18 month old on an airplane, need tips

My kids travel in the car well, under normal circumstances being able to sit with them will make the three hour trip even easier on them. It’s the cabin pressure that’s going to be a problem for my little one who is too young to know how to pop his ears or chew gum.

We’re bringing suckers, taffy and licorice. What else can I do to help my little guy and by extension those poor unfortunate 200 other people that have no idea what’s in store for them tomorrow.

I never have taken my daughter on a plane yet (3.75 years and counting!), but at that age I would have brought sippy cups of orange juice. We don’t usually give it to her and she loves it, so she would definitely be willing to drink it on command, and the swallowing ought to clear her ears.

Also, the nice cups with valves won’t leak in your carry-on.

Teach your kid to make fish faces. That is, open and close mouth with exaggerated motions, inflating the cheeks when you close it. It’s a good way to equalize pressure; if you can get him to do that when the plane goes up and down, it should help. Bonus points: it’s fun!

If you can time it so that the toddler is hungry for takeoff or landing, then feed the kid at those times, that will help.

Bring the sippy cups, empty, through security. You can fill them after you get past it. They’ll let you bring milk for babies. 18 months may be reaching a point where they’ll ask you to dump.

Give yourselves extra time, so you’re not rushed. You should be able to carry one kid at a time through the scanner.

I used to dress mine in matching shirts. I didn’t usually do the twins thing In day to day life, but if we got separated at the airport it made it easy to spot them, plus everyone thinks it’s cute. Take every advantage you can can get.

I bought presents they could open on the plane. Games, crayons, whatever I thought might hold their interest, and then once we were on the plane I started handing them out.

I told them in general terms what was going to happen before we got there and reminded them at each step of the way. Mine traveled from infancy, but one reason kids cry is because takeoff can be scary. Make it a game. “We’re going fast! We’re going high! Isn’t this fun! Can you see the clouds?”

Decide who is going to sit where before you get on the plane. Window seats and who gets to sit by mom or dad are important! Then switch it up, so everyone gets a turn.

My secret weapon: portable DVD player with 2 headphone jacks or a splitter. Toys aren’t cutting it? Fire up Dora ::shudder:: or the soporific of your choice and let them watch it. I wouldn’t let the kids chill out to the boob tube at home, but on a cross-country flight? Darn-skippy. It’s not like you can get off. Throw the rules out and let their brains rot, figuratively speaking.

Encourage them to chew something during landing or take off. Practice making funny faces that help pop ears in the lounge while you’re waiting.

Bring diapers and snacks and their favorite lovey/blanket.

Board early!!! Take advantage of that if your airline still lets you. Ask the flight attendant for any tips, if you’re worried about anything. They are experts at helping kids pop their ears.

Get off last. Everyone will appreciate it and you won’t feel nearly as rushed and pulled.

I used to do this a lot. I also got a lot of compliments on the kiddos. DVD player is my top tip, if you want only one.

Moved to our advice forum, IMHO (from MPSIMS).

I don’t have kids, but friends who do swear by these tips:

  1. Bring a NEW toy that they haven’t seen before. Give it to them on the plane.
  2. Benadryl.

That age is a pain on airplanes. Are you carrying on your car seat? If not, then get one of those Child Safety Restraint Systems (you can look at it on Amazon). $75ish, but totally worth it to keep them contained. You can also buy them second hand on craigslist usually.

Second, I agree with the “presents” idea. Lots of small crappy toys (like dollar tree stuff) “wrapped” up in tissue paper. Kid gets to open a new one every 15 minutes or as soon as they lose interest in the last one.

Finally, headphones for the DVD player or iphone? Get big headphones - the kind that go over the ears. Those are easier on kids and they will leave them on and watch a show if you take some time to practice with them pre-trip.

Benadryl? Only if you are damn certain what kind of reaction you are going to get. It totally wires a certain percentage of kids.

Aside from that, make sure you have sippy cups full of water and tons of snacks and you’ll be fine. If the kid is crying, try to get them to drink. The swallowing can help the ear pressure.

You’ll be fine.

Go to the dollar store before you leave, and pick out a good handful of toys. Some books he’s never seen before. A coloring book and some crayons. Gift-wrap each of them, so he can enjoy opening stuff and ripping paper and waste more time. Get some new and unusual snacks - hopefully ones he’s not seen before - and portion them out into small servings that you can bring out when there’s a lull.

We took our son to South Africa when he was 18 months. A 10 hour flight to London, a 12 hour layover, a 12 hour flight to Cape Town. shudder

How long is the flight? It is a tough age. The advice given so far is decent, and we’ve had good results with the zombiefication affect of TV. I second skipping Benadryl unless you’re sure how the kid will react.

I also second a restraint device. The airlines had something on our international flights (basically a seat belt loop that attaches to your main seat belt). If you haven’t gotten them their own seat I don’t think the domestic airlines provide anything. I would be uncomfortable with the risk of severe turbulence and an unbuckled child.

Also, we were pretty lucky about the altitude thing. Our son didn’t seem bothered by his ears at all. So maybe you’ll be lucky too :slight_smile:

I use and when my kids were little they used a product called Ear planes. Soft silicone plugs that help equalize the pressure in the ears. I swear by them and have them with me on every flight. getting harder to find though, did find in walmart.

Coming back to add - yes on the over the ear headphones. Second choice, on the ear made for kids. Avoid those iPhone in the ear jobbies.

Also, thirding the “no” on the Benadryl unless 1) it’s a monstrously long flight, 2) you’ve talked to the pediatrician and he/she recommends it for this situation and 3) you have tried it before. It really does make some kids hyper. The LAST thing you need is a hyper toddler on a plane.

We brought the Firebug back from Russia at age 19 months. Samara to Moscow, Moscow to JFK, JFK to BWI. No ear problems, I’m happy to report.

I am an adult who gets the paradoxical hyper effect out of Benadryl. Absolutely do not give it unless you know how your kid is going to react. If you gave it to me, you’d have to peel me off the ceiling by the end of the flight.

Agree with the sippy cups.

Make sure you’ve got something in the cup towards the end of the flight.

The trick is to get the kidlet sucking on it just before the descent starts, because if you wait until the descent it may be too late: ears may have started hurting and the kidlet may not take the cup.

We always found that if we offered the cup as soon as the seat-light sign came on, the Cub would take the cup and things went well.

This is a really neat idea to smooth things over with nearby passengers: http://nbclatino.files.wordpress.com/2012/09/diaznote.jpg

does your kidlet use a soother? If yes, have a bunch.

I found wearing cargo pants and having a soother, snacks, diapers, change of clothes ready at the quick draw to be invaluable on planes for little kids. Also bring Tylenol as a fever can suddenly start and you’re stuck on the plane without something to alleviate the symptoms.

second the Benadryl advice. Test drive it first a week before the flight. It can change over time.

Will kidlet have a seat or be in your lap for the flight?

Also…good luck! :slight_smile:

Do not give them milk and apple juice! If they get airsick and throw up half the people around you will be loosing their cookies around you because of the smell. Been there and done that!