Flying with a toddler

Back in May I flew with my almost 15 month old from Taipei to London, via Hong Kong. I planned it so that he was awake for the first 5 hours of the longer flight and then slept for the rest. Although he was a proper walker by then, I was still able to keep him occupied enough to get through those 5 hours.

On Thursday this week, we took a day flight from Lagos to London which is 6 1/2 hours. Easy, right? Not with a 20 1/2 month old toddler. But I was prepared. I took into account that he probably wouldn’t nap as there would be too much going on around him and so not counting take off and landing, I had to keep him occupied for a little over 5 hours.

As soon as we took off I put him in his seat (we booked seat plus on Virgin, a god send) and let him entertain himself with the controls, the window shutter and the headphones. After about half an hour, I took out 6 plastic ikea bowls I’d taken on board and a mixture I’d put together. It contained raw rice, pasta, black lentils, yellow lentils and red maroon kidney beans (lots of colour). He absolutely loved this! It kept him entertained for almost an hour. He poured this mixture from one bowl to another, attempted to eat some (ofcourse!) and got lots of it all over the floor.


At this stage we were over 2 hours into the flight and it was his lunchtime so I took out his thermos of food (I don’t like plane food so can’t expect him to eat it) and started feeding him. After his lunch I gave him an apple which kept him busy for a while. He loves fruit and enjoys eating an apple whole rather than having it cut into pieces.

3 hours into the flight, we’d already had 3 nappy changes (something to do with the cabin pressure?!) and I’d attempted to put him down to nap twice but he made it very clear he had no intention to sleep. So we went for a walk and S charmed lots of ladies and became friends with the cabin crew.

4 1/2 hours into the flight, we’d had another nappy change, attempted to nap again (still didn’t happen although he looked extremely tired) and so I pulled out the big surprise…a brand new shiny train from the Thomas & Friends collection.


This kept him busy for another 45 minutes as he drove it all over his table, his seat and the floor below him, making a brum brum sound (how do they learn these sounds?).

We went for another walk, he played Candy Crush with my mom (who was flying with us) and listened to some music.

Before I knew it, the captain was announcing our descent and S was on my lap and strapped in, playing with the TV control. As “they” say…boys do not sit still!

The flight went by pretty quickly and we landed before I knew it. I much prefer night flights when S can sleep for the majority of it but day flights aren’t as daunting as I expected.

I’d love to hear your suggestions and fun activities to keep a toddler busy on a plane!

2 thoughts on “Flying with a toddler

  1. Was great when I realised V could sit for at least a half hour and watch something. The trouble starts though when he wants to watch things they’re not showing!

  2. haha I can just imagine. At one point during the flight, S was sitting on the floor playing and I was flicking through the duty free mag when suddenly he army crawled under his seat! Luckily (thankfully!) the guy behind us was really nice about the whole thing *palm face*

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