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Toddlers, tantrums & travel: 10 Top Tips

Picture the scene… It’s late at night and you’re flying alone long-haul with your 2 young kids.  So far everything’s been ok but you arrive at the Gate only to find there’s been a last minute Gate change. The new Gate is now miles away at the other end of the airport.  You only have one stroller for the baby so the toddler has to walk.  The toddler goes into full meltdown and throws herself on the floor. The masses watch and tut.  You eventually get to the new Gate after much kicking, screaming and bribery.  It is painful but the thing is, toddlers have tantrums. That’s just what they do.  So what can you do to help make toddler travel a little easier:

  1. I always say this but BE PREPARED.  Check your flight status before you leave the house (some airlines like Cathay will send you an SMS to update you of changes/cancellations).  I once turned up to Hong Kong Airport and discovered my flight to the UK was delayed until the next day and they were putting us up in a hotel. If you are travelling with a baby, those words are enough to send you into a tantrum!  Luckily I had arrived at the airport with plenty of time and managed to get on a later BA flight.
  2. Bring an arsenal of snacks.  Nothing can shut a toddler up faster than the lure of some raisins and crackers. Keep them topped up with healthy snacks throughout your journey.  Hunger is a big contributor to toddler tantrums.  I also give my toddler a travel sickness lollipop on takeoff & landing, a guaranteed 20 mins of peace & quiet.kids_travel_sickness
  3. Always pack spare clothes.  At some point they/you will end up being sick, covered in food etc (tantrum or no tantrum).  My baby decided to puke all over the airline seat as soon as I got on board.  Despite the lingering smell of vomit in the packed cabin, the majority of people seemed sympathetic and even offered to hold my vomit baby as I cleaned myself up.  I also discovered a tip for getting rid of the smell of vomit – the Virgin stewardess rubbed coffee granules into my seat and suddenly the plane smelt like Starbucks.
  4. Bring their favourite toys, from teddybears to stickerbooks.  A nice idea is to go to a cheap store and buy loads of little toys that you can wrap up and give as presents when the going gets tough. If you live in the UK, check out My Travel Surprise which has a range of great plane toys that come partially wrapped.
  5. Pack medicine in hand luggage.  Maybe your toddler is flipping out because they’re feeling poorly?  In any case I normally dose mine up on Calpol and Piriton (antihistamine) just before a long-haul flight.
  6. Check in advance if the airport has a kids zone/softplay.  HK Airport has play areas with TVs showing cartoons.  It’s a great place to stick your overtired, unruly toddler before a flight.
  7. In this day and age, technology is king.  Load up your phone/iPad, DVD player with all their favourite games Daisy reignsand shows.  In my experience, Peppa Pig has rescued more tantrums than calming words.  Just be sure to charge up all your electronics before you fly.  Check here for a great list of apps for kids
  8. Keep an unruly toddler under control, whether that’s a backpack with reigns, sitting on a Trunki or strapped in a stroller.  In Terminal 2E of Paris Charles De Gaulle airport, they even have free self-service baby strollers for you to borrow.
  9. If you need help, ask for it.  On the whole I’ve found air stewards to be helpful and sympathetic to a screaming baby/toddler, especially if you are flying on your own.  For tantrums caused by tiredness, I swear by a black pashmina in my hand luggage to provide blackout over strollers, bassinets, baby carriers etc.
  10. Ignore the people around you.  So they’re looking disapprovingly at your toddler who’s rolling all over the floor having a tantrum.  They were all toddlers once.

For more on toddler tantrums go to: http://www.bbc.co.uk/health/physical_health/child_development/toddlers_tantrums.shtml

6 comments

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  1. onlybestforbaby

    I’ve found air stewards very helpful too when travelling alone with a baby. I love your idea of multi-tasking with a black pashmina!

  2. Jess

    Some really brilliant ideas here Nicola. Thank you so much. I will be sure to employ some of these tricks during my next holiday.

  3. girlonthemoveblog

    Stopping by from SITS Sharefest! I don’t have kids yet, but I love traveling so I will definitely be using these ideas when I do have kids!

  4. chrisappleford10

    Hi Nicola, my wife and I are heading off in a week with our two year old boy Jack, and your tips will come in very handy, so thanks for that. He’s been on a few short flights but this will be his first long flight. Our first stop is Vietnam which will be a great start. We have already planned to wrap a few toys that he can open at intervals on the flight, but I do need to find a few more apps so will check out your link. Cheers…

    1. Nicola

      have a great time in Vietnam, what a fantastic way to start your adventure

  5. Merlinda Little (@pixiedusk)

    Nice tips! I am hopefully will one day visit home which is like 22 hours away from here and this will ocme in handy =) #mbpw

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