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How I Keep My Child Entertained On A Flight

This post is Part 3 of my travel series: Traveling with a Baby!

Do you have nightmares about your upcoming flight?  I did!  It starred my husband breaking a cold sweat saying “DANG-IT” under his breath (how country is that?) as our child screamed bloody murder and me pale and shh-ing my kid to no end.  Don’t worry, have a glass of wine, and let’s chat while I tell you my approach to traveling via plane with a 16 month old.  Before I go there, how about a good laugh I found online.

A mother and her young inquisitive son were flying Southwest Airlines from Kansas City to Chicago. The son (who had been looking out the window) turned to his mother and asked, “If dogs have baby dogs and cats have baby cats, why don’t planes have baby planes?” The mother (who couldn’t think of an answer) told her son to ask the flight attendant. So the boy dutifully asked the flight attendant, “If dogs have baby dogs and cats have baby cats, why don’t planes have baby planes?” The flight attendant responded, “Did your mother tell you to ask me that?” The little boy admitted that she did. “Well, then, tell your mother that there are no baby planes because Southwest always pulls out on time. Now, let your mother explain that to you.”

Distraction is an obvious must. There are no direct flights when you live in the boonies.  We typically have two, two hour flights with a two hour layover to travel home.  This is why I always prepare for the worst: delayed for 2+ hours, sitting on the tarmac for hours, major meltdowns, etc.  If only Southwest Airlines would pick up that direct flight from Nashville to Providence again…

Below are 5 methods that we have used to keep our daughter entertained:

1)  Create a travel grab bag: I hit up the Dollar Store to pick up a few new QUIET toys such as: stackable cups, a new book, rubber ducks, box of Bandaids (to unwrap, un-stick, and stick on a piece of paper), crayons, whatever will float your kid’s boat.  Pull an item out one by one when your child gets antsy; when boredom strikes, pull out a new distraction.  This way you don’t pay a fortune for some new toys and if they got lost en route, so be it!

2)  Ipad/Iphone (or another tablet/smart phone with apps).  She loves all of the Fisher Price apps and they are free.  Pat The Bunny as well and the Disney Junior App are great too.  There are so many great apps out there, I will be covering the top apps for kids under 2 soon.  I did not utilize my Iphone during the flight because I knew it would be my luck that I would have to power it down and she would have a shit-fit.

3)  DVD player or Laptop with DVD:  If your child is mesmerized by video’s it would be worth the investment in a battery operated DVD player or lugging your laptop.  We contemplated bringing our laptop; however had the same concern with having to power down upon descending for landing.  You can also download a movie to your Ipad/Iphone

4)  Barf Bag Brilliance:  Do you have a fussy toddler?  Is shit about to hit the fan?   Search into that compartment in front of you and grab the barf bag.  First option:  make it into a hand puppet!  Have a pack of crayons on hand?  Practice your colors!   Say which color the crayon is and putting it in the bag, then taking them out and trying it all over, again….and again…oh the little things!  Side note:  If you are nursing and need to defrost frozen milk, have the flight attendant put some hot water in it and soak the milk for a bit.

5)  Bribery!  I can’t lie, I was very nervous to fly with my daughter last month because she is at that age when she doesn’t want to sit, discovered her Mariah Carey voice, and won’t listen.  I know the only way to get my child to cooperate when I need her to on the spot, is bribery.  I know, I know sign me up for Mother of the Year again!  I understand this isn’t the best method.  At her age, on an airplane-you do what works because passengers are relying on you not to spoil their flight with a massive headache.  Therefore lollipops, ring pops, fruit snacks, candy (which my daughter is allergic to peanut butter so she doesn’t get much) for incentive to keep quiet work in last ditch efforts.

Younger ones are easier to travel with!  Any small, colorful object that isn’t loud or too annoying will help to spark their interest.  Soft touch and feel books, stuffed animals, teethers, blocks, etc.  Nine months was when she got tough to travel with.  Mostly because she wanted to bounce the entire time and play peek-a-boo with the person behind us.  My arms were so sore after that flight!   The BEST thing you can do is stay calm, breath, and smile.  Your crying/fussing child sounds SOO much louder to you than other people around you and plenty of people have been in your shoes.  Word of caution…crying babies on plane are like a domino effect!   Enjoy your trip!

View Part 4: Things You Really Don’t Need, But Can Make Travel With A Child Easier!

  1. gail Reply
    great ideas!staying calm and having a sense of humor is a definite plus. your child will always pick up on your mood. so soft voice and soothing words to encourage an unhappy child sometimes defuse a bad mood. anything that works to avoid escalating ,fussy behavior does the trick for each individual child and parent. you are the one that knows your child best, so use that info and be creative in the tight spots of life. all you can do is your best, so plan those trips and hope for the best. life isn't perfect, so don't expect your child to always be perfect. we all have a bad day once in a while and if someone becomes upset, explain that is what is happening.
    • Marissa Reply
      I can't agree more! Most people who have a heart and have been in the situation aren't giving you dirty looks if you have that kid on the plane, they are more like sympathy looks! Everyone has their moments, including adults!

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