While packing, remember that all liquids and gels in carry-on luggage have to be in 3oz or smaller containers (not larger containers that are partly empty, mind you) and placed into a single quart-sized ziploc bag--only one to a customer. And you must be able to remove your individual baggie so that it is visible while your bags are scanned.
Translation: remove all lotions, diaper cream, hand sanitizer, chapstick, nasal saline spray for the congested baby, and infant ibuprofen from the places they would be most useful (like the changing pad in the diaper bag or your coat pocket where you could actually reach it in-flight while sitting in the middle seat with your 13-month old, between two strangers, one drinking redwine, and the other hot coffee).
While planning to feed children onboard the plane, remember that outside beverages or other liquids are not allowed, except for baby items. The screeners will allow babies and very small children to have sippy cups of beverages. This is helpful in case your 13 month old prefers whole milk or prune juice to Coke mid-flight. This is not helpful to a parent who prefers a baby-proof container of liquid, rather than the very small wide-mouthed plastic cups that the flight attendants so kindly provide. Consider packing an extra sippy cup for your own beverage, but remember that you will have to argue with your child about why the are not allowed to drink out of "their" cup.
Food and snacks will not be provided by the airlines, even during a 5:40-7:40 flight, which actually begins boarding at 5:15. Eat your first dinner before you board the plane, and plan on a second one when you land. Bringing food in your carry on might be OK, but not if it is a gel or liquid. Gels or liquids (which would include things like peanut butter or cheese) must be in a 3-oz or smaller container, placed in your quart-sized Ziploc baggie, one baggie to a customer. Teddy Grahams are neither gels nor liquids until they reach a child's mouth, but allowing a baby to eat them off of the floor after he has dumped the bag can lead to strange looks from the travellers around you. Practice indifference to disapproving looks prior to flying.
Before walking through scanners, remove all jackets, watches, wallets, etc, and place them in a bin. Remove any electronic devices (like the portable DVD player to entertain the children during the flight) from their bags. All carry-on bags must go through the scanner. Note that this is much hard than it sounds while corralling 3-year olds and juggling a baby. You may attempt to leave them secured to strollers or carseats while you do this, but that reprieve is only temporary (see below).
Everyone must remove their shoes, and place them into a bin to be scanned. This includes 3-year olds who are rather upset to be parted with their new sparkly gelly sandals, and squirming infants who like to remove their socks and throw them. Also, your husband's tall cowboy boots must be placed standing upright in their bin, not laying down or sharing a bin with anything else.
Remove all babies and small children from their containment devices. Containment devices (i.e. carseats, slings, and strollers) must be collapsed and placed on scanner. Children may walk through the scanner or be carried. Sending a baby through the x-ray machine is not allowed, no matter how much you argue that he’s already had dozens of x-rays in his life and this one’s not likely to kill him either.
10 feet later, re-dress and re-pack all of your belongings. Explain to your 3-year old why they must get out of their stroller, remove their shoes and jackets and not touch the walls of a scanner while tall strangers stare at them, and why they have to then put their shoes back on right after they took them off.
Do this quickly, as after following all of the previous instructions, you have monopolized every plastic bin that TSA provides, and your belongings stretch from one end of the conveyor belt to the other. There are other travelers behind you waiting impatiently for their turn. Beware, as these people have just discarded their Starbucks, and have not yet had an in-flight adult beverage to improve their mood. Nor will they see your small child sitting on the floor insisting that she can put her own shoes on.
Don't forget the baby, who you placed in a plastic bin on the conveyor belt to keep him out of trouble.