7 tips and tricks to make flying with a one year old, and vacationing and travelling with a one year old, much less stressful.
We’re officially on vacation mode with our daughter Sage again! We vacationed in Florida when she was 6 months old, but it’s crazy how much things have changed in such a short period of time! Once your little ones are more aware of the world, want to “discover” aka touch everything and can crawl or walk, things just get more complicated. So here are a few things I’ve learned about flying with a one year old. I hope these tips will help make your next time flying with a toddler as smooth and stress free as possible.
Since this was our second flight to Florida with Sage, we already knew for the most part what items we would need for the weather and type of trip. You can check out everything we packed for her last time right here (there’s even a free downloadable checklist!) The only difference was we ended up bringing our carseat from home instead of renting one this time, as we didn’t enjoy using one we weren’t familiar with. It was hard to buckle her in and out, and I honestly just missed our one from home. This time, it was worth just checking it in and bringing it with us. Most airlines will let you check in larger baby items such as a pack and play, stroller and carseat for free. Having said that, if you’re doing a short trip I probably would just rent one like we did before. It was super cheap and meant there were less things to bring.
Another thing we didn’t know was that even though Sage is under 2 and flies for free, she also gets to bring the same amount of luggage and carry-ons as someone with a purchased ticket. Who knew? Always check with your airline, but it definitely came in handy when packing for a longer trip.
We flew at 1pm, so we were still able to get in Sage’s morning nap, which is the one out of the two that if she doesn’t get there will be a full on meltdown. It’s important to try and pick a flight time that means your baby is going to be at their happiest. Alternatively, if they sleep well on the go, maybe make it a time when they’ll be at their sleepiest. Sage is a super alert baby, so it was best for us to fly when she would be awake but well rested and happy. If you are planning to have them nap on the flight I would recommend bringing what you need to recreate that same routine and atmosphere on the plane (sleep sack, pajamas, book, teddy, blanket, etc).
Once we landed she was definitely due for her second nap. She did have a slight meltdown in the airport as we were grabbing our luggage and waiting for the car rental, but we made it through and she had a good 45 minute nap on the way home to our Airbnb.
Now is not the time to say no to screen time! We loaded our iPad with her favourite shows like Cocomelon, Dora and Barney. She was able to sit up with Dad and her snack cup and have a little movie session. It was great! And because everyone is usually set up with their earphones anyways, we just had the volume on low so that she could hear it without having to put headphones on her. Headphones just wouldn’t go over well at this age!
I was very strategic with my toy selection for this trip. It was a good idea to buy a new toy (this rattle sensory teething one) that she had never seen before, so that it would at least be a new thing to analyze and play with while in the air. I also brought unusual baby toys like a clean unopened toothbrush, as I find babies love random household items they see mom and dad using. Not to mention she loved chewing on the bristles since she’s been teething on and off! She also loved the crinkle texture of a plastic water bottle we got on the plane, and even looking out the window (get a window seat if you can) and opening and closing the window cover.
I cannot stress this enough! It is so crucial to be prepared with snacks. You know what’s worse than a tired baby? A hangry baby! And not just one kind of snack, but different flavours, textures and shapes to keep them interested and occupied. I really loved these fruit smoothie melts because they were easy for her little fingers to grab from her snack catcher, they were super tasty and they’re made with great simple ingredients – so mama was happy too!
These lentil cracker puffs were also a huge hit because they were big enough for her to hold in her hand and she loved the crunchy texture. They also don’t have any colour to them, so we didn’t have to worry about it getting all over us or her clothes. Although, by the end of the flight her clothes were covered in fruit stains and cookie crumbs regardless. Be prepared for that!
While I’m mentioning the snack catcher, let’s just take a moment to really appreciate it! It was the best thing I brought with us. She was able to feed herself as she wished without making a huge mess everywhere! I’ve found at this stage Sage has really enjoyed some independence with doing things herself, or at least trying to. This helped her do just that. We also used this no-spill sippy cup for water or milk (depending on what your little one is drinking at the moment.) Sage is breastfed still, which makes traveling easier in the sense that we didn’t have to pack any extra bottles or formula. If you’re using bottles I would just pop your measured out formula into the bottle ahead of time. You can ask for hot water on the plane to mix it up on the spot.
Pack extra clothes (just in case). Dress your little one in layers so you can easily adjust depending on the temperature on the plane. Focus on comfort, not fashion! When you’re flying, you want to be comfortable, and your baby is no different.
Once we landed, we stopped at a grocery store right away. This meant we could grab some basic food supplies for breakfast the next day. Even simple staples like an avocado, banana and strawberries can make a quick and healthy meal in minutes without any cooking. We picked up some sliced multigrain bread, unsalted grass fed butter, eggs, avocado and fruit for the next day before our official big shop for the week.
We ended up stopping at a WholeFoods the next day and grabbed lunch from their hot bar. I was able to throw together an easy rice and veggie bowl. It had white rice cooked in just water, peas, corn, black beans, and then I drizzled on some olive oil and nutritional yeast for flavour. It was a huge hit! Even when we were at the airport lounge I was able to grab some plain pasta cooked in just water. Sage enjoyed that with some other snacks I had. We are still avoiding added salt and added sugar with Sage’s food, so it’s all about getting creative. Look for foods you can piece together to make a meal when you’re on the go. You don’t always have to opt for squeeze pouches (although we definitely had those too!)
There you have it – 7 top tips for flying with a one year old! I can only imagine things will look different on our next family trip once Sage is actually walking. I will try to do another travel update once we reach that stage in life. For now we are just adapting and learning/travelling as we go!
What are your top tips for flying with a one year old? I’m always looking for new tips, so let me know in the comments below!