After getting lots of great tips from you guys about flying with a toddler, we thought we’d give you guys a recap about what worked well (lollipops!) and what didn’t (two words: red eye).
We spent a lot of time in the air: six flights in total. Two on the way to Portland (layover in Chicago), one direct from Portland to Maui and then a whopping three on the way back to Richmond (with layovers in Seattle and Chicago). The flights between the West Coast and Hawaii were the longest at six hours each, and since Clara’s still under two, we didn’t buy a seat for her (we knew she’d be most comfortable in our laps anyway and potentially could make a LOUD scene until we let her sit in our laps even if we did). So we knew going into it that we’d have our work cut out for us. Our game plan: keep Clara happy (and relatively quiet) at all costs, while encouraging sleep at every turn. Oh yeah, and try to enjoy the ride best we could.
Some flights were pretty darn good (we had an empty seat next to us on the way to Maui!) while others verged on nightmarish (this means you red eye). One of our carry-ons was her monkey backpack, which was stocked with items to keep her engaged. Here’s what we found worked well:
- Crayons and coloring books. Between coloring, identifying colors together and simply pulling the crayons in and out of boxes – these were probably the biggest hit.
- Food. Mainly, Goldfish crackers and Teddy Grahams. Someone made the point that in the fuss to keep kids active on a plane, you can forget that they may just be hungry. So we were well stocked with a few snacks (and a water cup). She also really liked eating the crushed ice that the flight attendants served during drink service and playing with snacks by putting them into different cups like a mad scientist.
- Lollipops. Someone suggested these as a way to trick kids into swallowing during take-off and landing to keep their ears from hurting. Well, Clara made a big dent in our stock of dum-dums before, during, and after the flights. But since our MO was to keep her happy and not disturb other riders at all costs, we were happy they worked so well. We may have a lollipop addict on our hands now, but at least they did the trick in the air: no complaints during take off or landing! Not even one ear tug or whine! We also learned that the sucking motion made her a bit sleepy too.
- Talking about the plane. Clara actually loved just looking around the plane. She liked to stand up and say “Hi people!” or “Hi lady” to the folks around us. We joked that she was the mayor of the plane by the time we got off since she schmoozed so many people. On one leg she got so comfortable that she nearly crawled in the lap of our seatmate (thank goodness he was a good sport). Oh, and of course looking out the window was a hit.
- Moving walkways at the airports. In addition to the flights themselves, we had a couple of three hour layovers mixed in – so we had to keep her busy/happy for those too. We spent most of those walking around the airport trying to let her stretch her legs and get some energy out in the hopes that she’d sleep (no dice on that front). Of course what she gravitated towards most were the moving walkways (she called them “escalators”). Airports are a lot more interesting than I remembered – O’Hare had a big dinosaur skeleton, Sea-Tac had some cool sculptures and PDX had a toy store that kept us busy for quite a while. We’re thankful.
- Committing to local time. We made the decision to immediately commit to local time wherever we were – and it worked out great for us. We figured Clara was already discombobulated from the flights so we might as well take advantage of the opportunity to reprogram her clock every time we changed time zones. When we arrived in Portland it was actually her bedtime EST, and having woken up two hours early that day and not napped at all on the flights, she was beyond tired when we checked in at our hotel. So we put her down to rest, but only for a nap. After an hour and a half we woke her up, went out to dinner (and dessert!) and then put her down around 8:30pm PST for the night. Thankfully, she was perfectly on schedule the next two days we were there (no wake-ups at 5:30am – yay!). We did the same thing in Hawaii – we just kept her up until 8pm HST the first night and then put her down for her regular 1pm nap at 1pm their time every day afterwards. It really helped us get a normal wake up and nap every day after that.
Now for what didn’t work so well. Sigh…
- Videos. She loves ’em at home, but didn’t seem interested in them on the plane. They helped a little bit, but she was mainly just frustrated that we couldn’t watch her favorite KidsTV123 videos on YouTube during the Wi-Fi-free airplane.
- Sleep. Our dreams of long flights with a slumbering toddler curled up in our laps were quickly dashed. Clara’s always been a great sleeper… in her crib… at night. Knowing that she never sleeps much in her car seat or stroller should’ve been a clue, but we were still hopeful that she’d eventually crash. On the way to Portland she literally fell asleep for exactly thirty seconds the moment our wheels touched down at PDX. Oh the irony. That moment of sleep was all we got that entire nine hours of traveling there (but at least she was a pretty happy girl that whole time). The spare seat on the way to Maui was helpful and we did get about an hour long nap during that six hour flight. Not much, but at this point we were happy for anything.
- The red eye flight.We knew booking an overnight flight was probably a bad call, but we couldn’t seem to avoid it without spending the night somewhere on the West Coast on our way home. So knowing that Clara’s always been a great night sleeper, we thought we had a chance she’d just be knocked out the whole time (allowing us to follow suit). Our flight left Kahului at 10pm HST (3am EST, but she had adjusted to Maui time pretty easily, so it felt like 10pm to her). She hadn’t napped much that day and we ran her buns around the airport right up until we boarded, at which point she started to look sleepy. Good right? Nope. She couldn’t get comfortable on the plane. It was a full flight – hooray! – (that’s sarcasm) so we desperately tried to get her comfortable in our arms but it just wasn’t happening. She managed about forty five minutes of sleep before waking up in a screaming night terror of sorts. So yeah, people loved us. Thank goodness the flight attendants were super cool (hi Rebekah! you saved our life!) and let us hang out with them at the back of the plane where Clara snacked, enjoyed being rocked, and generally stayed calm so the rest of the plane could sleep the whole flight long… while we stayed awake… all… night… long. Thank goodness she graced us with an hour-long nap on the next flight between Seattle and Chicago. Hey, we’ll take what we can get. This is Sherry’s I’m tired face. At this point it was Friday morning and we hadn’t slept since Wednesday night (since there was no sleep on the Thursday night red eye).
The disaster that was the red eye just threw off the rest of the day. The three of us were all tired and all a little bit grumpy. So many of the things that had engaged her on the flights out just didn’t work anymore (no lollipop could keep her interest more than a few seconds). That, combined with a delay going into and coming out of Chicago, made for a day that we were all just ready to be done with. You can’t tell by this photo, but it’s snowing out there. We definitely weren’t in Hawaii anymore…
We finally landed in Richmond at about 9:30pm EST – about 19 hours after we left Hawaii and two hours later than scheduled. We think Clara slept about three hours in total (in the entire 19 hour trip, much of which was overnight), so Sherry and I probably had about half of that each when it came to catching zzzs. But at that point all that mattered was IT WAS OVER. And, even better, we could finally go to bed. And boy did we. After not sleeping at all on Thursday night (remember, the last time we all actually slept for the night was Wednesday night) we all slept until 1pm on Saturday. Yes, that’s fifteen solid hours. And yes, it felt awesome. Of course we shifted Clara’s naps and night sleep back to her normal times and she seems to be back on schedule except for sleeping in an extra hour or two in the morning (but it doesn’t effect when she goes to bed, or her 1pm nap, so we’re ecstatic). I’m sure it’ll go back to normal over time.
I think it’s safe to say we won’t be taking any more red eye flights with a toddler. Ever again. Bad move on our part. We actually heard from not one but two flight attendants that kids rarely sleep on them (even great night sleepers) so they said they would never take a red eye with their kids. Good to know! Here’s hoping that helps someone! The stress to keep you kid quiet while the lights are out and everyone else sleeps (while being incredibly tired yourself) just isn’t for the faint of heart.
Anyone else have a travel with kids / toddler story they’d love to
get off their chest share? Or do you have any additional tips we might consider when Clara’s older and we’re foolish enough to try something like this again? :)
I will barely take a red eye with my husband because he gets so grouchy — let alone my toddler (who is a great flyer, as long as it’s during waking hours)!!! Glad to hear you guys survived though. Hopefully the stressful ride home didn’t ruin the rest you got on vacation!
Kate @ Savour Fare says
I think traveling with kids between the ages of 1 and 3 (post-mobility, pre reason) is the HARDEST AGE, so good for you guys. We took our daughter to Europe when she was 10 months on an overnight flight and she slept the whole time, but we bought her a seat, and she slept in her carseat. Also, she was younger than Clara.
You’re giving me hope! I might have to go to a conference in Hawaii (almost 8 hour direct flight) and don’t want to leave my will be 10 month old for that long so I’m trying to convince my husband they need to come with me!
Haha! I like this description: Post-mobility, pre-reason.
I am groaning inwardly at the thought of the red-eye. I have never had to take one, but have friends who did. Theirs worked fine, but for me, I’m sure it would have been like yours. I have flown exactly once with each of my boys, and that will be the last time. Maybe forever. I learned with the first, who was 6 months at the time, that active kids plus plan = disaster. I was literally sweating buckets and crying trying to keep him from escaping. I thought because he wasn’t yet crawling that it would be okay and that he would sleep, but he just fought to get out of my arms the whole 2-3 hour flight from Houston to Richmond. I actually apologized to everyone in advance when I boarded just in case, and then did all the tricks and things before some lovely and gracious women in my row took pity and offered to hold him. Somehow, shaking the bag of pretzels in front of his face mesmerized him, and he fell asleep for like the final five minutes of the flight. The wonderful other passengers and stewardesses on the way out made my hellish trip okay, but on the way back, a terribly aggressive stewardess who didn’t like kids made me miserable even though Sawyer behaved better.
In short (or long, since this is an epic comment), I feel for you and am glad you made it home! Great tips for travel with toddler. My tip: know your kid and, in my case, don’t fly. :)
Thanks for all the info. Perfectly timed since we’re taking our 21 month old twins to CA from VA next week. Two parents, two toddlers, three airane seats–good times!
Julia @ Chris loves Julia says
Oh man. I think I already shared with you our red eye story. It seemed like such a great idea. Why wouldn’t she sleep?! She screamed! And cried! And kicked! For houuuuurrrsss. Of course I cried, too. Never ever again. They should put some kind of warning on those flights.
I have flown a few too many times with my tribe of three young kids. I have always found the morning flight…like crazy early was always the best. I, like you, felt my kids were great sleepers and would do great on the plane only to have a huge whiney mess on my hands. So, morning flights rock!!!! They are usually tired but happy and might just sleep.
Oh man! I feel your pain. We took my oldest (turning 7 this month) to Scotland from Boston when he was 19 months old. The overnight flight to Amsterdam wasn’t too bad, and the time we spent in Edinburgh was amazing, but the return overnight flight was pretty bad. We tried videos, nursing, snacks, etc. The flight attendants were rude to us and that made it even worse. People with kids understand; parents are truly pretty helpless in travel situations.
My younger son is now 3 and he pooped his pull-up on the 1 hour commuter train ride while sitting on my lap last month (rush hour- fun! not.) So needless to say we are going to wait another couple years before flying with him! ;) I am not taking any chances.
Our trick to getting our great sleeper to sleep on the plane from SEA to Kona for more than 30 minutes was to put on a pair of Bose noise-cancelling headphones on him with some soft music playing. He was OUT! He slept for his normal 2-hour nap on the airplane. I cannot begin to tell you how happy that made me. He was just shy of turning 2, and I was 6 weeks pregnant and the early pregnancy exhaustion had hit. Such a blessing! I’ll pack lollipops for next time–we usually do milk at takeoff, but D has this nasty habit of draining the sippy cup before we’re even done taxiing…LOL
Kim Wethe Rily says
Thanks for the idea, Liz. My 5 year old and I are taking a red-eye out to VA in a few weeks. I’ll bring the i-pod shuffle with some quiet music on it for her to conk out to!
THank YOu THank you THank you. Booked are first flight with our 24 month old few days ago and couldn’t figure out if we should do the “redeye” we figured we shouldn’t and risk him being upset while people aren’t sleeping! Love this post! So appreciate! Lollipops who knew!! Love from Seattle!!
I flew with my son when he was 6 months old. My husband couldn’t get off work so it was just me going from Seattle to visit the grandparents in NC. Just me, taking an infant, baggage, car seat, stroller, diaper bag and my backpack [with his nebulizer for his asthma and the rest of his prescriptions] on the airport shuttle, checking in, through security and on to a Red Eye.
He was a good sleeper in his car seat so I bought him his own seat. I’d also flown with him before and he slept the whole flight. I thought I would be golden.
But what does he decide to do? He decides to start teething. And he wasn’t shy about letting the whole plane know it. No, I did not have infant tylenol or any teething rings. Why? Because I was an idiot and didn’t plan ahead.
The flight was only five hours but it was a long five hours.
Thais Bessa says
Amazing how kids are different! I travelled with mine long flights (11-12 hours), all overnight and she slept from the minute they turned the lights off (or before!) until almost landing time! Which I appreciated because on all occasions I was alone with her! I only fly with her overnight, the only thing now she is 2 is that I refuse to go alone! If my husband is not going I am not going, lol.
We actually had the opposite effect on our flight to Hawaii. My 13 month old did not sleep a wink on the daytime flight there, but slept almost the whole flight back from Hawaii (on the red eye). Guess it depends on the kid!
We brought the laptop and DVDs and would concur that those did not work at all! We did put a lot of games on our iPhone and those were a big hit.
Wow, what great tips (both the “must try” and the “don’t even think about it”). I think you’re both incredibly brave to even consider doing all that you did with a toddler in-tow. And while she may not have been perfect on all the flights, she still looked pretty darn cute no matter what she was doing. :)
Well done, Petersiks, just think of the Hawaii memories and crazy-plane stories you now have to share! :)
We flew with our then-17-month-old to Hong Kong a few summers ago and since it was an international flight, we had to buy her a seat for the journey. With a 15-hour-non-stop flight from ORD to HKG, I figured that somewhere over the Pacific Ocean, I’d be glad to shell out that money and more for a place to put her. We brought her car seat on board and she ended up sleeping 10 of the long 15 hour stretch. Amazing!
She’s 4 now, and we just got back from a trip to San Francisco along with our 4-month-old and they both did great. (I carried the baby in a sling).
We’re big fans of the car seat on board since it’s such a familiar way for them to travel. It can be a hassle with how big toddler car seats are, but we LOVE this product for schlepping the car seat around the airport: http://www.travelingtoddler.com/index.html. It’s a $14.75 strap that straps your car seat to a rolling carry-on suitcase — even works as a stroller in the airport!
Young House Life says
We saw someone with one of those and it looked awesome!
I have one of those!
Once I had to fly by myself with two toddlers from Atlanta to Raleigh (Seriously, what was I thinking? & thank goodness it’s a short flight!!) And this thing was a lifesaver! I don’t know why people would spend $100+ on the other products out there when they can get this for less than $15. It’s so easy to use, I really don’t think I could have made it without this.
My toddler flight nightmare rivals yours. My daughter was 20-months old when I adopted her in China. She wasn’t comfortable with much physical contact. Unfortunately I had to get her home to Ohio, and because she was under 2 I hadn’t bought a seat for her.
I won’t go through the entirety of the trip home but if I told you I walked from Hong Kong to Los Angeles would you get the drift? She did not sleep that entire flight, and was not happy to be held by a sitting mama. She wasn’t walking so she couldn’t move around herself. The “I hope she’s still sorry lady” in the seat next to me had refused to change seats when 2 different flight attendants requested she do so at the beginning of the flight, so there was no where for the poor babe to hang out on her own. It was a nightmare for both of us!
After getting through customs in LA we just barely caught our, joyfully direct, flight to Ohio. As we got on the flight and people said “Oh, cute baby” all I could say was you won’t think that at the end of the flight. Mercifully there was lots of space on that flight and she spread out across 2 seats and slept.
The good thing about no sleep on that flight – immediate adjustment to the 12-hour time change.
Young House Life says
Love all the stories and tips you guys are sharing! Makes us feel better! Haha.
I traveled with my daughter to China to adopt an 18 month old. We also didn’t buy her a seat (big mistake!) It took 4 flights and over 24 hours for us to get from Hong Kong to Greensboro, NC and it was horrible. Going over my daughter and I had bulkhead seats with an extra seat and thought that this wouldn’t be so bad. No such luck coming back. We had an older plane which was packed and no extra seats anywhere. Like Cair said we each did a lot of walking (at least there were 2 of us). I was in the middle and the only saving grace was a lovely Chinese lady next to me who helped me with everything. She even unwrapped my food on occasion!
Young House Life says
Aw, I love the people who help out like that!
Our kids only sleep on flights when we take their carseats on the plane. Full disclosure – they are used to long car trips and sleep well in their carseats in the car, so that probably helps. It is a hassle to carry 2 ginormous carseats through the airport, but worth being able to buckle them up on long flights. We have done red-eyes before, and they actually slept overnight when in their carseats – especially because we could recline the carseat itself. We live in Glen Allen, VA (hi, neighbors!) and my in-laws are in Seattle, California, and Arizona. Our boys are pretty much professional plane riders at this point! The one thing we do is let them watch movies without headphones. Usually the plane noise drowns it out, and we have never had other passengers complain about it. We tried headphones but the kids wouldn’t go for that.
Sorry you guys had a rough flight home, I’m looking forward to seeing pictures from the fun parts of your trip!
I would never complain to a parent about this but it is super annoying when kids are watching videos without headphones. I have even had other friends complain about this so I know I am not the only one who is annoyed by this behavior but never says anything to the parents. Just wanted to share because you mentioned no one complains so you think it is fine. It is unacceptable to not use headphones on a plane, especially if people around you are trying to sleep. During a mid day bustling flight or meal service, I would be much more forgiving but when the cabin lights are out or during an evening flight this is one of those things that grates on my last nerve.
I would think the passengers would prefer to hear kids shows versus a screaming toddler. If my 18-month-old daughter doesn’t want to wear her headphones on a flight we are taking at the end of July, I fully intend to let her watch her videos without!
It is unacceptable for ANYONE on a plane to watch video, play a game, or listen to music without headphones. You wouldn’t appreciate being subjected to it from anyone else, so why is your child different? Everyone has to share that cramped space for a long length of time and there is never an excuse for intentionally disrupting other passengers who are just too polite to say anything and this article and the comments below provide a number of other, quiet ways to distract children. I am sure that all the passengers within hearing range complained about the inconsiderate family next them after the flight.
Also, electronic noise on planes gives me a massive headache and I would take a squalling child over their screeching cartoons any day.
So I’ve never taken that long of a flight with a toddler, but I’d had my share of 3-4 hr ones. With my kiddos (i’ve flown solo with 2 under 3 before) I decided it was better for my sanity to get them their own seats. I specially bought FAA approved car seats for both (we don’t do that much flying, but at the time we lived in Tacoma & family lived on the east coast, NC, NJ, & MA). It was easier on my lap after the 1st year & and a bonus was they got boosted up enough to look out the window as long as they wanted. I had them take turns, but the older was usually more into looking outside. I’ve also had luck with my ipod & letting them listen. Oh, and remember Daylight Savings this weekend will probably throw Claire out of sleep cycle again. Personally, I’m looking forward to it, mine (3 & 4yo now) have been getting up with the birds at 5:45 so I’ll enjoy them sleeping late with ‘spring forward’.
Angie K says
Wow. That sounds so Very Exhausting!!! It’s a good thing you had a fabulous trip and an 15 hour snooze at home to cushion that difficult day!
I give you guys A LOT of credit for making the trip. We traveled to Maine by car (from NY) about a year and a half ago to visit family. We’re making the trip again in April. We’re just now getting over the awfulness of that trip (read – sick kiddo who did not sleep well). I’m optimistic this trip will be better with an almost 3 year old. And we’ve learned some things and (hopefully) have more tricks up our sleeves.
One thing that I thought of while I was reading through your post was to bring my daughter’s small analog clock that’s in her room. We use the “when the big hand is on the 6, it’s time for bed” type statement a lot so I thought maybe if we brought the clock, we could give her a heads up for when we’ll stop so she knows and it will maybe distract her and she’ll watch the clock and not cry about how much she wants to get out of her car seat. It can’t hurt to try it out!
Young House Life says
We flew to Orange County, CA, from Ohio last summer when our son was 13 months old – he did great on the flights, but the time change was a killer for him! We were in a hotel room, he was in the pack n play, and he woke up screaming the first morning at 3am (his normal 6am wake up time at home). To calm him down, we had to bring him in bed with us, which meant that he went back to sleep but we didn’t. We went out there for my brother-in-law’s wedding, so we had events to attend. and we had to learn very quickly to just go with it, no time to worry about naps! Luckily, my husband’s family was a great help. I don’t think we could have done it without them!
Hey, you guys tried and for the most part were successful with smooth traveling, that’s all you can hope for:) I’m sure you did great and as far as I’m concerned (this may seem harsh but…) passengers without kids who go on planes, for business or pleasure, should just sit tight and know that parents with unhappy kids = something that may happen and they should just relax when dealing with such. I’m sure all parents who fly with their little ones work on calming them down as fast as possible when they’re crying and other passengers should be respectful or patient with parents:) I’m not saying you ran into any unhappy patrons, but was just saying that as a parent who has flown with my son a few times already (he’s not even two) I try not to stress myself out when times get tough, I just try to do my best to make him happy. A stressed parent means a stressed child! Glad to have you guys back!!
Good lord, reading that just stressed me out. I have a 2 1/2 years old and a 6 mos old. Thanks for sharing all of your tips. By the way, I’m right in the middle of painting my kitchen cabs, I’m following your tutorial. Thanks so much, it’s been very helpful! I will share with you when I’m all done.
Thanks for all the tips! I am so sorry about the red-eye….bless your hearts! You survived though!!!
Oh mannn…this brings back memories. Props to you guys for hanging in there.
When my daughter was 14 months (now 21 months) my husband insisted we go to Jamaica. I was hesitant. I know my girl isn’t one to ‘sit in one place’ for more that 5 minutes.
It was only a 4 hour flight, but felt like 20!!! Take off was BRUTALLLLL…like screams coming from a banshee!!! Her face was in sooooooo much pain and she moaned for a good 5 minutes…which led me into tears and cursing my husband!!! I felt so bad for a woman in sitting in front of me who was afraid of flying. She was covering her ears and her boyfriend was consoling her. The landing was just as bad. Jamaica was amazing. And then we had to do it alllll lover again coming home. People were very nice for the most part and would try to make her feel better. I would lift her over my shoulder so she could see the people and that would calm her down. I did get some stink eye’s though. So the next time she boards a plane she will be at least 4 :)
Christina Marie says
Red-eyes are brutal, especially from Hawaii. We did a red-eye home from Maui in 2010 and I couldn’t sleep at all. No kids to take care of, no full plane just this chick, 2 layovers and one exhausted photo 23 hours later.
Good job getting through it though!
I’ve done trans-pacific flights to Japan several times with my boys and it sounds like you did everything right. My only piece of advice is when Clara is older to invest in a Trunki for shuffling through airports. It hold lots of gallon zippy bags with activities to cycle through on the flight.
On one flight, I had the Cheerio book and cheerios, a fold-away felt board mat, plastic dinosaurs, 7 duplos, a wipe-away crayon coloring book, and several wrapped presents for good behavior. (Mostly stickers and matchbox cars.) It was also a flight where I was flying solo with both boys, neither slept, and I had to make it through immigration and customs with 6 pieces of luggage and two overtired munchkins. I don’t recommend doing that.
I had to comment because I noticed you flew Alaska :) (My family is quizzed regularly by my pilot-husband on different airplanes lol). In fact, I believe he would have been your pilot on that trip from Maui, except that he traded it at the last minute. I don’t have any good suggestions…it sounds like you tried everything I would have. It’s just hard to travel with little ones. One thing we found was that it’s ALWAYS good to get a seat for the little ones even if they won’t sit in it. The extra room is critical when eating, especially. I’ve juggled toddlers, carry-ons, and food trays enough times on full-to-the-brim flights to know how absolutely miserable (and sweaty!) I am at the end of the flight. Always. Get. The. Seat. Many people will tell you it’s better to put the kiddos in their (airline approved) carseat during take off and landing, too. I am not an expert in that area, but I’d get the seat just so I have some extra real estate, for sure. Just my preference, though. I know others don’t mind. :) It gets easier! We flew a red eye from SEA to MIA two years ago and my kids did pretty well. (they were 10 and 7). They LOVE to fly now!
Young House Life says
No way about your husband! What a small world! And we’ll definitely be getting Clara her own seat from now on since she’ll be over 2 when we travel.
I have memories of flying to AZ with our oldest when he was 2. On the way home we sang Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star over and over and over…and I could see the guy in front of us was getting annoyed but it was either that or he’d keep kicking the guys seat swinging his legs or start yelling/crying. And then, when we got back and were getting in our car, he managed to throw up ALL the food he’d eaten on the plane. It was super gross to deal with after being super tired. Not related to any of that, but we’ve not flown w/ any of our kids since! :)
This is excellent! Thank you for all these tips! I’ll be sure to remember them! However I must say I would probably still get a seat for my toddler regardless of the extra expense, I doubt my daughter would be happy on our laps the whole time.
Quite the adventure! Thanks for all the tips. No wonder Clara mentioned Lollipops in the video from your floor post this morning.
Just to clarify, how long were you guys in Portland? How many days in HI?
Young House Life says
We were in Portland for three days (well, two full ones plus the one we arrived for dinner) and spent 6 nights/7 days in HI.
We just got back from a family vacation to Mexico with our just over two year old…so we had to buy a seat, and pay for her stay at the resort (an extra $800 bucks I was hoping to avoid). But she did great the whole time and was so excited and in love with the whole experience that it was totally worth the extra $800 bucks! You can read about it here http://jskoll.blogspot.com/2012/02/family-vacation-2012.html
Thanks for sharing and I will definitely remember never to book a red eye with a young child!
Bummer about the red eye. My sister brought my almost 2 year old nephew to Mexico on a 1am-5am flight last year and he did sleep in her arms on a full flight. It was a miracle. He woke up of course in security but we convinced him to nap again and us between 6-8am. Way to start her young on those lollipops. There are a favorite for me too!
Ali Miller says
You guys are great, and the best parents I know. …Wait. Do we know each other? Not really, I guess. :D
Young House Life says
Haha, we know each other for sure!
[email protected] Green Motherhood says
Oh my! I can only imagine. Hubs and I are awful people when we don’t sleep, he’s like a zombie. Truly the walking, grumpy, Im gonna eat you, dead. Scary.
But, y’all made it! Whew!
We’ve flown across the country a few times with Isabel and to Florida in November. Our experience is much the same as yours. She is a fabulous sleeper in her bed (13 hours at night and 2 or 3 for nap) but rarely falls asleep in the car or stroller or anywhere but her bed. She did the same no nap all day until 15 mins before touchdown at 2 am. Then she wouldn’t wake up, slept through baggage claim, climbing into a cold truck and being tucked into bed….What is with that???
I have already vowed to stay away from red-eyes at all costs :)
Sally G says
Thanks for writing on this subject. Having a little one myself, I can’t imagine the stress of that/ those flights! I hope people were kind. I especially appreciated the insight that came from the flight attendants. They, after all, have pretty much seen it all! :)
Thanks for the tips! We’re heading to Mexico next week with our 23 month old little guy, so this is great. Our direct flight is not during nap time, so I just hope we can keep him busy and relatively quiet. We didn’t get him a seat either since he snuck in under the 2 year cap, here’s hoping that third seat is empty! We’ll definitely try the lollipops, I don’t have any of those in his “busy bag” yet.
I hate the looks people give when my son has a meltdown in public, I can’t even imagine having one with people trying to sleep! Yikes!
Your stories are reassuring for this mother who thought that maybe she just had a problem-toddler. :) We travel frequently since my husband’s folks are from GA and mine are from MN, and I agree with you on the red eye advice. It NEVER works (but honestly, it’s unavoidable sometimes.) We’ve flown about 8-10 round-trips with her and I’ve learned that some are going to go amazingly well, others will be terrible. It’s a gamble, but at that young age, they can’t help it. My 19th month old daughter also is a great sleeper, but in her crib. I’m curious to know how Clara slept when she finally got to a new place? We run into problems because she’s often in the same room as us, so our daughter is either distracted because she hears or sees us or she is just not happy that she’s not in her own crib.
Young House Life says
She seems to sleep really well in a crib or pack and play (just likes to be on her tummy) so all was well once we got there!
Krystle @ Color Transformed Family says
I am just amazed that she did as well as she did flying all the way to Hawaii. Sounds like a lot of work for y’all but over all I bet it was worth. I am going to keep the lollipop suggestion in mind for when we travel.
I signed up for a red-eye last summer to meet up with my husband while he was across the country on business. I was alone with my 2-yo, and lo and behold the flight was delayed 2.5 hours and we had to change planes. We were thankful for the blackout curtains in the hotel for sure :o) We fared better than the other mama who had to change planes while traveling alone 2 of her own, yikes! So I’m with you on thinking long and hard over that red-eye in the future.
Erin D says
Wow! I’m exhausted just thinking about it. I’m glad you guys traveled safely and have mostly caught up on your sleep. We lucked out on one flight up to Boston (we’re in Richmond too) when my youngest boy (16 mos at the time) made friends with the older couple in front of us. He gave me a break and sat with them for a while. :-)
You are brave, brave souls taking Clara on all those flights! I recently flew alone with my (then) 13-month-old daughter from Minneapolis to Phoenix, only a 3-hour flight in comparison. Same deal as you – on the lap all the way. Only she is NOT a lap child (which I quickly learned on this flight).
My secret weapon was snack after snack after snack. I also brought a handful of new toys to keep her interested rather than trying to win her over with old toys. That helped too. And she, like Clara, would NOT sleep. I timed the flight with her nap time because she is a champion napper/sleeper and no dice. I was at my wit’s end! Again like Clara, she finally fell asleep as we touched down. Sigh.
Only a few months later I was back on the plane to Phoenix, this time with both my daughter and husband in tow. The flight there was what we had expected it to be – her not wanting to be in our laps, wanting to get down and walk up and down the aisles, etc. But on the way back we landed a glorious open seat between us. BEST DEAL EVER. I honestly think we will purchase the extra seat from here on out because it was that amazing. It was like she had her own little corral.
Better luck next time :)
I took my 1 year old to Brazil , from San Diego ( pretty much 24 hrs flight between San Diego – Dallas- Miami – Brazil ) and he slept ALL THE TIME. Amazing huh ? One thing that helped a lot was Passion Fruit juice, they say it calms them down.. do next time, maybe? Also Lettuce tea helps to calm down as well.
Young House Life says
Tara Collins says
I have never commented before, but love your blog. I appreciate the insight. I have an almost 8 month old son and my father lives in Alaska (I live in southern Alabama). He constantly asks when we will bring him up to visit(which makes me want to rock myself in a corner)! This just helped me confirm that it will be a while before we will be making that trip! I am glad you all survived, and I will remember the tip about red eyes! Yikes!
I’ve done three red eye flights with my kids. The first was when they were 5-1/2 and 3-1/2. At that point, they understood the concept of sleeping at night so they cooperated and got a few hours of sleep. The other red eyes were overseas flights — they were 7&9 years old and 9&11 years old. Those were much easier – even if they chose not to sleep they let me and my husband sleep so were somewhat functional.
When they were Clara’s age, they didn’t nap on planes at all. So I think there is some hope that it will get easier as she gets older.
Yawn.. perhaps I shouldn’t have read this post-lunch. All of this talk of lack of sleep makes me sleepy! :-) Thanks for the tips!
PHEW! I got tired just reading this!
You two are awesome-sauce. :)
Jen @ This Hollywood Life says
Our son has now made two cross country trips from California to Florida. The first was when he was 8 months old and I took him by myself to visit Grandma. The second was the three of us when he was almost 18 months.
The second time we flew standby over Memorial Day weekend… big mistake. huge, horrible, no good very bad mistake! It took us five planes, four states and two days to get there. We almost ran out of diapers, had to book a hotel and take a scary shuttle drive with no carseat in the middle of the night. Our son did amazing, and I literally burst into tears the moment we finally came through the gate and I saw my Mom standing there in the airport. I was DONE!
However, both times, the single thing that saved us was babywearing! Having a wrap with me enabled me to keep him close, moonlighted as a blanket on chilly planes, and enabled him to sleep while snuggled close to Mommy or Daddy. Plus some airports will even let you wear them through security, so you can breeze on through.
I even felt better about taking the scary shuttle since at least he was secured to me.
Glad you all made it safe and sound and it looks like you had a great time! Yay for making family memories!
Vanessa B. says
It seems like you guys should have earned some kind of badge for enduring that! At least an “I survived a red-eye flight with my toddler” t-shirt.
I traveled with a teething toddler who was only happy walking up and down the airplane aisle, which was great until we hit turbulence and had to sit down. And, much like Clara, after wailing most of the time he fell asleep as we landed. As I tell my now eleven year old, just wait until your prom needs a chaperone. I’m biding my time for a little pay back. ;)
Sounds like you guys did great though and I’m glad you had a great trip!