Adventures in Fatherhood- “Air Travel With a Toddler”

The purpose of this post is not so much to chronicle the recent adventure we had on our trip to the Northwest. That was well documented in a previous post. I just want to share a few little things learned on this trip about travelling with an 18 month old toddler. Now, I know every kid is different but hopefully there are some general ideas in here that might be helpful.

  1. Keep snacks handy the kiddo likes. We brought a number of baby food pouches. Be warned that some TSA agents will not let these through security without being tested. I thought we were safe because it was factory sealed baby food. The TSA in Kansas City didn’t stop me but the ones in Portland did.
  2. Get a cheap little stroller. No need to travel with the monstrosity that most of us parents have (and probably rarely use other than for going on walks around the block). A little stroller is lightweight, folds up easily, can be gate checked easily, and it is no big loss if it is damaged or the airline sends it to Zimbabwe. Be warned, you will have to fold it up and send it through the Xray machine and carry the child through the metal detectors. You can’t push the stroller through the security check point but it comes in very handy during the rest of the airport time.
  3. If your kid loves touchscreen gadgets like a tablet or phone it would be good to have one handy for the flight. My tablet and old iPod touch were able to keep Liam distracted for a good portion of the flight.
  4. Liam has a blanket and stuffed animal that we usually put him to bed with. If your kid has something like that which is a part of his regular sleeping routine it wouldn’t hurt to keep those handy. They helped Liam catch a little sleep on the flight.
  5. Put your child in clothes that make diaper changes easy. I can’t image something much worse than trying to change a toddler in an airplane who is wearing an outfit with a dozen buttons or snaps or other nonsense.
  6. If you have a social toddler, let him be social as long as it does not get annoying to fellow passengers. Liam liked to wave at the people around him and say “Hi!” This helped endear him to the folks nearby and made it so they didn’t mind nearly as much when he would get squirmy or have a little fussy spell (and his fussy spells were very brief and mild thankfully).

That’s all I can think of offhand. We are fortunate to have a kid who travels pretty well. He usually handles long car rides without too much trouble and has handled fairly long flight without making us want to pull our hair out. That may not always be the case, but the above are just few things we’ve learned that have helped make air travel with our toddler a bit easier.

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