Flying with your Toddler
With the summer holiday season upon us, parents around the UK are packing and repacking to make sure their upcoming flight with a toddler runs as smoothly as possible. But where to start?
Whether it’s your first flight with your little one, or you’ve had a harder time in the past than expected, we’ve come up with 15 top tips to help flying with your toddler as calm, and enjoyable as possible.
1) TAKE YOUR TIME
Airports are stressful at the best of times, even without an excited toddler running all over the place. Make sure to plan ahead and allow plenty of time before your flight to avoid feeling rushed or stressed when arriving at the airport. Look into traffic reports around your route to the airport to ensure an easy drive, or if you’re getting the train or bus, make sure to plan in some extra time and book earlier tickets in case of any cancellations.
2) CHECK IN ONLINE
UK airlines allow passengers to check in as early as 30 days before your flight. We recommend doing this as many UK airports now offer a fast track lane for checked in passengers, which means less waiting time in a queue with your little one.
3) CHOOSING A TRAVEL OUTFIT FOR YOUR TODDLER
To eliminate the time you spend in security gates, try to dress children in clothes that won’t be necessary to remove at the gates i.e. laced shoes, zip-up jackets etc. We recommend a comfy pair of leggings or trousers, slip-on shoes and a long sleeved top - if you keep a t-shirt or vest in your hand luggage, too, your little one can get changed on the flight so they’re not as warm at your holiday destination.
3) PACK FOR SMALL ACCIDENTS ON THE WAY
Whether it’s your toddler spilling a drink during turbulence, or an in-flight meal tips onto their lap, accidents are bound to happen when flying with toddlers! To prepare for this, it’s always worth packing a spare set of clothes. Ziplock bags are a great idea too so you can pop any soiled clothes in them easily, without spoiling the rest of your hand luggage!
4) NAPPIES AND BABY WIPES
This one goes without saying but an absolute essential for your hand luggage is nappies. We recommend taking one nappy per hour that you are out of the house i.e. the time you’re at the airport, and the total hours during your flight. Baby wipes will also be your saviour when trying to change your little one, as you don’t always have a luxurious space to do so on a plane. When packing nappies and wipes, don’t forget to accommodate for potential flight delays!
Our Everyday Easy Spray Barrier Lotion is a must for your carry on too, as a way to protect your little one from nappy rash whilst you’re away - at 60ml, it’s the perfect size for hand luggage!
5) CARRY A BACKPACK
Opting for a backpack for your hand luggage means you’ll be hands free for the day, making it easier for you to carry your child, hold their hand, push a pram, show your passports, and of course chase after your little one when they start to run for the suitcase carousel.
6) TODDLER PLANE BAG
Whether it’s a renowned Trunki or a simple mini backpack for your toddler, packing a special ‘plane bag’ will get your toddler excited about going to the airport. On a long flight it is worth having a few new surprises in your bag to get out when they get bored i.e. colouring books, crayons, stickers and small toys. This will not only entertain them on the flight, but will make them feel all grown up about having their own bag during the check in procedure and security gates - plus it means you don’t have to carry their toys, as well as your own luggage!
Make sure to have plenty of snacks at the ready but try to avoid any sugary snacks like sweets and chocolate which will melt and make a mess - the last thing you need is a hyperactive toddler in a confined space. We recommend packing dried fruits, nuts or granola bars in your hand luggage, then maybe stocking up on some fresh fruit or sandwiches at the duty free section.
8) CHARGE YOUR ELECTRICALS
For parents who choose iPads, tablets or e-learning books to entertain their toddlers during a long journey, most airports in the UK now have docking stations where you can re-charge before a flight, so we recommend taking a charger in your hand luggage just in case, along with a set of headphones for your little one. If you have more than one child, to save on space you could buy a headphone jack which can be plugged into your device, and acts as an adaptor to allow two sets of headphones. We also recommend bulk downloading a variety of children's TV programmes onto your tablets, along with some fun new apps for them to play as an extra activity for on the flight.
9) BOARD THE PLANE LAST
Managing a toddler alongside your hand luggage can be a bit of a struggle, especially if you’re on your own. Next time you’re flying, try to be one of the last to board as it lets everyone else settle first, and minimises the time you spend on the plane. If you have a partner with you, you could even stay back and let him or her go ahead to settle with the luggage first, then follow with your child or children afterwards.
10) PACK A LOLLIPOP
Air pressure can be really uncomfortable for children (and for us adults too!). Pack a couple of lollipops for your child to suck on during take offs and landings. This has been proven to help ease ear pain that can occur during these times, and is a much better option than boiled sweets as it reduces the chances of choking.
As a final note, don’t forget that everyone is on your side. If your toddler is crying or having a tantrum, no one is going to judge you. If anything you’ll have people around you, especially the air staff, to help and support your throughout the flight. Flying is a really exciting adventure for toddlers, so take some pressure off yourself, enjoy the experience as best you can, and have a lovely holiday from all us here at team Metanium.