How to Keep Your Toddler Quiet on a Plane

Flying with Toddler

There always seem to be viral videos floating around of people blowing up because a child is being loud on a plane. This viral video of a man losing his mind during a Southwest flight has started another online debate on whether or not babies should be on planes.

Kids are loud and can turn into terrors while un in the sky. They may act out due to stress, feeling tired, feeling overwhelmed, or because the air pressure is hurting their ears.

But there are things you can do to make sure that your flight with your toddler is as easy and quiet as possible with these tips.

Consider the flight time.

If you’re traveling domestically, early morning flights for toddlers are best so that they are fresh and awake. They won’t act up in the airport because it’s nap time or bedtime for them.

When traveling to a different time zone, consider booking a flight that arrives in the evening or at night to help your family adjust to the time difference and get a good night’s sleep at your hotel. That way, your sleep cycle matches the current time zone and you and your family will not have to suffer through a week or more of brutal jet lag!

Try to book an aisle and middle seat.

Some parents like to play Russian roulette and don’t want to pay extra to pick their seats. Sure, there’s a chance that there might be empty seats and your family can all sit together, but what if you can’t?

If possible, pay that extra money to pick your seats. As much as kids love window seats, if you’re only choosing two seats, pick an aisle and middle seat to make it easier to go to the restroom so that you have a little room on the aisle seat.

If you want to save money on your flight, try booking a flight on a weekday instead of a weekend.

Pack Snacks & Entertainment Kits

Healthy diets and managing screen time need to go out the window when you’re flying with a toddler unless you can 100% guarantee that your child won’t burst eardrums with their kicking and screaming while on the flight because they burned through all the screen-free activities you brought for them in a matter of minutes. Very few parents can make that guarantee!

For snacks, pack everything your child likes no matter how much sugar and salt is in it. Pack those Oreos, potato chips, chocolate bars, and candy. Don’t feel guilty! The goal is to keep your toddler quiet. Your kid won’t scream if they’re busy eating junk food!

An iPad or phone will be your child’s best friend on a flight. Download every TV show, movie, and YouTube video they like and make sure they have more than enough stuff to watch for however long your flight is. Also, buy some toddler headphones which are more comfortable for them.

In addition to loading up your iPad, pack your child’s favorite books and go to your local discount store and buy some cheap art supplies, play-dough, slime, and toys. Don’t let your toddler touch their entertainment pack until they’re seated on the plane, because they won’t be as entertained by something they have seen and played with already.

Once your child begins to fuss or wiggle too much, surprise them with a new activity. You can alternate between the activities and iPad or have them do all the activities first and the iPad as a last resort. Do whatever you need to do to make sure your toddler is quiet and entertained.

Do a TSA PreCheck

If the airline you’re using is a part of the TSA PreCheck program, you should take advantage of it. This will save you a lot of time since you won’t need to take things out of your bag or take off your shoes during the TSA check. You will also wait in a much shorter line.

Talk to your toddler.

Have a conversation with your toddler about what going through the airport and going on a plane entails. A Day at the Airport by Richard Scarry is an adorable book you can read to your toddler so they know what to expect and they can learn new words related to the airport.

It’s important to talk to your child about how we need to behave when we are sitting in an airplane. We need to stay in our seats, we need to put on our seatbelts to stay safe, we need to listen to what the pilot and flight attendants say, and we need to keep our voices low so that everyone can enjoy the plane ride.

You can role-play being on an airplane and pretend to put your seatbelt on and practice how to act inside a plane. Make it fun for your kid.

If your toddler knows what to expect, they are less likely to feel overwhelmed and stressed when it’s time to go to the airport.

Stay calm!

Kids feed off your energy, so if you’re stressed, they’re stressed! If you plan things out in advance, have everything ready the night before your flight, and arrive at the airport 2 hours before a domestic flight and 3 hours before an international flight, everything should go smoothly. Remember, trips should be fun, so give yourself time to breathe and enjoy your journey with your family.

Tracy Lowe

Tracy is a writer and filmmaker from Los Angeles, but Thailand has been her primary home for over a decade. She has more than 13 years of experience teaching young children and is a major proponent of the Reggio Emilia approach to learning.

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