Kids Travel


July 08, 2022

11 Essential Parenting Hacks To Avoid Airport Meltdowns

Are you gearing up for your flight with young children this summer? The thought of making it through the airport and onto the plane with little ones can be daunting. Especially with the pressure of long check-in queues, more queuing to check-in extra items like car seats and the stress of security. That’s not to mention the potential for cancelled flights thrown in the mix too. 

But you can do it! Whether you’re travelling with a newborn or toddlers who haven’t yet been on a plane due to pandemic travel restrictions, there are many hurdles you need to be aware of and overcome for smooth sailing (well smooth flying that is). 

With the assistance of Sophie Pickles, our early years expert, these are our 11 essential parenting hacks for getting through the airport and onto the plane with minimal meltdowns. Over to you, Sophie.  

Get creative with screen time 

Don’t be afraid to use screen time. Believe me, no one is judging, and if they are, they clearly don’t know the reality of travelling with young children! 

Preloading your device with your little one’s favourite films and TV shows will help to keep them occupied, but toddlers can be vain little creatures and love to watch themselves. Make a compilation video of them and watch them enjoy seeing their little faces on screen – it can keep their attention much longer than TV shows. 

They can be interested in random things at this age too, so if they have an obsession with the postman, delivery drivers or lorries, download some compilation videos of these too. Just make sure to bring some comfy headphones that they can use. 

Don’t get caught out in security 

Pack any breast milk/formula or kid liquids like Calpol or medicine, in a separate lunchbox or cooler bag and clip it onto your hand luggage and put it through security separately. These are things they will always check at security so this way you avoid them having to join a separate queue for them to check your whole bag. 

Use something that will be useful on holiday too like the Munchkin Bento Box which can be used to carry snacks for days out whilst you’re in resort. 

Create a nappy SOS kit 

Little one still in nappies? Make up individual packs of nappies and wipes so that you don’t have to take the whole changing bag with you into the tiny airplane toilet. Make sure you pack a portable changing mat too because you may have to get creative about where you change your baby’s nappy! 

Wear your baby 

For smaller babies, check-in the pram and wear them in a sling or baby carrier. Do this through the airport, security, boarding and the flight. Keep them on you for ease, and it can also help to soothe them if they’re feeling upset. Some airlines may require you to unhook them for take-off and landing, but other than that, keep them close. 

Take your pushchair to the gate 

If your little ones are a bit older and more mobile, take your pushchair all the way to the gate – yes, you’re allowed to do this! Just let the staff know at check-in and they will issue you with a label to attach to your stroller. Using your pushchair in the departure lounge means that not only is it easier to keep young children safe and contained, but you also have a handy place to store small bags and other items, so you have your hands free. 

Pack a ‘plane goody bag’ 

Fill it with snacks and small toys that your child hasn’t seen before. Rather than getting everything out as soon as you sit down, pace the excitement, and introduce something new every 20 minutes or so (or longer if your child is happy). 

Good ideas for plane toys include: water painting books, stickers, crayons and notepads, small jigsaws (put the pieces in a plastic zip-lock before the flight), activity booklets, children’s magazines, a new book, small animals or other figurines for imaginative play. 

Watch out for the cabin pressure 

Once at altitude, unscrew any bottles with milk in to let out the air before feeding your baby. Because of the cabin pressure, it can cause leaks and the last thing you want to do is lose out on their next meal with no more milk to hand. 

Pack a change of clothes 

No matter how careful you are, spills are usually inevitable when travelling with children so make sure you pack a change of clothes for you and your baby or toddler in case of accidents. A lightweight shirt for yourself and babygrow/onesie for the children shouldn’t take up too much luggage space whilst making sure you have a backup when you need it. 

Warming milk on the go 

If you’re breastfeeding, try and make sure breast milk is at room temperature before you set off and serve it as is. If your little one prefers it warmed up, ask the flight attendant for a cup of warm water and either mix your formula with that, or if you use pump bags, pop them in the cup for a few minutes. 

For little ones that are weaning or eating solid foods, store snacks in a sealable container like this snack catcher which is spill proof meaning no mess left all over the plane seat. 

Recreate their routine in the sky 

If you’re travelling longer haul, try to book a night flight if possible. Your little one will be much more likely to sleep on the plane and you can try to recreate their routine as much as possible. Dress them in PJs, take a bottle of milk or breastfeed and use white noise (although the plane itself is pretty good for this). 

Remember that babies under six months or 20kgs can usually use an airplane bassinet, as long as they are booked in advance. 

Feed to help poorly ears 

We’ve all been there when the plane lands or takes off and your ears start to pop. This can be magnified when it comes to your baby or toddler. If you can, try and breast or bottle feed during take-off and landing to prevent little ears from popping. 

This will be easier to do if your little one is already sitting on your lap, which is often the case when they are under two years old. Toddlers can use a sippy cup containing milk, water or diluted juice to encourage them to keep drinking until you’re up in the air or back down on the tarmac. Just make sure it’s a non-spill cup like the Munchkin Tip & Sip so that juice doesn’t end up all over your bag.

Whether it’s a trip to Turkey, a week in Spain or a dreaded long-haul flight, with the right preparation you’ll be wondering why you ever worried in the first place. Just make sure you pack all your essentials for travel, get your mindset right and strap in for an enjoyable and comfortable flight. And if you’re after more parenting tips why not check out our StrollerCoaster podcast



Munchkin was founded by a father who wanted to change children’s lives for the better, one innovation at a time. We create clever and colourful products, designed to make parents' and children's lives easier and more enjoyable.