Air travel with 2 year old

Old May 24th, 2002, 06:50 AM
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Air travel with 2 year old

Any tips for our upcoming flight to Ireland with my 2 year old? She has the "I want to move all the time" energy of someone her age. I'm hoping she'll sleep on the way over, but I know I'll have to occupy her on the way back. She's a little young to plop down with headphones and the movie, I think.

I've planned to bring a carry on full of stickers, coloring books, small toys that I think I'll wrap ahead of time, so it's like she's getting lots of presents. And I plan to bring some lolly pops and jelly beans, even though she doesn't get much candy at home, just in case she throws a fit.

I really would like to get a bulkhead or exit row seat for more room, but I don't think we can with a 2 year old, right?

We are bringing a car seat with us, do you think I should just check it or take it on the plane and make her sit in it?

Old May 24th, 2002, 06:56 AM
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sounds like you have a plan, stephanie.

When I was little, the "Vacation Fairy" would come at various times during long car trips. Good behavior was a requirement for the fairy to come, a la Santa Claus. As you can tell, it's still a fond memory of childhood.
Old May 24th, 2002, 07:03 AM
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Just did this (to France) with a 2.5 year old, but my child travels well and doesn't need to move all the time. Good idea about the little packages of new and revered toys. Take lots of books to read to her. Take her on trips around the cabin (but don't let her run wild). I think you are correct about the exit rows, but I don't know why you couldn't have a bulkhead (though they are probably reserved far in advance). DEFINITELY bring the car seat. She must be in the car seat for the flight, or you will have to hold her, which would be unreasonable (and a waste of her seat).Go easy on the candy, because that may just contribute to her antsy-ness. Finally, from one parent to another, take care that she doesn't bother the other passengers. A few idiot parents who don't parent their own children give the rest of us a bad name.
Old May 24th, 2002, 07:07 AM
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The car seat is a definite safety issue, so I would bring it and have her sit in it. Since it's a familiar place in the midst of new stuff, it might actually help her settle down and relax, and will probably be more comfortable for her than a regular plane seat.

There's nothing wrong with giving her a little kid dose of Benadryl (diphenhydraime). Although it officially functions as an antihistamine, its side effect of drowsiness makes it the active ingredient in sleep aids like Sominex and Tylenol PM. If she hasn't had Benadryl before, do a test in advance, since a small percentage of kids get hyper from it.

Watch out for the sweet treats, especially if she's not used to them, they could make the situation worse.

You CAN get a bulkhead row with a young child. It's the exit rows that have a minimum age (15?).
Old May 24th, 2002, 07:44 AM
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Do wrap those toys in nice colorful giftwrap. I did this with my children on a LONG car trip when they were that age and it definitely helped.
Old May 24th, 2002, 07:50 AM
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DEFINITELY do the trial run with Benadryl before you try it on the plane. My eight year old still doesn't respond to Benadryl by getting sleepy (whereas it puts me into a coma).

If she's really a squirmer you might be able to get your pediatrician to prescribe something more reliable.
Old May 24th, 2002, 08:31 AM
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Hello. On behalf of travelers who have had their seats kicked from Sydney to Hawaii, JFK to Heathrow, et al, please do request a bulkhead seat for your family. I don't believe most parents realize that their children's "playing" with the tray tables and foraging in the seat pockets bother the passengers in the seats in front of them. As a fellow Mom, I have also brought the small gifts, games, etc. and they help, but kids are kids and it is much better for everyone if you can get a bulkhead. Maybe mention to the airlines that you have a particularly active toddler. They will understand and do what they can for you (and us!).

BTW, I always had good luck with my kids listening to Raffi and other CDs on trips (they weren't singers, though).
Old May 24th, 2002, 09:44 AM
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Hi Stephanie
The Benadryl is a good idea as it might also prevent any ear pain she might have on landing. I have to take a decongestant before flying or my ears will give me a lot of pain and I have often heard children crying when landing and thinking they have the same problem as I do. Also, candy will probably hype her up, how about cut-up apple slices or carrots, etc?
Old May 24th, 2002, 11:28 AM
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The last post reminded me of what happened the first time I traveled with my baby. His ears, I think, were stopped up on take-off and landing, and so I gave him more fluids thinking it would help him. Sure enough, we got off the plane and just into the waiting area and he vomited all over me! TOO many fluids!!! So I'd say go easy on the juice, milk, candy, etc. for obvious reasons.
Old May 24th, 2002, 11:32 AM
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Pop her some Tylenol PM. let me stress the "PM." She will be out for hours, giving you a peacfull flight.
Old May 24th, 2002, 11:48 AM
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Just returned from an overseas trip with my 2.5 year-old and 8-month old. Flight attendents on US Airways seated us in the spot right behind first class, with no one in front of us. (Maybe that is called the "bulkhead", I don't know.) It worked out well. My daughter is also very animated and active. We didn't take gifts or candy.

We prepared her well in advance and she wad so excited about the big trip. We bought her some books by Anne Gutman, called Lisa's Airplane Trip and Gaspard on Vacation. She loved them and could understand a little better about sitting in the seat. She ate the little pretzels and colored from the books the flight attendents gave us.

The seat position also worked out well because we were able to change diapers right there on the floor. (No smelly ones - we were lucky.) She wears pull-ups so she doesn't lay down to put them back on, merely steps in. That's a tip.

Also, our pediatrician suggested giving her sudafed about 1/2 hour before take-off and again before landing to relieve ear pressure. It helped. He reccomened Benedryl while in-flight if needed.

The trip home she slept a lot. All the vacation walking helped. Bon Voyage and good luck.
Old May 24th, 2002, 11:54 AM
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That warning about doing a trial run with Benadryl (diphenhydraime) goes double for Sudafed (pseudoephedrine), which is at least as likely to have undesirable effects.
Old May 24th, 2002, 12:01 PM
Brian Kilgore
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I used to travel with a one-two year old, and found that the kid could spend hours tearing up a newspaper.

It was quiet, fairly easy to clean up, and kept her in her seat, or, as was often the case, on the floor.

I used to manage to usually get a bulkhead seat, and I tried to time the flights so that I was not on a plane that was always full, and then tried, again usually successfully, to get a seat beside an empty one, when the girl was too small to require a ticket.


Old May 24th, 2002, 06:52 PM
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We've been flying to Europe probably more than a dozen times with our kids (starting from age 4 months to now 12 years). Two is probably the hardest age, but even though our kids were VERY active at that age, they usually slept very peacefully on the way over. Something about the engine noises. The tough part was carrying them off the plane at arrival.
On the way back, small toys are definitely a good idea, as well as stories on tape, picture books (teh same story over and over again), my son was fascinated by the different music channels (my daughter wasn't). Also, request a kid's meal,and definitely bring the car seat on board. Also, a change of clothes for your child and yourself (at least a top) in your hand luggage in case of major spit-up or worse. Good luck!
Old May 25th, 2002, 09:34 PM
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I (bravely, I think) took my very active son on 15 hour flights by myself to visit family when he was 18 months and again when he was 2 1/2. All of the suggestions have been very good. I have just a few to add.

Bring enough food with you for her eat for the whole ride, plus a possible delay. She might reject the airplane food altogether. While a little candy might help you get through some particularly difficult situation and is a good idea, you should also have lots of pretzels, crackers, or something else like that that she can much on.

I agree that you should take the car seat with you on the plane, but there are two downsides to it. It is just about impossible to keep a toddler in a car seat from kicking the seat in front. Her feet will just be too close to it. So, do what you can to either not have a seat in front of her at all, or to have the seat in front of her be empty (on one flight, I asked the flight attendants to switch us to a row where I could put him behind an empty seat and they were happy to help). Once, I discouraged my son from kicking by taking his shoes off. I'm not sure why it worked, but it did! The other problem with the car seat is that you can't use the airline trays--there's just not room. I would bring something stiff enough that she could use it to draw on.

My son's favorite toy on his first ride was the airplane seat itself! He loved putting on the earphones and changing the channels, for example. Try to think of odd little things that you wouldn't usually let her play with at home--like a roll of tape. I think my son used an entire roll taping together pieces of paper on one trip. I also found a small purse with loads of different compartments. I "hid" some of his wrapped items in there, and he added other things as I gave them to him. I can't remember what all I put in it, but, like the tape, lots of weird little things. I can't think what they are called, but there are these little sticker things that are meant to be used to mark places in a document--they are made by the same people who make Post-its. You would never normally let her pull out a whole container of those and it would therefore probably facinate her for a while on the plane.

Another favorite activity was cutting up colored index cards (and then taping them together in odd ways). You can't use that on the plane any more, but you might pack it use while eating out or waiting somewhere.

I have to say that for all that people complain about having kids on planes, I have found other passengers to be great. I have been saved more than once by another passenger making funny faces for my son. One very talented woman was half way down the plane--she made the best faces I have ever seen. I managed to get a customs card filled out while she was doing that!

Enjoy your trip!
Old May 26th, 2002, 05:27 AM
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Please sedate your child with nyquil or the sort. Plane tickets are extremely expensive
and the flight is part of a vacation. The last thing I want to deal with on a plane is a fidgety child. Of course young children should be on planes when moving to a new home, other than that, they should not be on planes at all.
Old May 28th, 2002, 09:20 AM
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Thanks everyone, I appreciate the feedback and hearing the success stories of others in my position.

I definitely plan to bring her favorite crackers and granola bars in addition to the candy (that's really just my "last resort" item!)

I think the tape idea is a wonderful one. She was fascinated by it at Christmas time.

I am also going to try very hard to get a bulkhead seat. We are flying Delta, and when I called them today they said the bulkhead row was being held until the day of the flight.

Thanks again everyone.
Old May 28th, 2002, 11:19 AM
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Stay home. We can't guarantee you a kids-free flight. Otherwise, charter a plane.
Old May 28th, 2002, 11:31 AM
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I wonder about the wrapping the gifts. Will it cause delays through security? Anyone have any experience with wrapped packages since 9/11? I would like this info as well because I am planning on bringing a few wrapped gifts to Spain.
Old May 28th, 2002, 11:42 AM
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A couple of things that I didn't see anyone mention;
1. I recommend the bulkhead as well but you won't have anywhere to put your bag for takeoff or landing. You must store it in the overhead bins so the one advantage of the other seats is that your bag can be right in front of your child's seat underneath the seat in front of you. Try the suggestion of having an empty seat there.
2. You'll have to have a window seat if you want to use the carseat. And I definitely recommend using it as you won't be allowed to hold the child and a 2 year old probably doesn't fit as safely in the airline seat as in the carseat.
3. Don't wrap the toys! It's a cute idea but security will probably unwrap them as you go through the checkpoint.

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