Planning an air trip with little kids can be daunting for parents. Either it is for leisure or any unavoidable circumstances, traveling with kids needs a lot of pre-planning and perseverance.
Don’t get me wrong, traveling with kids could be a lot of fun too. But if you are flying with a lap child and a toddler, things are not that easy. Nevertheless, you can still make it work smoothly by planning ahead.
Try to research your destination, airline, timeline, and essentials that you must need for your kids while you are traveling.
In general, planning for each day at your destination could be tricky with a newborn and a toddler on board. Try to plan the best strategy that works for you and with your kids’ schedule. For instance, keeping their bedtime and mealtimes into consideration – because overstimulation makes kids cranky and could potentially ruin your trip.
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Things you must know when you are traveling with a toddler and a lap child
1. Consider getting a seat for your lap child
While you travel with toddlers, make sure you can have seats for both. Only one child (under 2 years of age) can be in your lap during the flight.
A lot of parents want to take advantage of no ticket age and prefer traveling with little ones. However, if you are traveling without your partner, getting a ticket for a lap child is a wise decision.
Well, that does not imply, you have to get a ticket for a lap child. Most parents could get lucky and find empty seats if the plane is not occupied.
You must consider getting a ticket for your lap child, only if you can afford and the following.
- The flight is more than 5 hours. I and my husband traveled with a lap child and a toddler for 18 hours of flight time. Trust me, you do not want that. All seats were full and we had no choice.
- Aircraft bassinet is good for newborn babies only. You need a separate seat if baby is over the certain weight limit.
- If you are traveling alone without any help.
- If you are taking an infant car seat on the airplane, you need to get a separate ticket. Despite its convenience, it is an extra weight you have to carry along.
2. Do not overpack
If you are getting a ticket for your lap child, you are allowed more luggage. This does not mean you should OVER-PACK in any way for you and the baby.
Do not try to pack everything in your carry-on bag just because you might need it on the plane.
While you are at the destination, you can pretty much get everything available locally.
If you are traveling to a country where essentials like baby milk powder, or diapers could possibly be not available, you must take these items along.
3. Take kids necessities in your carry on
Keeping kid’s age and requirements in mind, you must prepare your carry-on with minimal stuff that you have to carry all by yourself.
For infants and toddlers, water and milk are a must, although you can get water on the plane too. Get water bottles at the terminal, once you are done with the TSA security check.
For long hour flights, you need to take breastmilk with icepacks if you are pumping.
Also, do not forget to take your kid’s favorite blanket or stuffed toy along.
4. Stroller for two
You need a stroller whether you are traveling alone or with your partner.
Airlines take your stroller once you enter the plane and return it when you exit the plane after landing.
Generally, for international flights, you may not get your kids’ stroller during the transit. However, many airlines provide you with a stroller when you exit the plane for a layover.
Heads up – there is quite a possibility you do not get a double stroller for the transit if you are traveling with two because they might have been taken already.
5. Stay hands-free
While you are traveling with small kids, and you have to have a stroller. For that reason, skip a strolling carry on. A reasonably sized backpack is a convenient travel gear.
You may want to wear a compact Crossbody bag for easy access to passports or boarding passes, and your cell phone.
You can take basic necessities in your backpack, like milk bottles, baby food, diapers, wipes, a few toys, tablets, and an extra outfit, depending on the duration of your flight.
Diapers, diaper sacks, changing sheets, and wipes have to be packed in a separate ziplock bag or transparent travel bag. It would be easy for you to take them out
Fortunately, for long hours flights, you can take an extra carry-on bag too, if your significant other is traveling along. That certainly does not mean you start overpacking, taking advantage of your partner, going with you.
6. Baby food and milk
For toddlers, you can take packaged food on the plane, like, apple sauce, baby food jars, or snacks. Pack all baby food, formula, water, milk, in a clear bag, and take it out before the TSA security check.
Essentially, you should put the baby’s food, medicines, and milk in the tray for screening, to avoid any hassle or delays.
7. Travel with minimalism
Again, please try not to take everything with you. Be selective and choose wisely what you need to take in your check-in luggage and carry-on bags. Plan your family’s outfits for each day, however, you need to have a few extra outfits for your kid in case of blowouts, leaks, or spillovers.
Try to take toiletries in travel size to avoid weight issues so you can travel light.
8. Favorite toys
You need to take your kids’ favorite toy on the plane. Just a friendly reminder, it would not be a good idea to bring small toys on the plane, they are hard to pick up as they keep falling.
Be prepared to bend down back and forth picking your toddler’s toys, with a baby in your lap. I would advise choosing kids’ toys wisely.
9. If you are a breastfeeding mom
For breastfeeding moms, take a window seat. You might need a little privacy to feed your baby, depending on your comfort level on the plane. Breastfed babies could get more fussy on-the-go.
Also, you should not forget to take nursing cover, and baby gas drops on the plane.
10. Adjust seating with a lap child and a toddler
Ideally, you can have your lap child lay down and sleep on your toddler’s seat if you do not have an extra seat available. Have your toddler sit in your lap while the little one takes a nap.
11. Taking technology with you
If you allow screen time then you may want to take it on the plane, depending on the flight time, duration, and schedule. You can use noise-canceling headphones for big kids if you want.
12. How to deal with motion sickness on a plane
Just a friendly reminder – Whenever we plan a family trip, I always talk to my kids’ pediatrician and follow her medical advice. Always talk to your pediatrician before you leave for a vacation.
If your kids are having motion sickness (which is likely for some kids ) then you must discuss it with your pediatrician before you go on a trip.
My kids’ pediatrician advised Dramamine for my 3-year-old for motion sickness. The recommended age for this medicine is two years and over for kids. For kids under 2 – You can give Benadryl as suggested by your pediatrician, only if it is considered safe, and your baby has no pre-existing medical issues.
13. How to deal with an upset stomach or diarrhea
What if your kids get diarrhea while you are on trip ….
It is recommended not to take any medication for diarrhea unless it is going on for a long time. Let the stomach bug get out of the system and it may take several days. Although it is quite stressful for moms as kids lose a lot of weight and get dehydrated. Soon kids are going to regain lost pounds, once they start eating better.
However, you still want to keep Imodium (anti-diarrhea oral medication) handy for diarrhea in children 4 years old and above.
You can take along Pedialyte powder to maintain hydration for kids.
14. Medicines you might need on the plane for kids
The dryness makes the baby’s nose dry and crusty and spraying several times would help her breathe better.
Don’t forget to take all medicines that need to be in a clear bag for a security scan.
In the US, pediatricians require you to get your baby tested for tuberculosis once you come back from overseas. It varies from country to country, so you need to check with your pediatrician.
Read more: How to treat seasonal allergies in children.
15. Time to board – Dos and Don’ts
- Do not buy anything extra, after security scan when you are with kids. Especially sodas or drinks, if you cannot put it in the backpack before boarding.
- Try not to occupy your hands with random stuff because once you are ready to board on the plane, you do not have a stroller anymore.
- Do not forget to take a face mask (face covering), a hand sanitizer, or a sanitizing spray in your carry on.
- If you have to give baby a medicine, try to do it before you board on a plane.
- Offer your kids candy, or lollypop during taking off or landing, or have them wear earplugs to avoid air pressure. For an infant, have a bottle ready or breastfeed before your flight takes off.
- Always make sure kids are in fresh diapers before you board the plane.
- Be sure your powder milk is fresh in your carry on bag before your TSA security check. TSA’s alarm could beep anytime for powder milk. Use formula dispenser for formula feedings.
- For long-duration flights, typically more than 6 hours, you have to pack some extra stuff – like formula, extra clothes for yourself and the baby. Keep essential items in a carry-on bag.
Read more: 22 Travel essentials for your next flight.
DO NOT STRESS if you are flying for the first-time
I was so stressed out when I was traveling with kids, all by myself. I made so many mistakes and learned my lesson.
Do not stress at all. You are a mom, and you know the reason why your baby is crying (hungry, tired, sleepy, wants some toy). Distract when needed, and that’s all you have to do, either with candy or a different toy.
If you are flying for the first time with kids, stay calm and focussed. Try to resolve the issue without getting panicked.
Eventually, traveling gets better and so much fun, but there is a learning curve to it. Your second time traveling with kids would be more fun.
Happy Traveling and stay safe.
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