How to Keep Toddlers Happy on Long Holiday Plane Trips

The holidays cometh, and with them returns the perennial schlepping through the airport, luggage and children in tow. But the ultimate mission, should you choose to accept it, is to pre-emptively defuse any toddler meltdown that might occur in front of 200 ogling strangers once your plane takes flight.

Keeping children sufficiently distracted for hours at a time is as much an art as it is a science. Patience is tried; creativity is taxed.

Rest assured, because smart strategies have been employed by people just like yourself—tested and re-tested over the ages—to keep your kids occupied.

Keep Your Options Open

The key here is to stuff your carry-on with airplane trip essentials. Start with travel toys and activities. Keep the little ones occupied with stickers, card games, crayons and paper. And plenty of them.  

More choices means less boredom. Provide pads of paper in a variety of colour ranges. Do your children like princesses, cars, fairies or commercial cartoon characters? Fab—it makes it easier to know which colouring books or pads to grab.

Get Creative

These ideas don’t have to be sophisticated to be effective. Grab a plastic cup, straw and spoon from the flight attendant. Have your children play the plastic cup, straw and spoon game—whatever that means to their imagination—or even see if they can make up a game to teach you.

A blanket can also provide plenty of entertainment, if you are able to hold up your end of a marathon peek-a-boo game. Do they know two-hand clapping-song games from the schoolyard? Good time-killers, as well.

Go Digital

Depending on how you feel about screen time, you could bring your own device – perhaps a portable DVD player or tablet – with all of your children’s favourites. One small caveat: The airline might not provide headphones suitable for young children, so bring your own—and a backup set in case something malfunctions. Bring backup batteries, too.

Avoid Getting Hungry

Snacks also become great diversions when flying with a baby or toddler. When taking them out for display, remember to dramatically ooh and ahh, and marvel at how wonderful the selection is, to ensure you grab their attention. By the way, you can find PC® Organics snacks in your Loblaws banner stores to keep these seatmates satiated. PC Insider* subscribers even enjoy 20% back in PC Optimum points on PC Organics purchases. Finally, just be sure to check with the airline beforehand about which food items you are allowed to bring on the flight.

Until science comes up with a cure for in-flight meltdowns, we can only rely on prevention. With a little planning, that holiday trip can begin and end with happy children—and relieved parents.