BUY THEM A SEAT
Even though technically infants can sit on your lap and don't need to pay for their own seat until they turn two, if you can afford it then once your baby turns in to a quite large, fully mobile toddler I would highly recommend buying them their own seat.
On our flight, last year to Khalkidhiki we were fortunate enough to have a spare seat next to us on the way out and it made the journey so much easier than on the way back when I had to try to contain my wriggling 18 month old daughter to my lap for the duration of the 3hr flight.
PLAN YOUR HAND LUGGAGE
Learn from my mistakes and apply some logical thought when packing your hand luggage. We bought our daughter a fun suitcase and duly filled it with all her stuff. The trouble is, this has to go in the overhead luggage stow when actually you need easy access to all your child's things throughout the flight.
So, pack the bits you're less likely to need in to your larger hand luggage that will inevitably be confined to the overhead locker and store the things you will need easier access to in a smaller bag that you'll keep under your seats. If you’re feeling really organised separate items in to clear plastic bags to ensure whatever you need can be found without too much rummaging.
Finally, when it comes to packing food – think about what your toddler eats and double it – flying it seems is hungry work!
BUY SOME NEW TOYS
New toys always seem so much more exciting that old toys. Buy a few small new toys for the plane then wrap them up before you travel to add a minute or two or extra fun and entertainment from the unwrapping of them once on board. Successful ones for us were sticker books and little mini-library boxes of books. I also bought a buckle toy that repeatedly came up in my frantic late night searches for the ‘best plane toys to entertain toddlers’ but my little one took one look at it and threw it to the side. Nothing beats a game of peekaboo so pack a scarf for hours (OK, a few minutes) of fun and giggles, or why not play hide and seek with a favourite teddy.
DON’T STRESS ABOUT SCREEN TIME
… but don’t rely on it either. We spent a lot of time trying to find alternate ways to entertain our toddler apart from sticking her in front of the iPad. But once you've exhausted walking up and down the aisles, eaten all the food and got bored of all the new toys, I don't think there's anything wrong with a bit of television.
However, despite the allure of screens with all the other distractions going on it might still not hold the attention of younger toddlers for the entire flight so do make sure you have back-ups. A few apps with age appropriate games allow for a bit more interactive play and most kids also seem to love looking at photos or videos of themselves, their pets and their family.
SPEAK TO YOUR NEIGHBOURS
Your neighbours will be so much more forgiving, and you will feel less awkward giving an apologetic smile when your toddler starts playing up, if you crack and joke and make some polite conversation before take off.
Good luck with your first flight. I promise it's not as bad as you think it'll be and in the end, it's totally worth it for all the wonderful holiday memories.
For more tips and advice on travelling with toddlers, get in touch!