Flying With A Toddler/Preschooler

I had the “privilege” of flying with Phoebie when she was a toddler and wasn’t required her own seat on the plane, and after she turned two, when she was required a plane seat of her own.

Flying With A Toddler
When Phoebie was about 21months old, we flew from the US back to Singapore for a family event. Because Ben couldn’t come back, I flew alone with Phoebie. This trip was filled with both excitement and anxiety because I didn’t know how I was going to handle all the luggages, bags, stroller, car seat and a very mobile toddler.

Thankfully, our family friend who was the agent who booked my plane tickets for me, made arrangements with Singapore airlines, which we flew with:
1. For me to have a bassinet seat (Plane bassinets have a weight limit, but because Phoebie is very petite, I could still use that for her).
2. For Phoebie to have a post-weaning meal on flight.
3. For us to have airport assistance. This means that an airline/airport staff would assist us with checking in, moving through the customs, and going to the boarding gate. The cabin crew would then assist us from the time we boarded the flight, until we disembarked, where the staff at the next airport would assist us again.

I was truly grateful for all that arrangement because I had a lot of things with me.

20130603-141352.jpg That was Ben helping me with everything when we were at Tucson airport. I had 2 luggages, one big carry-on, one light-weight stroller, Phoebie’s car seat, and of course, Phoebie.

And this was the same way I had to push everything on the airport trolley at the Los Angeles airport from the domestic terminal to the international terminal. I probably looked like a ninja turtle moving home with a kid.

Phoebie was on formula (milk powder) and no longer on breast milk when we made this trip, so it meant that I had to pack bottles in my carry-on. So in my huge carry-on was:
1. Milk bottles
2. Formula
3. Pacifier
4. Sweaters both for Phoebie and I
5. Extra clothes in case Phoebie soiled herself
6. A few of her favourite toys
7. Medication for Phoebie in case she didn’t feel well
8. 10 diapers
9. Phoebie’s water bottle.
10. Phoebie’s favourite snacks in case she didn’t like the food on board.

Because Phoebie wasn’t required have a seat due to her age, she sat with me throughout the 24 hours journey back to Singapore. I didn’t mind cuddling with her but it wasn’t the most comfortable thing to do.

20130603-142337.jpg That was us on the domestic flight. Thankfully, she slept through most of the 1 hour plus domestic flight.

Our flight from LA to Singapore was via Narita Airport in Japan, and I was thankful for a transit. Phoebie needed the opportunity to move around, and I needed some space where I didn’t have to carry her all the time.

During our time on flight, the flight attendants were very helpful and always checked on me to see if I needed help. Phoebie’s post-weaning meals would be served before my meal and when she was done eating, I would let her sit on the floor to play while I quickly asked for my meal and ate up.

I roughly knew Phoebie would want milk (I wore a watch which was timed to the place we travelled from, which Phoebie’s bio clock ran on), so I would take her bottle and formula down from the overhead compartment in advance and ask for a specific amount of warm water. That way, I would be prepared when Phoebie wanted to drink milk.

Because Phoebie was older by this trip, she was generally easy to coax if she wasn’t comfortable. I would carry her and sing softly into her ears and she would quieter down after a while. Her comfort song then was “Jesus Loves Me”, so I would sing it until she calmed down. The flight attendants offered their help multiple times but I declined. The only times when I asked them to help me was when Phoebie was sound asleep in the bassinet and I needed to go to the lavatory.

Like my first experience of flying with Phoebie when she was 8months old, I knew that keeping calm was very important. If I flustered along with Phoebie when she was cranky, it wasn’t going to help at all and we would both just be upset. And I reminded myself not to be stubborn and to ask for help when I felt that I couldn’t cope.

Flying With A PreSchooler
When Phoebie turned 2, we were due to come back to Singapore, and so we had to fly the super long distance again.

Unlike my past experience flying with Phoebie, this one was different because she finally had a seat of her own. So before we flew, we called the airline to make sure:
1. All 3 of us got to sit together.
2. Phoebie had kid’s meals indented for her.
3. We had airport assistance because we had a lot of things to carry.

Even though there were two of us with Phoebie this time, we decided to request for airport assistance because Phoebie loved to run around and one of us needed free hands and legs to run after her.

As per flying with a toddler, my carry-on was filled with Phoebie’s things. Diapers, snacks, toys, formula, bottles, sweaters and medication. And since Phoebie was older, she knew how to use the iPad. Ben and I figured that the iPad would be good distraction for Phoebie during the long journey home, we made sure we downloaded enough apps to keep her entertained and also ensured the battery was at 100%.

20130603-145401.jpg We finally got to sit together in the plane. This was definitely one of the most important arrangements because we could take turns with caring for her.

20130603-145602.jpg This was the other reason we made sure our seats were all together. When Phoebie needed to sleep, we lifted the armrests so she could lie comfortably across the seats. Having her favourite plush toy with her also gave her a sense of security and she was able to sleep well throughout the journey.

20130603-145739.jpg The in-flight kid’s meal was served before the adult’s meal. So we could start feeding Phoebie before we enjoyed our own food.

20130603-150027.jpg Child-sized headsets were available upon request, so Phoebie could enjoy her own entertainment.

Comparing all the times I have flown on a plane with Phoebie, I would certainly say that I enjoyed the last flight the most. She was old enough to tell me what she wanted or didn’t want, and she could comprehend what I told her.

Not that I didn’t like flying with her when she was younger, but because Ben and I were not seated together (my experience of flying with Phoebie when she was 8 months old can be found here), it was no different from than when I flew alone with her. I would probably have enjoyed my very first flight with Phoebie more if Ben and I were able to get seats together and he could help me with her.

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