown in an airplane with Amelia through all of her stages, flown with a toddler and a newborn, and flown with two toddlers. By myself. Amelia is finally to the "watch an ipad for 6 hours" stage, so we're through some of the hard parts. But I still vividly remember how it was, and flying quickly became my biggest fear. But taking the advice of my mom, family, and the internet, I soon learned that preparation was indeed key for my nerves and for the chance of success and well-behaved children.
Here is my go-to plan before a flight - hopefully it can bring some calm, but in this scenario, do plan for the worst.
3 weeks out: No potty-training, No getting rid of: the bottle, nursing, pacifiers, blankies, or any other method of soothing or comforting for your child. Sorry! I don't care if great aunt Greta is going to judge you for your 2.5 year old not being potty trained - TOO BAD AUNT GRETA! Also, make sure they are used to everything that will be happening on the plane as much as you can. If they've never worn shoes in their life, don't plan on getting them to be happy wearing shoes in the airport. Same goes with new car seats, clothes, or anything else that's too different and might induce an unneeded meltdown. Also, buy kids' headphones and start letting your child use them if they are old enough for it.
2 weeks out: Start your shopping! And be prepared to hide it until you get on that airplane. If you have never given your child juice in their life, now would be the perfect time to buy some apple juice, juice boxes, fruit punch, whatever - and put that shiz in their bottle or sippy! They will be so delighted it might buy you up to a half an hour+ of happiness on the plane! At the gate they will test it, and they CANNOT make you throw it away. (If some terrible human being does make you dump it out, stop by the nearest shop and buy some more juice and pour it back in the sippy before you get to your gate). Same goes for snacks. Buy little packets of (or put in little zippies) cookies, chips, crackers, snacks that your little one has never seen before. And don't forget candy (maybe just for you, but if worst comes to worst and you need to offer your 9 month old a reese's to stop them from screaming because they won't do something you desperately need them to do, you'll be prepared! Bring little bits of everything, and leave the big box of most of it at home for your husband to binge on while you're gone and he's missing y'all like crazy. I don't care if you are a crunchy mama, or putting your little one on a whole foods diet, an airplane ride is not the time for that nonsense! haha!
|If it were only this easy hehehe|
Of course you need to be packing what you know for sure your kids will eat in addition. Don't bank on the airport having something your kids will like. Bring sandwiches, cold chicken nuggets, etc. that you know will feed your kids for the amount of hours you will be gone. If your child is on a *only eating ritz crackers for the last 6 weeks* phase (just me?), bring plenty along with all the fun stuff.
If you don't carry a diaper bag, now is the time to pack the one you got at your baby shower. You will need two large purses/bags/backpacks for just you and one or two babies.
In bag one:
12 diapers (more if you will be in flights/airports longer than 1 cross country trip).
3 Yes 3 outfits for your little one. I have gone through all three with a 6 month old baby. If your child is prone to blowouts, plan accordingly, but 3 should do you.
Big thing of baby wipes
Wallet and other mommy things like phone charger, phone, earbuds, and you should probably also keep ipad or extra kid phone in here too. (keep liquids in a place they will stay upright, or in a different bag).
Keep children's lovies or pacis in here too, in a special place so you can easily grab for landing and takeoff (especially pacis).
In bag two:
You will need a section for food/snacks
A section for fun entertaining toys/games/gifts/coloring books.
A place for a bottle or two and that magical new juice
A special small place for a couple of straws, spoons, pens, a place for children's ibuprofen (just bring it and don't ask questions)
A place for kids' headphones
A backpack diaper bag is a REALLY good idea as well. The more toddlers/babies you are taking on a plane, the more this becomes a must.
Now, as far as toys - go to the toy section as well as the party supply section at Target or Walmart and look at all those mini toys. I'm thinking tsum tsum, slinkies, mini foods, mini legos. Be prepared to lose them all, because you just might. As soon as kids get any dexterity in their fingers, they love putting little things inside of other little things. If you buy a toy that has its own special box with an easy-to-open clasp, a one year old could play with that for like an hour if you get lucky, ESP. if they've never seen it before. My little sister once played with a paddle ball for an entire flight that my mom wrapped for her. I have bought the Anna and Elsa head pillows that you can draw on with washable markers, and Amelia loved it. Can't stress this enough, something they haven't seen before. And if you have an 18 month+ old that loves to open gifts, wrap them up beforehand. At age 2.5, you can start bribing them with good behavior and to obey, keep their seatbelt on, stop kicking the seat in front of them, etc. for these toys and gifts.
Something I brought on A LOT of my trips with just Amelia was my boppy. I wrapped it around my diaper bag strap when we were walking up and down airplane aisles so I didn't really have to carry it on and off flights. It made a nice area that I could drape my nursing cover around and not have it be sticking on Amelia and bugging her. Eventually with baby 2 Noah I just got better at nursing more discretely and without a cover and pillows. Also, Amelia was sitting next to me as a buffer for those teeny tiny, horribly tiny, seats.
A few days out also call the airport and see if they have a family security line and where it is. They have one sometimes in my home CLT airport.
|Miracles like this do happen if you pray REALLY Hard!|
After security: Get to your gate as soon as you can and let your littles crawl/walk around as much as possible. Don't let them sleep if you can help it. Also, if they're not too hungry, food would be a good thing to wait til you're on the plane to worry about. At the gate, go get a gate check tag for your stroller and car seat. Ask the attendant how many empty seats there are. If there are a lot of empty seats, you can ask if you can bring your infant car seat onto the flight. I have been able to do this a lot of times without actually buying a seat! It's awesome! I'm actually nervous that some higher-up at Southwest or something will find out that I do this and nix it.
But for now, it's amazing. I have never brought on the full-on huge carseat, because it's just so heavy, but if you have help and really feel the need to do it, go for it. It will probably do a lot of good, especially if the seat is purchased. Just make sure to check if they will let it on the plane at check-in before you lug it all the way to your gate.
|Moving way too fast to get in focus with a camera phone|