Last week Sue, my 16 month old baby girl, and I with my big pregnant belly, traveled to Kansas City to visit my sister and nieces. We took two connecting flights there, and two connecting flights back, for a total travel time of just under 12 hours! I’ve included our itinerary below so you can see the proof.
I dreaded traveling 6 months pregnant, with a toddler at my side, for weeks! I almost did not go visit my sister for fear of how much work the flights and lay overs would be! After much convincing by my mother and many prayers from my husband, I reluctantly bought the ticket and started packing my bags.
What a second? I have to carry bags too?! I’m already carrying a baby in my womb and another toddler in my arms, I have to bring stuff too? Oh golly, this is going to take some planning! And to make it more difficult, I couldn’t use my Toddler Tula because of my belly, so I needed to find a different way of moving Sue from Jacksonville to Kansas besides using my two tired arms.
So this is what I packed, I made a lists for your convenience.
Most important things needed when traveling with a toddler:
1 Umbrella Stroller – it is light and folds up quickly. Sue does not mind sitting in it and during our layovers in Washington, DC and Charlotte, it either turned into a barrier blocking her into a ‘play corner’, or became a toy itself she could push around to tire herself out for the next flight.
Diaper Bag – I have a beautiful, large diaper bag that worked well. Next time though, I’ll take a backpack instead to make it easier to carry!
Diapers, Wipes and Diaper Rash Cream – all essential items for a soft and dry little tushy!
Milk, Water, Pacifier – Due to the air being so thin in an airplane, one tends to get more thirsty than usual. I packed numerous liquids, both for me and Sue, and this is what made my diaper bag so heavy. I had a bottle of milk ready for her and bought an extra bottle at the airport so I could refill hers. I also asked for milk inflight so I would not run out. As we ascended she drank her first bottle of milk to prevent her ears from hurting with the pressure changes. I’d let her drink a bit during the flight, but then saved another bottle for the airplane descend to help her adjust to the pressure changes. She did not once have any issues or cry during the flights. When the milk ran out, I’d let her suck on a pacifier to keep her jaw moving and keep her swallowing.
Snacks – They were very useful and would keep her entertained too on flight. I took animal crackers, goldfish, grapes and ham. Finger foods I knew she would like and that wouldn’t cause a big mess. I lined up the goldfish on the table tray and she ate them one by one. It kept her entertained for 20 minutes, which is a long time in an airplane!
Blanket – To cover her eyes and keep her warm while we flew. As soon as I saw she was sleepy, I would let her lay against my chest and I covered her eyes and shushed her to sleep. 3 out of the 4 times it worked and she dozed off for over 30 minutes! This allowed me to rest for a few minutes too, although I didn’t actually nap at all.
A stuffed toy – A stuffed toy is great on an airplane and when traveling with a toddler, as it has so many purposes, and it’s lightweight! It can be used to entertain the baby and then as a neck pillow for mommy as baby naps! I bought one in Kansas for our returning flights and it worked very well!
Comfortable shoes and clothes for both mommy and toddler – I wore yoga paints and a sweatshirt, all black. You can always feel good in black and dirt does not show up too quickly. I put Sue in a comfortable yet adorable outfit. I feel people have more patience with a toddler dresses up ridiculously cute and can’t help but smile when they see her!
IPad – To be used as a second to last resort when all other forms of play or sleep do not work to keep my little toddler occupied.
Benadryl – To be used as a very last resort. If Sue was having a horrendous time on the flight, screaming, throwing tantrums and preventing me from keeping her safe, I would have given her the smallest bit of Benadryl. I do not recommend this as I have not tried it, but I needed to have my plan B, just in case. Thank God I did not have to use it, and that He answered my prayers beautifully, allowing Sue to be a fun little travel companion.
Extra items I could have left at home:
Children’s Book – It may work for some, but Sue had so much fun reading the inflight safety manual and magazines, that she did not need her baby book.
Extra toys – Definitely take your child’s favorite toy, but don’t over pack! They become heavy quickly and end up not being used.
Goodness, after packing all those things you may already be exhausted! Not to fear, with a few prayers and a strong cup of coffee, you can do this! Here is how our trip went.
My hubby helped us at the airport to check in my suitcase and get our boarding passes. We said our goodbyes at the security gate and off he was! Here I am, 6 months pregnant, with a toddler, an umbrella stroller and a huge diaper bag, let’s do this! Security was not too difficult as my shoes slipped off easily and the umbrella stroller folds up quickly. The TSA allows liquids for children, so do not be afraid to bring milk and juices and water for your little one!
Here is the TSA statement on liquids for children:
3-1-1 Liquids Rule Exemption
Formula, breast milk and juice in quantities greater than 3.4 ounces or 100 milliliters are allowed in carry-on baggage and do need to not fit within a quart-sized bag. Separate formula, breast milk and juice from other liquids, gels and aerosols limited to 3.4 ounces.
Ice packs, freezer packs, frozen gel packs and other accessories required to cool formula, breast milk and juice are allowed in carry-on. If these accesories are partially frozen or slushy, they are subject to the same screening as described above. You may also bring gel or liquid-filled teethers, canned, jarred and processed baby food in carry-on baggage. These items may be subject to additional screening.
After security, I promptly got myself a strong cup of coffee and a snack to build up my energy for the 6 hour traveling journey with my little ones. I also bought Sue an extra bottle of milk, just in case!
We played by the gate and I allowed Sue to walk around pushing her umbrella stroller. I would be a few steps behind her but I wanted her to walk off some energy before embarking on the airplane. Once on the airplane, I let her drink her bottle of milk as we ascended. She was so tried from waking up at 4:30 am that she quickly dozed off and slept on the empty seat next to me, thank God for a little miracle! 40 minutes later she woke up. I let her play a bit opening and closing the airplane window cover. She also enjoyed reading the inflight safety manual. And by then we descended again into the Washington DC airport, first flight down, a success!
Once at the airport, we got a snack and walked around a bit. The longer layovers allowed Sue to stretch her legs and make a stinky diaper! This worked out very well as I did not need to change diapers in the airplane. Sue even found a friend on the airport and we played in a corner for a bit before the next flight.
On our second flight I did not have the luxury of an open seat, so I had to hold Sue the entire time. She did well! She drank her milk, ate her snacks and watched Frozen on the IPad. After an hour of this, she became restless and I could see she was sleepy. So I covered her eyes and let her rest on my chest while I shushed her. She dozed off for the rest of the flight in my tired arms while I tried to rest my head very uncomfortably on my shoulder. That is when I decided I needed a stuffed toy or extra blanket for my own comfort!
On our return flight I was less nervous as Sue did well traveling to Kansas. Again, I was in my most comfortable, all black, outfit with quick slip on shoes. Sue was dressed warmly but looked adorable!
On the first flight she dozed off for 30 minutes on the God given empty seat next to me!
And then entertained the gentleman two seats down and bonded with him for the rest of the flight. I think she may have been missing her daddy terribly and needed a masculine hug.
During our long, 2.5 hour layover in Charlotte, NC we ate lunch and I allowed Sue to run around a bit! I was always three steps behind her but I wanted her to expend some energy before the next flight. She was adorable! She went up to strangers and said hi, danced, and made ‘airport angels’. She was lots of fun and I enjoyed our one on one time!
On the last 1 hour flight from Charlotte to Jacksonville, she did not fall for my ‘cover the eyes and shush’ trick. She was sleepy, but I did not try again as the flight was so short. We read the inflight magazines, ate snacks and watched a bit of Frozen. We finally arrived in Jacksonville, after an entire day of traveling and were warmly greeted by a hug from daddy!
I believe Sue easily dozed off on the two flights going to Kansas because they were so early! We had to wake up at 4:30 am and both flights occurred before noon! The return journey was less smooth as it did not occur over Sue’s nap time. Another tip to keep in mind, try to plan traveling with a toddler over their nap time.
I hoped our little story helps you in some way! Even everything fails, just try to enjoy the one on one time you get with your little one for the day. Sue seemed to enjoy all the cuddles and hugs and funny faces I made while in the airplane. We played and sang songs and gave kisses to each other. During my normal days at home she plays often by herself and we run many errands. It was nice to have such a physical day where I spent all of my energy just playing and loving my little girl. In the end, God answered my prayers and made our journey smooth.
I pray it goes the same for you when you travel with your children. If not, please comment on what your best traveling with toddler tips are!