In flight entertainment

My family is getting ready to embark on a vacation. We are very excited for said outing, except for the fact that it involves a 5 hour plane ride with 3 children, ages 6,4, and 21 months. The oldest 2 we are not worried about. DVD, headphones, laptop computer, and voila! Entertainment galore! After that, spring a brand new coloring book and brand new crayons out of the bag, and our problem will be getting them off the plane. No such luck with the toddler. After one episode of "Teletubbies", which he will sit through, he's done with multimedia. Bring on the balls. Since he is not yet two, we don't have to purchase a seat for him, he is traveling as a "lap-child." That phrase makes me laugh. Lap child! As if any 21 month-old would be willing to sit on a lap for 5 hours straight! Oh, the mirth! The sheer comedy of it! So, now we come to the purpose of this blog which is: ME BEGGING FOR HELP! What am I going to do with this lap-child for 5 hours? Even though he's going to want to go visiting everybody on the plane, this is not acceptable protocol. I've never tried Benadryl on him before, so I have no idea what kind of effect it would have. Plus, I don't know that I'm OK with drugs for recreational use on airplanes. My fellow passengers might have a different view, however, after about half an hour. I can just see the flight attendant showing up with a shot of Ny-quil, "compliments of the passenger in 27G." He will not sit and color. He will throw the crayons, and eat the markers. Maybe I should just keep snacks in front of him the whole time. I am seriously at a loss here. I haven't had a toddler on a plane in a long time, and then it was a girl toddler, whom I could bribe with shiny stickers and a Magna-Doodle. Toddler-man likes the Magna-Doodle, but mostly just to throw at people. Ever been hit with a Magna-Doodle? Not so comfortable. I don't want my fellow passengers to have that experience. His favorite toy currently is a pretend piano, which plays music for him while he dances. Again, not ideal for airplanes. So I am on my knees begging for mercy from the blogger world. The fate of an entire airline flight rests in the balance, but no pressure or anything.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just wondering why you are flying instead of driving...?

6/08/2005 02:54:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I feel for you. We've had a few long flights with infants and toddlers, and we are going to Europe this summer with our 3 year old and 14 month old. I'm just planning on it being rough. Here are a few things that have worked for us:

--Have several new toys that the kid has never seen before. Bring them out one at a time and milk them for all they're worth.

--I know you said your boy doesn't like audiovisual, but some of this stuff is scientifically engineered to addict kids. Try to get your kid addicted to a DVD or two before you go. The "Baby Einstein" series has worked for us (they have a range of DVDs for different age groups). For some reason, Yellow Submarine worked on our boy when he was around 2, which was a bonus because it was a full length movie.

--Use the bathroom as a playground. Go in, lock the door, and let the kid explore the faucets, the strange toilet, the paper products, check himself out in the mirror, sit on the changing table. You may get 10 or 15 minutes out of this, or more, depending on the kid.

--Get either a bulkhead seat, so he can kick around without bothering anyone; or a last row seat, so he can have that little extra space in the back of the plane to wander around in (carefully supervised, of course).

--Bribery. Toys or candy. Whatever works.

Greg Call

6/08/2005 03:16:00 PM  
Anonymous JKS said...

Food, lots of it. Candy is fine. Don't worry about nutritiion or tooth decay.
New toys.
Songs with visual aids? Does he like songs in nursery with actions or pictures of animals to hold for old McDonald?

Don't worry about the screaming. I remember one landing with my 2 year old and infant. The 2 year old refused to stay seated (she could undo seatbelt). The flight attendents said she couldn't stand in the aisle for the 20 minutes of landing AND taxiing.
So.......I held her kicking and screaming for 20 minutes. I'm sure everyone on the plane hated us. But there really was no other choice. She'd had a long day of travelling. She'd been great.....no nap of course. She did not have the cognitave awareness to know that you have to stay seated for plane landings. She had enough self-will to know that she did NOT want to stay seated.
If we were at home, that tantrum would have involved us saying "Go to your room till you're done crying." End of story. She'd go to her room and cry for a minute and come out happy or go to her room and cry and fall asleep or something.
On the plane we couldn't deal with the tantrum in the normal way. So, she screamed and screamed.

Oh well. We survived. And everyone else on the plane managed to survive too. So don't worry about it.
Travelling with kids is hell. But it ends.

6/08/2005 04:39:00 PM  
Blogger The Wiz said...

Anonymous -

Flying because it's a 5 hour flight. If we were driving, it would take 3 days. As hard as the flight will be, I'm not into cross country driving with the young 'uns.

6/08/2005 05:48:00 PM  
Blogger The Wiz said...

Greg - there are a couple of DVD's he will watch at home, that are about 1/2 an hour each, but the problem is getting him to wear head phones. He doesn't like them on his head, and I doubt the rest of the plane wants to hear "Baby Songs" and "Signing Time". Maybe he will feel differently on the plane?

6/08/2005 06:19:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just finished a trip with my hubbie, 3 yr old and 16 mo old. We had two one hour flights with a one hour layover in between.

I had a bag o' fun which included: Mr. Potatohead, a ziplock bag of farm animals, three books, a flashlight, and a teddy bear. Our snacks included: pink and white cookies, fruit snacks, juice box, and bite size chocolate treats.

We sang action songs, tried to read, played with toys, tried to take a nap, switched from Mom's lap to Dad's lap, sat on the tray, looked out the window, rinse and repeat.

The trick I learned quickly is that when the flight attendant isn't looking, you can put your child down. I know this isn't the safest, but I did it, even during landing. I just made sure she wouldn't bump her chin on anything and I held her arm.

Carrie W.

6/08/2005 06:19:00 PM  
Blogger annegb said...

I recommend children's nyquil.

6/08/2005 07:59:00 PM  
Blogger Heather O. said...

We always get a new toy, every plane ride, and that entertains for sometimes as long as an hour, depending on the toy.

I also have gotten those $2 bags of army guys, or dinosaurs, or little animals, because Jacob loves lining them up along the tray table, and when they get lost (which they inevitably will), you're only out $2.

Other pane ride staples:
1 small bale of Playdoh.
Markers and paper
Some kind of sticker book

Books have never seemed to work for us. Jacob just doesn't like them on an airplane, and besides, the pain in the butt factor of carrying heavy books far outweighs their entertainment value.

We play in the potty, too.

Good luck!

6/08/2005 08:59:00 PM  
Blogger the special one said...

try the stickers. you can get a book of several hundred at w-mart for a couple of $. I also give my son a small empty notebook and he transfer the stickers into that. Sometimes the stickers end up on him or us, but it keeps him busy. we also used the small plastic dinosaurs and they were a big hit. my 16 month old daughter loves the travel size magnadoodle, it's small and keeps her busy.

6/08/2005 09:31:00 PM  
Anonymous Marian said...

Wiz -

I've done a lot of traveling with my son, now 2, and he is a very very very busy little guy. He will now wear headphones, but used to pull them off, so he would just watch the DVDs, no sound - he didn't seem to care. Honestly, we started buying him a seat as soon as he was 10 mos. and could walk, since there was no way we would be able to contain him on our own without the car seat - but I understand that buying another ticket before you have to is a hit to the pocketbook. My other tricks were all ones already mentioned - singing songs, new toys and stickers, lots and lots of food, especially the things he loves but you won't normally give him.

My last comment is to quote a friend who is a doctor and is a strong advocate of benadryl for kids on planes - as he put it, it's not only more humane for you and those flying with you, but for your child as well! No one likes a toddler on a plane, especially the toddler himself, who is trapped at every turn.

6/08/2005 11:09:00 PM  
Blogger TftCarrie said...

I'm a big fan of Benedryl as well. I usually wait to be the very last one to board the plane (my husband, when he travels with us, boards earlier to get all of our things settled). I would give her a shot of the medicine right before we boarded the plane. By the time take-off was over and all the announcements had been made, she was knocked out and usually didn't wake up until landing. But be warned: it could have the exact opposite effect and make the child hyper, so if you think you might want to try it, do a trial run -- maybe on shorter car trip.

6/09/2005 08:03:00 AM  
Blogger Liesl said...

I would love it if my kids responded well to Benadryl. Sadly, I didn't do a trial run and we had a lovely 7 hour flight to Hawaii with our 19 mo. old screaming because she was SOOO wired. Of course, on the trip back we didn't try to drug her and she still screamed the whole time, so maybe that's just her flying mode of choice right now. The 4-yr old was an angel both times.

On other, more successful trips we have tried food -- preferably in fun shapes so they can be a toy too (dinosaur frosted animal crackers that spent about 20 minutes roaring at each other and the other passengers on the plane before being very messily consumed),

a zipper pouch with some small plastic toys in it so they can play hide-and-seek,

a baggie of pictures of family/friends (Usually those that never made the scrapbook) -- she seemed a lot more interested in identifying people/places that she knows than just flipping through books (also not as heavy/bulky),

be sure NOT to forget any sippy cups/comfort objects that might encourage sleep -- that is absolutely the ideal for them to sleep a good chunk of the time,

also, I always try to arrive in plenty of time to go up and BEG the gate agents to put us by an empty seat so there is more room for us to maneuver and someplace for the little squirt to sit and entertain themself. It works most of the time. If I'm flying with my husband we often intentionally take seats across the aisle or in the row in front/behind so there is someplace the kid can walk between with one of us on either end.

My kids love the flight safety info card for some reason and also the skymall magazine which often has photos of toys in it -- this I let them shred and crumple to their heart's content.

I also wouldn't entirely rule out the DVD option wven without earphones. The ambient noise in the cabin is SO high that you really can't hear the sound (if you keep it just barely loud enough for your child to hear -- added bonus of making them focus on it) even in the seat directly in front.

Good luck. Remember it is only 5 hours and no matter how bad it is, your're a mom and chances are you're sleep-deprived enough that you'll have forgotten most of the trauma by the time you get ready to book your next flight with the kids.

6/09/2005 11:50:00 AM  
Blogger Ana said...

Dramamine is effective for my kids. And I don't feel so bad about giving it to them because it is kind of related to the problem at hand!

My mom says the key to traveling with little kids is new toys, old books. I trust her. This is the woman who made the long trek by 12-seater van from Pennsylvania to Utah every summer with 5 kids. Six months after the birth of the sixth, we drove from Pennsylvania to Alaska!

6/09/2005 12:58:00 PM  
Anonymous Sara R said...

Yes, definitely see if you can be seated next to an empty seat. Bring the car seat along just in case you do. If there's no empty seat, you can gate check it. (See if the car seat sits somewhat solidly on top of the stroller. Then you can put the kid in the car seat in the stroller while you are in the airport. Then you can just stroll up to the gate, gate check the stroller and take the car seat and kids on board.) It's safer to have the kid in a car seat anyway, and plus they are usually used to sleeping in it, or if not sleeping at least sitting still.

6/09/2005 02:05:00 PM  
Blogger The Wiz said...

We will definitely try to get an empty seat next to us, and DH is at the store right now to buy Benadryl to see if it works for us. It didn't work for my nephew, so I'm wary of it. But the comment about it being more humane really hit me.

Liesl - you are so brave to take your kids on a flight to Hawaii. That's a long flight, even for adults.

6/09/2005 02:16:00 PM  
Blogger Allison said...

Bring your son's carseat even if he's a "lap child" (and be obnoxious about insisting even if the check in person tells you the flight's full -- they can always gate-check it if it really is).

If there is an empty seat (and there almost always is, even when they tell you there won't be), strap him into it. My toddlers were always awful on my lap, but sweet sleeping angels in their carseats, because in a carseat, they knew they were trapped so resigned themselves to their fate.

If there ends up being no extra seat (wow, I feel evil saying it, but here goes)...Benadryl is a humane option.

6/09/2005 07:17:00 PM  
Blogger Allison said...

...somehow I missed all the drug references that preceded my comment. Sorry for the redundant advice.

6/09/2005 07:20:00 PM  
Blogger Kristine said...

I can't believe I'm admitting this publicly because it's so cheesy, but when mine were really little, I'd buy lots of little dumb toys and LOTS of snacks, and then I'd individually gift wrap them. Taking off the wrapping paper added time to the few seconds of entertainment provided by each toy and made the snacks more interesting.

Also, my oldest always got wired on Benadryl, but Dramamine worked like a charm--comes in orange chewables.

6/10/2005 08:07:00 AM  
Blogger Heather O. said...


Gift-wrapping--what a great idea! I'll keep that in mind the next time we fly. Jacob would LOVE that!

6/10/2005 09:13:00 AM  
Blogger The Wiz said...

Kristine -

That is the best idea I've heard in a long time! I'm going to go gift wrap stuff right now.

6/10/2005 12:23:00 PM  
Anonymous Marian said...

I once heard a story on NPR about entertaining your kids on car trips, and one thing stuck in my mind that would also work on a plane. This father called in to say he always bought a box of band-aids, one for each kid, and would just hand them the box. The time it took to get the box open, take out the band-aids, remove them from the paper, get the tabs off, and stick them all over their car seats and each other was well worth the $5 spent.

6/10/2005 09:27:00 PM  
Blogger Mardell said...

I have three kids and I fly with them about every six months and often alone. My kids favorite thing is water paints. I have had them paint the whole tray table and the arms of the chair. Then they have a great time cleaning it up with a diaper wipe. Amazingly it comes right off. My kids other choice is play dooh. I know both of these are kinda messy but just think you do not have to clean up the plane.

I think my favorite story is the time this woman would not give up her seat so that I could have and extra seat. Even though there were many seats elsewhere in the plane. So I just happened to have some cheetos, I have not idea why, and I put my oldest( who was 3 at the time) in the seat by her and gave him the bag and let his at it.
The lady in the nice white suit wasted no time in asking to be switched.

6/11/2005 10:10:00 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home