Pre-flight Survival Tips When Flying with Toddlers

Published on: June 29, 2019

Flying with kids can be either easy going or an absolute nightmare. Here are the tips for flying with toddlers by an expat mom of four boys who has traveled to many countries.

By Dana Bachar Grossman

  • Have you ever pretended your 18 month-old toddler was only 9kg just to get the desired baby bassinet, regardless of all the safety recommendations?
  • Nod your head if you have ever had to sit the whole flight on a wet seat because your precious toddler peed in their pants and wanted to swap with you for a dry one?
  • Nod your head if you have ever used the airplane’s tiny toilets while still carrying your baby in the carrier?

If any of these scenarios ring a bell or come close, then this article is for you!

Flying with kids can be either easy going or an absolute nightmare!

For the past 12 years, as an expat family living in Asia, we’ve been flying a lot with our four boys. Fortunately, we have survived to tell about the funny moments accompanied by dramatic ones to help you save your sanity on the fly!

Tip #1 Go mentally prepared…

It’s great to share and involve the kids in preparation for the trip. Start off by simply asking them what they are looking forward to or worried about. Then, share the plan moving forward: what you all are packing, where you will be staying and remind them that their friends, school and pets are all fine while they are away.

Tip #2 Seating arrangements

My motto is extra space to rest is always best!” ™ Ask the airline in advance for the following:

  • Empty seat near your child.
  • Front row seats – for a “play area” on a blanket on the floor.
  • Window seat – for a fascinating view!  
  • “Crazy legs”- If you have two rows for your family, seat your active kids in the back row to prevent them from kicking the passengers in front (like my footballers usually do).
  • Infant seat belt – is a must for safety. Keep that in mind when your little one fusses about being in one.
  • Try the “head-to-toe” approach to maximize the space of two seats for two kids to sleep.
  • Gap-closing gadgets you can get one of those inflatable cushions to close the gap between your child’s seat and the seat in front, creating a bigger space for them to sleep comfortably.
  • Car seat – a life-changer! Bring it along after confirming with the airline directly that it’s an approved brand. Comfortable, safe familiar zone solution!

Tip #3 Cabin pressure and ear pain

When taking off and landing, the cabin pressure can cause ear pressure and pain that your little ones can’t release by themselves.  Let them drink water/breastfeed/bottle feed, suck a dummy or a lollipop, anything to make them move their jaws or swallow. For young toddlers, I use pain relief ear drops an hour before take off as sometimes they refuse to drink exactly when we want them to.

Tip #4 Illnesses

Handle any illness, especially a cold, stuffy nose or ear pain ASAP before the flight and carry an appropriate pain relief and medicines with you.

Tip #5 Exhausting the Energizer bunny

Let your kids crawl, run and jump safely at the airport and burn their energy to the last bit, so that they board the plane calm. Do the same during connection time between flights. 

Tip #6 Boarding time

I like to board the plane last and take advantage of every minute possible outside of the plane. My hubby likes exactly the opposite – to board first to get the space for our hand carry bags. We ditched this argument a while ago and now he goes first while I stay behind with the kids, allowing them to run around a bit more.

Tip #7 Grumpy passenger shield

If you notice grumpiness growing around you because of your kid’s cry, try your best to ignore them.  That’s just adults crying in their own way! In most cases, they are willing to help if you only reach out and ask for it.


Images courtesy of the author.

About the Author

Dana Bachar Grossman is a bestselling author, public speaker and an expat mom of 4 boys who has traveled to five continents, 49 countries and has lived in Singapore for the last nine years. She founded the “MeD8” and “Reaching Hearts- Giving Back” with a mission to motivate people to be effective and empathetic communicators. In her spare time, she loves to do stand up comedy for raising funds for various charities. Learn more about her work and “Fight or flight? Survival guide book for flying with kids” at

The views expressed in the articles in this magazine are not necessarily those of BAMBI committee members and we assume no responsibility for them or their effects.

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