Keeping your toddler happy at 30,000 feet can be a challenge, especially for new parents. There will be moments where you question your sanity (as your little one starts crying at the back of the security line), but there will also be moments that remind you of the joys of being a parent.
One of the biggest mistakes you can make when traveling with a toddler is to not properly prepare for your trip. It’s important to pack a carry on bag full of toddler essentials to keep your child entertained and happy during your flight. If you’re not sure what to pack in your carry on, consider the items below.
Unless your toddler is already potty trained, you’ll want to pack a diaper bag full of the necessary essentials. Be sure to pack at least 24-hours worth of diapers or pull-ups and pack the rest of your diapers in your checked luggage. You’ll want to be prepared for any kind of mess, so you may want to pack a portable container of baby wipes in your diaper bag as well. These may come in handy if your little one makes a mess eating pureed carrots or they end up spilling juice on themselves mid-flight.
You should also pack an extra outfit or two for your toddler in the case that they have an accident. Pick out a couple spare shirts, pants, socks, and a two-gallon storage bag, just in case you have to find a way to seal up stinky or dirty clothes.
A Carry On Bag For Your Child
Before you hit the road to the airport, consider packing a carry on bag just for your child. As your toddler starts walking, talking, and expressing their own (oftentimes hilarious) opinions, you’ll be looking for unique ways to keep them entertained on a flight. This is where your child’s carry on bag can come in handy.
Consider packing some small toys that your little one loves. Whether it’s a game of checkers, their favorite stuffed animal, or a themed puzzle.You’ll be glad you packed them when your toddler starts to get fussy on the plane. If you’re child has expressed an early interest in reading, throw some lightweight children’s books into their carry on. To really get your child excited about their upcoming trip, you may want to include a fun book on the destination you’re traveling to.
Snacks On Snacks On Snacks
Let’s be honest: there’s nothing worse than a hungry or cranky toddler. That’s why it’s so important to pack A TON of snacks before your flight.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has their own guidelines for traveling with food and beverages, so it’s important to be cognizant of these rules before your trip. A few rules to keep in mind are:
- You may purchase beverages after the security checkpoint and take them on the plane, as they have been previously screened by airport security personnel. Empty drink containers can also be taken through the security checkpoint to be filled afterward.
- You may carry liquids, gels, and aerosols in your carry on bag as long as they adhere to the 3-1-1 rule: all containers must be 3.4 ounces or less; stored in a 1 quart/liter zip-top bag; 1 zip-top bag per person, placed in the screening bin. If you plan on traveling with larger amounts of non-medicinal liquids, gels, and aerosols, you must put them in your checked baggage.
- Solid food items that are not liquids or gels can be transported in your carry on baggage or checked baggage.
- All food products must be properly packaged to avoid spilling during the screening process.
- Formulas, breast milk, and juice for infants or toddlers are permitted through the security checkpoint. If you plan on traveling with these items, make sure to inform the TSA officer at the beginning of the screening process that you are traveling with breast milk, formula, or juice in excess of 3.4 ounces in your carry on bag.
Popular & Easy Snacks For Your Toddler
Not sure what snacks to bring with you on your trip? We’ve got you covered. When it comes time to travel with your toddler, you’ll want to pack snacks that are easy to eat and mess-free. Some of our favorite toddler snacks include:
- Whole Grain Cereal – In our humble opinion, there’s nothing easier and healthier to pack than whole grain cereal. Complete with vitamins, fiber, and calcium, you can curb your little one’s hunger in no-time by packing a zip locked bag of a whole grain cereal of your choice.
- Soft Granola Bars – Granola bars are another easy snack to pack in your toddler’s carry on bag. These low sugar, high fiber bars are a perfect and convenient way to boost your child’s nutrient intake. Plus, they are much easier to eat than regular granola.
- String Cheese – String cheese is a great snack to give your toddler when they start to get antsy on the plane. A single serving provides 10 to 20 percent of the daily calcium recommended by the USDA, not to mention it’s super fun to eat and will keep your little one busy!
Snack Packing Tips
We recommend keeping all of your snacks in a zippered plastic bag. This will protect the other items in your carry on bag or diaper bag from spills or leaks. It’s also wise to pack your toddler’s snacks in individual portions so you can easily hand them to your child when hunger strikes. If you plan on traveling with baby formula, consider pre measuring the formula and putting it into empty bottles. You can purchase water after the security check at the airport, or you can bring an empty canteen or cup to fill up at a water fountain. Also, avoid using the tap water in the passenger bathroom to drink, mix formula, or wash bottles.
Things To Do Before Your Trip
Double Check Your Flight Schedule
Traveling can be extremely stressful, especially when unexpected flight delays and cancellations occur at a moments notice. Be sure to check in with the airline at least 24 hours in advance to make sure your departure and return times haven’t changed. You can also sign up for email and text alerts in case there is a last minute change in your schedule.
Print Your Boarding Passes At Home
When you arrive at the airport with your toddler, the last thing you’ll want to do is stand in a long line to get your boarding pass. According to Jayne Singer, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist at Children’s Hospital Boston, young toddlers can get extremely overwhelmed by all of the sensory stimulation that airports have to offer. Unless you want your child kicking and screaming at the check-in kiosk, we recommend printing your boarding pass at home to save yourself some trouble.
Check Your Seat Assignments
If it’s been a while since you traveled, you may be surprised to find that your family’s plane seats are not right next to each other. In fact, it can be pretty difficult to get seats together for your whole family if you aren’t willing to pay a little extra. It’s also important to remember that if you didn’t purchase a seat for your toddler, you’ll have to let your child sit on your lap for the entirety of the flight.
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