8 Survival Tips when Flying with a Toddler

Honestly, my first trip alone with a toddler was the craziest thing I had to do these past few months. I was even told by my friend how zany I was to think it would be easy. I wrote this post to give a heads up to first-time mums out there who want to brave it out and travel alone her bub.

So here's my tried and tested (sometimes learned the hard way) 8 Survival Tips when Traveling with a Toddler. Enjoy! 

1. When your bub cries, calm down and focus.

I understand it's alarming to be with a child who is having a meltdown, but trust me when I ask you to calm yourself in the midst of this chaos. It will help make things better faster when you're focused to solve the problem. 

While on an early flight, I remember my son waking up at the unholy hour of 3 am to incessantly wail. I panicked and did everything wrong until I ended up running in the bathroom with my toddler. No amount of immediate intervention stopped his wailing because I too was stressed out. I felt like he could smell my anxiety. After 5 minutes in the bathroom, I took some time to collect myself even when he was crying. I took a deep breath, then sang and smiled at my son even if I honestly didn't feel like it. To my surprise, when I calmed down, my baby calmed down too and we were able to go back to our seats and he resumed his sleep.

Now looking back, I could have saved myself the embarrassment had I not panicked and focused or anticipated what my son might need. 

Aside from keeping a calm demeanour, I suggest that it's also better to not think about the people around you. Remember to focus your energies on your child. I know we mums are very embarrassed and apologetic when our kids act up but most of the time, normal people will help themselves and put earplugs on.

2. Anticipate his schedule 

Nothing will equip you to be the next best ninja master mumma than parenthood. As a first time lone flyer with a bubba, I realised that I hadn't anticipated my baby's needs enough that's why he was wailing at 3 am. Had I anticipated that he might need a cuddle or breastfeeding before that, I could have avoided the meltdown.

So as a mumma, take note of your baby's schedule and sleeping patterns to anticipate what he might need for the flight. 

I normally co-sleep with my son but on the flight, I laid him on a bassinet which may have startled him when he woke up because he's not used to that. 

3. Have a carrier.

Using the carrier everywhere - from plane to train.

So when I traveled, I did not have a carrier and decided to bring a pram instead. My expectation was that my son would settle peacefully asleep in his pram. WRONG MOVE! The reality was when my son was on the pram, he did not, and I mean DID NOT stop crying the entire time. In the end, I carried him for hours and was pretty much dehydrated and tired when we boarded the second plane! 

So my mantra after that excruciating experience was to ditch our enormous pram and buy a hip carrier. When I got back to Australia, I bought a slimmer Baby Love pram that would be easier to travel with. It's very narrow and folds like an umbrella. Just perfect for our travel needs. 

4. Beware the poop! Have change clothes ready.

On our flight to Manila, my son decided to poop 30 minutes before landing! I was catapulted yet again to panic mode because the pilot announced for us to buckle up for descent. Perfect timing I should say. I thought of changing his nappies after we landed but since his poop leaked down to my pants, something had to be done - and fast! 

Thankfully, we were sitting next to the toilet (thank you Singapore Airlines!) and I decided to make a dash for the toilet with my son. I changed him ever so quickly and even wiped my smelly jeans off while swaying due to bloody turbulence. Somehow, that trip did not make it easy for poor little me. We were able clean up in 5 minutes and took a mad dash back to our seats to buckle up for landing.

5. Tire him out.

I didn't want to use Benadryl to sedate my son as per advise of other people (hi mom!). I also did not completely cut off sugar from his diet while on the trip. What I did was tire him out at the airports.

Yo crawling all around Changi airport while waiting for our flight.

Thankfully, Changi airport (being the best airport in the world!) is fully equipped with playgrounds for little ones. I let my son play on the mini jungle gym and let him crawl all around the airport. There were some areas in Changi that were devoid of people so my son had a zone all to himself and was in crawling heaven.

Going up and down the stairs at a playground in Changi.

After some hours playing and crawling, he burned a lot of sugar/energy and I decided to change his clothes for sleepy time. By the time we boarded our Plane back to Perth, Yo was in dreamland.

6. Board last and leave earliest or latest. 

The first time we flew, I was so eager to get in because my son was becoming impatient and on the brink of throwing a tantrum. When we reached our seats, I thought I was going to get him to sleep ASAP - NOT! He continued his angelic wailing (sarcastic here) and did not stop until I breastfed him. On succeeding flights, I learned my lesson (the bloody hard way) and boarded last and left early.

7. Pack Light. Use a 4-wheeler luggage and Cross-hold bag. 
Invest in a 4-wheeler luggage because you will literally die carrying a toddler, lugging a pram, and dragging a heavy 2-wheeler luggage. Although there are carts in the airport, transferring luggage from the carousel to the cart is a challenging feat on its own. Make your life easier by using just one medium-sized 4-wheeler luggage for the trip.

Aside from the 4-wheel luggage, I cannot emphasize enough the need to use a cross-hold bag. I understand that we ladies want to look fashionable, especially on a trip, but using a cross-hold bag than a shoulder bag allowed me to have a free hand to carry other things. I reckon this is a must have for a lone parent traveler with a baby.

8. Anticipate your bub's basic needs
Have the basics ready, such as ready-to-eat food in small packets, fave snacks, comfy and appropriate clothing, a mini-pillow, medicine, and even iPad (games and battery included) if your kid has one.

I personally bought some ready-made Heinz food pouches in the grocery but if you're not keen to use those, you may make your own and buy reusable food pouches. My bub is not sensitive to food and has no allergies so we had no trouble eating airplane or airport food. If your bub has allergies, I suggest to bring your own home-cooked food for the flight.

For clothes, bring something that could easily be removed for changing like zip-ons. And prepare for quick wardrobe changes to suit the weather of your destination. In our case, we left Perth on a cool winter's day and arrived to the raging heat of summer in Manila. So be prepared for such things especially when going to countries with climates very different from home. 

Bring medicine that your child needs or might need on the trip. My son had a fever the previous week so I bought Panadol for emergency purposes. Luckily, he did not have fever while on the trip so it was all good.

Playing with the plane safety card of Singapore Airlines.

iPad... I am among those parents who don't want to give their child an iPad at an early age but sadly, without Sesame Street and Giggle and Hoot on-the-go, it would be a very difficult trip indeed. I would initially let him play with toys and other things he finds on the plane, and would also let him interact with the passengers often but when all else fails, there's always Elmo singing Letter of the Day on YouTube.


So those are my must-do tips when flying alone with your toddler and I hope it helps give you a peaceful flight.

Do you have any tips to add here? Please feel free to comment below. Cheers and Godspeed you superhero-ninja-parent!!!



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