Road trips with toddlers are a real undertaking. Even if your child typically rides well in the car, long rides can leave them bored, agitated, and uncomfortable. And, when your little one isn’t happy on the road trip . . . no one is happy on the road trip. Keeping your child occupied is key to an easy ride! 

Of course, there are some challenges with entertaining toddlers in the car! Often, your young kiddos are rear-facing, and we still have to worry about messes, choking hazards, and too much screen time. So, we’re dedicating this post to the best car seat activities for toddlers! Here’s how to keep everyone calm and occupied:  

How To Keep Toddlers Entertained In The Car

Pack a fresh set of car seat-safe toys.

One of the best ways to keep your toddlers entertained is by giving them toys they haven’t seen before (or don’t see often.) Grab some toys that have been in storage for a while, or pick up a few new ones. Pull out one or two at a time throughout the road trip to keep your kiddos busy! 

Remember that toys can be projectile risks in a car crash. To prevent injury, make sure everything you pack is car seat-safe. Here’s a list of car seat-safe toys, but if you need more ideas, check out our Amazon Shop

Sing your toddler’s favorite songs.

If toys aren’t cutting it, sing some of your child’s favorite songs. Other kids in the car might enjoy the bonding experience of singing “Old Macdonald” or “If All the Raindrops” altogether, too. It could become a family road trip tradition! 

Make a list of songs on a sticky note before you leave and put it on the dash (or make a Spotify playlist). When your toddler starts to fuss, start working your way through your road trip nursery rhyme setlist. 

Recite stories you’ve read a lot.

Reciting your child’s favorite stories can be another way to make a trip with a toddler a bit easier. You can engage your child from the front seat by reciting from memory some of their favorite stories. Think Brown Bear, Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, Goodnight Moon, Llama Llama Red Pajamas, and any other books you’ve read over and over. Try pausing before the last word of a page to let your kiddo fill in the blank!

Have an adult sit in the back with your child.

No one likes sitting in the back seat, but when you’re traveling with toddlers, it’s one of the best ways to keep them entertained and cared for. The adult can do everything from playing peek-a-boo to reporting the next soiled diaper. If you want the easiest possible ride, someone should sit in the back. 

Play a classic road trip game together.

Most classic‌ road trip games work better for older kids. The License Plate Game, I Spy, and 20 Questions are all better suited for school-aged children. However, there are a few modifications you could make to make some of these games fun activities for toddlers! 

Instead of “The Alphabet Game,” do “The Color Game,” where your toddler has to be on the lookout for certain colors. Try “Would You Rather,” where you’re always the one asking the questions. Connecting with your child and engaging in the challenging game will hopefully keep them occupied. 

Watch a movie (if the car has a mounted entertainment system).

First of all, we do not recommend tablets, phones, or most entertainment systems be used in the car. These heavy objects can become dangerous projectiles in a crash, so we only advise watching movies on integrated entertainment systems that are already in the car (not ones you strap onto the headrest.) 

And, if you have rear-facing kiddos, use a safe car seat mirror to give them a view of the movie, too! We know that most of the time, parents are looking for screen-free options, but if the car trip is getting rough and nothing else is working, there’s no shame in a little screen time. 

Consider road trip snacks carefully.

Eating in the car is never totally safe. Even with the right snacks, choking is always a risk. Because of this, we recommend avoiding eating in the car if at all possible, but we understand that on long car rides, there may not be another option! On the blog, you can find our post on car seat snacking and how to do it as safely as possible. 

Hitting the road soon for a family road trip? Let’s get you from Point A to Point B safely (and sanely!). Head over to Instagram to see more.

13 Best Toddler Car Activities

Wikki Stix

Wikki Stix is great for kids of all ages, but especially toddlers working on those fine motor skills. You can bend and stick them together to make all sorts of creations. They’re completely reusable, mess-free, and perfect for open-ended play. Hopefully, these will keep your toddlers entertained for hours!

Soft-Sided Busy Boards

If you’re going to get your toddler a toy just for the car, a busyboard is the perfect choice. It folds flat and can easily be stowed in the seatback pocket or inside your diaper bag. Plus, it has dozens of activities to keep your kiddo busy. On top of that, it’s totally safe for the car! 

Audiobooks or Sing-A-Longs

Audiobooks and sing-a-longs allow you and your child to participate in a road trip activity together! Spotify has lots of audiobooks for kids, including several Dr. Seuss books and adapted Disney stories. For sing-a-longs, just make a playlist or write out a list so you can sing through everything from “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” to “Icky Sticky Bubblegum” without missing a beat.  

Fidget Pop Tubes

Fidget tubes are another good car toy for toddlers. Even if you have a tiny tot who just started walking, pop tubes provide a sensory experience that will stimulate several of your children’s senses while they play!

Discovery Bags

One of our favorite ways to keep kids entertained on long trips is by using discovery bags. Discovery bags are a series of pre-made “kits” with different activities or toys inside of each one.  Your child starts with one bag, and then when they start to get bored, you pass another one back. Each discovery bag feels like opening a birthday gift, and your kiddos will love the surprise element!

Indestructible Books

Books are always a good asset for road trips with toddlers. However, toddlers aren’t exactly gentle with their favorite books. If you haven’t discovered Indestructible Books yet, they’ll be your new car ride best friend. These books are inexpensive, full of fun colors, and pretty much indestructible. 

Buckle Toys

Buckle toys provide a lot of fidgeting fun and open-ended play. Like busy boards, they can also help with the development of fine motor skills. This particular buckle toy not only has a few different types of buckles, but it also has zippers and beaded strings as a bonus. 

Sticky Notes

Sometimes, the best road trip activities for toddlers involve giving them something usually forbidden. Why not give them a pad of sticky notes? It’ll take them a while to get through the whole stack, and sticking and unsticking definitely keeps toddlers busy. 

Soft Cars

Diecast cars are a projectile risk, so if your kiddo likes cars, go with soft-sided cars. They’ll still have fun imagining themselves blazing their own path to vacation but without the danger. This set of cars comes with a carrying bag and nine different vehicles, making these great toys for the car seat and your destination. 

Felt Boards

Felt boards are the perfect replacement for screen time. Kids can spend hours creating their own stories using their imagination. This felt board comes with 12 different themes for many hours of play, making it the perfect activity for toddlers in the car! (As long as you don’t mind all the pieces. Grab our fav reusable storage bags here!) 

Spot the Color Game

As mentioned, a lot of road trip games aren’t exactly toddler-friendly. This twist on The Alphabet Game, though, is perfect for your kids 2+. Instead of going through the alphabet, call out a color and let your toddler have fun trying to find it! Once they find something, move on to a new color. Keep doing this until they lose interest!

Water Wow

Water Wow books are also a road trip favorite. These coloring books only require a small pen filled with water, and your kids can paint and draw for hours without any mess or pesky caps. We also love that they’re spiral-bound for easy page-turning for little hands. 

Poke-a-Dot Cards

Toddlers love Poke-a-Dot books, but they’re heavy and not safe for the car. These Poke-a-Dot cards are a good alternative that is safer and allows your child to learn while popping away!

Keeping toddlers entertained in the car isn’t always easy, but these activities should help!

We hope that this list helped you develop a plan for your next road trip! Long car rides to an exciting destination can be really incredible bonding opportunities for your families, but it doesn’t feel that way with a screaming toddler. Use our road trip tips, road trip activity ideas, and road trip essentials to keep your kiddo safe and occupied the whole ride. And, for more car seat and vehicle tips and tricks, check out the Safe in the Seat blog for all of our expert advice. 

Hitting the road soon for a family road trip? Let’s get you from Point A to Point B safely (and sanely!). Head over to Instagram to see more.

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