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If you are traveling with a baby that’s younger than 6 months, chances are good that he’ll sleep for a good portion of the flight. However, if you have an older baby or toddler, a plane is way too exciting to allow for sleep in many cases. Instead of sleeping they get frustrated that they can’t crawl/walk around the plane or kick the seat. Therefore, it’s important to have a bag of tricks to keep your tiny human happy while trapped in a flying tin can.
Things that make for good travel activities have a few characteristics in common.
- Low mess
- Easily contained
- Lightweight/easy to pack
Here are 10 activity ideas that are great for travel entertainment to get you started.
These are great because of all the variety and ways they can be used for various ages. For older babies, you can get small stickers and stick them on their nails. Figuring out how to get them off can provide a nice span of quiet entertainment. For toddlers, sticker books are good fine motor skill practice as they peel the stickers up and stick them in the desired location. Many sticker books have scenes where once the stickers are on, you can have your older toddler explain the story they created with the stickers. You can also create your own sticker activities by using a sheet of stickers and having your toddler sort them into groups based on certain characteristics. You can also find sticker books that have reusable stickers to create endless fun.
These are great for older toddlers. They can provide a variety of educational activities. Mazes, handwriting, counting, and letter identification are just a few of the activities you can find. These books are often lightweight and provide educational entertainment.
I love this activity book because it wipes clean for reuse on every trip.
One of the requirements of airplane activities for kids is that they be low mess. Markers are great fun for toddlers; however, they often manage to color on everything except the page. These magic coloring books come with specific markers that only work on the pages. Therefore, your toddler can enjoy coloring with markers while you relax knowing they won’t redecorate the tray table.
This is a little-known activity idea. Colored beeswax is great once your child is ready for Play-Doh. Unlike Play-Doh, the beeswax doesn’t smell, or crumble and make a mess. If your child likes to play with Play-Doh at home, pulling out the beeswax on a flight, can be a novel change that is sure to excite your little one.
I know, I know, you are thinking that you don’t want to encourage screen time. However, when entertaining a toddler while flying, the rules need to go out the window. This is the perfect time to allow screens that are limited at home. Having an Amazon Fire Kids Edition is a great way to have readily available, kid-friendly entertainment. All kids enjoy this, but those that have limited screen time at home, are often extremely entertained by this normally “forbidden” item.
These can be a little more challenging as they often add bulk and weight to already overflowing carry-ons. However, one or two favorites can be a good edition. If you are flying overnight and hoping for sleep, books commonly used during a bedtime routine can help set your little one up for successfully sleeping.
A classic story like, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, is always great or some kids prefer books with flaps or different textures to feel.
Many toddlers love to play with blocks. However, these can be tricky on a plane as they fall and get lost easily. Magnetic blocks make it easy for your toddler to build creative structures and towers, but they are going to tumble everywhere as easily as traditional blocks.
If your child has a favorite toy that isn’t too hard to pack, bring it along. This includes stuffed animals and blankets used as comfort items. However, be forewarned that many times toys that are loved at home just aren’t that exciting on a plane. See the next idea for a solution to this problem.
This skwish toy is quiet and flattens down to easily fit in a carry-on bag.
Wrap up a few new, small toys and let your child open them at intervals throughout the trip. Because of the excitement of flying, items that are readily available to play with at home may not hold the same appeal. However, what kid doesn’t like unwrapping a new toy. Collect a few small toys and wrap them up before leaving. Then at different intervals throughout your trip or when your struggling to provide entertainment, let your toddler open the small present. The toy inside may provide 3 or 30 minutes of entertainment, but either way it can serve as a distraction to prevent an oncoming tantrum.
Pro Tip: Get something that comes in a set with a variety of items, like these tiny toy trucks, so you have a bunch of little toys to unwrap.
Coloring books are a staple of toddler entertainment. However, traditional crayons are likely to roll right off the tray table and all over the plane. Invest in some triangle or square-shaped crayons specifically for flying. These are often larger and much easier to keep track of as they aren’t rolling everywhere.
For more trips on flying with kids, check out these posts:
- Tips for Traveling with Babies or Toddlers
- Baby Travel Essentials
- Checklist for Traveling with a Baby
- How to Stay in a Hotel with a Baby
- How to Fly with a Baby | The Ultimate Guide
- How to Survive Long Layovers with a Baby
- Must-Have Apps for Flying with Kids
What are your best airplane entertainment ideas for toddlers? Let me know in the comments.
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Disclosure: Some of the links above are affiliate links meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will receive a commission if you click through and make a purchase.
Mom, wife, veterinary pharmacist, equestrian, ice cream lover and occasional hot mess