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The thought of flying with my toddler for the first time terrified me. But we desperately needed a vacation! I can honestly say that our traveling did not go smoothly, and that’s okay. Flying with a toddler takes patience and setting the right expectations. In this post I will describe my experience, including what worked and what didn’t work.

Here’s what I learned after flying with my 2 year old:

ADULT Preparation

I personally like to feel prepared before trying something new. As a first time mom, I didn’t know what I needed or what I should expect. I decided to pay for an online course. The Wheels Up: Airplane Travel Course had helpful videos and tips about air travel with kids.

After taking the course, I bought the Cosco Scerena Next because I thought keeping my toddler in a carseat was the safest option and also great way to keep my child contained while flying. Plus, we needed the car seat anyway in the car to transport us from the airport to our destination.

My husband and I practiced installing the car seat multiple times and also had my toddler ride in the car seat beforehand so it was familiar to him.


Before our trip I spent a lot of time talking with our toddler about being on the airplane. We read books and played with airplanes. Our favorites include: “My First Airplane Ride” by Patricia Hubbell, “Going on an Airplane” by Amy Kathleen Pittman and the Fisher-Price Little People Airplane toy.

How we got through the airport

The Cosco Scenera Next is a great lightweight travel carseat. I attached it to the back of our Summer 3Dlite umbrella stroller using 2 bungee cords while I pushed my son around the airport. I checked the stroller at the gate and easily detached the carseat to carry onto the airplane.

I carried my backpack-style diaper bag on my back, my husband had his carry-on backpack, and my son was also allowed a carry-on backpack. I filled my son’s carry-on with all of his activities and snacks. When he was riding in the stroller through the airport I attached his carry-on to the stroller using The Mommy Hook.

Going through security all I had to do was pull off the 2 bungee cords to place the carseat on the belt. Then I easily folded up the stroller with my foot to also put it on the belt. Of course, each of our carry-on bags were scanned too. Overall, I was happy with how easy it was to get through the airport. My toddler does get impatient waiting in those long lines though!

On the Plane

Let your child burn off some energy by running around and exploring the airport before boarding.

To be successful it’s all about having a lot of little distractions to switch between during the flight. Snacks, toys, books, iPad, sleep- REPEAT!


You want to get your toddler’s jaw moving during takeoff and landing to help with ear pressure discomfort. You can use drinking water, eating snacks, sucking on a pacifier or my personal choice: sucking on a lollipop!

Snacks were constantly saving me from a toddler meltdown.

My #1 tip is packing ALL OF THE SNACKS!


What toys you should pack really depends on your child’s individual interests. I packed a Little Blue Truck sound book, a little blue truck, sticker book, Bluey poseable figures, and a travel magnetic doodle board. These were all toys my son had never seen before, so they entertained him for a longer period of time.


Screen-time rules go out the window! I downloaded episodes of my son’s favorite TV show. He doesn’t like wearing headphones but I think every adult enjoys Bluey anyway.


Getting a toddler to sleep on an airplane isn’t always easy and not always successful.


I realized he was not comfortable rear-facing in the car seat because he legs were cramped. I could tell he was tired but couldn’t fall asleep. He was upset and nothing I was trying was helping him to calm down. I finally took him out of his car seat and held him and sang his favorite song to him. He fell asleep on my chest, which was ultimately super uncomfortable for me, but I was just happy he finally settled down. I felt like I definitely struggled to keep my son happy during his first plane ride. I was mentally and physically exhausted by the time we arrived at our destination.


The flight was a very small portion of our trip. Yes, I was exhausted and sore upon arrival but our family had a great time on our vacation. Instead of focusing on how upset my son was during the flight, I focused on how much fun he had during our trip.

what I learned

  • Mentally prepare yourself to be entertaining your toddler the entire flight.
  • Have different fun toddler activities to cycle through.
  • Pack a large supply of your toddler’s favorite (minimal mess) snacks.

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