Traveling with a baby under two lulled us into thinking we had a handle on this plane thing. So the baby just had her second birthday, what could possibly happen on our next trip? Well, We were wrong, and a lot of things can happen. When your baby turns two, everything changes.
First, and most apparent, your "baby travels for free card" gets revoked, and now the airlines see you and your baby the same; as a full-fare customer. However, while airline attendants will probably continue to ignore you, they will still smile at the baby. So you feel like you get your money's worth.
Second, your toddler has discovered that he/she has legs, and that no belt, seat, or parent's arms need confine them any more. They will see the plane as a magic place filled with exciting hiding places, new people to meet, and long aisles to run down. Don't worry! While it may seem intimidating, air travel with your toddler can still be pleasant if you know this tricks.
1. Alcohol. - No, kidding. While this is a tempting solution, you need all your wits about you to pull this off, so save the drink for landing. You will have earned that celebratory drink.
2. Pack a toddler activities bag. - Fill this bag with an Ipad, or books to capture your toddler's attention. Bring their favorite doll/blanket, and pack a wide variety of healthy snacks. Nothing keeps your toddler smiling like a mouth full of cheerios.
3. Don't stress if your baby protests. - You need to have your child fastened in a seatbelt or sitting in your lap during take-off, landing and turbulence. Even if your child screams, don't compromise on this basic safety issues. Kids cry, it's what they do. If someone on the plane gives you dirty looks because you're trying to keep your baby safe, throw some cheerios at them.
4. Feed your toddler during take-off and landing. - This will prevent any unpleasant ear sensations due to pressure changes. Cheerios and water works best for us.
5. You do have a responsibility to manage your child. - While it's natural for a kid to cry, it's not ok to let them do whatever they want. A majority of your time on the plane will be to enforce limits on your child's behavior. Kicking the seat? That's a no. Throwing cheerios? That's a no (unless it's at rude people). We never get embarrassed disciplining our child on a plane. It teaches our child important social norms, and also gives us something to do.
6. If possible, time your air travel during nap time. - While at the airport, I try my best to tire my toddler out. I play hide and seek, tag and run in circle games. My goal is to make my child drop right to sleep once they get to the plane.
7. Lastly, lollipops. - If you're about to lose it, just pull out this magical creation and it will keep your kid busy for 20 minutes while you catch your breath.
Hopefully your child sleeps the entire flight, or stays captivated by that Princess Sophia episode on her Ipad. If they don't, just follow the above tips and remember that you have a celebratory adult beverage waiting for you on the other side.