Baby or Toddler #
- Take your stroller. You’ll spend at least 2 – 3 hours at the airport. It’ll be easier for you to check-in and pass security with your baby in a stroller.
A carrier is also helpful. But it’s unlikely that your child will be patient enough to spend a couple hours in a carrier.
Also, keep in mind that you can take your stroller all the way to the door of the airplane. The crew will put it into checked baggage for free. And some of the more compact & lighter strollers can be folded and placed into an overhead compartment. It’ll depend on airline policy whether they’ll permit it onboard though.
Feed them during take off & landing. Breastfeed, bottle or even a pacifier. It’ll help them “pop their ears” as the air pressure changes.
Don’t let your baby fall asleep until you board the plane. At security you’ll be asked to hold your baby. And during boarding, you’ll have to turn in your stroller. No one likes to be awoken from a nap, so try to keep your child awake to avoid a fussy baby during take off.
Change their diaper just before boarding. It’s way more comfortable to change a diaper in an airport bathroom. Otherwise, you’ll probably have to wait in line during the flight to change your child in a tiny airplane bathroom.
Take your car seat on board. If your child is over 2, you can no longer carry them in your lap and you’ll have to buy them their own plane seat.
Though once your child is pushing 2 yrs, it’s not going to be very comfortable for either you nor them to be carried unless it’s a very short flight.
So take your car seat with you! They’re used traveling (and sleeping) in their car seat. Also, your toddler will have less of a chance to kick the seat in front of them.
Kid (4−6 yr) #
Mobile device for the win. Load your phone or tablet with your child’s favorite shows and games. Netflix allows you to download certain shows to your mobile device.
Pack headphones for them too.
Feed them before boarding. If your kid’s a picky eater and you have a long flight. Purchase something to eat before boarding. Yeah, airport prices are crazy but so are airplane prices and the menu is very limited.
Or if you have time, pack them their favorite snack or sandwich.
Let your child pack their own bag. Purchase a small carry-on bag for them and let them pack whatever they want that’ll fit in it. If your flight is delayed they’ll have some toys, crafts or books to keep them entertained.
Potty break before boarding. Take them to the bathroom before boarding. Again it’s more comfortable in an airport bathroom and less likely to have to wait in line.[^n]
Regardless of age #
Pack extra clothes in your purse or diaper bag. Not only for the baby but also for you. Accidents can happen. Or your checked baggage can get lost / delayed.
Pack some new toys or toys that your baby hasn’t play with recently. A new item is more likely to entertain your baby longer. And better than resorting to magazines, controllers or tables on the plane.
Pack some antibacterial wipes. Use them to clean the table in front of your seat (and controller if the in-flight entertainment still has one).
Also, don’t put any of your personal items in those pouches in front of your seat. Those are filthy! People put used handkerchiefs and napkins in there.
[^n]: If your child is like ours who only announces he has to pee once he’s at the breaking point: Picture waiting in line for the airplane bathroom with a child squirming to hold it in. And while some people will offer to give up their spot. Others will be (act?) oblivious.