A close up photo of a wing of an airplane.A close up photo of a wing of an airplane.

7 Tips for Your Kid’s First Plane Ride

Among the many firsts your kiddo will experience, their very first plane ride has to be one of the most exciting! From watching the planes in the waiting area to looking out at the clouds from your seats, it’s all so fun.

Yet, for us parents, it can be also a little bit fraught. What if your child’s ears hurt because of the pressure changes? What if they cry and the people around you get grumpy? What if you don’t have the right book, game, or snack to soothe them?

Here are a few tips to help make it a smoother trip, including some ahem, truly amazing snacks.

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Book an early flight

There are so many advantages to an early flight. Your kiddos might be less tired and a little more patient with the whole process. Earlier flights tend to be less crowded — and they’re generally more likely to take off on time, too.

A photo of a busy airport with ticket stations, seating and bathroom sign.

Set expectations for the whole experience

Our kids seem to enjoy most experiences more if they know what to expect. Kids may be more patient if they know a little about all the different stages of plane travel, from check-in to security and boarding to snacks. Want some help with that? There are loads of great videos out there on the Internet.

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Dress them for success

Between the waiting area and the airplane, temperatures can swing wildly, so dressing in layers is a great idea. Plus, it’s good to be cozy if you have to sit for a long time! And, trust us, things go better if you’ve got fewer things to unbutton or untie when it comes time for a quick diaper change or a sudden trip to the restroom.

An image of a airplane with blue sky behind it.

Be ready for air pressure changes

Lots of kids have a hard time with the air pressure changes that come with taking off and landing — especially if they’re getting over an earache or a cold. Yawning and swallowing can help relieve airplane ear.

If they’re older, chewing gum or Annie’s fruit snacks can help encourage swallowing. Drinking water can help too. You can either buy water or fill up a water bottle in the airport. No time? Ask the flight attendant for a bottle or two. For the youngest ones, you can try bottle-feeding or nursing during takeoff and landing.

Little child in a airport with a dog backpack on and rolling a red suitcase.

Pack activities

Distraction is key! Filling your kid’s backpack with fun things to do will make time fly by, and we’d recommend including a variety of options, from screens to finger puppets and flipbooks.

Coloring activities are also a big win, so pack some crayons and download our Annie’s activity sheets. Here are a few we like to travel with because they offer a nice mix of coloring, counting, and games.

A close up photo of a package front of Annie's Organic Cheddar Bunnies product and a bowl of the next to it.

Take it cheesy with Annie’s snacks

Everything falls apart when the kids are hungry. Good news: Most Annie’s snacks comply with TSA regulations for carry-on food! That means you can keep your kiddo hoppy with all their favorites, from cheddar bunnies to granola bars. We do have a few tips for traveling with snacks:

  • TSA bans open boxes or bags of snacks. In fact, we’d recommend putting your snacks in serving-size ziplock bags, so you can hand them out as needed. (Or, save some time and pick up a box of Annie’s Snack Packs.) Plus, if they spill, it’s less of a deal.
  • Note that Annie’s fruit snacks will need to be repackaged too. They come in 4-ounce packages, and TSA limits gummies to 3.4 ounces.
  • Put all your snack bags in one large ziplock bag, so you can pull them out when you go through security — this will help you avoid having your bags pulled for additional screening.
A close up photo of a parent holding a child's hand outside at an airport.

Pace the activities and snacks to avoid tears

Keeping kids content and active during the flight can help avoid a meltdown. Here are a few tips:

  • A hungry child is a grumpy one, so keep the snacks and fluids flowing throughout the flight.
  • Don’t reveal all your activities at once and make one a surprise! This could be anything from a wrapped toy to some pre-cut construction paper and a glue stick. Think paper chain or seasonal critter, like a turkey, butterfly or, our fave, a bunny.
  • If your child does cry, try not to worry about bothering the adults around you — all parents have been there, and most people will be kind and understanding.