Tips For Flying With A Toddler


Travelling with a toddler on a plane is the trickiest stage. My eldest (born in 2011) had completed over 40 flights before she turned four and my youngest is attempting to catch up! Flying with a baby was definitely easier in comparison (the younger the better.). Once they start to crawl and toddle –  travel gets a little bit more complicated. My youngest decided to learn to crawl just a week before we flew on another trip to Australia from the UK. Perfect timing- not!!!

I can’t promise every flight will go well, but I can definitely pass on my tips and tricks for flying with children which have worked for this stage – which haven’t put us off long haul flights! This list is by no means definitive and I go into a lot more detail in other posts, but hopefully this is handy if you are in a hurry.

Flying With A Toddler Tips – Toddler Travel Tips That Really Help

If flying long haul with a toddler- aim for a night flight.
  • Even if you have to put them down for a little nap before you head to the airport- it’s well worth doing. Every time we have done this, we have had a good solid 8 hours sleep from the kids and I’ve even managed to watch a movie! It can take a bit of time to get them settled to sleep- but these sleep tips when flying with kids may help you too.


Check in early
  •  and leave plenty of time for security. Prepare your child and explain that teddy will have to through the x-ray machine but they will have him back. Check the airport website and see if there is a family line or whether it may be worth buying a priority pass (if available.) Have liquids already in clear ziplock bags to avoid leaks and to whip out quickly for security. Generally, if you are travelling with children aged 3 and under you are allowed to bring liquids over 100ml. However, the very odd airport may say the age limit is 2. I’ve had a few airports that have let me take a filled water bottle for a 6 year old, but this is not common. Usually, this information can be found on the airport website in the security section.
Be airline seat savvy.
  • Choose your seat carefully. They vary so much which means there are quite a lot of factors to consider which suit your circumstances. Do you have a lap toddler (under two) and need a bulkhead seat or perhaps an airline with a larger airplane bassinet? Or should you buy an extra seat and take an airline approved car seat or use a child restraint device? I go into more detail in the previous highlighted link. I always recommend having a look at seat guru and checking out the airline seat map on the website.
Wear them out pre-boarding.
  • Make use of the airport soft-play, if they have one. They certainly help with toddler travel! Here is a list of airport soft play I’ve compiled for all over the world. Please let me know if I need to edit!
sairport soft play at capetown airport

Airport soft play at Cape Town Intl airport


Board last when flying with a toddler.
  • Again, if flying long haul with your toddler or with young children, and it’s a day flight, consider boarding last with your tot and have your partner board a bit earlier with all the travel gear you have. There is really no point in keeping a toddler restrained on a plane longer than necessary! With a short-haul flight- it is often a bit easier just to get them on and settled, and this can be the case for a very late flight too.
Bring something comfy.
  • Having a toddler sleep on the plane is always a bonus! Bring a pillow or something like a Travel Snug for your toddler. They really do help to settle little ones. Use the airplane blanket to make a cover over the seats to shield from the cabin lights too.


Tips For Flying With A Toddler, Travel Snug

Pack ALL the snacks!
  • Don’t underestimate how much toddlers will snack on the flight! Bring what you think and double it! Raisins, bananas, apples, breadsticks, mini sausages are all good. Frozen yoghurt pouches work well too and help keep everything cool. Avoid sugary sweets as all that pent-up energy will have nowhere to go. We do save a lolly for the descent though- just in case the change in pressure irritates their ears.


  • Request a child meal. If your toddler is over 2, then you can order a child meal on most airlines (long haul flights). These are less spicey and generally more appealing to kids. There are a few airlines which offer toddler meals too. This must be done a minimum of 24 hours before the flight departs. More details are on my ordering baby and child meals post.
Ordering baby child meals, emirates airline. airline meals

Emirates child meal


How to entertain a toddler on a plane.
  • Flying with a toddler means a little more planning when it comes to entertainment. Pack some new travel toys just for the flight. Packing them into a small backpack that they can manage helps too. We choose a couple of favourite toys and some new ones. The newer toys we wrap up and hand out every so often throughout the flight.  £ or $ stores are great to rummage through for ideas for toddler activities on a plane. Alternatively, here are some we have tried and tested for the best travel toys for toddlers.
Why Zip-lock bags are an essential item for flying with a toddler.
  • Pack spare changes of clothes in ziplock bags. This makes it SO much easier to grab if any accidents happen. If you are flying with a toddler and a baby, then having separate bags makes it easier to distinguish between  – especially with the dim light of a night flight. Ziplocks are also useful to fill with ice and keep any milk or food chilled or to have essential medicine in. For more packing tips, have a look at my packing checklist.
Make use of the space on a plane.
  • Stretch your legs and walk around the plane if need be. The larger A380’s have a lot of space!


Let me know how your flight goes and if you have any more tips that have worked for you?


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Tips For Flying With A Toddler | Flying with a toddler is the trickiest stage I've found. My eldest (born in 2011) had completed over 40 flights before she four and my youngest is attempting to catch up! #familytravel #tmom, #jetsetkids #flyingwithkids








1 Comment

  1. such good ideas. Yes, we travelled from the UK to australia when my son was 2 1/2, he was excited about his own seat and tv, but we had no idea you could order them there own meals, so he spent most of the time eating fruit and bread rolls from our meals as he did not like anything else, big lesson learned there!! our on board bags were filled with water, snacks, puzzles, games and toys for him to keep him as occupied as possible! we also told him when we switched planes that is when we would get him into his pjs and that is his bed time, this worked well, he knew what was expected of him well in advance. he slept for a good 6 hours which let us get a bit of sleep also. the only time we really had any issues is when the plane landed and everyone is waiting to get off, he did not like having to just sit there and wait, there was loud screaming from him, which he did really well through the whole flight, so a little tanty at the end, was forgiven!

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