Are we there yet? I’ve finally heard it. I’m on a plane with my three-year-old and we’re on the way to Grandma and Papa’s house and my daughter is excited to see them. Previously, we’ve done plane rides and long 1.5 day drives, but this is the first time I’ve heard “are we there yet?”
She’s sitting next to me, watching her iPad, playing with her seat belt, and covered in Cheetos cheese. Grandma is going to love hugging the cheese-covered girl. And I’m thankful that we’ll be able to wash the shirt tomorrow and hopefully get the orange out.
I’m always really surprised that airplane travel goes so well with my toddler. We only fly 1-2 times per year, but she loves it. I think it helps that she love the grandparents that she visits on the other end of these flights, but still, it’s amazingly pleasant. Normally this kid is a tantrum throwing, whining, “I don’t like it” saying three-year-old. However, tell her she’s going on an airplane and she’s pleasant for the WHOLE hour drive to the airport, followed by a bus, a crowded airport train, and a 1.5-hour delay where’s she’s mostly stuck in a stroller. Now on the plane, she’s quiet, polite, and starting to get bored.
It’s okay, though. I’ve planned for 6 hours of boredom on this trip. Here are the things I’ve brought along to make the flight go smoothly.
1. Lollipops. As we’ve been preparing my daughter for this trip by telling her she would be going on a plane ride, she’s mentioned that the last time she flew, it hurt her ears. I don’t remember that, but my husband does. I hoped lollipops would distract her and that sucking on one might help. It was definitely a nice surprise and distraction. I can’t say that it helped much with her ears because she licked it and bit it, not sucked on it.
2. Apple juice in a cup with a straw. She gets apple juice about once a day. She loves it and only drinks apple juice, milk, or water. I made sure to buy some apple juice for the flight. Drinking from the straw cup definitely helped her ears and always has.
3. iPad. My daughter doesn’t get a ton of tv or movies, but I’m allowing her to watch what she wants on the flight. Really – why wouldn’t I? I have headphones for this, but even the kid ones don’t stay on her head very well. She usually ends up sitting with the iPad listening out of the speakers. We monitor the noise so that it doesn’t bother the others, but honestly, the planes are so noisy, I’m surprised she can even hear it – I certainly can’t.
4. Stickers. This is a great source of entertainment for toddlers. I’m not sure there’s a single one of my daughters’ friends that doesn’t like stickers and couldn’t play with them for 10-15 minutes at a time. A sheet of stickers is an easy thing to put into a carry-on bag.
5. Books/magazines. My daughter likes those Highlights Hidden Pictures pages, so I’ve bought a whole magazine of those for when she gets bored. Books also work great to pass the time, but they can be heavy to carry. Magazines or small books work pretty well.
6. A favorite doll or stuffed animal. Always make sure you have the comfort toy with you. We have one in a carry-on and the second one in the suitcase. I’m pretty pleased with how few toys we’ve brought with us for this trip. It’s a baby doll and a stuffed cat only.
7. Blankie. Does your toddler have a favorite blanket? Take it on the plane with you. Your child can use it as a blanket, cuddle with it, or roll it up and use it as a pillow.
8. Crayons or pens and paper. You can use these to color, draw, practice writing, or making up little games.
9. Treats. Chips or candy that your child normally isn’t given at home. You can carry a lot of food through security these days, so you might even be able to buy it cheaply at a grocery store and bring it with you. Otherwise, look at the airport for Cheetos. New treats will entertain your kid for a while.
10. Surprises. I have always tried to have stuff that my daughter doesn’t know that I have with me in the carry-on. That way, it’s a surprise when I pull it out. Usually, it’s things like stick sheets that I just pulled from our stash at home that she hasn’t seen before. Sometimes, I will find new little toys and even wrap them in tissue paper so that it was like a present on the plane. Other times, I just pull out little surprises when she starts getting restless.
While I know that these things will help on most trips, I also know that it’s not a guarantee. It helps to be prepared with a variety of options and see what works for you child. Or maybe you know your child will be fine for two hours with a coloring book and crayons (lucky you if that’s the case).
Don’t feel bad if you need to get up and walk the aisles with your child. Chances are he’s a lot quieter doing that then if he were getting fussy sitting in his seat. Please, please don’t let your child kick the seat in front of them. That’s annoying for everyone except your child.
I thought about bringing a deck of cards on this flight and teaching my daughter how to play Go Fish. Then I realized that 52 Card Pick-up was more likely what would happen and that would upset me a lot. I left the playing cards at home.
What do you take on the plane for your child? Please share in the comments.