Traveling with a toddler can be both rewarding and stressful. Traveling with your toddler on a plane? Now that can be even more rewarding and stressful! However, with the right planning and preparation, you keep the experience as positive and relaxing as possible. 

A successful flight with a toddler starts with a good airplane car seat. Your toddler’s car seat should be installed on the airplane and they should be strapped in at all times. Not only is this recommended by the FAA, but it’s also safer and more comfortable for your toddler! But, with an energetic toddler, a long flight buckled up will probably get a little boring and when toddlers get bored, things get hard for everyone!

Packing the right toys and tools can be super helpful for keeping toddlers entertained and content while flying. Today, we’re sharing our airplane activities for toddlers and delivering some of our favorite family air travel tips. Here’s what you should know before you take off:

How To Entertain A Toddler On A Plane

Preload movies, music, games, and more on devices. 

One of the best ways to keep toddlers busy on the plane is by providing lots of content for them to consume. Of course, you normally have limits on screen time, but in this unique circumstance, feel free to throw the limits out the window! Movies, music, games, and more are great ways to keep kids happy, entertained, and quiet the whole flight.

Before you go, preload all your content. Whether you’re downloading movies, shows, and games on an iPad or adding music and stories to an audio player, get it all done long before you leave. Then, make sure you have the extras like toddler-friendly headphones, a battery pack, and a functional case

Bring airport-friendly toys and activities. 

Another great way to entertain toddlers during a flight is by bringing plenty of toys. Pack your carry-on full of items that your kiddo can play with on a tray table while strapped into their car seat. (Just a note, tray tables aren’t safe in vehicles. Only on airplanes.) 

Want to find the best toddler travel toys for flights? All your toys should be . . . 

  • On the quieter side to avoid disturbing other passengers
  • Containable and not include too many small pieces 
  • Soft-sided so they’re not projectile risks in extreme turbulence 
  • Open-ended to promote hours of play 

We also recommend you get at least a few new toys (or maybe some that have been out of rotation for a while), because they’ll be more exciting and distracting when your child starts to get a little antsy. 

Play toddler-friendly games. 

Not every classic road-trip game is toddler friendly, but a few are! (Especially for older toddlers.) They can make for a fun, interactive airplane activity that the whole family can enjoy together. “Would You Rather” or maybe even “I Spy” to pass the time together! You could also play a color scavenger hunt if there’s enough to look at!

Pack your own snacks in fun containers.

Snacks are essential to pass the time with toddlers! Pack lots of snacks in your carry-on and deliver them to your child in fun containers that double as an activity. We love the Gobe Snack Spinners (here’s a bigger one) and the MotherCould Snack Box! Just make sure you avoid sticky foods, hard raw vegetables and fruit, and hard candy. You don’t want to bring anything that increases the choking risk of the snack. (But, understand, ALL car seat snacks are choking hazards.) 

Some good options are:

  • Fruit or yogurt pouches
  • Teething wafers or sticks
  • Puffs or cereal
  • Goldfish 
  • String cheese
  • Mini muffins
  • Animal crackers
  • Granola bars
  • Soft fruits or freeze-dried fruits
  • Trail mix
  • Veggies straws 

And for drinks? You can actually bring milk through TSA for your toddler! Shelf-stable milk is the best bet for packing purposes, but you can also buy water after security and use powder mix-ins to make juice for a special treat! Here’s more on snacks in the car seat if you want more ideas!

Read lots of books. 

Books are another great way to keep your child engaged on the flight! Bring some favorites, download them on a tablet, or buy some new ones! The Airport Book is a cute and relevant book for their flight, but w

e also like Indestructibles, because they’re thin, short, and toddler-proof! 

Quietly sing songs or nursery rhymes together. 

If other activities aren’t cutting it, bring a smile to your child’s face by singing some of their favorite songs or rhymes. As long as you do it quietly, no one will mind the giggle! Plus, everyone would rather have a singing toddler over a crying toddler on their flight, right? So, be mindful of others, but memorize the lyrics to some of your child’s favorite tunes to pass the time while heading to your destination. 

Use finger puppets and make-up stories. 

One benefit to flying over driving is that you can sit with your child, so, if you haven’t realized it yet, you’re your child’s best entertainment tool! You can engage them in storytelling using finger puppets, stuffed animals, or really any toys you’ve got in your carry-on. If you have the energy, this will keep them engaged for hours!

Take advantage of learning opportunities. 

Your family travel time could be a great opportunity to teach your child something new or hone a skill they’ve been refining! Bring some flashcards, spelling puzzles, counting blocks, and more and practice with your toddler. They’ll love the challenge and you’ll love how much they’re learning! 

Look through family pictures. 

When you’ve run out of all other ideas, you can entertain a toddler with your camera roll. Just show them your phone screen and start scrolling through photos! Chances are, most of them are pictures of them and people they know, so they’ll have a blast identifying all of their favorite people and admiring themselves. You can even snap some new pictures and videos as an activity! 

Tips for Flying with Kids

15+ Best Airplane Activities For Toddlers 

Quiet Busy Books
Toys for toddlers on airplane

Quiet books are a favorite travel toy, because they provide lots of different activities wrapped into one package. This one provides tons of role playing opportunities, from being a doctor caring for patients to being a mail carrier dropping off letters. It’s so much fun, promotes fine motor skill development, and doesn’t make any noise! 

Mess-Free Coloring Books
Toys for toddlers on airplane

Coloring and activity books are classic travel entertainment tools, but even washable crayons and markers are risky on a plane. Before you know it, there are markings all over the cabin wall, seat, tray table, and window. Yikes! Color Wonder’s mess-free coloring options are perfect, because the color only shows on the special paper. The one we’ve linked to is even better, because it’s finger painting meaning you don’t need to deal with falling crayons or markers! 

Suction Spinners
Toys for toddlers on airplane

Fidget toys make great travel toys, and these suction spinners are our favorite. They can attach to the cabin wall, window, or tray table for hours of spinning and fidgeting. It’s simple but very fun. 

Digital Camera
Toys for toddlers on airplane

What better toy to bring on a trip than a digital camera? There are tons of toddler-friendly cameras out there that allow kids to take thousands of pictures and selfies while traveling. This one even has a selfie camera! They’re simple to use and usually include lots of additional kid-friendly features like fun frames and photo effects!

Sticker Books
Toys for toddlers on airplane

Sticker books can also be productive ways of entertaining toddlers! This one has a handy spiral binding with the scene and pictures side-by-side for easy use. (No flipping to the end to find what you want.) They’re not reusable, but there are enough pages that should keep them occupied for a lot of the trip there and back!

 

Squigz
Toys for toddlers on airplane

Squigz are an open-ended toy for building, fidgeting, and learning! We love them, because they’re a tool that even young toddlers can use to create when they’re too young to use legos and other building tools. Yes, there are a lot of pieces, but not a lot of consequential pieces. Really, it’s no big deal if one or two got left behind on the plane. They still get a vote from us as one of the best airplane toys!

Water Wow Coloring Pads
Toys for toddlers on airplane

Water Wow, like Color Wonder, are coloring options that won’t make a mess! The colors on the pages are activated by water that you put in the special marker. These are so fun for little ones who are just starting to enjoy arts and crafts!

Magnetic Blocks
Toys for toddlers on airplane

Blocks on a plane probably don’t sound like a great idea, but these are magnetic! They’ll stay together even if you hit some turbulence. Plus, it’s a small set of only 8 pieces, so you don’t have to worry about keeping track of too many pieces. And, since the set comes with a felt carrying case, you don’t have to worry about loose blocks rolling around your carry-on. All around, magnetic blocks are a great choice!

Drawing Pads
Toys for toddlers on airplane

Toddlers are finally at the age where they really start enjoying being creative. These drawing pads are so much fun, because you can draw on them over and over without paper. You draw what you want, and then simply clear the screen when you’re done. Your child will have a blast making art, and you’ll love that it keeps them entertained and includes a tethered pen. That’s not going anywhere!

Monkey Noodles
Toys for toddlers on airplane

We can’t really describe how you play with monkey noodles they’re just a super cool sensory toy that you can fidget with for hours. You kids will have a blast with these open-ended noodles. Are the noodles worms? Are they a pasta dish? Or, are they colorful family members? It’s up to your child and their growing imagination! 

Dressy Friend Doll
Toys for toddlers on airplane

Multi-purpose tools are fantastic for travel because they can engage children in more ways than one. This plush doll can be played with as a normal doll, but it can also be used as a sensory toy for fine motor training! Each doll (there’s a girl too) has lots of buttons, buckles, snaps, and more for your child to manipulate. It’s perfect for pretend play and motor skill development! 

Yoto Mini
Toys for toddlers on airplane

The Yoto is a screen-free media player that’s perfect for travel! (Especially if you’re trying to limit their screen time.) Kids bring along special plastic cards that include songs and stories and then listen away using the 100% kid-friendly controls. Whether they love hearing Eric Carle stories or jamming to Super Simple Songs, you’ll find something your toddler will love in Yoto’s massive library! Just don’t forget your headphones!

Search & Find Books
Toys for toddlers on airplane

They make plenty of toddler-friendly search-and-find books that are tons of fun for the whole family. Your child will love tracing their finger across the page with you, searching for an allusive animal or character. It could start a life-long love of search-and-fines, which would be super convenient for every future trip! 

Poke-A-Dot Learning Cards
Toys for toddlers on airplane

Poke-A-Dot books are a toddler favorite. However, those books are heavy! You might as well drop a brick in your carry-on. However, these learning cards are much lighter and smaller while still being really fun. These ones even have a learning twist, which is a big win-win for airplane toys!

Window Clings
Toys for toddlers on airplane

Looking out the window of a plane is magical for everyone, but you can make it even more magical for your child by placing window clings across the glass. The sun will shine through the colorful shapes and totally mesmerize your little one. Pick a set of window clings that match their current interests!

Plush Jungle Animals
Toys for toddlers on airplane

Every kid loves stuffed animals. This jungle set can be comfort items, pretend play toys, or puppets for your made-up stories. Yes, there are 5 different animals, but they can all be contained in the adorable tree trunk carrying case. That case is also soft-sided, so it can be pressed (or shoved) into a carry-on. 

Rubber Cars
Toys for toddlers on airplane

If your child loves cars, you’re probably tempted to bring some! Small diecast cars can be difficult to keep track of and they are potential projectile risks. Instead, try these larger rubber cars that are soft, chunky, and just plain fun. Your child will love driving these goofy cars and naming all the wheeled animals in front of them.

It’s time to take off with these toddler air travel tips!

The key to a relaxed flight is an entertained toddler, but there are more ways to make family air travel more enjoyable for you! Take our Wheels Up course for all the details on traveling with a car seat, navigating the airport, and packing all the right tools. It’s the best way to get all your need-to-know info on international or domestic travel. It’s time to fly high!

Wheels Up
Wheels Up

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