Monday, October 21, 2013
Flying with a One Year Old
So an important part to note about the surprise weekend was that we flew up to Colorado, instead of driving [which is our usual mode of transportation. Smarter? Not sure. But it does allow us to bring more baby-necessary junk.]. Last time we flew, it was with an almost 4 month old.
It was possibly the worst flight of my life.
Not that the whole flight was all that bad - just the first 6 hours. Really, most of the trauma came before we actually took off. Like trying to change our child in her car seat a couple hours before going to the airport, which she peed all over. Then trying to rinse and clean a car seat in a mall bathroom. Then dragging six suitcases around the airport with an over-tired infant. And her screaming the entire way through the busy check-in line. And trying to change her in the airport. And trying to change ourselves in the airport. And trying to convince her to fall asleep three hours after her usual bedtime. And breaking down on the plane for the first hour because she just. wouldn't. fall. asleep.
Then she did, and all was well for the rest of that flight.
And I do apologize if I somehow scare you out of ever flying with an infant. I don't think our experience is a normal one. For one, we were moving from Hawaii back to the mainland [a 6 hour overnight flight], therefore dealing with a lot of extraneous circumstances - like being homeless for the afternoon leading up to the flight and carrying three months worth of living necessities in those six suitcases.
Anyway, with that experience in mind, this flight had me a little nervous. However, this flight was much, much shorter. And this time we had a toddler with some basic understanding of rules under her belt.
So I went to work looking up ways to prevent another worst flight ever. I found this helpful post about flying with a toddler, along with good old Google and some advice from friends.
The three biggest tips I took from all my super-academic research were these:
 Wear them out before the flight. Meaning, let them walk and run and climb until you step foot on the plane. Dellie preferred climbing up and down the seats at the gate, which was both great for keeping her contained and for the amusement of everyone around us.
 Snacks are your friend. Snacks kept her more occupied than any toys we had on the flight. We were recommended to finger snacks that would take a while to eat and weren't too messy. Some were great [goldfish crackers], some were less great [lollipops and fruit roll ups turned out to be messier than I expected - silly me].
 Teach your child to sit in your lap without wiggling or climbing. I know this is a hard one to teach a one year old, but having her understand and be able to sit still for even a couple of minutes made a world of a difference during the flight, especially during take-off and landing.
And what toys did we bring?
Books, play doh, small doll house pieces, a mess-free writing pad, the Jan Brett animal matching game [from the busy bag swap I did earlier this year], and her softie [not pictured]. I found the backpack [which is actually a lunch box] on clearance for a couple of dollars, and just let its size determine how much I packed up. For a 1 1/2 hours flight, this amount was plenty. In fact, we didn't pull the backpack out until the flight home - she was happy to eat and mess with the tray table the entire first flight.
Dellie was a lap child for the flight, which on one hand was a bummer - both flights were completely full, so no extra space - but on the other hand was nice, because we didn't have to try and explain why she needed to stay buckled and keep her tray up when the signs were lit. Unfortunately, this will probably be the last time we get to fly with her in our laps. We're becoming a real family that actually has to pay for tickets for each person!