Surviving a Plane Trip With a Toddler

Last year, our family took a vacation flying with our then, 7-month old son. We were nervous to take our first flight with our little one, but it went pretty well.

My husband and I were nervous about how our son would react to the change in pressure (thankfully, nursing helped a lot). We also wondered how diaper changes would go in a tiny plane bathroom. That ended up going okay too.

But most importantly, we had a wonderful realization on that first trip thanks to two different women who were both moms to four older children. Both women were sitting alone on our flights, but they reminded us that most people know what it’s like to travel with small children. It’s difficult, but most people are understanding because they’ve been there or ARE there, like us.

There are usually parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles who have been in a situation where a toddler was inconsolable, or an exploding diaper made it a headache to change a baby on a plane.

But from what my husband and I have observed in our travels, most people understand and are even willing to help when there is a crisis on hand. And even if people aren’t understanding, you will most likely never see these people again, and life goes on…

 

Needless to say, we were MORE anxious this year to take a flight with our now 1.5 year old. He’s a ball of energy, loves to move, and is always doing!

He’s not interested in television, and he’s not at the age where he would understand why he needs to sit still for a longer period of time.

With that said, we actively prepared ahead of time for our trip. Thankfully, we had a successful 3 hour flight to our destination (and back). Wahoo!

Here is what helped us have a smooth flight:

 

1) I Bought New Toys

No, I did not go out and spend lots of money on new toys, but I did get different toys that my son had never seen before.

With it being Easter and spring time, I bought a bunch of cheap, plastic Easter eggs at the dollar store. I then filled them with different snacks. This helped my son keep busy by opening, closing, and finding little treats inside each egg.

Here is a picture of all the toys and books we brought along. The fox earmuff headset also hooks into any electronic device. The link for these is listed a couple paragraphs down.

I also found a GENIUS idea from another blogger who had traveled with a toddler, and so we decided to try it out for ourselves. This mom suggested buying window clings. I bought a bunch of plastic-gel window clings at the dollar store. My son then used these to stick onto the plane window throughout the flight, and we also had a child’s clip-board, so he could stick them onto the clip board as well.

This was one of his favorite forms of entertainment, especially on the initial flight because it was something completely different. He also ended up using them while we were waiting in the airport on the large windows overlooking the runway.

Here’s our little guy playing with his window clings while we wait to board the plane. He also had his coloring binder open, but he didn’t do much coloring.

Besides the window clings and Easter eggs, we ended up checking out some books from the library, we bought a coloring pad (which my son was not too interested in at a 1.5), and we bought some toddler Legos. My son did enjoy the toddler Legos on the plane, but the window clings and the Easter eggs were a big hit!

We did bring out tablet and ended up downloading a couple of shows and a toddler balloon popping game app. Yes, I know, the American Pediatrics Association recommends that a child not watch television or be on electronic devices until the age of 2, but life isn’t perfect and a toddler’s attention span doesn’t last very long.

As I stated before, my son doesn’t find television very interesting, so that lasted about 5 minutes, and the balloon popping game app, maybe another 5-10 minutes, so in all it wasn’t successful for us. We also purchased some toddler earmuff headphones. These can be seen in the toys first toys picture above (fox earmuff headset). The headset hooks into any electronic device. My son wasn’t a fan of them at this age, but I think they may be more useful for a future trip when he’s older.

 

2) We Packed Lots of Snacks

Thankfully, my son is a great traveler. But, I think it also helped that we packed plenty of snacks for him. This was a great distraction from turbulence and the discomfort that can come from take-off and landing.

My son is no longer nursing, nor is he bottle feeding, but he does drink out of a sippy cup. We filled the sippy cup with water we had purchased after going through security, and this helped unclog his ears throughout the trip. We also bought several fruit and vegetable squeeze pouches. These are a healthy and easy snack to bring along. My son would suck on the nozzle throughout the flight, and this helped his ears as well. A pacifier can also help with this.

Here’s a picture of our little guy playing with some mini cupcake holders & eating some crackers.

Along with crackers, yogurt bites, and other typical toddler snacks, we also brought chocolate. My son doesn’t normally eat a ton of candy or sugar, but when he was starting to get a little fussy after going through all his toys for the hundredth time (especially on the flight back), I’m glad that we had it!

We gave him small bites of chocolate (or tried to). Chocolate does seem to get everywhere, so be prepared to have wipes on hand if you should decide to do this! I don’t regret bringing chocolate on the plane, and I will probably do so in future for our travels or some toddler-friendly candy.

 

3) Fly Early & Mid-Week

Now, this may not work for everyone, but we chose to fly early and in the middle of the week. This benefited our family in several ways.

For one, we had a cheaper flight by going in the middle of the week, compared to flying on the weekend or on a Monday. Also, by choosing to fly early, it allowed our son to be able to sleep in the car on the way to the airport. He was then ready to burn some energy in the airport by walking around, exploring with Mom and Dad, and playing with some toys before getting on a long flight (where he’d mostly be sitting).

Usually when flying early, it’s easier to get through airport security. Our initial flight was at 5:30AM, and our return flight was at 8:30AM. We found both of these times to work well with our child. Obviously with each family, and with multiple children, what may work for you may look different than what worked for us.

Unfortunately, my son didn’t nap on either flight, but our flight was never during his usual nap time. Plus, he usually will only fall asleep in his crib, car seat, or pack & play, so this was no surprise to us. Thankfully, since it wasn’t his nap time, he was in a mostly pleasant mood throughout both flights since he had plenty to do.

Also, since we left early in the morning and mid-week, OUR FLIGHT WASN’T FULL! We didn’t pay for a seat for our son; therefore, he had a FREE seat to himself.

We had intended for him to sit in our laps, but with the flight not being full, we were able to have him take the middle seat (in a row of 3). My husband took the aisle, I took the window, and my son was able to move back and forth between us throughout the flight.

Our little guy was even able to stand on the floor in front of the middle seat to play with his toys when the “fasten your seatbelt” sign wasn’t lit. This helped us out so much! I’m not sure if this is “allowed”, but the flight attendants did allow our son to do this on both flights, which helped quite a bit.

 

4) Fly Southwest Airlines

Unless you can get much cheaper plane tickets elsewhere, I would strongly suggest flying Southwest. Each person can check two bags for free, plus strollers and car seats are free to check as well.

We ended up checking our car seat immediately, but then we used our stroller until we got to the gate. It was then checked for free with our luggage, and when we immediately got off the plane, it was set-up and ready to go for us.

When traveling with little ones, there is always a lot to load up in the car and onto the baggage cart at the airport. Plus, there’s the unknown stress of not knowing how your little one may travel, and just going through airport security can be a headache. We always find Southwest to be accommodating, efficient, friendly, and inexpensive compared to other airlines.

 

Hopefully, if you are traveling soon, you are able to travel safely and smoothly to your destination with your little one(s). Let me know what you have used or are using to keep you baby or toddler occupied. I’d love to hear about it!

Thanks for stopping by!

Time is Fleeting & A Spring Reading Favorite

“Isn’t it funny how day by day nothing changes, but when you look back everything is different…” -C.S. Lewis

“Man is like a breath; his days are like a fleeting shadow.” -Psalm 144:4

“So teach us to number our days so that we may get a heart of wisdom.” -Psalm 90:12

Time is Fleeting

Before having my son, the weather never really interested me that much.

I constantly wished I lived somewhere in the south (and maybe I secretly still do), but the weather was just another part of a busy day. The weather always seemed to be something that was just there. And occasionally an obstacle to my “planned” day.

But my son is fascinated by the weather and the changes outside. He wants to take the time to stare out the window and watch the rain fall. Not only that, he wants me to take him outside to feel the rain on his hands and face and watch it fall from the sky.

When it snowed, he wanted to go outside and see the glimmering white fall until it hit the snow covered ground. The texture and consistency fascinated him, and he just wanted to feel it, walk around in it, and experience it.

Today, as I write this, I reflect back on how he delighted in being outside on this beautiful spring day.

He walked around our yard and felt the trees. He walked between them, grabbed the bark, and felt the dirt around them. He wanted to walk in the grass, pick up leaves, and take in the sites of our backyard.

He wanted me to continually push him in the swing. He’d laugh and giggle, showing the eleven teeth that can now clearly be seen when he smiles.

The sense of wonder, newness, and appreciation is continually seen in his captivation with life.

My son’s experiences and sense of wonder has made me appreciate and take in the magnificence that comes with each new day. It’s continually reminding me to be thankful and to slow down, to stop thinking of what needs to happen next, and just be present.

 

I’m reminded that with the change in seasons, there is a change in my own life, and in my son’s life. Time is fleeting, and these moments only last so long.

It’s a new day where my baby, is now a toddler- running around our house and tackling our dog who is now smaller than my son.

I think my son believes he’s hugging my dog, whereas my dog thinks he’s being smothered. Don’t worry, no dog or little person was hurt in this photo, haha.
…deciding to wear Mom’s shoes & give his dog a hug

It’s a new day where my son has figured out how to climb up on our couch and look out the window. (Which scares Mom!)

It’s a new day where he listens to what I say, and often understands what I’m asking, and he’ll be bring me his socks and shoes.

…or sometimes just wear Dad’s shoes

It’s a new day where he quietly sits and skims through the books in his room. Alone. Like a young boy who is just fine with entertaining himself without his mother present.

 

These God-ordained moments of time are precious and priceless. I’m reminded that time doesn’t stand still, and the days are moving forward and onward whether I’m paying attention or not.

Where is the urgency in my heart? And I don’t mean the urgency to get things done or finish my to-do list. But rather, where is the urgency to take advantage of the time I’ve been given?

I’ve only been given so many days with my son.

How will I use that time?

How will I direct his little heart to know of the love that is given to us through Jesus?

How will I live out my life so that he understands that love is more than just words, it’s actions, thoughts, and a committed daily sacrifice.

What time have I already wasted and could have used differently?

What time did I use in a way that pointed his little heart to a bigger Person than myself?

And how will I direct his little heart to one day understand that he, his parents, and everyone that he knows has a fallen nature (sin), and that Jesus is the only cure? (Rom. 7:18- 8:4)

 

Time is fleeting my dear child, and you must know the Truth.

 

“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’” -John 14:6

 

Spring Reading Favorite

I have just one spring favorite. I could add more, honestly, I could! But, this one was worth posting alone. It’s life changing, and I’m so glad I stumbled across this book thanks to Jaimie Kight’s vlog.

 

Book: Treasuring Christ When Your Hands Are Full: Gospel Meditations for Busy Moms by Gloria Furman

This book, this book, this book…oh, my! I will read it again and again. I had never read a Gloria Furman book, and with this being my first, I can honestly say it won’t be the last book I read from her.

A little blurred due to the book being on my Kindle

Gloria Furman is an American who moved to the Middle East with her husband and four children. Her husband has certain debilitations that have limited his physical abilities to assist his wife with the needs of their family and home.

I love that Furman shares her own experiences throughout this book. She is honest and open about her family’s struggles and triumphs, and her beautiful writing continually points back to the One that matters and IS the bigger picture- Jesus.

This book truly brought me to tears. It’s what I needed to read, and what I continually need to be reminded of as a woman and as a mother.

I found myself wanting to underline, and highlight, and underline again on almost every single page. Furman is a marvelous writer. Each chapter was concise and to the point. Nothing else was needed. I found myself in awe of how real, honest, and direct she was with each chapter.

Furman clearly wants her readers to know that this isn’t a to-do list book for mothers or a book with Biblical advice for mothers. But rather, it’s a book that shares the gospel’s essential message of Jesus’ love so that we can better love ourselves and others because we have been set free from the weight of sin. (1 Pet. 1:18-19).

The Gospel is carried throughout her writing. She holds the message of Christ as sacred and clearly wants others to know the freedom that comes in Him despite one’s hands being full in the busyness, the mundane, the chaos, the repetition, the hardships, and the joys of motherhood.

She wants her readers to see the gift of motherhood for what it is, and to show how all the aspects that encompass motherhood point back to our Savior.

There isn’t anything more I can say about this book, other than directly quoting from it. Listed below, are some of my favorite quotes from the reading.

When I view motherhood not as a gift from God to make me holy, but rather as a role with tasks that get in the way, I am missing out on one of God’s ordained means of spiritual growth in my life. Not only that, but I am missing out on enjoying God. No amount of mommy angst can compare to the misery that comes from a life devoid of the comforting, encouraging, guarding, providing, satisfying presence of our holy God.

 

The image of God is most gloriously displayed in Christ Jesus, who is the exact image of the invisible God (Col. 1:15). By God’s common grace, a mother’s instinct to suffer, to love, to exercise patience, to endure pain, and to work for the good of her children is a reflection of the image of God. Through the grace shown to us in the gospel, there is something distinctly Christ-like about a mother’s love for her child.

 

In our noble efforts to practically raise our children to grow up to be adults, we often miss something. We miss the rising sun that signals another day of grace in which God has entrusted us with nurturing his little image bearers to love and honor him first and foremost and forever.

 

Sometimes God uses our children to remind us of the eternal perspective that we’ve forgotten.

 

When you discover that you are the unworthy recipient of God’s lavish grace, you cannot help but share it with others.

 

The Bible describes motherhood as neither a diminishing of a woman’s personhood nor the sum of her personhood. Womanhood, ultimately, is about a different Person altogether. Likewise, motherhood is about a different Person all together. The highest aim of womanhood is not motherhood; the highest aim of womanhood is being conformed to the image of Christ. The multifaceted goal of motherhood points us in the same direction. One of the gifts of motherhood is that God uses it to trace the image of his Son onto our lives.

 

Her writing is beautiful, and I’m looking forward to the next opportunity to re-read this book.

If you’re looking for a book for Mother’s Day to give to an expecting mom, a new mom, or a mom with young children, this would definitely be it.

Furman, Gloria. Treasuring Christ When Your Hands Are Full: Gospel Meditations for Busy Moms. Wheaton: Crossway, 2014. Kindle Edition.