Managing tantrums and meltdowns when travelling with a toddler

PHOTO: Pixabay

Travelling is usually a fun activity for most people but it could be stressful when you are travelling with a toddler on a plane- and alone!

What more if you are 32,000 feet above ground?

I truly empathise with those who are travelling alone with a toddler because I know the amount of prep one needs to do in order to make it smooth and breezy. Is that even possible?

Well, here are some tips you can try to make travelling with a toddler on a plane easier and more enjoyable:


Wear something comfy like jeans, a t-shirt you can nurse in (if you're breastfeeding), and shoes that are easy to slip on/off. Bring a scarf that can double as a blanket, can be thrown on over your t-shirt if spit-up/mess happens, or be used as a nursing shawl.

Bring extra diapers (one for every three-hour journey) and one to two extra changes of clothes. You want to be prepared if they throw up or if food spills all over them.

Travel really light. Pack only the things you need for the duration of your travel. It's a good idea to pack them into zipper bags too. This helps you stay organised and the bags double as a wet bag or a garbage bag.

Carry a backpack that can go under the seat so it'll be easier for you to grab stuff.


PHOTO: Pixabay

Bring your own food as some airlines may not serve kids' meals or anything that are suitable for a toddler. Else, you can call early and check with the airline if they do provide kids' meals.

Pack healthy snacks like dried fruits, biscuits, cereals, and lollipops to offer to your toddler when he gets hungry or restless. It's a good idea to bring more of it just in case you want some too.

Straws and sporks (2-in-1 utensils) are great as they are easy to manage and allow your child to feed himself.

Avoid giving too much sweet/sugary foods that may elevate your child's hyperactivity.


PHOTO: Pixabay

Pack his favourite toys as it'll keep him comforted throughout the journey.

There's a time and place for electronic devices, and while flying with a toddler is one of them!

Colouring pencils, crayons and a scrap book are great to keep them occupied and kill time.

Bring a book or two so that you can read with your toddler when he feels restless.


Try to request for the aisle seat as toddlers may get restless when they are on your lap near the window. Plus, it is also easier for you to get in and out.

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Get seats that are nearer to the lavatory. This can help you use the bathroom easily and also get access to washing and tissues if needed.

Early morning and late night flights are great as they are in sync with your child's biological clock. They may fall asleep more easily within those wee hours.

Even though some airlines give priority for the elderly and families to board first, it is better to board last. This way, your toddler will not feel restless in the plane for having to wait and sit longer


Using a stroller is handy as it can double up as a trolley for you to put your stuff in.

Consider a lightweight travel stroller so that it'll be easier for you to manoeuvre.

A baby carrier is handy too so that you can manage luggages at the same time.

Arrive early at the airport so that you have plenty of time to check in and walk to the gate. You can also self check in (with some airlines) to cut the hassle of queuing.

Make your toddler walk to the gate so that he is tired out by the time he boards the plane.


Sometimes it is unavoidable that your toddler may have a meltdown during flight or just act out because he isĀ unfamiliar and uncomfortable with what's going on around them. Here's some things to note and what you can do.

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Tips to fly with babies and young kids from real parents (and how to avoid them)
Tips to fly with babies and young kids from real parents (and how to avoid them)

Make sure your toddler is well rested if possible. Often, children act out because they are overtired.

If there's crying during take off/landing, nursing or offering him a lollipop to suck on may help him relieve the pressure in his ears.

Breathe and take it one step at a time. Ignore the dirty looks of other passengers as it is not really your problem. Focus instead on comforting your child.

Keep calm and ask for help from the cabin crew. Flight attendants are trained to de-escalate conflict. They can move a family, offer complimentary food or drink to the frustrated passenger to diffuse the situation.

Write a list of everything that could go wrong, from complete meltdown mid-flight to missing the flight entirely, and jot down how you'd cope. Running through situations before they happen can leave you mentally prepared - just in case!

This article was first published in theAsianparent.