How’d it go?? Plane Travel with my 23 month old


J didn’t have his own seat on the way there since the plane was packed.  He still did really well.  This trip was 3.5 hours long.  We colored, read books, and he explored his new wallet for the first hour of the trip. Then dinner came and we made it last for a good 30 minutes.  After this was DVD time.  TIP: I used to prefer already having him fed and watching a show before the adult dinner trays came out, this way I could eat in peace.  Now that he shares the same meal as us, I wait to start his video until after we all eat.  It splits a 3.5 hour plane trip up pretty well.  We watched a Veggietales video and part of Disney’s Cars, spending a little over an hour with it.  After the video we took a bathroom break, and then onto the magna doodle, the puppet, and his trains.  I brought out the lollipop during the last 30 minutes.  Dad decided to give his to J too, so J had TWO lollipops sticking out of his mouth for the remainder of the trip.  That was entertainment enough to finish the ride.  TIP:  I learned to save a favorite toy/snack for the last 20 minutes or so since it seems to be J’s most trying time. I also learned to save something for the deboarding since we’re often on the back of the plane, waiting for a good 10 minutes for our turn.  We are both REALLY ready to get off by then, so I learned to give J something entertaining to push him through that last 10 minutes.  He used to be entertained enough by the people leaving, but now he could really care less!  Overall it went well.  J probably let out a tiny whine twice.  I’ve noticed he whines less when there’s someone else sitting in our row, maybe he’s too shy to fuss with them so near.


The return trip was a little rougher.  J did get his own seat AND we were sitting in the bulkhead so there was lots of leg room.  That was REALLY nice. However since there was noone else on our row (and no row beside us), J had no stranger to calm him.  Like I said before, he really does better behavior-wise and with keeping still when someone is nearby.  Still, he did beautifully until the last 30 minutes when he started fidgetting and eventually he got so frustrated he cried during the entire 5-10 minute landing process.  TIP:  I have learned that when he gets fidgety/fussy, appeasing him does no good.  Allowing him to go back and forth between mom/dad’s lap spells trouble.  He just keeps trying to get more freedom and is NOT pleased when he can’t go further than our laps.  Dad has yet to learn this (he doesn’t fly as often with J as I do so it’s understandable) and really tries to keep J moving, talking to him, attempting to distract him.  This really only makes it worse for J.  When I hold him still in my lap, tell him ONCE that I understand he is frustrated that he can’t get down but mommy says he must stay in place, and then simply hold him in my lap, the cries die down much faster.  Of course it’s best to prevent the frustration before it surfaces at all.  

I might also note that dad often assumes any cry/fuss is due to ear pressure and begins trying to get J to eat/drink to ease the pressure.  Of course this would help if the problem were ear pressure.  But J has never has problems with ear pressure on a flight.  Not once in the 25+ flights he’s taken.  And trying to force him to eat/drink when he doesn’t want to doesn’t really keep J calm either 🙂  I have seen other parents doing something similar on flights (waking a baby to drink during take-off/landing, trying to keep a toddler eating/drinking,…).  TIP:  Obviously if your child usually does have trouble with ear pressure on planes, do what is necessary to help.  However, in my research, most kids in our modern planes do not need  help with ear pressure.  I personally have drink/snacks available but I do not push it on him.  I have never chosen to wake him from peaceful and quiet sleep just to get him to drink out of fear he might develop some discomfort.  TIP: I would also recommend that if they are crying, listen to the type of cry.  Just like at home, not all cries mean hunger and not all cries mean pain.  Staying calm enough on the plane to listen to the type of cry to help determine the purpose of the cry is always helpful for me. 

But like I said, this was only for the last 30 minutes of the flight.  It can seem like a really long time, but I still try and remember that in the scheme of the entire day or even the flight itself, it’s not terrible and we can get through it.  It keeps me much calmer which keeps J from feeding off a frenzy mom.  Toddlers will either feed off our nerves or our calmness.  I choose the latter 🙂 

During the first 3 hours of the flight J did great.  He read, played with his trains, goofed off with mom and dad, froggie washcloth, and booklight.  We shared the airplane meal (mostly a snack for J).  Then he watched his video while mom and dad watched part of the featured movie.  After he finished with his video (1 hour), he kept occupied with his vinyl sticker board.  This has been a regular plane activity and usually a big winner.  He spent a little over 30 minutes with this (great for my 1 year old!)  After this however, he was really done with everything I had.  I would’ve brought out my snack at this point, unfortunately dad had decided to give it to him with the meal J    I should’ve taken him for a walk or to the restroom, but honestly it didn’t occur to me.  I have no clue why!!  I was definitely off my game this trip and it showed.  TIP: Don’t do what I did!


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