About a month ago, Addie experienced her first plane ride when we went on a family trip to the Outerbanks. Leading up to that first plane ride I was terrified. I hate to fly. Sweaty palms, intense yoga breathing and serious meditating. It's how I spend my time during take off and most of the flight but when you have a toddler with you, it's a different type of fear.
We've all been on those flights with young children where you spend your entire flight with a child screaming next to you. You never want to be on the flight but you know who doesn't want to be on that flight more than you? The parent of said child. As the parent you realize it's driving everyone around you nuts, but your main concern is figuring out how to distract your child and get them to stop screaming.
So weeks before our flight, I began making a list of things I thought would be a good distraction for Addie.
Food. Bring your child's favorite foods. For Addie, it's cheese, animal crackers, and those fruit pouches.
Drinks. Addie is really only consuming milk and water. I'm avoiding juice as they're full of sugar she does not need. So we came with milk and water which you can bring through TSA, they just do a test on the liquid. But, it's a good idea to also bring a juice box as a one time immediate use. Either way, make sure you have something as children don't know how to pop their ears and drinking will assist in this.
Comfort items. Bring something your child uses as a comfort item. For Addie, it's Violet and a soft blanket so both were in our carry-on bag.
Toys & Books. Addie loves books, so I brought her favorite book along with a small container of play-doh. It keeps her occupied for 30 minutes and in a flight, 30 minutes is a long time.
Music & Videos. Invest in a portable DVD player & an iPod. Even if your child only watches 30 minutes of a video, that's another 30 minutes you've distracted them.
Special Toy. Something new, something they've never seen before. New toys are guaranteed to consume 30 minutes of your child's time. I found the Crayola Color Wonder. Best. Toy. Ever. Kids love to color, however crayons and markers get on everything. This is fabulous because they can color but the markers are invisible unless you're on this special paper.
Special Snacks. Again, something new. A snack you wouldn't typically give your child but would if it meant they wouldn't disrupt the entire plane with a fit. Chocolate is a big one and if they won't eat then you can. Suckers are an amazing option as well. Kids love suckers.
Medicine. Addie was teething and with air pressure I figured her teeth may be worse while flying. Make sure you have some type of tylenol or any medicines you may need while in flight.
Patience. This is for the parents of course. There may be a moment when your child starts getting antsy or in Addie's case, has a complete meltdown for no apparent reason. You'll start getting stares, even a crazy passenger who thinks you may actually pass your child off to them to walk up and down the aisles. Just keep your patience, your doing everything you can and eventually they'll either pass out or settle down.
Flight Attendants. Don't be afraid to ask them for help. They've been on thousands of flights. They've seen many children fly so they know what works and usually have snacks or coloring books for your kid. All of the flight attendants on our Southwest flights were amazingly nice.
Don't be afraid to fly. For us, it was 2 hours of flying and potentially having a meltdown or 10 plus hours of driving and guaranteeing at least 3 meltdowns along the way. It was worth it. If you have a layover make sure you let your kid run around during the layover. They'll need to burn off that energy when they've been cooped up in a plane for hours. It was much easier than we thought it would be.