Dr. mom blog explores Travelling with Toddlers: What to bring when flying with a toddler

For the past 5 months, Madi and I have been commuting back and forth from Atlanta, Georgia to Edmonton, Alberta (Canada)Dining, shopping, or travelling with toddlers, can be hard and sometimes intense.  Madi can sometimes get fussy while flying, so I’ve researched and learned what to bring when flying with a toddler to help reduce the stress. My husband Graem is an otolaryngologist who is doing a sleep medicine fellowship in Atlanta.

My practice in family medicine is very fulfilling to me and therefore I wanted to continue it while Graeme is finishing his training.   Our family decided to rotate living in Atlanta for 4 weeks, and then Edmonton for 2 weeks for the whole year. 

I’m not going to lie, flying with a toddler can be, as many of you mommas know, extremely… intense. Madi and I are definitely not the perfect flying combo, but I have picked up a few tricks over the 10 flights we have taken over the past 6 months. Here are some of my tips:

Dress to prepare for a flying with your toddler

Mom and toddler should both dress comfortably. For flights, I dress Madi in a sleeper. They are comfy and quick to change if she is to spill on herself or have a poo explosion. For myself, I wear runners and a comfy dark shirt with jeans/tights. The reason I wear runners is that the walks through airports can be long and sometimes I need to carry Madi. I wear a dark shirt as Madi often spills her snacks on me or drinks can spill on me during turbulent flights. It’s also helpful for getting through security quickly and efficiently if you wear shoes that go on and off easily and avoid jewelry.

Timing your toddlers naps around flights

Book a flight either after nap time or during nap time – try to avoid your kiddo getting overtired when going through security or customs. Madi takes 1 nap a day (noon to 2/230pm) and I try to schedule the flights so that we arrive at the airport either before her nap time so she can sleep on the flight, or after her nap time so she is rested for our first flight (there is no direct flight from Edmonton to Atlanta).

Keep your toddler busy and occupy their time when flying with a toddler

Bring entertainment. Madi likes drawing/colouring, books and toys. I try to pack the highest yield materials that don’t take up much space but can provide the most hours of entertainment. I bring a pen, a small pad of paper, 1 book (her favourite one – we can point out colours, and play “I spy” with the book), a small stuffy and an iPad for toddler crisis situations. On the plane we go through the magazines together and ask the flight attendant for a few empty cups.

I try to keep Madi entertained as long as I can and once she hits the wall with boredom I pull out the iPad. The iPad I reserve for emergency situations – I download a few educational games and Netflix kids movies. The object is to keep her occupied, but also quiet. Other people are trying to work or sleep, so we avoid toys that make a lot of noise.

Bring Snacks when travelling with your toddler

I pack 3 different types of meals: the first are foods that I want her to eat – her usual dinner, meat, veggies, peanut or almond butter sandwich, and fruit. The the next are reasonably healthy snacks – fruit bars, rice puff snacks, reduced sugar granola bars. The last are the snacks that I do not normally give her such as real fruit gummies. Madi knows that she gets a special treat if she is good on an airplane, and it makes her much more compliant when getting onto the plane.

Before flying with a toddler, get them up and moving before the flight

Try to physically exhaust your toddler before the flight. In the airport I try to find a children’s play area and let Madi run around so she can burn off some energy and will be ready to sit for a few hours or hopefully even sleep through the flight.
Despite the sometimes tense moments during flights I have to say that some of the moments Madi and I have experienced while flying I will cherish for the rest of my life. Some of the cuddles on the flight, watching movies, and eating snacks together are the best. Good luck to you travelling parents – I know it sounds super cliché, but if you get too wrapped up in the destination, you’ll forget to enjoy the journey.

Any expert mama’s out there have any awesome tips for travelling with toddlers, shoot me a message.  


The content that is discussed is solely for informational purposes and not a substitute for informed medical advice.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here