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Ten Tips for Flying With Your Toddler

11/05/2015 23:05 BST | Updated 05/05/2017 18:56 BST

1. Tire them outThe airport is your playground. You've probably got two hours before you board and, whatever the time of day, don't let them sleep so there's more chance they'll snooze on the plane. Going up and down escalators generally causes a lot of excitement, a window with a view of planes taking off and landing is a winner and a trip to a café kills another half-hour. I try and keep books and mags for the plane.

2. Keep them close An active toddler won't wait patiently by your side queuing for check-in, security and boarding, so I make mine wear this little rucksack Animal-Daysack which has a long strap with a loop which I slip on, allowing me to lift bags, find passports and keep him from escaping.

3. Be organised Gone are the days when I can rush out of the door with a passport, flip-flops and bikini. Travelling with a toddler takes effort and it's easier if you've got everything you need (and a bit more). I ditch my handbag and use one big change bag for us both and stuff compartments with *deep breath* passports, cashcard, nappies, change of clothes, snacks, beaker, bottle, books and toddler magazines (the tiny toys free on the cover provide endless entertainment).

4. Use technology Grandparents always seem to express distaste when they see kids with a gizmo, but on a long-haul flight I'll admit to using anything I can lay my hands on for a quiet time. I've tampered with the idea of a portable DVD player, but the short battery life (around four hours) and faff of DVDs put me off. Instead, I download episodes of Fireman Sam and Peppa Pig from iTunes (around 89p each) onto my iPad, and he'll contentedly watch for half an hour.

5. Drink on take off (them, not you) You're allowed to take a small carton or bottle of baby milk through security (they'll make you taste it though) and as soon as you get seated on the plane decant it into a bottle, ready. If your tot's two or under, they'll sit on your knee for take off, attached by a mini seatbelt that threads through yours. When the cabin crew have taken their seats, listen for two beeps, this means the plane is ready and you can give your little one their drink - the sucking motion causes ears to pop and usually prevents a meltdown.

6. Book a bulkhead These are economy seats behind the dividing walls in the plane, which have a bit more legroom (great for toys) and nobody to annoy in front! There's usually a pull down table, which can hold a baby seat (bassinet). Check in online as early as possible, as they get snapped up quickly.

7. Make friends with the cabin crew As you board, have a chat with airline staff and introduce them to your tot, as you need them to be your new bestfriends. I once travelled long-haul solo with my toddler and one of the crew tipped me off about three empty seats near the back of the plane, so I could lie my son down for a nap on a night flight. She also looked after him when I popped to the loo and gave me some milk for his bottle for landing after I'd spilt mine.

8. Don't panic about meltdowns There's a big difference between your tot having a meltdown at home and having one at 5000ft in front of dozens of strangers. Just the thought of it is stressful. The reality is that during a nine-hour-plus flight there'll probably be at least one upset and I find it's best to pick them straight up and go for a walk to the back of the plane. Watch the clouds out of the emergency door's small window, ask the cabin crew for a juice - it sounds small, but changing location seems to jolt them out of it.

9. Be prepared for landing When you're given the '20 minutes until landing' announcement, change their clothes to whatever is appropriate for the climate you're heading to - if you're landing somewhere hot and they're wrapped up for the Arctic, they'll be uncomfortable and uncomfortable = tears. Use the milk and bottle trick on descent, but don't do it too early or you'll use it all up before touch down and have a screaming toddler on your hands. When the pilot says 'cabin crew, 10 minutes until landing' that's your cue.

10 Smile! I know, this can feel like the last thing you want to do when you've been up for 15 hours and entertaining a demanding toddler mid-air, but I find there's nothing more annoying to the 'kids shouldn't fly' brigade than a happy mum and a contended toddler.