Flying With a Preschooler

When we flew to Denmark in 2017, it was #KidGoodwin’s first-ever flight. He wasn’t even two years old yet. And I was terrified.

I was so afraid he would be that kid on the plane. You know what I’m talking about. The one screaming his head off or running up and down the aisles or standing up in his seat and annoying our fellow passengers.

When I searched for tips on flying with kids, I came across tons of advice, and some of it didn’t always agree. It’s better to fly overnight. It’s better to fly during the day. Fly with your car seat. Check your car seat. By all means, give your kid Benadryl to help them sleep. Whatever you do, don’t give your kid Benadryl!

In the end, I decided that we knew our kid best, so we’d pick and choose the tips that sounded the best for us:

  • We packed tons of snacks.
  • We loaded up on cheap little toys and activities – lots of coloring books, stickers, PlayDoh, etc. We wrapped these up in tissue paper and every so often, we let Jacob pick one and open it to play with for a while. We also had a tablet with us so he could watch cartoons and play games. (I’m personally not crazy about overdoing screen time, but desperate times call for desperate measures!)
  • We flew during the night*, in the hopes that Jacob would sleep.
  • We packed changes of clothes (just in case) for all three of us and made sure Jacob had comfy clothes to sleep in.

*Flying through the night seemed like a great idea because by the end of the day, Jacob was pretty worn out. The problem was that by the time we got in the air, the airline started serving “dinner” at like 11 p.m. There was way too much going on for Jacob to fall asleep. And even though he did eventually doze off, it wasn’t solid sleep. He would try to reposition himself (he’s a tosser and a turner in bed) and then would wake up, confused and out of it, let out a little whimper, try to cuddle with me, and then pass out again. Needless to say, we didn’t get great sleep on the flight… but by the time we got to our destination, it was nap time, so we all napped great and ended up staying pretty much on our daily wake/sleep schedule!

Jacob will be almost four on this flight. He’s a pretty well-behaved kid and he’s excited about our trip to Barcelona, so I’m not too worried about him acting up like I was the first time around. We’ll probably use a lot of the strategies we used on our last flight. We’ll likely try flying at night again, although who knows if he’ll actually sleep? He hates to miss anything so I’m sure he’ll be checking out everything that’s going on. I will definitely make sure he has lots of snacks, books, and little things to play with, and, well, there’s always ABC Mouse on the tablet.  And if he doesn’t sleep… he’ll nap when we get to Barcelona!


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