juliet's big list of toddler traveling essentials
The first time you fly with your infant is absolutely terrifying. You spend hours packing for the flight (double outfits for you and for the baby, 60 extra pacifiers, maybe some travel-sized vodka bottles...). You plan out her feedings to the second so that you can nurse or give her a bottle exactly at take off (for the air pressure, naturally). You spend the entire flight both terrified that she might become hysterical while also preparing your righteously indignant speech for any fellow passenger who dares to even give you the side eye. And then, when it's all over, it's not so bad. "What on Earth was I afraid of?" you say to yourself later.
Do you know what you were afraid of? Traveling with a toddler.
Of course, you didn't know it at the time. But this is a deep-rooted, primal fear. [Let's just pretend there were airplanes 1.3 million years ago]. When your child becomes mobile and is then forced to stay in a three foot by three foot area for more than 30 seconds, I'm pretty sure it dramatically alters her brain chemistry. And not in a good way. There is clawing. There is screaming. There are repeated, urgent requests to "Go down?" followed immediately by, "Go up-up?" There are dozens of walks up and down the aisle. And, if you're lucky, a least one arched-back, rigid body, full-on toddler tantrum.
So, I can't help you with most of that. But! I can make it a little easier with some of my recommendations for tried-and-true air travel items. For toddlers, keeping them occupied is the name of the game. So, the better and more well-stocked your arsenal, the better your chances are of a happier flight. And a lot of of these also work for train and car travel, of course.
Have your own tips? Leave 'em in the comments!
Babyzen YOYO stroller: Yes, this is expensive for a travel stroller, but after using it on a 10-day trip throughout Europe, I can't recommend it highly enough. It's got smooth steering, a nice recline, and a full sunshade. Plus, it's small enough to fit in the overhead compartment, meaning you save time not waiting at gate check.
Cosco Scenera NEXT car seat: I'm still in mourning that Avvie doesn't fit in her infant carseat; it was so easy to clip it onto her stroller base. But the Cosco seat is lightweight, very inexpensive, and you can use luggage straps as a hack to attach it to the seat of nearly any stroller. It's also approved to sit in an airline seat, if you splurge for your toddler's own seat.
Ergobaby 360: You guys, I am late to the party on the Ergo, but I have the fervor of a convert. This is so much better for my back than my Bjorn. Plus, the 360 can be worn four different ways, including as a backpack. But I mostly use it on trains and planes for lulling her to sleep.
Melissa and Doug Water Wow books: Avvie is obsessed with these. They're great for travel (or restaurants) since the pen is only filled with water, therefore eliminating any mess. And they're reusable once the page dries. Genius.
Crayola Color Wonder books: Similar concept here, in that the markers only work on special Color Wonder paper.
Post-It Notes: Avvie loves stickers, but they're not the best to bring on a plane since they can be hard to peel off. Post-Its are great because they're colorful, come in large packs, and are a snap to remove.
Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn Smart Stages Tablet: Yes, this makes some noise, but the lower volume setting is pretty quiet. She calls this her "iPad," and adores it. I'm hoping she doesn't find out until college that there's anything wrong with that.
Indestructibles Books: Like the name suggests, these are very hard to destroy. They're also lightweight and very cheap, so you can stock them in every travel bag.
Jellycat fabric books: Toddlers love interactive books, and the Jellycat ones are some of Avvie's favorites. She loves feeling all the different tails and reading it to herself.
Fisher-Price DoodlePro Trip: Again, Magnadoodles make no mess and this one is travel-sized!
Skip Hop Fold and Go Placemat: While I'm all in for germs, airplanes are notoriously dirty. You can fold this out on the airline tray for snack time.
OXO Tot Roll Up Bib: I love the deep pocket on these as well as how portable they are when they're rolled up.
OXO Tot Travel Spoon: This spoon comes with its own travel case, which is great for keeping your diaper bag clean.
Ella's Kitchen Nibbly Fingers: Avvie's snack of choice, all the time, every time.
Munk Pack Oatmeal: While I try not to give pouches that much anymore, generally all rules go out the window when we're traveling. These are actually for adults, but she loves them and they're way more filling than regular toddler pouches. Plus, less mess since she eats it straight from the spout.
Skip Hop Changing Station: Of course you'll have your full diaper bag with you, but this little gem is wonderful if you don't want to lug your whole bag to the bathroom. It fits a few diapers, wipes, and cream, and folds up like a slim clutch. Sometimes I just drop this in the bottom of a stroller instead of bringing her whole bag.
1st Class Kid Pillow: I just bought this and haven't actually tested it out yet, but it seems like a great idea. You use the airline air duct to blow it up and then it fits in between the seat cushion and the seat in front to create a bed-like area for your toddler.
Good luck, mamas and papas!