Letting A Toddler Loose On A Plane

We are finally going to do it. After nearly two years with Little Z we are going to go on holiday, abroad. With a toddler…on a plane.

Is this insane?

I think I was ready when little Z was about 6 months old to be honest. The much more cautious OH wasn’t though and my options at that point, in my head, included:

1) Run off to New York on holiday with a baby by myself

2) Wait for the OH to be ready.

Despite my meticulous planning, in my head, I reluctantly put away the dream of having a solo (well, plus a baby) adventure in New York and waited for the much more cautious OH. Boring!

The OH was ready when little Z was about a year old. New York New York here we come!!! Oh but no…New York was veto’d. What?! Boring!

Then something happened. I suddenly wasn’t ready. Taking a newly walking Little Z on a plane? And abroad? With foreign waters and sicknesses and possibility of getting ill? Suddenly New York going abroad was a bit daunting. So I put it off, quite a while, till I was ready.

Now I am ready! Well…to be honest, I want to go before we have to pay full fare for Little Z once he turns 2.

New York has taken a back seat (apparently its a bad idea with a toddler. Hmph!) and we’re off to sunnier climates 6ish hours away with a beach to entertain us all for a whole week.

So my first dilemma is…how do you entertain a toddler on a plane for 6 hours??

So far my entertaining plans include taking the iPad, some snacks, hoping he has a long nap, possibly handing him over to any cabin crew that comments he’s cute, and letting him look out the window at clouds (are clouds entertaining?).

I keep having visions, though, about the consequences of letting a toddler loose on a plane. This post was actually going to be titled “Get that mother cuddling toddler off this mother cuddling plane”. But that’s a bit harsh…right? I’m very slightly worried about him running riot and us running around after him for 6 hours.

My visions include…

Toddler kicks chair in front repeatedly for entertainment till passenger in front gets a bit huffy.

Toddler refuses to sit strapped in during times of turbulence and has an epic tantrum.

Toddler runs around aisles during turbulence with one of us chasing after him whilst trying not to tumble over on shaky plane.

Toddler gets angry that Wifi won’t let him watch his favourite Sesame Street YouTube clips and flings iPad across plane hitting someone on the plane. Possibly causing injury.

Scenes like that Airplane movie from the 70s when everyone’s screaming (ok that’s a bit dramatic).

Toddler demands to be let off plane to go “outside to Paaaaaarrrrk!!” repeatedly.

Toddler requires nappy change and has tantrum in those tiny cubicles. Passengers watch cubicle as lots of clanging and banging is heard.

Toddler cries for most of journey because his ears are popping / he hates the pressure / is feeling poorly 😦

Toddler causes enough noise for cabin crew to offer us places in the “much quieter” First Class. Hurrah!!

Toddler sleeps entire journey and loves the inflight entertainment.

Toddler is utterly well behaved and even wants to “share share” his toys with neighbouring passenger.

Toddler wants to play the following (his most favourite) 58 times in a row and drives neighbouring passenger crazy

We all walk off plane frazzled and dreading the flight back in 7 days time.

So…how DO you keep a toddler entertained on a flight?



16 thoughts on “Letting A Toddler Loose On A Plane

  1. It will be fine. Get him used to a pair of baby friendly headphones before you go and put some of his favourite films on the iPad or get a cheap DVD player. Some colouring pencils (you don’t mind losing under the seats), sticker books and bribary sweets are all game when you’re travelling. We took S for the first time when she was just 7 months and again at 2 1/2 and this year both girls who were then 3 1/2 and 17 months. Ears popping is just one of those things and yes they can cry when ascending/descending but my thoughts on that were ‘tough’, they’d been good on the flight so a few tears for the last 10 minutes the other passengers could deal with. Another thing worth noting (if your airline do it and you can afford it) is bigger seats. They are worth their weight in gold when you have a small person on your lap and avoid unnecessary worrying about seat kicking, although you may get some loudly whispered comments like we did of “oh, I didn’t know they let children into this section’ – why? Are they toxic or something? 😉

  2. Good luck to you. I made the journey from the Uk to Australia on my own with my then 16 month old a few months ago. I downloaded thousands of Peppa pigs, in the night gardens etc and loads of childrens apps. I agree with 1st comment as well loads of books and stickers. If you can try and get the bulkhead seats as there may be room for your lo to spread out a bit and maybe sit on the floor. And solves the kicking the seat in front problem. Good luck!

  3. I flew on my own with Iyla when she was 3 months and then again when she was nearly 2 and it was much easier when she was a baby although on our outgoing flight she was fine. We took stickers and magazines which entertained her for a while. On the way back she did get bored and started moaning but we only flew with Easyjet so there was no onboard telly or anything. If you take an iPad then he sleeps for a bit then it should pass in no time! X

  4. Godders45 has given some great advice and I wouldn’t have said it better myself. My only addition is to be as relaxed as possible and it’ll all be ok on the night 😉

  5. We went to Morocco when my little boy was about Little Z’s age. Sorry to say that he did do the first three things on your list. But happily the flight coincided with nap time (we’d kept him awake in the car to the airport by screaming loudly and prodding him everytime he closed his eyes. Poor thing) so ater the first hour he did just go to sleep. As he’s got older (and more interested in feature-length DVDs and in sticker books etc) it’s got a lot easier. And I rememebr on another flight, when he was just two, he was so well behaved that when we landed the steward took him to see the cockpit (I was rather jealous!). I’m sure Little Z will be fine – and you’ll just have to keep going on holiday so he gets a chance to practice! Have a lovey holiday!

  6. I think it’s easier than you think it will be. I took my boys at 2 1/2 and 6 months to Florida and they were fine. They were amused by the plane, watched some dvd’s and I took some small toys and snacks with me that I bought in the airport. You will have a great time. Have fun xxx

  7. You will be fine lovely, Mads was as good as gold on the plane when we went in June. But albeit that isn’t now- at their age- and their tantrums. Oh poor you. Hehe only joking you will be absolutely fine, my friend has just last week gone off to Australia with their little girl who is the same age as Mads. If they can do it for 24 hours, 6 hours will be a piece of cake. 😉 x

  8. We took our daughter for her first holiday abroad when she was two years old and it was so easy. I was dreading it but she took to it like a duck to water and enjoyed the adventure. We flew from Gatwick to Barelona which I guess must have been about two and half hours, I don’t remember. Our secret weapon was a portable DVD player. She basically sat and watched Dora DVDs for the whole journey. We were also armed with lots of snacks as we knew that feeding her always cheers her up!
    She’s now four and we have a baby boy now too. We’d like to go abroad next year but so not sure I am ready for flying with two children!!

  9. Don’t do it. Go to Butlins instead!

    I have heard that you should have a set of toys that they have not played with, or favourites but ferretted away for a few weeks before, to keep them entertained as well as puzzle books and a tranquiliser?

  10. Have a sectret bag of stuff that you can produce a “thing” bit by bit to enterain – stickers, pencils, colouring books. Don’t let him see the full contents before or during the flight, so all a surprise. Also – finger puppets. If for any reason tech fails, and seat backs have to be up (turbulance) , the finger puppets can go on a fantastic imagined journey in the confined space of your knee. I still remeber the time my eldest packed all his toys into his Buzz Lightyear pack and delacred “want to get off now, had enough”….with 4 hours still to go…. re ears poppong (dentists avert your eyes now)….Chuppa Chups lollies. Sucking action works a treat….

  11. I would So dread the plane journey too but if you pack books, colouring stuff, etc… I bet he will be fine. He will probably be fine but it’s still nerve racking! Maybe slip some brandy not his juice?. Lol good luck x x

  12. I did long train journeys alone with H when he was Z’s age (about 7 hours in total on 2 trains). It is tiring and you need to be prepared. Collect things in advance (I used to squirrel away small toys off magazines. Use fresh things so that he has the novelty factor. It is tiring because apart from when H slept I had to entertain him pretty much constantly.

  13. Pingback: Dearest 23 Month Old |

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