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Flying the friendly skies with a Tasmanian devil on your lap

Our little boy Tyler, who just turned 19 months old, has been on 20 flights with me. Twenty flights! (I honestly find that hard to believe, but it’s true – mostly because we’ve had lots and lots and LOTS of family to visit.) For many of those flights, Tyler was a tiny-tiny infant, and the white noise of the jet engines – combined with carefully timed feedings – would knock him out cold.

Our little boy Tyler, who just turned 19 months old, has been on 20 flights with me. Twenty flights! (I honestly find that hard to believe, but it’s true – mostly because we’ve had lots and lots and LOTS of family to visit.) For many of those flights, Tyler was a tiny-tiny infant, and the white noise of the jet engines – combined with carefully timed feedings – would knock him out cold. “Flying with an infant isn’t so bad!” I would think while sitting in my cramped coach seat, with Tyler passed out on a pillow on my lap. But, of course, Tyler isn’t so little anymore. In fact, he’s HUGE. And HE’S WALKING. (He hadn’t started walking yet when we took our last flight together.) Not only that, but he prefers to run – everywhere. Sitting still for extended periods of time has become, to him, the worst fate imaginable. Restaurant meals have become Tantrum City if he doesn’t have at least some room to move around and explore. (I’m becoming a huge fan of very loud restaurants with booths . . . and very loud coffee shops with play areas for kids . . . although I am nervous about swine-flu-infected toys . . . but that’s a subject for another blog post!) Well, anyway...I have to fly with Tyler again next month. (I’m meeting my ailing Mom in Vegas and taking her to the Grand Canyon; she’s dreamed of seeing the Grand Canyon for her entire life, and this will be the first time she’s ever been there.) So it’s a pretty important trip, right? But I’m telling you, I’ve practically been hyperventilating with panic over how to fly with this gargantuan, running Boy-Man, who barely even fits on my lap anymore. What do I do?? These worries prompted me to research and write the feature “Screams on a plane: How to quell tantrums.” I interviewed a whole bunch of moms, along with Dr. Harvey Karp, the pediatrician who created “The Happiest Baby on the Block” and “The Happiest Toddler on the Block” books and DVDs. He shared all sorts of advice about how to avoid tantrums on an airplane, including this gem: Let kids watch TV during the flight, even if you feel pretty strongly about limiting TV-viewing at home. “Movies, cartoons, absolutely!” Dr. Karp recommended. “Whatever’s going to keep them entranced is what you want.” To read the “Screams on a plane” feature, click here. I hope it’s at least a little bit helpful. And please pray for me in November when we have to board that aircraft!