August 25, 2013

Airborn Toddler

Yesterday was our first cross-continental flight with a toddler. It was safe to say I was a more than a little nervous about it. Dreading it might be a more apt description. Flying with toddlers is rumored to be more difficult than flying with babies (they have opinions and preferences now! And remaining seated and still and using indoor voices are typically not among them.) Our last east coast venture resulted in a diaper blowout during each leg of our return trip. What would be in store for us this time? The answer was not much.

Here’s what I learned about flying with a toddler.

There are a 101 ways to entertain a toddler with plastic cups. Wowza. We asked for a spare cup thinking it would make a good snack bowl to help keep the mess contained. Nicki loved the concept and was grabbing puffs with doubled handed glee the way some of us (*cough* me *coungh*) eat popcorn. At one point we started mixing snacks – cheerios AND gold fish crackers. The novelty of the different snack combinations in the same bowl fascinated Nicki.

snack bowl

We also turned the plastic cup into toys. We put them on her feet like shoes and “hid” things in them. At one point we were holding them to our faces to make funny sound. Hearing Nicki ‘sing’ muffled by the cup? Priceless. They were great distractions and a source of entertainment for both of us!

You can get away with packing a lot less stuff than you think you need, and you will be grateful you did. Nicki’s at that stage where she’s walking, but can’t walk the length of the airport. So we had to carry her, our bags and the car seat. Everything seems twice as heavy when you’re stressed.

We opted not to bring many diapers again since they’re bulky. I brought a day and a half’s worth, all overnights to minimize the number of necessary diaper changes, with the intention of picking up some more at the store first thing in the morning. The downside to this approach was the local drug store didn’t have the brand and style of diapers we prefer (Huggies Snug and Dry tend to fit Nicki best, we’ve only had three blowouts, including the two from our last flight, since 4 weeks old.) But holy mother of expensive! I guess I now know why all those online diaper cost analyses are so high.

We also mostly passed on toys since they didn’t really keep Nicki’s interest for long last time we flew cross country. The name of the game was small and easy to tuck away into the corners of our suitcase. Daddy bought some new squirting bath toys which we served us well for both bath time in the hotel and a non-bulky distraction on the plane. We also brought the headbands she likes to play with. That was it. For in flight entertainment we let her destroy the sky mall magazine and put the extra plastic cups to good use.

The only thing we found really necessary to pack for Nicki was clothes and food for the plane. Toddler food, baby sun tan lotion, diapers and wipes tend to be sold everywhere. Even our hotel gift shop sells baby sun tan lotion.

The Miami International airport is deceptively long. The extra cost of buying diapers in the convenience store this morning was worth it.

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