Toddler on a Plane

As many of you know, the Family Doin’ Work is taking a much needed vacation to beautiful Hawaii next week. Who wouldn’t be stoked about enjoying Hawaiian weather, Hawaiian culture, Hawaiian drinks, and Hawaiian relaxation, right? Well, there is one daunting task ahead of me that has contributed to panic attacks and severe insomnia – and I’ll share it with you now.    




Yep, you guessed it. I’m really not looking forward to flying for five hours with my 19-month old Daughter Doin’ Work.

You see, if my daughter’s past behavior serves as a predictor for her future behavior, then I would place my “enthusiasm” for this flight somewhere in between shopping at Babies R Us on a Saturday morning and repeatedly punching myself in the face. I enjoy my kid and I actually enjoy flying, I’m just not so sure that I will enjoy both of them simultaneously.

By the way, I have one thing to say to the parents out there who are thinking, “Man up, DDW. It’s not a big deal.”

Stop that shit.

I know you lost sleep in nervous anticipation about what your first plane ride was going to be like with your baby too, and you’re lying to yourself if you say otherwise. Being 30,000 feet in the air inside of a cramped chamber with over 100 people for five hours with no way to escape is daunting enough, but it’s even crazier when you have a toddler with you who refuses to sit still. Did I mention that when Little DDW is forced to sit still she can hit a shrill high note that makes Mariah Carey sound like Barry White? Did I also mention that I’m not looking forward to this?

OK, so most of this in tongue in cheek and I know that I’ll survive. Hell, my good friend at You Know It Happens At Your House Too recently travelled on a plane with her five young kids and she made it in one piece. But here’s the thing about being a new parent: Other parents with more “experience” will jump out of the weeds to provide advice on how to handle any situation, including how to handle a kid on a plane. As many of you know, I’ve received some really bad parenting advice before – but you won’t believe the stuff I heard in the past few weeks about this topic.

Check this out.

#1 – Whatever you do, don’t let her sleep before the flight: I don’t work for the United Nations, but I’m pretty sure that sleep deprivation is regarded as torture under international law. Just because my daughter terrorizes me on a regular basis doesn’t mean that I’m going to treat her like a terrorist.

#2 – Let her run up and down the aisles: OK, we all agree this is a dumb idea – but let’s roll with it. The cute thing about toddlers is that each of them has their own unique (and hilarious) way of running. Some can’t move in a straight line and others like to hop and skip like drunk kangaroos. My daughter’s running style is to “throw dem bows” like Ludacris whenever her feet start moving. Since Little DDW is built like a linebacker, I’m sure some unsuspecting sleeping passenger in an aisle seat would be concussed or in urgent need of dental work if I allowed this to happen.

#3 – Hire a babysitter to be with her during the flight: Yes, someone actually suggested I do this. So let me get this straight – I should pay for another person’s plane ticket and lodging in Hawaii just so I can hear Little DDW scream at the top of her lungs from the row behind me? The only thing preventing this from being the best idea ever is the fact that it’s the worst idea ever.

#4 – When she cries, just stuff her face with food to quiet her down: Anyone still wondering why America is the fattest country on planet? Anyone?

#5 – Just get drunk, then none of it will matter: Do you know when I came to the realization that this philosophy is not a good one? It happened after an epic night of drinking in college when one of my buddies bet me $20 that I wouldn’t eat a double cheeseburger covered in a thick coat of peanut butter. I was drunk, so it wouldn’t matter, right?

I won $20 that night.

I also spent the following 12 hours making out with the porcelain princess – but selling my dignity for $20 was sooooo worth it.  

Yeah…I’m not getting wasted on my flight. 

So now that I know what I’m not going to do, what brilliant plan does DDW have in store to get through this flight? You guessed it: The “DDW Plan.”

D = Dora (you better believe that I’ll put as many Dora The Explorer episodes that I can on my iPad without it exploding)

D = Dolls (Little DDW loves dolls, so I’ll bring her stuffed friends along for company)

W = Waiting (Waiting for her to get tired and fall asleep, waiting for the damn flight to end, etc.)


It’s probably not the most sound plan, but I’m sure MDW will have some better ideas to keep our baby girl entertained. Regardless of what happens on this plane ride, we’re excited to put the rough few weeks we had behind us and enjoy some time in paradise. 

Wish us luck, RDWs!

Oh, and I’m officially opening the floor and soliciting advice. GO!




If so, then share it on your favorite social networks by using the buttons above! C'mon, don't be shy.  You can also subscribe to Daddy Doin' Work via RSS or email to be notified of new rants, revelations, and random thoughts.     


  1. says

    I was going to say iPods and iPads were made for toddlers flying. Even in long car rides we have my 3 year olds iron man toys and his iPod loaded. Don’t forget her favorite movies and if there is wifi, Netflix is a LIFESAVER!!! Lol
    Susan recently posted..Summer Vacation IdeasMy Profile

  2. missie p says

    breathe, visualize her behaving and NOT screaming, Benadryl… HAHAHAHA ya’ll will live thru it and learn a few lessons on the journey. Enjoy the islands and I’m truly jealous!

  3. Shirlene Watson says

    Okay honestly, I went to my kiddo’s doctor. He was so helpful. My daughter had MAJOR issues with her ears. Tons of ear infections & tubes by 2 years old. He said that the pressure of the airplane taking off drives most Toddlers crazy. They don’t understand why they get the funny feeling or why their ears are suddenly hurting. He suggested we try a few things. They may sound horrible, but they worked. 30 minutes before the flight we gave her some Benadryl. This, he said, would help her relax & clear her sinus’. Once we boarded the plane, we bribed her. We told her if she sat still for a few minutes, when we started moving, she would get a sucker. I went with Dum Dums. Worked like a charm. The sucking & licking helped her not even notice the pressure change. We had our moments. But we had a special dedicated “Fun Bag” that had tons of activities. She LOVES to color. So we got Color Wonders. Best invention ever! Doesn’t color on anything else but the special paper. Markers are the best. It is all non-toxic. Okay enough advice. Take what you want & enjoy your vacation!

  4. Carol Dupont says

    Hi DDW!

    I flew with my boys frequently. So frequently that they each had their own Frequent Flyer cards. I have been “that” parent. The one everyone stares at thinking evil thoughts.

    So, my 2¢…

    Yes bring her favorite toys, BUT without her knowing, buy some new ones. These should be quiet toys like coloring books, maybe a doll or two (No squeaky ones!). If you have an IPad, load up some new movies or shows she hasn’t seen yet. Snacks…must have snacks :-).

    If you and MDD are stressed, she’ll pick up on that. Stay calm!

    Most importantly, you’ll never see these people again. Chin up, chill out and roll with it!

  5. Lisa says

    When I flew alone with my two kids (infant and 3.5 year old). I was a nervous wreck the entire week before (actually longer like from the time we booked the flight to the time we boarded…a long time)I had a bag of toys. Every half hour I’d pull out something new for them to play with (crappy dollar store toys) but it got to be a game of “what will the next toy be”. I was shocked it worked and the flight flew by (no pun intended). Carry-on rules have changed a lot since then but something new might keep Little DDW entertained longer then Dora.

  6. Mama Jane says

    DDW sounds like a plan to me. One of the good things about time is that it does pass. The flight will eventually be over and you have so much cool stuff to look forward to. I hope yall enjoy every SECOND of your richly deserved vacay, and make lots of sweet memories.

  7. says

    We live in Florida and my husband’s family is in California so we have been on numerous “fun” flights with our 3 kids (ages 6 and under). Every kid is different so there really is no way to fully prepare for what is in store. The best advice is to do your best and always remember that odds are, you will NEVER see any of the people that WILL be there on the plane judging you again in your life! And, you’d be surprised how sympathetic other parents will be if your precious little one doesn’t fully cooperate and you might get a little free help along the way! Hang in there, it does get easier! Enjoy Hawaii!

  8. says

    I don’t have any helpful advice for you, because my kids are 12 & 14 and have still never flown. However, I have to pick my jaw up off the floor after reading #5. Because obviously if you have to be the dad of the annoying toddler on the plane, it’s always better to be obnoxiously drunk dad of the annoying toddler on the plane.
    Still, take heart. You can always slip some unisom into her sippy cup. I’m sure that’s totally kosher.
    Kari recently posted..Color-coordinating your vaginaMy Profile

  9. jason says

    My sons was less than a year old for his first plane ride, my family and I spent my 30th birthday in Key West. He was great the whole trip!!! He had a blast on the plane.

  10. Elizabeth says

    Here is some re assurance for you which you probably need right now. This past June we took a four hour flight with my two year old. I was dreading the plane part of the trip for about a year thinking about all that could go wrong and would go wrong and being stuck up there with no escape. This was my reason for fear – my son LOVES trains so we took him on a tiny kiddy train ride where he could sit on my lap and everything. He screame the whole time and wanted OFF!!! Thankfully the ride was only five minutes and we were able to get off. When I applied this to the air plane scenario it sent me into a panic. To make a long story short he did AMAZING on the plane. Loved it and was good as gold. The secret – Lots of snacks, lots of books, a few new toys they have never seen before and movies on iPad, etc. a few supervised walks around the plane and it’s nap it you are really lucky. Take it from a fellow panicker… It will be fine.

  11. Jen says

    We went to Disney World twice this summer with our two boys (3.5 and 2yo), and thankfully, they behaved a lot better than I anticipated! It definitely helps to be prepared! I agree with Lisa above, I bought a few cheap toys since new toys always grab their interest more. I also brought stuff that I already know they love — crayons, puzzles, small books, etc.

    Don’t forget the snacks! I know my kids love MMs and they rarely get to eat it so I packed a large bag in my purse. Whenever a breakdown seemed imminent, couple of MMs quieted them instantly! I also bought several small boxes of juice that they like, and TSA allowed it through security.

    The iPAD will be your best friend! I had a NOOK color that I stocked with Blues Clues and Thomas & Friends movies, and this was the one that they used the most. And don’t forget a small pillow for when they fall asleep!

    Good luck, and have a great vacation!!!

  12. says

    I just found your blog today, through my best friend, and may I say you are definitely adding value and positively impacting my life with what you’ve written.

    I’ve never flown with any of my children, but I will say that whenever I was going to take them into a new situation, especially one in which I knew it was required of them to sit still and be quiet for long periods of time, I always made sure to bring things with me that I knew would entertain them, again, quiet things. The big thing I observed was that most of the time, the new situation usually made them just as nervous as it did me, so what they often needed more than anything was assurance that everything was still ok. Once they had THAT, they usually calmed down, accepted the situation, and behaved very well.
    Perth recently posted..Politics, Presidents, and PerspectiveMy Profile

  13. Jane says

    My two cents. A bag that has NEW toys/games in it – coloring book and crayons, a new doll. PLENTY of her favorite non-sugary snacks that don’t make huge messes or that spill easily. iPad with all her favorites. A sugarfree lollipop for takeoff and landing for her ears. A nice pillow/blanket for when she does fall asleep. If she does want to get up then do the dad thing and walk up and down the aisles with her, let her hang out in the flight attendant bay. One of my kids passed out on benadryl and the other was climbing on the ceiling so that one is a crap shoot.

  14. melinda says

    Be super polite/nice to *every* person you see or speak to from the moment you set foot in the airport until the moment you set foot in the car. You never know when you are standing next to your crew or a flight attendant that can help you. Also bring books or crayons for the time when electronics are not allowed. And no eating is not a sport but bring your own snacks b/c odds are she will get hungry and you probably don’t want her eating airport junk. That said a lollipop can be a great way to keep her ears from “popping” Good luck!

  15. Carol says

    I will be taking my 2 year old son on his seventh flight in ten days time, and the most important thing is – distractions. Pack her favorite snacks. Pack a couple things she’s never had before in case she suddenly decides her favorite snacks are cow dung. Run DDW ragged before you get on the plane in the terminal area. At age 19 months, if you have a car seat that’s FAA approved, lug that sucker on the plane and strap her in (rear facing). She’s already used to it, and she’s more likely to fall asleep in it. If she’s not in a car seat, put her in the window seat. This keeps her trapped in and also lets her have great view of…oh, the water. Well, at least she’ll have cool things to watch at the start and end of the flight. iPads are excellent babysitters. If you bring more than 3 or 4 dolls, you may want to do a checklist of those dolls to make sure they all get off the plane safely. I also recommend a sippy cup for her to have something to suck on during take off and landing.

  16. says

    I always buy new color wonder books and bring them with me since it is just the paint that only appears on the pages it is a safe activity for them to do without ruining the plane :)

    I am not big on always feeding but be sure you do bring snacks — we bring healthy options, freeze dried fruits, apples, etc.

    Lastly, be sure you have something that will encourage the sucking motion for both take off and landing to help their ears. I am not a fan of a lollipop in a confined space getting in my hair, etc so I bought some juice which is a big treat in our house and gave them that so they would suck from their cups and it worked.

    Enjoy yourself and who cares what everyone else around you says / thinks :)

  17. E Townsend says

    I have always planned flights during nap times. I flew from Chicago to San Diego (4+ hours) with my son when he was seven months old. I am praying that your flights were as blissful as mine were. He only woke up once on the way back ti Chicago and was flirting with all of the passengers on his way to and from the restroom. 😉 Bless you and your wife! Its going to be fun! I can’t waut to hear about your adventures when you get back!

  18. says

    my husband suggests a straightjacket ;).
    i flew with my son at 6 months (bliss; he slept & snuggled the whole time without a peep) and 12 months (mostly okay, but wailed the last half hour – ugh). i’m sure 19 months is a different ball game yet again, but on both trips, my baby loved playing peekaboo with other passengers. i totally agree with melinda (comment 15) – passengers and crew alike respond so much better when parents are friendly and grateful, and having them on your side helps in the moments when you just don’t know what to do to calm your little squawk-box.
    good luck … and wow! enjoy hawaii!
    janelle recently posted..eighteenMy Profile

  19. LJ says

    I totally agree with Carol re: the car seat. Up until our son was 22 months old, we took advantage of the lap infant rule. By that last flight, he was really too big to be on our laps . . . it was horrible for all of us, but we saved lots of money by not having to pay for a seat for him. This last spring, after his 2nd birthday, we were forced to buy him his own seat. We lugged on our car seat (we needed one where we were going anyway), and attached it rear-facing. It was wonderful. He loved being in his own familiar seat. . . and he actually napped on the plane, too! (Always a feat.)

  20. Jackie says

    When we took our 2 1/2 year old on a long plane ride many, many years ago we did many of the things recommended above (coloring books, regular books, new small toys, snacks). The only thing I didn’t see mentioned (and you probably already know this) I would recommend is an extra set of clothes. Sometimes those snacks don’t necessarily sit well with a little one and its a complete life saver (at least was for us). Enjoy your trip and relax!

  21. says

    first plane rides are scary! The dora explorer episode is the best idea ever. what worked with my kids even when they were that young was crayons and some sheets of paper stapled together. scribbling can keep toddlers entertained for hours. Good luck :)

  22. Kristal says

    We’ve travelled with our son, who is 2.5 since he was 3 months old; I promise you, not all toddlers are horrible on planes. Our trips normally last about 12 hours (between check-ins, flights and lay-overs). As to our tricks – our iPad is his best friend (pick some new episodes of Dora that she hasn’t seen, or a new movie that you think she might like). If little DDW has a favorite blanket or stuffed animal, pack that (DS’s blanket was also a last minute throw in for us, and was the most useful item on our trip). As well, low-sugar snacks, juice or water (which, in the worst case scenario, you can pick up after you go thru security). As well, the new toys idea is awesome…for us, it was dinky cars – but go with whatever DDW loves (and if you go with cheap, dollar store type toys, you don’t have to worry about bringing them back with you if space is at a premium).

  23. Azab says

    As a flight attendant, I’ve seen a few things that work and a few that don’t. I definitely second (third?) purchasing a seat for her and putting her car seat in it – it’s something she’s accustomed to, she can’t get out of, and she’ll be much calmer in it than she would on your lap or in a seat with just a lap belt. A movie-playing device of whatever sort is definitely a must – but don’t forget to bring non-electronic things for her to do during the times the devices must be turned off. And do think of her ears, whether you go the DumDum route or the juice box. And RELAX – it’s just like a car ride with somebody else driving, you’ll be fine!

    Hope this isn’t too late… :)

  24. sandy boyer says

    All great ideas! I think they hit on every age appropriate one for you to use. I heard benadryl mentioned a few times. Some times children under five have an opposite reaction to the cold and sinus meds that make you drowsy. They have the opposite effect in babies and very young children. My son would act like he was on speed from Dimetapp back in the day when it was still a presciption the one and only time I gave it to him when he was a year old and had a bad cold. Benedryl can have the same effect on little ones. I have heard even nowadays of parents adding it to a bottle or sippy cup to knock the kid out during the flight. Some people even give their kids a shot of whiskey in bottle or sippy cup which is so dangerous. My parents did it to us all the time but that was the fifties!! They also rubbed brandy on our gums when we were teething!! LOL!! Alcoholics by age two! Have fun, relax and stay positive. You know yourself the more positive and happy you are the more she will be!

  25. Devan says

    I don’t know if you are gone yet DDW, but one thing I can add to the comments above (which are great, minus drugs and alcohol – LOL), is fruity snacks. Like the welches fruit gummies (or your brand of choice, we use these frequently). I accidentally had some of these and that chewing motion eased my daughters ear pressure pain like a boss! It’s like gum, consistancy wise, but without being gum.
    I’d go as your babysitter, and I’d even pay my own way, if you’d buy me a $5 beer. LOL Have so much fun!

  26. says

    I just found your blog today thanks to IWADB guest post. I thought tip #1 was bad until I got to #3. LOL what person in their right mind is going to bring a babysitter to Hawaii. Unless said babysitter is volunteering their services and paying half. Looks like you’ve got a lot of great tips to help keep your little one calm on the flight. Enjoy Hawaii!
    Dee recently posted..Woe Is MeMy Profile

  27. Anna says

    I’ve travelled overseas with a two-month-old and that was probably easier than even a few hours’ flight with a toddler, so respect! The one advice that I thought could be useful to get a few new toys for the ride. Kids love to get toys and to open new ones can distract them for longer that the ones they are used to and bored of. Videos or songs they love also are very helpful. If your little one uses a passifier be sure to take at least two or three…you’ll lose at least one each way.

Leave a Reply to DEVON Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge