Flying with a baby poses a distinct set of challenges than lying with a toddler. And it’s largely due to mobility. Toddlers dislike sitting motionless. They’re also more obstinate, prone to tantrums, and have short attention spans. However, the burden of traveling with a toddler does not have to end when they reach the age of adolescence. It just takes some careful planning, smart packing, and mental forethought. travelling with a 3 year old
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Please consult the CDC website for the most up-to-date information about traveling with newborns and small children during Covid.
Fatherly has put together a list of helpful hints for flying with a toddler. Here’s what we suggest:
Essential Tips For Travelling With A 3 Year Old By Travel Experts
1. Arrive early at the airport
When traveling with children, some claim that arriving at the airport too early may require them to be entertained for a longer period of time away from home. The obvious reality remains, however: your departure timing determines your airport stress. And, especially with a toddler in tow, the less time you give yourself to get from the parking garage to the gate, the more tension you will create. Traveling with a toddler, particularly when they’re walking, takes much longer than traveling alone. Arriving 90 minutes to two hours before your trip ensures that you’ll never miss your flight, no matter how lengthy the check-in or TSA lines are or how sluggish they move. Even better, it allows parents to recover once inside the terminal, ordering lunch, feeding the child, and purchasing a book they won’t be able to read.
2. When boarding, split up.
While all airlines enable parents to board with their children first, it is not always the best option. Remember that it takes around a half-hour for everyone else to board and the plane to take off, so you’ll be stuck in your seat with a restless 3-year-old for a long time. A better plan is to have one parent board the trip early to store the carry-ons, gate-check the stroller/car seat, and sanitize the armrests and tray tables if you’re concerned about germs. Meanwhile, the other parent entertains/walks the child through the airport until everyone has boarded, and then boards last.
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3. If they’re still under the age of two, consider purchasing a seat for them.
Obviously, this option is based on one’s financial situation, but if you have the funds to purchase an extra seat, do so. It’s a game-changer to be able to offer a toddler their own place instead of bouncing them on your lap for three hours. There’s a reason why some parents despise the concept of “Lap Toddlers.” Sure, it’s less expensive, but it can be a nightmare if kids won’t sit still. I’m not a fan of paying for tickets for children under the age of two since I’m cheap, but I’ll admit that juggling our daughter for two flights contributed significantly to our eventual meltdown.
Two more points: First, if you buy a separate seat but don’t want to bring the car seat on board, consider a CARES harness. The FAA-approved harness is easy to set up and pack in your carry-on bag for children aged 1 to 44 pounds who weigh between 22 and 44 pounds. Second, provide a copy of the child’s birth certificate or other proof of age if the child is approaching the 2-year-old limit but still travelling as an infant in arms. You never know when you’ll come into a gate agent who believes your enormous child is actually three years old and that you’re trying to get a free flight.
4. Reserve a window and aisle seat.
If you choose to sit in a lap, reserve the aisle and window seats and leave the middle one empty. Because middle seats are the last to fill, your chances of getting a seat for your child without paying are better. If someone is already seated, you might simply offer to trade them for the more coveted window seat. Don’t give up that aisle seat, no matter what you do. You’ll want to be able to walk around with your child and have convenient access to the bathroom.
5. Avoid flying late in the day.
Have you ever hung out with a 2-year-old after they didn’t get a nap in the afternoon? It is not an enjoyable experience. It may not always work, and your child may be too distracted to sleep no matter what time you leave, but planning flights around their nap pattern gives you a higher chance of a smoother journey. If you can’t fly when they sleep, try to schedule the trip during times when you know they’ll be the happiest, which for many kids is in the morning. If you must take a late flight, make every effort to ensure that they catch a nap before leaving for the airport.
6. Toys on the Cheap
Obviously, you don’t want to bring a full toy box, but keeping a toddler occupied is your primary goal when flying with them. The more games, toys, or novels you bring, the easier it will be for you. Water Wow! coloring books, Melissa & Dave’s Reusable Sticker Books, and wax Wikki Sticks have all worked well for us, but each child has their own favorites. Take a trip to the dollar shop before your vacation to load up on cheap items you don’t mind losing or leaving on the plane, in addition to the toys they already know and love. Then, as if it were Christmas Eve, wrap them separately in wrapping paper. Break out a new toy and help your child unwrap it if your youngster becomes restless during the flight. Allow them to play with the paper first, then the toy, and if they get tired of both, there are always Cheerios.
7. Forget about screen-time limits (Temporarily) Goodbye
Regardless of how anti-screen time you are under normal circumstances, flying is not the time to follow your convictions. It’s not. I tried, and it was a disaster. That doesn’t mean you have to offer your 18-month-old an iPad loaded with every season of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood as soon as the plane takes off; nevertheless, some screen time can help with attention spans. A few hours spent looking at a phone or tablet won’t harm your child’s brain forever. Depending on the length of the travel, download a movie or two, episodes of their favorite television series, and some digital children’s books before leaving the house, just in case you don’t have internet access on the plane. For the benefit of everyone’s safety, buy a reliable pair of child headphones and test them out before you travel.
8. Listen to Audio Books
Downloading their favorite books in audio format is even better than apps, movies, or TV shows. That way, their thoughts are stimulated but not completely absorbed by a screen. Fancy Nancy and Curious George through Pinkalicious & Peterrific and Cat in the Hat are all available on Amazon’s Audible, or from your local library via the OverDrive or Libby App.
9. Turn food into a game
Eating meals on an aircraft can be an all-consuming activity for children, comparable to watching Paw Patrol. If your child has had enough of reading books or playing video games, get out the crackers and let them focus on eating for a while. Will there be Gold Fish everywhere? Maybe. But it’s better than a screaming toddler and a row of irate passengers. Bagels are one of the best in-flight foods for children since they take so long to eat. We frequently bring a full bag with us.
Another thing to keep in mind is that toddlers’ ears can pop just as much as babies’, so snacks during takeoff and landing are beneficial. Second, keep in mind that liquids and pouches must still adhere to TSA’s three-ounce limits. We’ve thrown away plenty of wonderful yogurt containers because we forgot they were too big to get through security.
10. Play a variety of games
Many parents are so quick to connect their children into technology that they overlook the opportunities for enjoyment available in their surroundings. Planes are jam-packed with stimuli to create games and keep toddlers entertained, from flight attendants and carry-on bags to cartoon safety cards and small plastic airline wings. “I Spy When I Fly” and “No Vacancy,” for example, are two entertaining games in which older toddlers keep a watch on the toilets and try to guess which will be vacant first. Here are a few more flight games, as well as some entertaining airport activities, to keep youngsters occupied in the terminal before boarding the plane.
11. Make a Game Plan: Food, Books, Toys, iPad…
Whatever you take for entertainment, have a strategy in mind and intend to switch things up frequently. Start with a snack before going on to some games, some reading, and unwrapping a new item at takeoff. When it comes to the tablet or phone, keep your powder dry. Because you know it would almost quickly calm any rowdy kid, it’d be wise to wait until the middle of the flight to use it, after you’ve exhausted all other distractions.
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