Flying with a toddler – The highs and lows

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Last Updated on January 19, 2017 by Suzy

I’ve flown with Jamie a few times now. The first two times he was a baby and with the aid of a dummy, flying during his nap time and a bottle of formula he coped quite well. He wasn’t keen on sitting nicely on my nap but I have no lasting bad memories of either of the flights. Top tips – Time their milk for take-off and landing, it really helps their ears. Book a window seat if you can and hope you have someone who likes babies next to you.

When he became a toddler things changed. Each flight/journey got that little bit more difficult. Why? Because he was becoming more aware of the world and his place in it. Now don’t get me wrong Jamie is usually a pretty well-behaved boy. Sure he has his moments but mostly he’s easy to keep entertained, you just feed him – lots!!! And if he’s not being fed then the dummy usually helped. But the dummy went when he was about 20 months old (sadly for Mummy as he also stopped napping in the daytime).


The 3rd, 4th and 5th flights went kind of okay – thanks to the food and his dummy. Just a few, to be expected, ear issues on landing. He was refusing water in a theatrical manner that had half the nearby passengers sympathetic and the other half ready to throw us out the back door. He loved the inflight magazine but boy do I wish I owned an iPad back then (other tablets are available 🙂 ). A few downloaded Cbeebies programs would have gone down a treat.

Now we come to flight 6 and 7. Pre Flight #6 he cried and hollered in the car for about 1hr30. Mainly repeating a load of stuff constantly…mostly about when could he play on the iPad. We basically spent the entire journey listening to “I want the Ipad” Luckily he exhausted himself in time for the flight but created two pretty fraught parents. It took me nearly a day to recover and we’d only gone away for 3 nights.


Anyway, the Ipad was eventually given on the plane. I think we’d managed not to threaten that one away (phew!). After a long lunch and a long snack plus a few different toys to play with from his bag later we gave ourselves a big pat on the back for surviving the flight. He even got complimented for his good behaviour by surrounding passengers. To be fair he was well behaved but the devil child was only 2 isles away thus distracting away from anything else going on with Jamie.


Sadly the iPad was to be our downfall for flight #7. The flight where Jamie became that devil child!

Let’s set the scene. He was 2 years and 9 months old. Ryanair being Ryanair our flight back was at silly o’clock. We had to get up at 4:30 a.m. to catch our flight. In my fluffy ideal world, this meant Jamie would sleep on the plane. hmph! No such luck.

The flight started well as he was resting his head on my lap clearly wanting to sleep. But silly me had left my bag open and what did he spy? Correct, the Ipad. Fearing a major meltdown I allowed him to play on it. He stopped for a while for some breakfast but was soon back to playing it again. Then, sadly, came the announcement to put tray tables away, turn off devices etc. In my nicest voice ever I explained all this to Jamie. Would he give it to me? Would he heck?


I virtually had to wrestle the darn thing off him. Fearful of a major tantrum I tried my best to keep him calm but by now he was entering the gone past-stopping stage. We had now moved on to refusing to even sit in his seat, let alone have his belt on. Not once did an air stewardess come to help. All it would have taken is some words of authority from them and I’m sure normality would have been restored. OK, am I really blaming them?

The tantrum was so bad. 20 minutes of screaming, writhing, kicking, crying. Dad had to virtually restrain him in his seat as he just planked on us. I could have died of embarrassment. I nearly laughed with exhaustion when a lady asked us how our poor boy’s ears were doing. ha!

So we are all a bit older now and certainly wiser. A week on Saturday Jamie will be going on flights #8 and #9. At 3.5 years old he is still technically a toddler but I hope and pray he is going to take it all like a young boy. The flights aren’t going to be at silly o’clock either. This is my major bit of advice. Make sure your flights fit with your toddler’s schedule. We are flying back home to a different airport just to accommodate this!

I’m far too disorganised to have bought anything ‘entertaining’ but I will try my best to dig a few bits out. Please cross everything tightly for us. Surely it can’t be any worse than last time……right? But I know we have learnt to expect the unexpected because when does life with a little one ever go to plan? Most of all don’t expect to sit back and relax with a glass of wine. They need entertaining – even with an iPad in tow.

Update – We survived. Read all about my now Top Tips for Surviving a Flight with a young child.

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