Not Your Average Mom

Books for babies

Books for babies

Growing up, I was an avid reader. I would stay up late and read past my bedtime, needing to know what happened next in the story I was reading. As I have gotten older and busier, it is harder and harder to find time to read for pleasure. But the natural desire to want to is still there. I joined a book club with some other ladies and we have a great time. I also married a man who loves reading even more than I do. When I was pregnant with our first baby, we agreed that we hoped our child would love reading like we do. A friend hosted a beautiful baby shower for me and everyone gave a book instead of a card. After my son was born, we made it a point to read to him, even when he was an infant.

Now, as a one-year-old, he loves books. He has more books than can fit on his bookshelf (almost all of them were gifts; there are only a few that we have actually purchased for him ourselves!) and stacks of books sitting beside his bookshelf. During the day he will plop himself down by the books and pull them out one at a time, flipping through the pages and looking at the pictures. Often he will bring books to me, gesturing me to pick him up and read to him. It is one of the great joys of motherhood, to see your child take an interest in something and want you to be a part of it, especially if it is an interest you both share.

The benefits of early reading are well-documented, but beyond the studies and academic ideas, I think common sense tells us as mothers that reading is a good thing. Even if reading isn’t something you personally enjoy or find time to do often for yourself, reading a Dr. Seuss board book isn’t time-consuming or difficult. Children’s books are so much more fun as an adult that I previously realized. The artwork can be whimsical and fun, or even beautiful and awe-inspiring (Nancy Tillman comes to mind for the latter); the rhyming and sing-song nature of a book makes them fun to read, and sometimes easy to memorize; the stories themselves can teach children deeper truths about the world around them.

I don’t claim to be a book expert, but I am pretty proud of having a one-year-old who loves books as much as he does. If you also want to encourage your children to read and love books from an early age, here are a few suggestions:

  1. Board books. These are usually short, colorful, and the chunky pages make it easy for babies to help you turn the page. My son loves turning the pages, sometimes he even gets mad if I turn the page without him!
  2. Read the classics of baby books: Goodnight Moon is my favorite, followed by Go, Dog. Go! and anything by Dr. Seuss
  3. Books that have songs. Sandra Boynton is an author with a few of these, Snuggle Puppy comes to mind.
  4. Books with matching stuffed animals. The Jellycat book series has matching, soft stuffed animals that go with every book. If you have a kid who loves stuffed animals, or loves of any kind, these books are the way to go!
  5. Books with rhymes. One of our favorites is Is Your Mama a Llama? It has a fun sing-song tone and is full of cute rhymes

Happy reading!

True Life: Taking a toddler to the DMV

True Life: Taking a toddler to the DMV

I recently took my first non-solo trip to the DMV with my one-year-old son. If you haven’t been to the DMV with a tiny human who needs to run around while you need to sit still and fill out mind-numbing paper forms, let me give you some insight:

When you first walk into the DMV, whether you arrive right when the doors open or in the afternoon, you will be greeted with a line. You wait in the first line for the information desk and tell them why you are there. While waiting, your toddler needs to run around, so you leave your diaper bag as a placeholder in line while you make sure he isn’t causing havoc, constantly returning to the diaper bag to scoot it up a smidge further as the line moves. In a desperate attempt to keep your toddler still and in line with you, you give him your car keys. He immediately presses the trunk release button on your key fob, and that super-close parking spot you snagged now seems like a dangerous idea. You say a silent prayer that your trunk is not wide open, and trudge through the line.

The person behind the information desk is quick and helpful (thank you!) and you get your ticket and sit down. Your ticket says F106, and the waiting area is mostly full. You look for an empty seat, preferably one near someone who isn’t easily annoyed by the sound of a small child pulling and re-pulling the velcro straps on their shoes.

You sit down, place your diaper bag under the seat and wrangle your kid. He sits on the floor in front of you, the floor that looks clean enough so long as you don’t look too hard. Since you just arrived, he is pretty content with fiddling with the zipper of the diaper bag in front of him. Three whole minutes later, he has exhausted all possible activities that could sustain his attention and you break out the snack that you brought to keep him satisfied.

A voice on a loudspeaker calls F102 to the next available window. “Wow,” you think, “I’m only 4 spots away!” Unfortunately F is only one letter in the alphabet and as you hear M244 and A6 called minutes later, you try to better manage your expectations that this trip is going to be less than an hour. You immediately regret using your snack option so soon.

You begin filling out the form with all those tedious questions when suddenly your toddler decides he needs to examine every stranger in the waiting area. He gets up, walks to each person, stares at them in the face with a serious expression while they smile and say hello. If anyone tries to put their hand out for a high five, or do anything genuinely kind, your once sweet child will furrow their brow, shake their head and walk away from the nice person. You smile at the stranger and thank them for trying as you move along with your curious toddler and balance your unfilled-out form on your thigh because they were out of clipboards.

Various iterations of these scenarios play out for the next 45 minutes until your number is (finally!) called. When you get to the window, you present the DMV employee with all your forms and paperwork while your toddler sits at your feet pulling wipes out of the wipe container. You notice the wipe-pulling only after a considerable pile has been created on the floor. You squat to take the wipes away, making the DMV employee look up and wonder where you went. You pop back up after cleaning the mess and scare the employee on accident.

Eventually your transaction is complete, you give your toddler the special honor of throwing away all the wipes he put on the floor, and make it to your car. The trunk is still closed, hooray! You unlock the car, get the baby in his car seat, and breathe a sigh of relief. And then you remember your next stop is the post office.

So what are you to do when you are faced with those long errands that require a fair amount of waiting? Here are my top three tips I've learned with experience!

  1. Let them move as much as possible. In the DMV, we were in a large waiting area but I let him walk through our aisle and the aisle behind us. He was within grabbing distance from me but he felt like he was getting to explore.
  2. Let the other people in the waiting room entertain them if they try. Sometimes people want nothing to do with your wandering or cranky kid, but sometimes you get some truly wonderful strangers who will make faces at your kid and play peekaboo. We sat in front of a saintly woman on a plane ride once who did this, and saved not only us from a cranky baby, but the whole plane from his crying! Bless you kind stranger!
  3. Bring mess-free snacks. Nothing will calm my active boy quite like a snack. However, nothing messy! You don't want to leave a mess, or deal with clean up. Try something bite sized and crumb free like mini teddy grahams. And whatever you do, hand them one at a time or else the entire bag or container might end up on the floor.

Happy waiting!

Riding in Cars with Babies

Riding in Cars with Babies

Have you ever seen Riding in Cars with Boys? Me neither, (I prefer Drew Barrymore in The Wedding Singer, personally) but I’m all too familiar with the lesser-known Horror-Comedy-Drama, Riding in Cars with Babies. Every major holiday of our marriage has been spent traveling to visit one set of in-laws or the other. The closest set lives about 4 hours away with no traffic. We have a small sedan, which means a car seat pushes the passenger seat too far forward for a human with legs to sit comfortably. Any road trip with all three of us looks like an awkward Uber ride but no one is getting paid.

It’s been trial and error, but here are my top 5 tips for getting through a long car ride with a baby:

1. Have snacks/bottles.

I exclusively nursed my son for the first six months, and when you are stuck in traffic, unable to pull over and nurse, you might find yourself leaning over the car seat and giving your fellow road trippers quite a show. After that experience we got batteries for my pump so I could pump in the car and give a bottle of fresh milk. The car kept moving and the baby was happy and full! This also applies for babies and toddlers who are on solids. I find the squeeze pouch purees are great for this, and mostly mess free!

2. Toys or books...or an empty water bottle

Depending on your baby’s age, a toy or book can keep their attention for a small chunk of time. We found the longest stretch of peace we got out of one object was an empty plastic water bottle. The crinkle sounds mesmerized him, and let’s face it, babies know when something is not designed as a baby toy, and somehow that makes it even better.

3. Time your trip with nap time

If you are one of those awesome parents who has your kid on a nap schedule (we finally figured that out after his first birthday), try timing your trips around naptime. My son takes one afternoon nap, so if we can help it, we start long road trips about an hour before his regularly scheduled nap. Naps in car seats usually last a little longer than his crib naps because the moving car keeps lulls him to sleep. Once he finally wakes up, it’s a good time for all of us, adults included, to take an activity break at a restaurant or rest area.

4. Sun shade

For a while I thought those little sun shades that attached to windows for babies were extravagant...I mean can’t they just close their eyes and deal with it? Apparently not my children. My son hates when the sun is in his eyes, and his eyelids don’t make a difference. A sun shade makes a huge difference if you are driving during sunrise or sunset hours.

5. Music

This might be hotly debated depending on your tolerance level for certain types of music, but if you find something both you and baby like, it might relax you both! You can’t really go wrong with classical music. Other songs we like in the car include Crazy Love by Van Morrison and The Chain by Ingrid Michaelson.

Stay tuned for the sequel, Babies on a Plane, with much less profanity than the better-known Snakes on a Plane.

Sick days with baby

Sick days with baby

Have you ever found yourself faced with an illness like a cold or the stomach bug, but also with being home with a healthy and active baby? Or maybe you haven’t had to worry about this yet but are wondering what you would do if it happened? I am writing this from bed, surrounded by tissues and Tylenol, and here is what I’ve found helps:

  1. Accept help. If you have anyone in your life who is willing and able to help you, let them. My husband essentially took on all of the parenting responsibilities for three days. As hard as it was to be quarantined in our bedroom, I knew it was better to keep my sick germs away from the baby as much as possible and let him have some quality father-son time instead. I was resting and baby was healthy and those were the two most important things for our lives to get back to normal quickly.
  2. Always have “easy” food stored somewhere. When you are sick, the last thing you want is to go grocery shopping and cook. Having some cans of soup stashed in the pantry will save you more than just a meal, it will be the best tasting thing you’ve eaten in a while (since you might not have eaten anything in 2 days!)
  3. Let the mess happen. When you are sick, you priority should be to get better. If achieving your goal of wellness includes letting the toys cover the living room for more than a 24-hour period, or the dishes pile up in the sink, then so be it. Chances are you are going to go on a cleaning spree after you are feeling better anyway to clean all the sick-germ surfaces, so you can make it a whole-house event! (Find ways for your toddler to help clean or pick things up!)
  4. Armchair parenting. Sometimes, you are sick and tired and you don’t have someone around to help with the very active toddler. This is the time to sprawl out on your couch and let them just play. Maybe they are angels and will only play with their normal toys. Maybe they are normal children and will want to get into that Tupperware cabinet. Maybe you really just want to rest so you pull out a new toy that you’ve been hiding away. Whatever works to keep them safe and occupied so you can watch from the comfort and rest of the couch, do that.

Finally, if you are reading this article because you are going through an illness right now, remember that you will get better eventually! It’s easy to give into despair and only focus on the current pain or discomfort you are experiencing. Try to think toward the wellness of the future. A little positive thinking never hurts (even if it seems impossible!)

Traveling activities

Traveling activities

After a little travel-hiatus until our new baby arrives, I find myself thinking about where we can go for our next trip and what we can do while we’re there! I never realized how much fun it would be to plan activities that are kid-friendly. There is something so wonderful about seeing your child having a fun time, and it’s never one-sided, we always have fun too! Here is a list of my top seven kid-friendly activities when my family is visiting a new place!

  1. Local museums. The last time we visited Detroit, we went to the Henry Ford Museum. We went for a few reasons: we had the time, my husband really wanted to go, and we had the time. I hadn’t looked up how kid-friendly it would be, but who can go wrong with cars and little boys? It was such a fun experience, and my son had a great time. He got to run around, which tired him out before the flight. My husband and I got to stretch our legs and get some good exercise in before having to sit down for hours on a plane. And we all learned a lot!
  2. Bookstores. I personally love a good book store. They smell great, the look great, and they are full of books. The visual aspect of a library or bookstore is great for kids: lots of different bindings of all different colors with different words of different fonts all coming together to make a pleasing aesthetic. Kids (and adults) are filled with awe and wonder marveling at shelves upon shelves of books. And I’ve never been to a bookstore that gets mad at you for browsing and taking your time walking around. It is a great way to spend time for those interim moments while you travel.
  3. Malls. Who doesn’t love to bring back some souvenirs from traveling? Malls have all that plus food, plus maybe an indoor play place. Malls are a bit commercial and not always my first choice, but they are free and if the weather is bad, they get you out of the rain!
  4. Parks. If the weather isn’t bad though, parks are always a fun place. My son would love any park, anytime, anywhere, but visiting a new one is extra exciting.
  5. Toy stores. I have vivid memories of visiting toy stores as a kid. I know that taking my children to toy stores, especially in an age where everything is ordered online instead of in a store, that he will remember these times too.
  6. Nature trails. Similar to parks, nature trails are fun for kids who can walk longer distances, or love being outside.
  7. Zoos or aquariums. Nothing beats a giant wall of ocean creatures swimming right in front of your face! The last aquarium we visited also had a play area that was a submarine simulator. Whoever designed it was a genius because they put hundreds of fake buttons and switches that could occupy a toddler for hours on end.
Happy travels!

Working mom: How to manage a morning routine

Working mom: How to manage a morning routine

I love sleep. I could easily sleep for ten or more hours a night if I had no other obligations. When I do wake up, I like to wake up slowly. From the time I was a little girl I have never been one of those up-and-at'em people. My brain just takes longer to wake up than the rest of me. I am groggy for at least the first 5 minutes of being awake. Motherhood, of course, challenged this part of me. My son didn’t sleep through the night until right around his first birthday. During that first year, I was getting up every three hours and still making it to work on time in the morning. Here’s how I did it:

  1. Work backwards when establishing the timing of your morning routine. Know by what time you need to leave the house and make that your starting point. If I need to leave the house at 7:00, how much time do you need for everything else? Then, you have your wake-up time.
  2. Pack lunches the night before. My son goes to daycare and his lunches usually consist of some dinner leftovers, so it’s easy to do the night before. As we are cleaning the kitchen, I just pack his lunch as I am cleaning up everything else.
  3. Wake up at the same time every day. As tempting as a few minutes of extra sleep can be, it’s better for you AND your baby to have a routine down. My son is so much happier when the routine is normal. If his sleep pattern changes because of travel or something else, he is far less cheerful than normal. Also, waking up at the same time every day will help you get your morning routine down to a science and (most) mornings will run like clockwork.
  4. Wake up before your baby. This might not work for everyone, but when we were sleep-training our son, we knew we didn’t want him waking up at the crack of dawn every single day. We scheduled his bedtime so that he would wake up in the mornings with just enough time for a diaper change, getting dressed, breakfast, and maybe a few minutes of play before heading out the door. For other people, they might be naturally early risers and enjoy lots of activity and play before leaving the house. Either way, I have enjoyed some peaceful morning time to drink some hot tea before I have my son up and wanting attention.
  5. Give your child some responsibility for part of the routine. We take our trash out a few times a week, and even though he is just a year old, our son has a “job” to do. He knows that he carries the bag of bathroom trash (very small and lightweight for him) outside on the way to the car. He loves having a job to do and it makes him more likely to get his socks, shoes, and coat on without fussing! If he doesn’t have his shoes on, he can’t take the trash out, so he is usually very cooperative.

I must admit, I haven’t followed my own advice perfectly all the time, but the few times when I choose to sleep in a few extra minutes, or leave lunch-packing for the morning, I am rushed and tend to forget things. When I stick to these goals, our mornings are much easier!

Challenges of being a working mom


Mom kissing baby

By: Ruthie Cody

I knew that I was going to continue to work outside the home after having children. We live in an area with a high cost of living, and in order for us to meet our financial goals each month, my income is necessary. I went into my first pregnancy with the mindset that my child would go to daycare. It was a decision that my husband and I made early, because we knew that we had level heads when we were making the decision. Having a child was uncharted territory, and we couldn’t save a big decision like that for after the baby was born.

After having my son, I had 3 months of maternity leave, half of which was paid. The United States isn’t known for its generous maternity leave policy, but I was able to take more than the bare minimum that some women get. I am grateful for that. When it came time for me to return to work, I cried. Dropping off my 3-month old baby at daycare felt like abandoning him. You are at the mercy of a near-stranger to take care of the human that just changed your life forever in the best way that you never knew was possible.

I know everyone’s experience with their children is different, but we all share common themes. Hopefully I can touch on some of those common themes below. Here are a few of the toughest challenges I have experienced as a working mother, and how I have managed them:

  1. The initial drop-off when you first return to work. My first morning back to work was hard. I do love my job, but leaving your baby with someone else for the first time is emotional. My husband came with us, and we both gave the baby lots of kisses and held him before we left. Walking back to our cars, I cried. Having my husband there helped me not run back inside for one more snuggle, and actually get to work on time.
  2. Driving to work, looking back, and seeing an empty car seat. I hadn’t been alone for the last 3 months of my life, and suddenly, my constant companion wasn’t there. It felt like a sad scene from a sad movie. Even now, over a year later, I still glance in the rearview mirror and see the empty car seat and my heart strings feel a slight tug, but I can promise that it gets easier with time, and the new routine becomes comforting in its own way.
  3. Getting out the door on time in the morning. I’ve never been the best person at waking up early. I have quickly learned becoming a mother doesn’t make it any easier. Not only do I have to dress myself, I have to dress a squirmy toddler who isn’t always in the mood to put his socks on and can’t make his own lunch. Do manage all the extra things that need to be done in the morning, I get as much done the night before as possible. For example, lunch usually involves some dinner leftovers, so I pack them into the right containers, bag them, and stick the whole thing in the fridge so I can grab and go the next morning. I also try to pick out our clothes the night before. (Keep an eye out for a longer post that details our morning routine for tips on how to shorten yours as well!)
  4. Finding the energy to play at the end of a long work day. Most days, I pick up my son from daycare and come home tired. I have found the easiest way to get past this is to stay outside and play before coming inside. For me, coming inside means it’s time to prepare dinner and do laundry and other chores. If I stay outside, the fresh air helps revitalize me for a short while so we can play together.

There are always more challenges to being a mom, whether you stay home or work outside the home. I know that as I continue along the journey of motherhood, I will find new challenges. But I will also find new solutions. No problem is too big for a mother who wants the best for her children!

Saving money: Groceries

basket full of bread and other grocery items

Written By: Ruthie Cody

Thriftiness is a skill: you can learn it and practice it. When you create a budget, there are fixed costs and variable costs. Fixed costs are the ones that won’t change month to month, like rent or mortgage. Those are pretty set. Choose your fixed costs wisely (do you really need an expensive cable bill when you can just pay for wifi+netflix and stream things for free?) Variable costs are the items in your budget that aren’t the same amount every month. These are the ones you have the power to adjust when you need to make some changes. One of the biggest variable line items in our budget is groceries. I have found that if I want to make a big impact on our budget, this is where I have the most room to make cuts.

Of course, as my kids grow up and get bigger, I’m sure my grocery bill is going to expand. For now though, I am practicing the following things to try and keep us healthy, full, and still saving money:

  1. Meal plan. I can’t stress this enough! Making a meal plan will help you avoid spending money on food that won’t be eaten, or making impulse buys. We plan for 6-7 days at a time, and grocery shop for just enough to cover those meals. (Weekly trips to the grocery store double as fun time for my one-year-old because he loves sitting in the carts!)
  2. Stop snacking. If you plan to make good meals to cover your whole day, you won’t need to snack a lot. For us, when we want something between meals, it’s a piece of fruit or maybe crackers and cheese, but never anything pre-packaged. The pre-packaged goodies are typically less healthy than whole foods like fruits and veggies and cost a lot more. (The one exception I make is when we are traveling because babies need snacks and moms need convenience!)
  3. Eat less meat. We aren’t vegetarian or vegan by any stretch of the imagination, but we don’t eat meat every day. Find some good recipes that you can make over and over again that are simple and tasty. One of our favorites is farro with tomatoes, onions, garlic, olive oil and salt and pepper: simple but surprisingly full of flavor, and keeps you full!
  4. Shop sales. Seeing what’s on sale can help you make your meal plan! We live near an Aldi and I check their produce picks of the week to help inform my decisions for the meal plan each week! One week they had 10-pound bags of potatoes for $1.99, so we had quite a few variations of potatoes for meals that week (lentil shepherd's pie, steak fries, mashed potatoes, and coconut curry potatoes!)
  5. I don’t coupon. What? I know. I said it. Most advice about saving money on groceries probably involves some tips for couponing, but they don’t make coupons for fresh fruits and vegetables. Just about all coupons are for things we would never buy. Coupons can be fun, but they might tempt you into extra spending you wouldn’t otherwise do.
  6. Shop the perimeter. Most grocery stores (except my beloved Aldi) are set up so that the perimeter of the store covers 90% of your needs. You might never need to travel down an aisle unless you need some dry goods like pastas, beans, or rice. Everything else (fruits, vegetables, eggs, milk, meat, bread) is around the edges!

If you are looking to save money in your budget, think about your grocery bill first. You have so much control over the final number! The more you practice making thrifty (and healthy!) decisions, the easier it becomes.

Keeping Your Budget As Your Family Grows

artwork pregnant woman made of flowers

Written by: Ruthie Cody

Artwork by: Laura Villareal

I know, another blog post on how to save money with a growing family. They seem to be everywhere! If you do a quick online search for money saving tips with kids, you will get all sorts of advice and opinions. One thing that always amazes me is how much stuff we think that babies need. We knew before having children that we didn’t have space for a lot of stuff, in our small or apartment nor in our budget. Since having our first and expecting our second, our budget has stayed almost exactly the same in terms of how much we save each month. I know once my boys are older they will have bigger appetites, so grocery bills might have to be adjusted, but I am still pretty proud of fitting diapers and other baby supplies into the budget without sacrificing our savings. Here’s how we do it:

  1. Pick your number. Know how much you want to save every month and work your budget around that end goal. Don’t ever think that you can spend all the money you make every month. That’s bad. Always have some savings for emergencies and peace of mind.
  2. Meal plan and make a grocery list. Making a meal plan will automatically fuel the items for your grocery list. Once you have your list, stick with it. Don’t go for impulse buys.
  3. Cook at home. My husband and I both work full-time, but cooking at home has always been a priority. There have been so many times when I have wanted to order food from a restaurant instead of cooking (SO many times), but my future-self always thanks my present-self when I decide to suck it up and cook, even when I am exhausted.
  4. Find cheap or free entertainment. We don’t have a cable bill, we don’t have expensive date nights, and we don’t get random cups of coffee or tea at Starbucks. We do have wifi and Netflix, which gives us some movie dates after the baby is in bed, but if our budget ever got tight we would probably cut out Netflix, too. For our son, we take him to the park, or the free play gym at the local shopping mall, or even some free museums. Little kids love climbing, running, and playing, all of which can be done for zero dollars.
  5. Use your local library. I mean you are technically paying for it anyway. If you use it even a handful of times, you have probably gotten more value out of it than you paid in with taxes. I have found that reading books with or in front of your child is one of the best ways to spend time together. If you are reading your own books, it sets a good example for good habits in the future too. Libraries also host events for kids, which makes it like free entertainment too!
  6. Shop used. We have been fortunate to have been gifted many baby clothes, but when my son does need something new, I always look to the thrift store first. Baby clothes, especially ones for special occasions, are never worn more than a few times and can look new at thrift stores. I have gotten some really beautiful clothes for my son, some with tags still on, for a fraction of the original price. The same goes for adult clothes! Always check the thrift store first, you never know what you will find.

Babies on a Plane

baby sitting on two hands

By: Mommy Blogger Ruthie Cody

 Another lesser-known horror-comedy-drama with a similar title to a famous movie. Babies on a Plane, unlike Snakes on a Plane, has far fewer bad words because as a responsible parent, you have to keep things G-rated for your kid - even if what goes through your head might sound a lot more like Samuel L. Jackson.

I have flown with my one-year old son and husband five times. In fact, and as I write this, we are packing for another flight this weekend. I’ve been fortunate to always have my husband with me when we fly, so I can’t take all the credit for how smoothly it has gone for us most of the time. My son has also always been a good eater, so nursing him or preoccupying him with snacks has worked well too.

A few tips for flying based on your proximity to the plane:

Booking your ticket

  • When booking your ticket, if you can help it, plan the flight time around when your baby might be napping, sleeping, or some other activity that calms them (for us, it’s meal time!)
  • After you book your flight, call the airline and have them walk you through the process of adding Infant in Arms to your boarding pass. We learned the hard way that some planes only have the extra oxygen mask on the right side of the plane, and our seats were on the left. They had to go through a long process to switch our seats and add Infant in Arms to the boarding pass. We almost missed our flight!

Arriving at the airport and getting through security

  • Get there early. If you have a baby who you will be holding the entire flight, chances are you will need to get the phrase “Infant in Arms” added to your boarding pass, and you might have to wait in line at the airline counters to do that. Another benefit of being early is not needing to rush with bags + baby + passports + stroller/car seat/etc. And risk the chance of dropping something along the way.
  • Avoid wearing belts and heavy jewelry, or shoes that are hard to take on and off. Security can be a pain when you have to take your shoes, scarf, jewelry, and belt off. Try doing it while holding a squirming toddler. Yeah, not happening. I don’t advocate people dressing in pajamas when they fly, but try to find a presentable travel outfit that is also easy to get through security with.

Waiting to board

  • Exercise your baby! If you get to the airport early enough, you should have a good chunk of time to let your child run around, especially if they are already walking. The best babies on planes are the ones who sleep through the whole ride, so the more tired you can get them before, the better. My son’s favorite thing to do is to run up to strangers who are waiting for the flight, stare at them, and run away. It’s kind of weird, but most people are good-natured about it, and it will help them on the flight because my kid will probably be worn out.
  • Gate-check things you won’t need on the flight. Every airline we have flown is always happy to gate-check items for us because it frees up cabin space. It also is less for you to fumble with when you are getting in your seat. Every airline we have flown has also allowed us to check strollers and car seats free of charge.


  • Usually, people with small children have priority boarding. Take advantage of this.
  • If you are boarding early, get to know the flight attendant and let them take your kid for a walk if they are so inclined. On our most recent flight, we told our flight attendant that she was more than welcome to take our son and walk him around at anytime. She was so kind and even picked him up once when he was getting restless in our seats. He loved being able to go up and down the aisle and see the other passengers.


  • Nurse your nursing baby, or give a bottle/snacks to an older baby. This will avoid any discomfort they might feel with the change in altitude as the plane ascends.
  • If your child is a little older, let them look out the window so they can see what is happening, our son loved that (warning: this could backfire if it scares them)

Mid-flight and landing

  • Use any routines or cues that might initiate sleeping. For our son, it’s reading books.
  • If sleeping is not an option, then break out the good snacks. They will associate flying with yummy things and maybe be on better behavior for it!
  • When the seatbelt sign is off, let them stand in the aisle for a few minutes at a time (until someone needs to pass them) to let them stretch their legs and get a different view.


  • Unless you have a connecting flight or are in a hurry, wait to let everyone else off the plane first. Watching people get their bags and walk by is entertainment for kids. It also lets you gather your things without feeling rushed by the people around you, and if you de-board early, you will need to wait around for the gate-checked items anyway

Always remember, flights don’t last forever, so even if it gets bad, it’s temporary! It might even make for a funny story in the future. Happy flying!