Friday, January 29, 2010

Flying with toddlers: going the distance

Guest blogger Emma Folz recently returned from a trip to Perth, Australia with her easy-going (lucky her!) 11 month old. Here are some of her insights in to flying around the globe with little ones.

The Journey

* Planning is everything. We booked our flights early and were able to get bulk head seats on all our long-haul flights. Having that extra space in front of you is very helpful for both you and your young ones.
* Break up the flight
. Don’t try to do it all in one trip. Stay for 1-2 days at each connection point or after the long haul portion to have some time off the plane and get some decent sleep. We had a 15 hour flight from Vancouver to Sydney and then a 4 hour flight to Perth. Having 2 days in Sydney helped get us adjusted and made it easier on 11-month-old Joah
Pack a sling and a baby carrier in your carry on. Also, a small umbrella stroller can be checked at the gate on most airlines. I used them all at different times for different reasons
Sleep Training. Teach your baby to go to sleep in your arms with a trusted nursery rhyme before the trip. It will pay off on the plane
Safety. We took both the Baby B'Air and CARES harness
Toys and books. We packed a set of stacking cups and some plastic blocks which turned into many play combinations and doubled up as bath toys. We also packed a hand puppet. The plastic emergency instructions and paper bag in the airplane seat pocket were also a big hit. Lift-the-flap and pop-up books gave hours of delight
Carry on what you need, but not more. Take a good-sized carry on for your baby items: food, toys, diapers, wipes, creams, medications, clothes and books are critical. Don’t feel like you have to fill the bag right up, this will come in handy when you are looking for items quickly. Pack similar items in separate mesh or plastic bags within your carry on. Take lots of plastic shopping bags or ziplock bags for garbage etc.


  • Sleep before! We didn’t keep our son up late in the nights leading up to the flight. Let them get as much sleep and rest as they can prior to the journey.
  • Have a good sleep routine. I truly believe in a good sleep routine at home, which translates in to a good sleep routine when you are away. After bath, milk, teeth and storytime, it was clearly evident to our son that it was bedtime… time to sleep all night.
  • Adjusting to jet-lag. The first three nights, if Joah woke up and wouldn’t go straight back to sleep, we allowed him one hour of play and some milk (no food) before back-to-bed. After that, it was non-negotiable; he had to go back to sleep. It only took 2-3 days for him to adjust. It was easier to adjust going east-west, harder coming back this way!