overthinking it.

Flying with Toddlers: A List of Useless Suggestions


You cannot stash your small children in the overhead compartment or in your carry on luggage. I don’t think you can. I’ve never actually tried it, but unless your child is wielding a tiny sharp weapon my guess is TSA would probably be fine with it. Let’s be realistic, they don’t exactly employee people with a passion for enforcing airline security. How many TSA agents have you seen throw themselves in front of an x-ray body scanner just because you failed to remove your shoes?

When I was single I used to roll my eyes when I saw babies on a plane. I’d try to situate myself as far away from them as possible. Nothing was more annoying to me than being trapped on a plane with a smelly, crying baby at 40,000 feet in the air, with no way out but down. Now that I’m on the other side of the diaper I’m happy to announce that it’s not any better over here. The crying is still annoying but you’re so distracted by trying to keep them quiet you block it out. As for diapers, they don’t smell any better if it’s your kid or the kid four aisles back. Poop is poop.

It’s possible for airline travel with small children to be painless. I’ve never experienced this but if I had it would because of the following suggestions:

Bring some for your kids too.

Fly During Normal Nap Times
This gives you plenty of time to run our kids down into the ground. If for some reason this plan backfires, just order a round of drinks for everyone. Even the kids.

Fly After 9pm
It’s worth a shot. I mean, they can’t stay awake forever.

Use the Right Strategy
If you situate yourself and your children around everyone else’s children you can:

A. Make your kids look amazingly well behaved when someone else’s isn’t.
B. Drown your child’s crying out by adding to the medley of the other eight crying children and insist everyone else’s children are much louder.
C. Blame someone else’s child when yours starts to cry.

Choose Wisely
Pick the first row so you have the ability to exit the plane as quickly as humanly possible.

Bring toys
This will give you something to do when you have to keep picking them up off the floor, retrieve a teething ring from the head of a gentleman four rows up or just continually trying to offer your child toys they don’t want. It probably won’t make the time pass faster but at least it’ll keep you busy.

Ask for help
Ask a good Samaritan to help by holding your child for a “quick second” while you find the magic “quit crying potion.” Then, pretend you’ve never seen the child before. Complain about how loud they are crying and as as you get up to escape to the bathroom to enjoy the final thirty minutes of the flight in peaceful silence, tell the Samaritan that their kid stinks and hand them a diaper. Suggest that the child might have a slight diaper rash and offer barrier cream and haul buns to the back (or front) of the plane – hoping the lavatory light stays off.

The truth is, there’s not secret sauce when it comes to what works with toddlers on the plane. Maybe what works with my kids won’t with yours. So, it’s pretty likely these strategies are useless. I’m no expert. My only other advice would be to buy a lot of booze. Then, it would still be chaotic, you just wouldn’t care.

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