Almost everyone has been on a flight where a baby (or two) screams and cries throughout the duration of the flight. This is the fear of EVERY parent who travels with infants and toddlers. The fear that MY little guy or girl will be THAT child crying nonstop and I’ll be given the :death stare: by all the passengers on said flight. Being a dad of twin toddlers, we’ve had those flights before and it is not fun. If one child is a perfect angel, the other one is bound to get fussy. Oh, they’re both tired and haven’t napped? Hooray for the nightmare that awaits us parents of multiples. You can’t win!
With twins, you have double the chance of being the focus of evil stares from all 150 passengers on-board. Still, after now taking over 15 flights with my girls, I no longer care as much what people think because I know I’m doing the best I can to keep my girls happy and calm. Decent passengers see that and have in multiple occasions offered to help me. I’ve had a woman tell me to lay my daughter flat in a row of 3 seats (her, 1 of my twins, myself) so my daughter can sleep and it’s OK if my daughter’s foot rests on her lap. I’ve had an older man help me buckle my own seat belt when he saw my hands were full with a fussy toddler that was fighting her nap time and desperately needed sleep. I once had a Victoria Secret Angel, who shall remain nameless, sit in front of us and she spent the entire flight picking up the Elmo doll that one of my twin’s kept tossing on the ground.
Thus far in our travels, we haven’t had a flawless flight where BOTH of our girls were perfect angels. But just a few weeks ago we had our first true long-haul flight test when we flew to/from Scandinavia from Miami. The girls, now almost 4, behaved surprisingly well. Sure there were some brief moments of pouting and twin-to-twin arguing (something about a troll doll) but otherwise, they passed the “behave on a long-haul flight test” with flying colors!
So how did we ensure the girls behaved on the flight and everything ran smoothly? With a lot of planning and execution. I’ll explain:
We kept the girls on a set schedule prior to the day of travel. If our twins had been on different schedules we would have lost our sanity long ago. A set schedule makes life more manageable for you and them. Although we did not have a red-eye to Copenhagen, our flight left in the late afternoon, a time when the girls usually are playing. At about 7pm, or 3 hours into the flight, we gave them iPads with pre-downloaded Netflix movies (chosen by them) and put on their headphones. A few minutes later, both girls were passed out and we laid them flat in our 4-seater middle row on the A330. When they woke up about 5-6 hours later, we handed them coloring books, small toys and luckily the plane seat-back in-flight entertainment with Trolls, the movie so they were entertained the entire flight.
You Mommies and Daddies are some of the most travel savvy parents in the world, you know the key is to plan with a lot of small toys, coloring books, and electronics. Also, I found that prepping the girls a few weeks beforehand and explaining to them basic behavior rules for flights (if they’re mature enough to grasp slightly) helps a ton. A year ago, prepping them would be useless. They wouldn’t have a clue what I’m asking of them and I’d be naive to think they’ll grasp my plea to behave. But I would say after 3 years old, toddlers start to comprehend certain words and demands and it gets a bit easier to communicate.
Planning and coordinating has gotten you this far, now it’s time to execute. Here are a few tips:
1. Make sure you have everything you need before you leave the house! Are the iPads charged? Did you get the 6 coloring books and 25 crayons? Where’s her favorite blanket? Where’s his teddy bear? If you don’t realize what you forgot until you’ve reached 35000 feet, you may be in for a long flight. Keep a list and check it twice.
2. Change diapers shortly before departure. If potty trained, make sure toddler goes potty before you board flight. Dry diapers or extra set of undies are one of the keys to getting your little one(s) to sleep in the air soundly.
3. Check stroller at gate. You need to get a tag from the gate counter prior to boarding. In most cases, I recommend a reliable umbrella stroller. I got rid of my expensive heavy-set double stroller a long time ago when I realized that traveling with it just added an extra layer of stress to my family and I. Now at almost 4, our girls can take naps in a regular umbrella stroller just fine.
4. Once you board the plane, get everything ready. Get out a few toys (including distraction toy) and only a FEW as you want to keep others for later when they get bored and want a new toy. Have snacks ready, water or child’s favorite juice at arm’s length and a sweater or blanket for when it gets cold. If flying long-haul overnight, don’t forget to carry-on pajamas that way they assimilate it with bedtime.
5. Probably not telling you something you don’t already know but just to recap. Toys, snacks, games, tablets, oh, and medicines. I usually carry Tylenol and Motrin in case of headache or fever and Hyland’s cold medicine if they happen to get congested or start sneezing.
At almost 4 years old and with 15+ flights under their belt, flying with twin toddlers seems to be getting slightly easier for us. I won’t say we’re ‘completely out of the woods’ but with meticulous planning in advance and execution on the day of travel, you can ease your fears of a baby meltdown in-flight because you are PREPARED.