Flying with a Toddler is hard! They are fully mobile, totally opinionated, and incapable of all reason or logic at the most inopportune times.
But come on, why stop there? If you are really up for a family challenge, fly with your toddler in your lap. Up until their second birthday, your child is eligible to fly for free as a lap child. Many budget-conscious families take advantage of those savings as long as possible. Me included, which in hindsight makes for some very tight accommodations in a very tiny airplane row.
Let’s be real; the lap toddler has always been controversial. Airline safety experts agree that the safest place for your toddler is in their own seat in a car seat of some sort. But until the FAA changes the rules, parents get to make that safety call for themselves. While I try to buy a seat for my Children whenever possible, they’ve both also flown in my lap several times as well.
What makes it so tricky than babies is toddlers are much bigger and more than anything are learning to be more independent and tend to throw tantrums when things don’t tend to go their way. Thankfully, my son tends to do that right before we board and is good on the plane. A lot has to do with your toddlers’ personality, the length of the flight you are planning on taking. A two-hour flight verse an 8-hour flight makes a world of difference in having a lap child and having their own seat.
When flying with a toddler, it is critical to pick the right flight and time. When is your toddler super-cranky? Do they need a full night of sleep to make it through the day? The key is not to pick a flight that is going to set you up as parents to already fail before you ever leave.
Now, let’s be real. We all know that most flights are not full to the max, so you still have a chance to getting an entire row to yourself. Southwest seems to be the best at this because they have an open seating policy. Many times you can double-check with the gate agent and ask nicely about how full the flight is, and they will let you know if there are a few open spots so you can save a row for your family.
Electronics are essential when flying. I know we were not a big fan of electronics at such a young age, but it made such a significant impact on his behavior and being able to keep him occupied and not bored. But the non-electronic entertainment has essential so you can keep them busy with both.
We all have been there on a flight where a snack is necessary; it is no different from a toddler. Just make sure that you have a wide variety of snacks ready to go.
Your toddler will thank you for all the preparation that you put in to make the flight smooth, and so will every other passenger, exceptionally if your toddler on their best behavior. Many travelers want a quiet, relaxing trip, and when they see kids, they have this thought of oh here we go. So do everything you can to make the trip as painless as possible for everyone.