Thursday, November 17, 2011

Vacation - Good. Taking a Toddler on an Airplane – BAD!

We leave for Disney World soon and I couldn’t be more thrilled about finally being able to take some time off of work to spend time with my wife, kids, some friends, and some family we haven’t seen in over 5 years.

But with all of the excitement comes dread – my son is now 18-months old and has literally two setting: RUN and sleep. Saying he’s a bundle of energy is an understatement.
I first considered buying him a seat on the airplane, which of course is HIGHLY recommended by the airline and “experts.” Problem is, when my daughter was around 19-months we flew with her car seat and she kicked the seat in front of her for hours. Yes, hours, even with us trying to hold her legs down. Try holding toddlers legs down for a few hours?

Yeah, that’s the part the airlines and those “experts” don’t tell you about. The lady in front of us had every right to shoot us. I should have given her permission to shoot the stupid expert who thought putting a car seat in an airplane was a good idea – especially now that the seats are even closer together these days. My recommendation, don’t put a toddler in a car seat in an airplane unless you really want the entire plane against you. Most people are already not caring or concerned for parents and small kids on airplanes as it is.

Anyhow, we’re tried the Benadryl idea with my daughter when she was just about 2-years old and it created horrible results. Instead of sleepy or drowsy she became irritable and hyper. We read later that you’re supposed to “test” it first. So this time around we tested it with our son and it seemed to chill him out. I guess the ultimate test will be the upcoming 4 and a half hour flight.

But I’m looking for alternate ideas. Parents of the world, PLEASE tell me your secrets to a successful airplane flight with your toddler?


Josh Blair said...

We flew to Florida in May with our 4 year old son (in his own seat of course) and our twin daughters, who were nearly two, on our laps. There was a little fussiness when the plane took off (I'm sure from the pressure on their ears), but they did good for most of the flight.

I'd recommend sitting with the little one near the window, so he can look out and also so you can use the wall as an armrest in case he wants to lay down.

Tina said...

We have flown (often) with our two children since they were very young. We never purchased a seat for them until required by the airlines (2 years old, usually).

My recommendation: empty your carry on bag of any personal entertainment items - you won't have time to read a book or magazine or work on your laptop. Then fill the bag with LOTS of activities (remember that the attention span is short): crayons/coloring, children's stories, small toys (airplanes/cars), travel size aqua doodles were a hit (fill the wands after you get thru security), age-appropriate (18 mos???) BrainQuest cards (they are attached to each other, so don't get lost). Ask the flight attendants for two cups and a small amount of water. Let him pour it back and forth - this worked for us for 30 minutes, with minimal mess! Also fill a small lunch cooler with TSA approved snacks: raisins, crackers, fruit, etc. Avoid added sugar stuff that might ramp up his energy-level (your mileage may vary). And if you have a portable movie viewer of some sort (excuse to bring laptop - just not for you), I highly recommend it as a last resort - bring headphones (and a splitter if necessary for your daughter to share). And content for said viewer, obviously!

When the captain warns us that it's last potty call, we ask the girls to get down on the floor and look for lost items, and start packing the carry ons then, leaving out only one or two toys until touchdown.

Also - make a checklist of everything important, and check it before you leave the jetbridge!

painted maypole said...

New distractions: whether that's a new DVD, a new toy, a new book, ALL OF THE ABOVE (doled out slowly over the course of the flight) and yes, benydryl.

ONe time i was flying with MQ, who was about 6 months at the time and she would not. stop. crying. I was in the aisle walking and rocking her, trying my best to shush her, trying not to look at the woman two rows behind me who was so pissed she couldn't sleep. a woman passed by to go to the bathroom and simply said "what a beautiful baby." mind you, my baby was red faced from screaming . It was one of the nicest things anyone ever said to me. ever.

painted maypole said...

for ears... MQ never had problems, but I've heard that giving your kid a toothbrush to chew on works.

James (SeattleDad) said...

We did the same thing with buying a seat and putting in the car seat when Lukas was around 2. Same result. It was horrendous. We didn't fly again for a couple years.

ArtistUnplugged said...

How exciting....though I do not envy your flight with a toddler! We just took many small toys, books, etc. to keep them occupied. I just hope he doesn't start cutting a tooth. Unbeknowst to me my daughter was doing that which resulted in using all seven of the diapers I happened to take on with me....thank goodness I happened to take more than usually would be needed. Changing her in that tight bathroom was horrible! Be prepared for anything. Have a great trip and Thanksgiving.

Emily said...

We just flew across country with our 18 month old daughter and I can completely sympathize with you. I made her a few new (cheap and homemade) toys which really helped keep her entertained. Check them out if you're interested...

Good luck and have a great time at Disney World!!

Anonymous said...

We took my oldest son from Texas to Boston and then to the DC area before he was 2. We're way too cheap to listen to "experts" so we haven't flown since he turned 2 (or since his little brother was born), but we have taken a few driving trips. Best trick I had was to not only take lots of activities, but put each one in its own paper bag so it was like opening mini presents every 15 to 30 minutes. Not every dollar store item was a hit, but it was distracting and exciting enough.