5 Tips for Flying with a One Year Old

A few weeks ago we took our annual summer family vacation. Last year we made sure to make our summer vacay one within driving distance because MJ was only 6 months old and I wasn’t quite brave enough to take her on her first plane ride. This year we decided to travel to Colorado Springs. Fifteen hours in the car or 2 hours on the plane? We opted for the plane, but wondered how MJ, now 17 months, would do. 
Luckily for us, and the passengers and crew, our flight to and from Colorado was a success, and here’s why:

5 Tips for Traveling with a One Year Old

1. Research your airline.

We flew Southwest Airlines, and I made sure to check their “Baby on Board” policy at https://www.southwest.com/html/customer-service/family/baby-on-board-pol.html. This let me know what I could and could not take through security and on board the plane, that I needed to take her birth certificate, that I could check her stroller with our luggage or at the gate (so much more convenient at the gate), and that I was able to take her milk, juice and snacks on the flight, as long as they were checked at security. I stocked up, which leads me to #2.

2. Have lots of snacks, milk and juice on hand.

I carried on a sippy cup with milk, a sippy cup with juice, and A LOT of snacks. MJ didn’t touch the juice or snacks on the flight into Denver, but I was prepared with them, just in case. However, on the returning flight, she scarfed down the snacks. 

3. Prepare for the cabin pressure. 

My son experienced awful cabin pressure when he was around 7 and 8 years old, and we used to carry gum, Ear Planes Ear Plugs, and all sorts of entertainment every time we flew. I knew those wouldn’t work for a toddler, so as the flight departed and the plane reached higher elevation, I was ready with her pacifier on the departing flight, and milk when returning. It seemed to help prevent the cabin pressure from setting in. 


4. Bag of Fun!

My husband and I carried on both MJ’s diaper bag and a bag full of entertainment. The “bag of fun” included her favorite board books, a few small stuffed animals, finger puppets, a coloring book and crayons, her Minne Mouse magnets, a puzzle, and her favorite blankie. Her crayons and magnets were conveniently packed in a travel wipe container-so easy to travel with. During take off and throughout the returning flight I read book after book, and pulled out every single item from her bag. Luckily on the departing flight I did not have to pull out every item (just a few) because of the time of the flight. 


5. Choose the Right Flight Time.

I understand that this is not always an option, as flight prices vary by time, but I knew I wanted to fly at a “sleeping hour.” For our departing flight we decided on the red eye. We took the first flight out that day, 6:00am, which meant we had to arrive at the airport between 4:30 and 5:00am. MJ usually sleeps in, so I was worried about the early time, but decided on it, hoping she’d be tired and sleep through. It worked. MJ slept in the car ride to the airport, was awake inside the airport and the beginning of the flight, and then crashed about 30 minutes after takeoff. Well worth the red eyes.  

Prepare, prepare, and then prepare some more if you plan on traveling with a baby or toddler. I was so worried I’d have a crying baby that would make other travelers miserable. Not the case! 

I strongly suggest researching your airline’s policies, as I learned so much just from the Southwest.com website and arrived ready and knowledgable.