Monkeyfighting Toddlers on a Plane: Suggestions for travel w/ 13-month-old?

Anyone have advice, tips, etc. for plane travel with a 13-month-old? He’s not talking yet (at least with words), and juuuust starting to take a few totally unsupported steps. His favorite activities are bashing things, throwing things, dropping things behind couches, and playing peekaboo.

We’re going a week from today, from the East coast to the West. Long damn day.

Things I know to do:
[li]in addition to the regular diaper bag set-up, carry on a change of clothes for him and for us adults too, in case of spitting up or a poop-pocalypse[/li][li]give him something to eat, drink, or chew on during takeoff and landing so his ears don’t hurt[/li][li]have a few toys and a board book or two, including the ones that are de rigeur for naps & bedtime[/li][li]be willing to improvise toys[/li][li]take a bunch of earplugs to hand out to folks nearby, if it comes to that[/li][li]have food, including but not only powdered instant milk and finger snacks, enough for both the expected time/meals/snacks and some more in case of delays[/li][/ul]

I will have my (work-owned) iPad along and have loaded it up with some free kids books and toddler-friendly apps like Color Dots and some with animals and their sounds, etc. Also some white-noise generators and music he likes. But I know the iPad doesn’t hold his interest much (he’d rather throw it, smack it on things, etc. than poke at it).

We’re planning to send as much of our stuff as we can on ahead by UPS so we won’t have much to check and can carry on just what we need. We’ll probably take either an umbrella stroller or a backpack-carrier with us and ship the one we don’t take.

What else?

When we flew with our little girl to Reno, we requested the seats right behind the first class barrier - there’s more room on that row, which allowed Sophie to stand up and move around a bit.

We also took advantage of modern medical technology and gave the kid something to help her relax (Benadryl, I believe). A lot of worry-wart types will get themselves all RO’d about this, but we had great flights.

pretty much what I was thinking.

If you go the Benadryl route, do yourself a favor and try it out today. It has a paradoxical hyperactive effect on some kids, and that’s not something you want to discover on the plane!

I think you’ve got it pretty well covered. Bring twice as many toys/books and twice as much food/drink as you think he could possibly go through during the flight; for some reason, kids have the attention span of a gnat when on a plane, and favorite foods are rejected quite often.

The most important thing is to do something - anything - when he becomes disruptive. It may still piss off the other passengers, but if they see you’re trying to deal with it and you’re not perceived as ignoring him, you’ll probably avoid a lynching. Remember that you’ve developed something of a tolerance to him that strangers haven’t. While you might let him kick a seat for a few moments because you know that correcting him will lead to a worse behavior, other people don’t see that, and will be far less patient than you.

Don’t try to adjust his nap schedule by skipping his morning nap so that he sleeps on the flight. Won’t work, and you’ll just end up with an overtired, cranky baby. Keep his schedule as close to it is at home as possible.

Try to bring some kind of tv/DVD/Netflix on the iPad. Even 15 minutes of peace staring at a tv show can be a relief.

And since he’s so young, don’t be afraid to try some adult movie with lots of sounds and action. That can keep attention even better, and he won’t follow the plot anyway. :slight_smile:

Definately pre-test the benadryl.

I always wore cargo pants with lots of pockets full of extra diapers, snacks, soothers, toy, etc. You want to be able to quick draw this stuff.

I haven’t run into anti child nazis on any of the flights we’ve taken. It helps maybe to say “we’re doing the best we can and apologize for any inconvenience.” The vast majority of people on planes have had kids of their own at some point and generally are sympathetic.

I would also reiterate that having a well rested, well fed child is much better than gambling on maybe he’ll sleep on the plane if we keep him up all night. Most airports have a good kids play area, so once you’re checked in, then go tire him out.

He may be too young for one of the classic suggestions, which is small wrapped gifts - but if he is old enough to enjoy tearing off the wrapping paper, go for it. Even if he is not, remember the concept “new.” He may be entertained longer by a small toy or object he has never seen before than one of his old favorites.

Ooh! This reminded me of one of my favorite dirt cheap gifts for Littles of about this age: a box of Kleenex. The kind of box where they pop up when you pull one. They LOVE it - pull it and it comes out but - hey! there’s another one! Pull it and it comes out but - hey! there’s another one! Wheeeeee!

Bring along an empty plastic grocery bag and let him pull Kleenexes out of the box. Every few Kleenexes, gather them up and put them into the bag. He’ll have a blast. Tie up the bag and give it to the flight attendant to dispose of when he’s done. She’ll give you a funny look, but who cares?
(You may have to move your Kleenex boxes up a couple of feet when you get home, lest he repeat the experience!)

Just chiming into say that I fly a lot, and while I can’t really get mad at babies for being crying babies, I do start to get really frustrated at parents who don’t appear to be trying to make it stop. A parent of a little scream-a-pillar who at least looks harried and frustrated is less annoying than one who appears to be sitting calmly, watching a movie, while Precious Angel screams bloody murder. Sure, maybe their SOP is not to give the child extra attention while a tantrum is going on, but as WhyNot points out, that’s a bad idea on a plane ride.

I’d consider checking your carry on bag and carrying NOTHING onto the plane except the stuff for him. Even a light carry-on is a handful and something that demands a certain amount of attention (where are the bags? Can you get them down? Will you watch these while I go find a changing table?) and that can be a pain in the ass when you are trying to manage and distract a toddler. Baggage checking isn’t really more trouble with a kid: by the time you get to the baggage claim area, you are home free, practically, and one person can always take the baby on a walk while the other waits for luggage (or checks it in).

Generally I agree with you, just be aware that often this results not in just one person screaming (the baby), but in two (the baby and the mother screaming at each other).

This is a better description than mine of what we mean to do (though we do need some stuff for the grownups, even though minimized – for instance, I am never again traveling without a nail file handy since that one time in Frankfurt when I ripped half a fingernail clean off because I had a snag I couldn’t quite bite off and it caught on something when I was running to catch up to my oblivious husband after the security check. And snacks. I get crankier than the toddler when I get too hungry. And migraine meds . . . you get the picture).

Loaded a few “critter shows” (nature/animals programs) on the iPad for the bairn. Those seem to hold his attention best of what we’ve tried, and we like them too.

I’ve been practicing my Zen Toddler Mommyness; engaged but calm :slight_smile:

ETA: Thanks, all!

Especially since it’s not condoning a tantrum. On the ground it’s one thing; not giving in is a fine idea. But on the plane, the kid is scared, everything is moving, it doesn’t feel right, and it’s creeping him the fuck out. The only thing he knows how to do is cry, and if even that’s not getting Mommy’s attention…

Just try to do something. I remember on one plane a baby cried the WHOLE way. He was 3 or 4 rows behind me so I could drown him out mostly, but he never stopped, and his parents never stopped trying to comfort him. Then, when the plane stopped, he stopped crying, and I remember him just looking at me with these big wet blue eyes and I felt so sorry for him - he had no idea what just happened. It must have been terrifying, and his parents at least tried to comfort him the whole way.

Careful on the cargo pants: if you wind up at an airport using the new scanners, they ask you to unload everything from your pockets. That might be a major pain if you’ve got them loaded up with kid stuff (especially if it’s stuff you want to save for surprises later on).

Concur on pretesting the benadryl. I’ve heard it makes some kids hyper. Didn’t have that effect with mine, but neither did it make them sleepy (this was when they had it for genuine medical issues, not on a flight). Me, it makes me mean.

Don’t get on the plane (with the youngin’ at least) until the door closes- you want to be the last ones on as this can easily be an extra 15-30 minutes of confinement (and danger with people walking by and suitcases going up) that you don’t need.

Have something good to drink ready to go as take off begins- the pilot says, “Flight attendants please be seated for take off” about 1-3 minutes before launch and it is a great cue for the noise, pressure, and you won’t be able to reach for much as you hurtle down the runway.

Go to the dime store, buy 15 small toys/trinkets/books. WRAP them in newspaper and ribbons. Every 30-60 minutes on the flight, let your kid open another one. Opening = 5 minutes of fun, playing = 10 minutes of fun. If they get lost on the plane, you don’t care.

Richard Scarry books are great for airplanes. They are big and there are so many things to see that can be seen out the window. Airport scenes, beaches, rivers, farms, mountains.

The “board last” advice depends on your situation. If your kid is just old enough to think that getting to board early is really special, they may enjoy the early boarding privilege (though probably not in this case). And if you are pushing the limits on how much carry-on you are allowed to have (frequently the case when traveling with little kids), you risk not having enough overhead bin space left, because everyone who boarded before you used it up. Sure, the flight attendants will find some place to stow your gear, but if you don’t have easy access to something you planned on grabbing during the flight, it can be a problem.

On the drinks: do you have to make advance arrangements to take liquids on the plane for infants and small children? I seem to recall doing something like that in the years following 2001. Now that CairoSon is 13, it hasn’t been an issue for a long time, so I have no idea what current policies are.

You can’t take it through security but there is no restriction on buying in the departure lounge and taking it on the plane. For water just carry an empty water bottle and fill it up once you’re through security instead of paying the “We’ve got you now” prices.

I am told that you can take unlimited (within reason) baby-related liquids, with baby present, so long as you declare them, set them out in a separate bin for scanning, etc. I have heard of cases in which they may make you demonstrate that all that stuff is real by tasting it if it’s milk or food, even expressed breastmilk, but less so now than when the liquids prohibition was new.