Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Flying with a mini toddler

Do you sense a theme here on this blog? Yes, we fly a lot. We have horrible carbon footprints for that reason, which I hope is somehow offset by our other lifestyle choices. In any case, I’d like to share my advice for flying with walking babies who still can’t really talk and don’t understand the seatbelt sign.

1. Fly with a partner, if possible. It is awesome to be able to take a break from baby wrangling before you meltdown, yourself.

2. If flying alone with your 18 month old, try to rumple your clothing and hair more than normal, so you look as haggard and frazzled as possible. This will help convince nearby passengers, and possibly flight attendants, to give you a small break (perhaps entertaining the child while you pee, for instance).

3. Request a bassinet ahead of time (even if your kid is far too large to fit into one). At the check-in counter, remind the checker-inner that you have requested said bassinet. Also offer to give up your bassinet seat if they can supply you a spare empty seat next to yours (the bassinet seats are in the bulkhead, so the airlines like to offer them to other people for an extra fee). If they say that the flight is full and there are no bassinet seats, remain calm but convey silently your extreme fear of the prospect spending several hours with an energetic, wiggling child in your lap. If you are lucky, the checker-inner will feel bad for you and make extra efforts to rearrange things so you have a good seat. 
Miniature adult-like items, such as a little roller bag, are a massive hit. (Thank you, Granny!)
4. Spend a lot of time packing interesting, new, small toys for your child in the hopes that they will play quietly in the seat. Don’t spend a lot of money, though, because invariably your time and effort will be completely wasted, and the child will just throw everything into the aisle and whine that he wants something else entirely.

5. Order more wine.

6. Roam the aisles, batting the child’s hands away from exploring sleeping strangers’ limbs and underseat luggage.

7. Go in the bathroom and let him unravel an entire roll of toilet paper, then roll it back up in a giant lump, and furtively exit when no one is looking.

8. When the seatbelt sign comes on mid-flight and the child kicks and screams and refuses to be held or sit buckled into his extra seat (if you’ve got one), let him play on the floor between your feet, holding him with your legs to prevent him from becoming airborne during turbulence.

Oh yeah, there are also cartoons.
9. As long as he doesn’t weigh too much, older babies seem to be perfectly fine sleeping with their feet hanging over the edge of the bassinet. You will, of course, be much too worried about them leaping out of the bassinet the moment you shut your eyes to sleep, so instead watch some awesome in-flight movies or read a mindless novel. And maybe have some more wine.

10. When all else fails and your darling child has a tantrum in the aisle because he isn’t allowed to open the infant life vest the flight attendants have so thoughtfully given you, practice your Zen breathing, smile calmly at people giving you terrible “control your child!” looks, and tell them to go to take a long walk off a short pier in your head.

11. And lastly, flights, like childbirth, don’t go on forever.

Have a great time!


  1. I like the "drink more wine" suggestions interspersed at important intervals to this blog! Good luck flying with the nonverbal highly active Ryder! Looking forward to seeing you stateside again!

  2. I would add that people may not hate you as much as it seems they do. I took a flight to San Diego with Avi when she was just over 1. She was enamored with the big gold watch of the man sitting next to us and I struggled with all my might to keep her from attacking him with her wiggly love. The whole time he didn't crack a smile or recognize what was going on, so I was convinced he hated us. About two minutes before the plane landed, I found out that he was a pig farmer from South Dakota (on his way to Mission Bay for a swine convention, no kidding) and he said that Avi was a great kid and well behaved on the flight...he was just very stoic.

    1. That's awesome, Rachel - I will keep it in mind! :)

  3. Also, as a very wise older woman told me after a flight during which my toddler was particularly terrible, "Don't worry. you'll never see any of these people again!"