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One of the biggest stresses I had about having kids was “What do I do if they have a meltdown on a plane?”. I understand that in the long run, this is a minimal worry at best, but it was terrified of being stuck on a plane, flying with a toddler, who is screaming and everyone around us giving judgmental looks and being overall annoyed.
Because honestly, sitting in extremely close proximity to an extremely angry baby that is unhappy being on a plane and has no qualms about letting everyone know how they feel, is exhausting. It is even more exhausting if the screaming child is sitting in your lap. Mostly because everyone knows you are responsible for that kid and they would frown upon you trying to hide (alone) in the tiny airplane bathroom.
At some point, as parents, we will be the ones holding that supremely angry baby. I don’t know about you, but when I am in a situation where my child is bringing negative attention to herself and by proximity, myself, I become the absolute least pleasant version of myself. Similar to how the Hulk comes around when Bruce Banner gets agitated, except that I don’t turn green and I and the superhuman strength is replaced by the power to say incredibly rude things to my loved ones. Clearly, I am a champ under pressure.
So, while all the preparing in the world won’t stop the child-like fury that will come for you one day, it can help lessen the blow or the length of the tantrum. Which will make you and the surrounding passengers, a little less likely to have your own airlines meltdown.
TIPS FOR FLYING WITH A TODDLER
When we fly with our daughter, we bring a whole backpack that is almost 100% dedicated to snacks. I fill little containers (like these) with Cheerios or these Gerber Lil Crunches (which are easy for travel until your child wipes their crumb covered fingers all over your shirt). Our travel sanity has also been saved a couple of times by Jammy Sammies, which are tiny PB&J sandwiches. They are small enough that you can carry them in any purse, but they don’t tend to crumble like other snacks might.
At 15 months, our family is getting into the coloring phase. But accuracy with getting a crayon to paper is minimal at best. I would recommend packing up some Color Wonder Markers and the special Color Wonder Paper. I don’t know how they work, but these markers only leave color on the special Color Wonder Paper.
I think it is magic, like out of Harry Potter or Hocus Pocus. And I am all about magic if it also means that I don’t have to get marker off my white walls at home. But these markers also give comfort knowing that you don’t have to do the walk of shame off the airplane knowing that the tray table and seat back now resemble a Jackson Pollack thanks to your child.
I have not used this product personally yet, but it was recommended to me by a friend and it seems genius. We are still in the phase where we can fly with a lap child, but if your kid is older than 2 and gets their own seat, you might want to pack one of these safety belts in your carry on!
Pack the Lovie or a soft blanket
I have proof that the Good Lord has blessed me in the way that my child reacts to her Lovie (a silk frog gifted by her grandparents). Every time we hand that Lovie over to Kinsley, she sticks her thumb in her mouth and calms down or goes to sleep. #Blessed.
Apparently, a lot of kids react like this to a Lovie, so ours isn’t special (in that way. She is plenty special and probably a genius). The Lovie has saved us during more than one public outing. And by us, I mean my husband, because when Kinsley melts down in public, I lose my mind as well and we both turn in to frantic humans who my husband must manage to turn back in to calm, civil people.
Save Screen Time for The Meltdown Moments
I pack an iPad for the plane to use as a last resort. Our daughter, Kinsley, doesn’t quite understand the concept of a touchscreen just yet, so this is a good distraction for about 30 seconds of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse until she decides she wants to touch Mickey and then gets frustrated when he pauses or disappears entirely.
But usually, a little bit of screen time can get her to calm down from a temper tantrum if it comes to that.
If all else fails, just have snacks.
Traveling with kids can be stressful, but overall getting to see them explore new places is pretty great! Use this as a guide for your next flight and it should be smooth sailing all the way to your vacation destination.