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Panic in the Skies: Flying Comfortably With a Toddler

By Sara Butler

Traveling with a Toddler

There are few things that strike fear in the hearts of parents everywhere more than the idea of traveling with a toddler. Throw in an airplane and it’s the stuff Stephen King novels are made of. But with the busy travel season here, you may have no choice but to fly with your toddler. At The Joint Chiropractic, we recognize this can be a difficult thing, which is why we’ve gathered together some tips to help make traveling with your toddler -- dare we say -- a little more comfortable.

Fly Early

As anyone with a toddler can tell you, they’re naturally early risers. If you book at the right time of the day, then you may be able to harness the power of their nap while in the air. Book an early flight that syncs up with their natural schedule, which can help to improve their comfort as well as everyone else’s!

It’s also a good idea to book direct flights when possible. Sure, flight delays can throw a wrench in your plans, but flying direct can make the whole experience a little easier for you and for them.

Dress in Layers

Practicality and comfort are the name of the game when it comes to dressing your child for a plane. If they’re comfortable in pajamas, then there’s no harm in letting them stay comfy that way as long as it’s easy to get on and off for trips to the restroom. What you may want to consider is dressing your child in layers, particularly if you’re traveling from someplace cold to someplace warm. Sure, they may want to peel off some layers once you arrive but remember that planes can get hot and the airflow may not always be the best. Dress in layers so that they can take off or add on in the plane to help them be more comfortable and, hopefully, less grouchy.

Don’t forget a change of clothes, either. You never know what can happen with a toddler!

Distract, Distract, Distract!

During takeoff and landing, your best bet is going to be to try to distract your toddler so they don’t get frightened and end up panicking or crying -- or worse. A great form of distraction is snacks, which work to keep their focus on something else as well as move their jaw to help ease pressure buildup in their ears. Gummies, in particular, are a beloved toddler snack that can really help.

Bring Wipes

You have a toddler, so you probably take wipes with you everywhere you go to clean up their perpetual messes, but bringing wipes when you fly is more for the airplane instead of your sticky kid. Airplanes are notoriously dirty places. It’s well established that the armrests, tray tables, headrests, seat pockets, and seatbelt handles don’t see a lot of cleaning between flights and harbor bacteria that can make you and your children sick. When you get to your seat, use the wipes to thoroughly wipe down these surfaces.

Talk It Through

Toddlers are constantly absorbing the world around them and getting on an airplane is a pretty exciting thing in their world. Encourage that curiosity by taking the time to explain to them what’s happening when you board the plane, when you buckle in, when you take off, as you’re flying, and finally when you land. If there’s turbulence, let them know that’s normal, too. They may or may not remember it later, but at that moment, you are guaranteed to be the coolest parent out there for taking them on this grand adventure!

Pack the Fun

Some coloring books, sticker books, a kid’s movie downloaded to your phone, puzzles, toys, snacks, and anything else you might think your toddler is interested in are great tools for your toddler fun time arsenal. If you can capture their interest with something fun, then you make it less likely for them to realize that they’re strapped into a seat and not allowed to get up. And we all know how fond toddlers are of rules they don’t approve of. If you can keep them from focusing on that fact, the better off you (and they) will be.

Space It Out

While you should pack the fun with your bag of tricks and toddler distractions, remember that you’re playing poker here. You don’t want to show your hand at the get-go. Instead, keep pulling the fun out of your seemingly never-ending bag of tricks once your toddler is ready to move onto something new.

Remember, if your tiny toddler overlord is comfortable while flying, then that increases the chances you’ll be comfortable too. Hopefully, these tips can help make your holiday travel a little more comfortable for everyone. During some of the busiest travel times of the year, enjoy safe travels from everyone at The Joint Chiropractic!

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