How to Gain Some Sense of Control While Flying with Young Kids

Before having kids, I was one of those people who couldn’t believe parents who “let” their kids: cry, kick the seat in front of them, scream, run around, eat candy and snacks whenever, and walk in front of people. I also was appalled by the little backpack leash that looked like the kid was a dog.

Seriously, peeps, I am one of those parents now!

All the above behavior was exhibited by my 2 year old daughter when we went to Portland on the airplane. We also had the leash. Where did I go wrong? What is happening to me that I can’t keep my daughter under control? Ahhhhhhhh!

I got a lot of great advice about flying with kids via Pinterest (here’s my board filled with tips for flying with kids), but I never got advice on how to not be that parent!

One flight with young children can send you over the edge...UNLESS you have some tricks up your sleeve. Here are several tips for making sure your flight goes smooth and you don't get death stares!Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links (I’ve put a * by any link that is an affiliate link). This basically means if you click on a link that takes you to Amazon, and you make a purchase, I will receive a small commission from your purchase. Thank you for supporting Humble in a Heartbeat!

So here’s just a bit of advice from my experience (however limited it might be) flying with young kids.

1. Buy the leash! It doesn’t matter how many people gawk or stare. You will be so grateful for it when you don’t have to chase your child around the airport. It was a lifesaver for us since we have both a toddler and a 6 month old. We didn’t buy the kind with the backpack. Instead, we got the kind that you put around the child’s wrist (THIS* is the one). It stays on the wrist with velcro, so we thought our daughter would take it off almost right away, but she didn’t! She kept it on and only complained on the way home. When we were getting our luggage, she finally figured out how to take it off and went strolling on by me. Luckily the crowds had died down, so I caught her quickly. She thought she was home free!

2. Adjust the car seat on the airplane to a 90 degree angle. We brought our 2 year old’s car seat with us, and my husband put it in just like he had it in our car. This meant that Sofía’s feet were already touching the seat in front of her, and for the first 30 minutes on the plane, she wanted to kick it! I am always sooooo bothered by kids that kick my seat (sometimes adults are guilty of this too!), so I kept moving her feet and telling her not to kick the seat. Of course all that did was make her want to kick the seat even more. Finally I told my husband he had to adjust it so she couldn’t do it anymore. He put it at a 90 degree angle, and just like that she couldn’t kick the seat anymore. Thank heavens!

One flight with young children can send you over the edge...UNLESS you have some tricks up your sleeve. Here are several tips for making sure your flight goes smooth and you don't get death stares!3. Don’t buy the suckers! I brought some suckers to give to my toddler and her cousin for the plane’s takeoff and landing. This is to help with the ear popping, but I really think both of them would’ve been just fine without two suckers on one short plane ride. Sofía got stickiness all over her hands, her car seat, and her hair. If you really think your kid is gonna have a huge problem with their ears, bring a binky for them to suck on!

4. Sit in the very back of the plane. I didn’t realize that’s where most of the families sit until we went home. On the way there, we sat smack dab in the middle. Luckily we didn’t have any huge issues except the seat kicking, but I can imagine a lot of people would have silently hated us if one of our daughters decided to cry, scream, or yell incessantly.

5. Finally, if you want your kids to behave and showcase you as a parent, bring snacks. That’s right, you heard me. Bring lots and lots and lots of snacks. I don’t care what your rules are at home. Our snack rule is that we eat one snack a day in between lunch and dinner (right after nap time) and only at the table. That rule was broken and then some. We kept giving Sofía food, and she ate it while waiting to board as well as on the plane. This really kept her the most content, above any coloring book, toy, or even stickers. She is a little food fiend, though, so maybe the snacks won’t work for your kids.

By the way, if you want to avoid real terror on a flight with your baby, read THIS post. It made me check, double check, and triple check that I had everything I needed to keep my baby happy on the plane.

I hope you can try out some of this advice on your next plane ride with your babes. Happy travels!

Do you have some great advice to keep people from staring while traveling with your kids?

Linked to: SHINE Blog HopThe New PinFest, and The Blogger’s Digest

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  1. We passed up a trip to Hawaii this past April to avoid a 5 hour plane ride with our 1 year old- so let me just say DAMN GIRL! You’re brave. I read a fantastic post once from another blogger it was something like “Things I Said I’d Never Do..” and one of them was put their kid on a leash. SERIOUSLY! Never thought I’d be “that” parent but it’s in my future. These are great tips!
    Rebecca recently posted…Transition IssuesMy Profile

    • Five hours really seems like a bit too long, no matter how prepared you are! Our flight was less than two hours, and it felt like two hours! It’s true. We become those we judge. Literally! Thanks so much, Rebecca!

  2. When we travel all rules are off, lol. Snacks all day long if need be just to get through it. And yes, kicking the seat was a huge issue. We did sit the car seat up, but sometimes the passenger sitting in front of my son did it to themselves by reclining their seat! Ahhhhh. Great post, thanks for sharing.

  3. Sometimes I swear you’re in my head! We’re planning a spring trip to Florida and I’ve had major anxiety about flying with the kids! I am bookmarking this now! Such great tips and from one mama to another, sometimes you have to just do whatever you have to do to get through the situation!
    Brandi recently posted…Our Monthly Budget!My Profile

    • That’s too funny, Brandi! Probably cuz we’re both mothers of young kids, so we’re thinking about similar things. 🙂 I waited a lot longer to start thinking about the trip than you are, so you’ll be just fine with those babes!

  4. We didn’t have a leash but while I was flying alone with my son I told him he has to hold onto my jacket belt like his life depends on it and not let go and boy did he take me seriously. Our daughter was holding onto my husband during our flight to Croatia and I do believe that was about the only time she held onto his hand or mine for that matter. She is very independent like that!
    Ana Lynn recently posted…Farewell Robin WilliamsMy Profile

    • You’re son is a great listener! Maybe in a few years Sofía will be like that. We’ll see! Or maybe she’ll be more like your daughter! Ha.

  5. Food and technology! We never let our kids use our phones or Kindles, but when we fly, they have total access to our Kindle Fire, which I load with all kinds of free apps and shows. I break out the ring pops when they get loud, and I offer lots of snacks. Drinks for takeoff and landing are good too. I love that you use the leash. My boys are almost 4, and we still make them stay in the stroller when we walk through the airport. It’s helped me so much – especially when I travel with them by myself.
    Kate @ The Beautiful Useful Project recently posted…Repurposing a Box as an OrganizerMy Profile

    • Technology is a big one! Thanks for bringing it up. 🙂 I would’ve listed it, but we didn’t have much experience with it. I tried giving the tablet to our daughter on the plane, and then realized we had to pay for wi-fi, so I quickly took it back. Surely there was something she could’ve done on it to keep busy, but I was a bit flustered in that moment. I will definitely have to remember the drinks. That makes sense! We decided not to use the stroller since it was too big to fit in our trunk with the other luggage, so the leash was a lifesaver! I appreciate your input, Kate!

  6. I have yet to have the money to fly with my kids, but mine are snack and technology junkies! For long care rides (12+ hours) I make my kids each pack their own bookbag of entertainment, but they are a little older (6, 4, and 3)

    Now my BF recently flew with her daughter and bought her a bunch of toys at the dollar store and wrapped them! She would give her a new one every 15-30 minutes to open and play with. She said that it was perfect!

    Thanks so much for sharing your post on the #SHINEbloghop
    Anne Marie recently posted…SHINE Blog Hop with The Deliberate MomMy Profile

    • We were lucky enough that my brother-in-law paid for our tickets (we were attending his wedding and there’s no way we were going to drive with our kids there!). I have heard that letting the kids pack their own stuff is really important, and the “gifts” for the plane is genius! Thanks for co-hosting and stopping by, Anne Marie!

  7. Just saw your post on Pig & Dac and since I fly several times a year I was curious to check out your advice. I recently wrote a similar post too:
    Anyways, I think being prepared is the key. I bring so much stuff with us, half of it I don’t use but you never know. 🙂
    Thanks for the car seat tip. Soon we will have our first flight bringing our car seat and I didn’t think of that.
    Carolina Brenes recently posted…Overwhelmed by technology {too many pictures}My Profile

    • Glad you found me, Carolina! It’s a bit overwhelming to think about flying with kids, but if you are prepared, everything should be fine 🙂 I hope that little tip helps.


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