I found myself battling a toddler in a seat barely wide enough to cater my own width. His legs flailing and arms shooting over swiftly to grab chunks of a ladies hair that was wedged between the seats in front of us.
At any moment we would start moving, but we weren’t yet, and I had THAT child on a plane. But could I really blame him? I dragged him out of bed at 5:45am, sat him in the car for over two hours on the journey to the airport and now at almost 11am he has had it.
There is no way he will sit still.
I took a deep breath and catered to the arms and legs, to the head to head contact and the kicking of windows, because there was nothing else I could do.
And I thought taking a baby on a plane was stressful! We have done this flight 10 times now, and it doesn’t get any less stressful. I could count on one hand how many times Archie has been painful, in actual fact I wouldn’t even need one whole finger, because he’s a dream on planes once we get past the sitting with seatbelts.
But I have come up with a few tricks as he has gotten more and more active.
1. Baby carriers are an absolute godsend!
Up until this flight, I used a baby carrier to carry Archie around the airport. It keeps him contained while im checking in, and frees up my hands for other things. We do have to take it off to get through the security gates but that’s it, I wore him as we boarded the plane, right up until I sat down. Sometimes he even fell asleep as we got on the plane!
2. Always carry snacks.
When you think you have enough, pack more. If he doesn’t sleep during the flight he can get very wriggling towards the end, so I always have 3 or 4 different options of food he can nibble on while the seatbelt is on.
3. Take a travel pillow.
If you have room of course. I got one from spotlight for around $10, its about half the size of a toddler pillow, and fantastic especially in the early days to rest his head on when he’s nursing or sleeping, or even to put under my arm, to stop the dead arm from the armrest.
4. Time the flight in with nap times.
This one is a biggy for us, mainly because by the time we get on the plane, I need a break! The nose of the engines and the slight turbulence as we take off is the perfect combination for a snooze. If its the right time, I can normally keep him asleep until we start to descend, winning!
5. Get everything organised in front of you.
Before you get comfortable and strap everyone in, get everything out of your bag in into the little pocket in front of you. There is no way you will risk waking a sleeping baby/child on that flight for the sake of nibble to eat, so be organised. Things I normally put in front of me; snack for me, my book, phone, headphones, couple of baby wipes (you just never know), spare dummy, and I try and stuff my drink bottle somewhere but that doesn’t always work.
6. Have something they have never seen before
Have something they can play with in your bag they have never seen before. More points if its something they can do. My favourite one, and one that gets all the questions, is so simple yet so entertaining. Use a bit a masking tape, and tape a few popsticks scattered across the upright tray table. Its fantastic for keeping them looking forward, its best for kids starting to use their fine motor skills because they will try and pull the popsticks off, but what they need to do is pull the masking tape off first. We have done this a couple of times, its one that we have shared around to other kids on the plane that are having trouble keeping still.
‘Snap’ and just like that, he was out to it! thank goodness.
There is just something about the roaring of the engines, the subtle swaying and that close contact with me that sends him to the land of nod. My sigh of relief came just as a lady popped her head in to say what a wonderful job I did to calm him down so quickly.
It may not always go to plan, but at least I know not everyone is thinking the worst when it doesn’t.