After flying more than 30 times with our 20 month old, we have learned A LOT about flying with a baby & now a toddler. Although traveling with a baby or toddler is never easy, it is completely doable. On our most recent flight, a man sitting in the row next to us was so impressed with how well our daughter did on our 6 hour flight that he told us we “need to teach a class on flying with a baby.” We may not teach a class but here are our 5 top baby & toddler flying tips.
For a more complete breakdown on flying with a baby, please see our Flying with a Baby post. For more tips on traveling with a baby, see our Top 10 Baby Travel Tips post.
Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links. That means that, at no cost to you, we may get a small commission if you purchase through these links. This helps us keep providing travel resources for you!
#1 Top Baby & Toddler Flying Tip: Attitude is Everything
When flying with a baby and toddler, attitude really is everything. You need to have realistic expectations. If you expect your baby or toddler to sleep the entire flight and not fuss or cry at all, that is unrealistic. Be prepared that things may not go exactly as you want. And that is okay! Sure, it may be ideal if you try to time your baby’s nap to align with when you are flying but that might not realistically happen. Be flexible, follow your baby’s lead and go with the flow. If they sleep the whole time and there is no fussing/crying, great, but do not have that be your expectation. With a toddler, be prepared you may have to entertain/engage with them the entire flight (depending on time of day) and that is okay too! If you are realistic about how the flight may or may not go, your experience is going to be better. Do not set yourself up for disappointment with unrealistic expectations.
#2 Top Baby & Toddler Flying Tip: Brings lots of Snacks
This tip is more pertinent once your baby is consistently eating solid foods but once they are, bring snacks and lots of them! Growing babies and toddlers get hungry often and do not exude a lot of patience when hungry. Snacks are a quick way to turn a sour mood right-side up. We use these Skip Hop Puppy Snack Cups for things that may go stale more quickly or need a more secure cover (ex. peeled clementines, apple slices, popcorn, etc.) . We also have at least 6 of these Munchkin Snack Cups we use for other more simple snacks that get quickly eaten (ex. Cheerios, Goldfish, etc.). We are sure to have a variety of choices and snacks (at least 4 different snack containers) for the flight. For longer flights (such as flying anywhere in Europe), we bring at least 6 containers and refills for the containers.
Similarly, make sure you are ready to nurse or bottle-feed younger babies on demand. Flying is not the time to stick to a strict feeding/nursing schedule.
#3 Top Baby & Toddler Flying Tip: You do NOT need Fancy Toys
A question we get quite often is, what toys do you use when flying? The answer is none. We bring our daughters stuffed Elmo (comforts her/she sleeps with) and several different books but we do not bring any toys. She honestly is more ore interested in playing with the things around her on the airplane including (but not limited to) the safety information sheets, tray for food, gift bag from flight attendant, provided pillows, etc. She also recently had a lot of fun pushing her Elmo around in the free-to-use airport strollers in the Lisbon airport during a layover. Honestly, babies are entertained pretty easily and we find snack/book space in our diaper bag more valuable than toy space.
If looking for a great travel diaper bag? See our The Best Travel Diaper Bag post.
#4: Save Best Distractions for when you REALLY need them
For us, this distraction is screen time. Our daughter rarely gets screen time at home so it is a real treat when she gets any. We only use screen time on flights with her if nothing else (snacks or other distractions) is working when she is being fussy. For you, this might be a specific type of snack or toy. Whatever it is, be sure to save that special distraction for when you really need it and do not just use it when your baby or toddler is perfectly content.
#5: If they don’t sleep or cry, it will be okay
Pairing in with a realistic attitude, babies sometimes fight sleep and sometimes they cry. That is okay! Focus on caring for your child and remember that there are likely other parents on the flight who know how it can be to travel with a baby or toddler. You getting worked up about your baby crying or not sleeping is certainly not going to make it better. Remember, it will be okay. Your baby will eventually sleep and eventually stop crying. Remember, babies/toddlers cry or whine at times regardless of flying. It is best to ignore those cranky people that like to give mean or annoyed looks. Keep in mind they are getting mad at a baby so it would seem they just have a negative attitude towards life. Also, babies and toddlers are resilient. Our daughter actually does MUCH better with time changes than we do. She tends to see when the sun is out in a new time zone and is like “okay, let’s be awake.” If only mom and dad adjusted that easily!
If looking to create a dark space for your baby on-the-go, check out the CoziGo. This portable blackout curtain creates a dark space for your little one to sleep in his/her car seat or stroller easier on-the-go. We found this works best for babies 15 months or less.
Bonus Top Baby & Toddler Flying Tip: YOU CAN DO IT
Many naysayers (who likely have not traveled with their baby or traveled very little) will say you can’t do it. Do not listen to them. You absolutely can fly with your baby and toddler. It may not go perfectly and that is totally okay. You will learn more with each trip and each flight will go a little smoother. Our 20 month old honestly travels better than many adults. Babies and toddlers are adaptable and will do great when you have realistic expectations for them. You can do it!
For more on baby travel, see our Top 10 Baby Travel Tips, How to Hike with a Baby and Flying with a Baby posts.
We hope this guide helps you plan your flight with your baby and/or toddler. Anything you’d add to our guide? We’d love to hear your feedback and questions. Please leave us a comment!
Did you find this post helpful? If so, please share it with a friend, like our Always Have a Trip Planned Facebook Page, follow our Always Have A Trip Planned Instagram and subscribe to our emails below.
And remember, Always Have A Trip Planned!