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Air Travel For Toddlers

Matthew C. Wright/flickr, CC licensed

You're on an airplane. Your toddler doesn't want to be contained and eventually goes into full-blown tantrum mode. The other passengers glare at you with a collective hateful eye.

Before you even contemplate your trip, the first thing to ask is whether you really need to be on a long flight with a toddler. Presuming you have no other choice, there are several strategies for you to keep in mind.

For now: Take a deep breath, since you can't help your toddler if you're also unglued. While you're at it, ignore the dirty looks and focus on your child; it's impossible to handle him and the reactions of others at the same time.

Then do what you can to calm him down, whether it's talking in a funny voice or pulling out a toy. If something's working, don't change it or he's likely to get overwhelmed and melt down anew. Whatever's familiar works too. I once relaxed my shrieking 2-year-old on a packed subway car by singing the "ABC" song over and over into his ear.

For next time: Moms who travel a lot agree: Bend over backward to book a night flight when possible. A sleeping toddler is a quiet, happy toddler.

Kari White, mom of 2-year-old Ajani, lives in Los Angeles but takes regular trips back home to New Zealand. She exploits her daughter's curiosity by carrying on plenty of little surprises: sticker-activity books, a package of new hair ties, something glittery (combs, tassels), any toy set made up of magnets (so the pieces are less likely to get lost).

She also tries not to rely on airplane food. "I pack lots of yummy snacks in interesting little containers. It keeps her amused to guess what's inside." She doesn't forget to take extra clothes, diapers and wipes, and the special blanket or doll. "I have a very big carry-on bag," she says.

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