Five years ago, I have no idea how parents took little children on a plane. Did they entertain them with finger puppets? Tote a library worth of books in their carry-on? Bribe them to be quiet with an endless supply of lollipops?
It doesn’t matter because those questions exist no longer. The best thing about traveling with a toddler in this day and age are smart phones and tablets.
Whether it’s an iPad or the kid-friendly LeapFrog LeapPad, parents of toddlers have never had an easier time keeping their kids occupied while flying across the country or the world.
Of course, unless you have access to a rechargeable battery pack or an outlet, you have to make sure the battery lasts as long as possible.
My recommendations are as follows:
1) Make sure your devices are fully charged before you get on the plane!
2) Turn your phone or tablet on airplane mode. There is no bigger mistake than letting your smart device roam when you are in the air. It will drain your battery in no time.
3) Do not take out your kids’ electronic devices in the airport. There are things to see there and room to run around. Save your precious battery life for plane time only.
4) Entertain your kids on the plane for as long as possible without the aid of smart devices. You are going to have to turn off the devices for take-off, so you don’t want to make the mistake one family made and give your kid an iPad prematurely. That kid threw a tantrum when he was told to power down by the flight attendant and the whole family ended up getting kicked off the plane.
5) Take away the devices while they are eating. Again, you want to prolong that battery life as long as possible so don’t let your kids multi-task. Eating time should be strictly for eating.
6) If your child falls asleep, power down or sleep your device as soon as possible. Then put it away or hide it from view so that when your child wakes up, he/she won’t ask for it immediately.
7) Use your layover time wisely. Get to the gate early and find the nearest outlet to recharge.
8) Know your devices. Time how long each battery lasts before your flight, so you can plan and be prepared with other options. In general, devices should last longer when they are using videos and games from their own memory than streaming them from online.
Now, all you have to do is make sure your device is loaded with enough kid-friendly content to keep your toddler busy and you are good to go.