5 Tips for Flying with Young Kids

Fall Break is almost here, are you heading out of town? If your family is like ours, there’s always out-of-state relatives that love visits from our daughters (let’s face it…when it comes to seeing family members, the kids are really the ones who matter— we as parents just sort of come with the package). This summer, we flew with our 7 month old and 3 year old out to see my husband’s family in Michigan which involved one layover each way. Not only did we survive, but we actually had a pretty easy experience so I thought I would share a few things that helped me!

  1. Wipes, Wipes, Wipes — Naturally, during the entire week leading up to our trip, BOTH of my girls had terrible colds so I was nervous to fly not only because of the pressure on their ears but from the germ exposure. Many of us feel gross after getting off a plane and have that urge to shower pretty quickly and load up on airborne for the next few days. I’m honestly not a germaphobe…at all. I used to teach kindergarten before having kids so honestly it’s pretty hard to gross me out! I’ve seen so, so much *insert shudder here*. However, with my mom being an RN and the recent reports of measles, she suggested I clorox wipe the row we’re sitting in on the plane as we sat down and truly….it made me feel SO much better. **Side Note** TSA now requires you to remove ANY and ALL kinds of wipes from your carry- on and put them outside of your bag in the bin when you go through security because they contain moisture. With my girls having colds, I seriously had 5 different kinds of wipes in my diaper bag (Baby Wipes, Boogie Wipes, Hand Sanitizer Wipes, Pacifier/Bottle Cleaning Wipes, and Clorox Wipes….I may have overpacked) to take out. TSA also has you remove all snacks from your carry-on and put them outside of your bag in the bin so make sure to put those in an easy-to-access part of your bag! Also, be sure to give yourselves PLENTY of time before your flight.

  2. Backpacks for Everyone! — Before I dive in to this topic, I thought I would also mention that for me personally, the less I have to carry in my hands, the better! Rather than bring a stroller with me, I prefer to wear the baby in her carrier so I wore her in my Ergo 360 in the front while wearing a backpack on my back. Of course, not all babies like to be worn so it may not work for everyone. In my husband’s backpack, I had him carry all of the snacks, both of our laptops for work, and our 3 year old’s portable DVD player (old school? yes…love it) My backpack basically served as the diaper bag and I will discuss what exactly I packed at the end! The fun part? My 3 year old’s little backpack. Growing up, my mom would secretly pack our airplane backpacks with all kinds of fun things and we weren’t allowed to open them until we were sitting on the plane. I carried on that tradition and our daughter gets SO excited and can’t wait to open her bag! It’s so simple and cheap (at least when they’re little)! I go to the Dollar Tree or Five Below and grab a few items that will keep her entertained (stickers, coloring book, play dough, finger puppets, her water bottle, books, etc.)

  3. Divide & Conquer — Luckily, I had my husband with me on this trip. To all the mamas who have flown by themselves with their small children….um…..you deserve a spa day…or 12. Please teach me your ways. For our flights, we primarily had my husband in charge of our toddler and I handled the baby, but we would switch throughout the day when one of them was getting restless. Here’s an example: During one of our layovers, I had him take our 3 year old to get lunch for us while I took the baby to change her in the bathroom and then nurse her at the gate. This gave our oldest daughter a chance to walk around to get her wiggles out and gave me the opportunity to not have to change the baby on the plane if I could help it. **Side Note** In the airport, try to use the Family Restrooms! No lines, way more space, bigger changing area. Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner.

  4. ALL the Snacks — Instead of paying $6 for a small back of Chex Mix from the airport gift shop, I packed enough snacks to feed a small country. Again, over-packer…I have a problem. However, anything to avoid the “hangry” stage! I packed a couple of sandwiches, protein bars, and other various snack items that our daughter enjoys. One thing we learned though from landing….you know how you’re supposed to chew gum to help with your ears popping? And with babies, have them suck on a pacifier or bottle during that time? Well…I don’t trust my 3 year old to chew gum BUT we did learn that the fruit snacks we packed for her DID work the same way! No complaints here! Also, the bribery treat….you know what I’m talking about. I pack one bag of m&m’s so just in case we’re in meltdown city and nothing is working to snap her out of it, I have gold right there in that happy crinkly pouch. YASS!

  5. What’s In Mama’s Bag? —As we now know, I’m a certified over-packer so here is my list of what I had packed AFTER I had thinned it out! Keep in mind, my kids are super young, so your backpack might look completely different. Whatever works for you!

  • 6 diapers, one package of baby wipes, 1 thing of diaper cream, and changing mat (Have you noticed that airports sell like no baby products? Seriously…..I think I’ve seen maybe a couple packages of diapers but it’s like 5 diapers for an outrageous price)

  • 2 large ziplock bags (one in case a blowout happens/spit up session and one in case it happens again) — My first time flying with our oldest daughter…she was 4 months old and I was blown out ON mid-flight…multiple times…we were sitting next to an NFL player too. Good times.

  • One extra pair of clothes for each child and one extra shirt for me (see above blowout incident….I smelled AMAZING by the time we landed)

  • 2 Pacifiers, 1 bottle and formula serving if needed, and burp cloth

  • Nursing Cover/Blanket

  • A couple of teething toys

  • Baby Tylenol, Gripe Water, Children’s Tylenol, and Advil for the grown-ups

  • Cell phone charger

  • Chapstick

  • Hair ties

  • Larger wallet (I kept all my regular wallet items in there but was also able to fit our boarding passes in it)

  • Clorox Wipes, tissues/Boogie Wipes, Pacifier Cleansing Wipes, and Hand Sanitizing Wipes

  • Headphones

  • Any medications you may need on your trip, always keep with you on your carry-on just in case**

One final thing. I remember being SO nervous the first time we flew with our then 4 month old daughter because of the looks we might get if she was fussy and being "that crying baby" on the plane. Someone said this to me which really stuck and helped me to let go of that anxiety. "Your baby is a person too. They have the same right to fly on a plane as an anyone else on that flight. Don't worry about what MIGHT happen and what other people MIGHT think." Cue Mic Drop.

And that’s a wrap! Safe travels, Mama!! May your airport coffee be stronger than your toddler.

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