A friend emailed me the other day and asked for tips for her first plane trip with her 11 month old. I get emails from y'all asking for tips pretty often, so I figured I would revisit the topic as my techniques have changed now that J is a full blown toddler. Feel free to comment with your own suggestions!
Here is my post I did on it awhile back on my blog when J was just 8 months, it is more geared to traveling with a baby.
Here are tips for an "older" baby now that I'm to the toddler phase:
Don't forget that shoes and jackets must come off before security. Save yourself the hassle and have them wear easy to take off shoes and perhaps take them off long before you get to the front of the line.
Don't forget to declare to the security agent that you are traveling with milk for the baby, juice, applesauce, etc. Put it in a clear quart size ziplock bag. If you are traveling with milk, be prepared that they may test it with a strip. They will not dip the strip in your milk, they just hold it above it. Some airports do this, some do not. It doesn't happen in LGA, but it does in PNS. Go figure.
Bring a juice box to encourage drinking on way up or down if you are done with bottles-we don't give juice very often so it's a treat and I know he'll suck so his ears aren't too bad for ascent and decent.
Board Books and toys (I always buy 1 new of each so it keeps his attention and I also bring 1 favorite of each)
Bring the Foogo sippy cup that keeps the milk cold for 12 hours and Foogo food jar to keep fresh fruit on hand. (If you use the foogo, beware when opening it after take off, it will squirt you because of the pressure..I speak from experience.)
Use what they have on the plane! J loves the delta biscuits! Also in emergencies (like my 3 hours on the runway in Atlanta on our last trip) ask for foam cups to stack and play with, small water bottles to shake, make the airsick bag into a puppet, let him tear out all the pages in the flight magazine...hours of entertainment!
We also take "walks" down the isles and look out the windows in the back of the plane. A change of scenery can sometimes mean a change of attitude if they are having a hard time.
Bigger planes have changing tables in the bathroom above the toilet. I've also sat on the toilet and changed J's diaper on my lap when there isn't one. Practice this move if you have never done it!
Bring an umbrella stroller, so much easier then the big one! We always travel with our Maclaren and it does great! We just check it at the gate. Don't forget to ask your gate agent for a tag.
If you have to bring your carseat you can check it for free. Or, if you have purchased a seat for your toddler (under 2 can fly free on your lap), you can bring it on board. If you are bringing it on the plane, my friend that just traveled to Europe swears by this. We purchased this for one of our trips and it was a pain b/c it doesn't wheel very well.
For those of you that don't have kids and see a Mom struggling. Help her out! We really appreciate it and have a hard time asking. Please don't give us dirty looks when our child is screaming. Trust us, we want them to stop too and we are doing EVERYTHING in our power to make them hush. And, if you see a little face like the one in the picture above peeking at you...be a kid for a minute and make a few funny faces or play peek-a-boo. A good laugh might be good for you too! =)
Good luck traveling Mamas! Leave your other favorite air travel tips in the comment section.