On Labor Day I went on my first airplane trip with the two kids--alone. I wasn’t overly worried about caring for Boyd on the plane since we’d already become pretty good at flying with an infant when Gaby was little. But doing most things with two kids is still fairly new to me. I was pretty nervous about how the trip would turn out, and I tried to plan and prepare as much as possible in the days leading up to the trip. So besides my normally stocked diaper bag, here's what I did to help with being stuck on two airplanes with an infant and a toddler for almost an entire day:
Checked luggage. I checked as much of our things as possible, and this included the car seats. And we didn't bring a stroller because my parents have one at their house. I decided that the less I had to keep track of and carry around, the better.
Carry-on luggage. I brought my diaper bag and a small rolling suitcase. The diaper bag contained all of my essentials for feeding, changing and entertaining the kids, while my suitcase was stocked with extras of everything, including a change of clothes for myself (you never know when you’ll have a diaper blowout or be covered in spit up!). During our layover I took the time to restock my diaper bag supply of wipes, diapers and snacks, and I swapped out the toys in the diaper bag for ones in the suitcase.
Prepped Gaby before the trip. We explained to her that we were going on an airplane to visit her grandparents. We also talked with her about being a helper and obeying when asked to do things. This wasn’t different from what we expect from her on a daily basis, but because we would be out of our normal environment and routine, it was good to have a reminder and establish expectations ahead of time.
Snacks. Packed lots of snacks, and a large variety of them. While Gaby usually doesn’t snack throughout the day, travel days are exceptions. She didn’t really have normal meals, and I had to be ok with doling out way more snacks than usual.
Drinks. I packed Gaby’s water bottle so I didn’t have to worry about spills. But she loves drinking out of cups, so I got her a cup with a little water in it each time the in flight service was available. She was so excited about this and it kept her entertained for a while each time.
Headphones. Gaby loves music (and the occasional TV show), and while she likes the idea of earbuds, she really won't tolerate them. I found some great volume control children sized headphones online. When they arrived in the mail I showed them to her and tested them with one of her favorite songs and they were an instant hit. But even though she asked to use them frequently before the trip, I kept them as something special and told her they were for using on the trip. She was so excited to use them on the plane, and the video and music entertained her for a large chunk of our first flight.
Gift wrapped toys. A friend suggested this, and it worked marvelously. It made toys that we already owned and played with special again. Gaby loves opening things, and this made the lifespan of the toys and the excitement last longer.
Infant carrier. Boyd spent most of the day in the carrier, leaving me with both hands completely free to keep a toddler under wrap, as well as to carry my bags through the airport.
Feed during takeoff and landing. Boyd ended up being hungry during takeoff and landing three out of four times, so he nursed during those times, and the other time had his pacifier. This helped him clear his ears as the pressure changed, and he did not whine at all, at least not due to plugged ears. (I know that this is harder for some babies, but this has worked for both of our kids).
Overall the day went smoothly. And while I'm not ready to hop on a plane again tomorrow, I'm confident that the return trip next week will go well, too!
How do you keep your kids busy on the airplane? What other tips do you have?