The best travel toys for toddlers on airplanes that fit in your bag, keep them happy and keep you sane. You're welcome!
Flying with a toddler can be a great adventure, even long haul. Or it can be a nightmare, even short haul.
The right preparation makes ALL the difference. After criss-crossing the globe with baby lab, from New York to Athens, I gathered together my tips on flying with a toddler over here.
In today's post, I want to talk about travel toys for toddlers on airplanes (and aeroplanes, I'm British after all ;-)
The best travel toy for your toddler is, of course, you. But even you need a break and your toddler will benefit from other toys as well.
What works well as a toy at home, doesn't always translate to a great toy on a plane.
Essentially, travel toys need to be non-messy, easy to find in the dark, hard to break and quiet to avoid annoying everyone around you.
It's also good if they don't take up too much space and don't weigh too much but, quite honestly, these are secondary considerations!
And, of course, they have to be able to pass through airport security.
The Travel Toy Checklist
With that in mind, here's my recommendations for the best travel toys for toddlers on planes. We've flown long and short haul with Baby Lab and tried and tested these to the max!
I've also included the Amazon link because, let's face it, chances are you're reading this on your phone with a toddler nearby or in the dark while breastfeeding or cramming all your life admin into 10 minutes so who has the time to wander off shopping elsewhere?!
If you buy through these affiliate links, we may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. However, all of these products have been tried and tested by our own toddlers, on a flight, and we're only recommending the ones that worked!
Airport Busy Book - a hard board book for younger, enthusiastic fingers with moving parts and flaps.
This is a great way to prep your toddler for the upcoming flight as well as explain parts of the airport and takeoff.
It's robust and interactive. Always a hit.
Aquadoodle - draw with water, no need to worry about getting pen and crayon everywhere!
Plus, the travel version comes in a suitcase so they can carry it themselves and feel as though they're joining in the airport extravaganza.
Worm on a string - develops fine motor skills and concentration and coordination without dropping small pieces on the floor. Also, strangely therapeutic as a stress reliever for parents as you thread the worm in and out and in again...
Airport sticker book - one step better than an ordinary book, this sticker book makes it easy to talk to toddlers about what's going on around them. T
Washable crayons & small colouring book - more for restaurant use after you've ordered a meal than on the plane but can work for both. I was skeptical at first but they really ARE washable.
Travel books can be a tricky one because of their weight. Increasingly, though, flimsy paperback books can be bought for less than a dollar. In the US, you'd call them "dollar stores," in the UK it's more likely to be Home Bargains.
Hide them from your little ones until you're mid-flight and then pull them out the bag pizazz and panache, relishing the surprise factor. To be honest, this applies to all of the toys on the list as well.
I see plenty of travel blogs recommending magnetic toddler toys but in my experience, you spend a lot of flight time scrabbling around trying to find the pieces. A good alternative is this magnetic drawing board, an equivalent to the Aqua Doodle if you want to keep everything dry.
What about baby travel tips?
Babies don't really need travel toys but read this article on flying with babies for other recommendations for a peaceful, pleasant flight.
Paediatricians may recommend screen time limits but remember that applies to everyday life, not the rare time you travel on a plane.
That said, protect little ears with these noise-limiting, tangle free headphones for children three years and up. And keep the screen as a last resort, if only to give yourself options! Download favourite episodes before you fly and make sure they're available offline.
One product I'm yet to test but which looks like a genius idea is the Kids Travel Tray for flights and long road trips. It promises to fold up for easy transport but works as a desk during the journey. There are mesh pockets for drinks, sturdy buckles and detachable sections to suit car seats, open spaces and more. Check out the Kids Travel Trays on Amazon and let me know how you get on!
This is a handy travel hack: repurpose a car seat organiser for the plane. The only snag is that most are wider than a single seat so it works best for a toddler sat next to an adult.
Corral all the toys and snacks into different sections in a bid to spend less of the flight on your hands and knees looking for lost toddler travel toys...
You can check out the prices and buy these car seat organisers on Amazon here.
Most of these toddler toys work just as well during road trips as they do on flights. However, I'd recommend keeping smaller parts to even more of a minimum when driving than on a plane.
Bear in mind that if you're travelling solo, you won't be able to reach around and intervene if they start choking or remove anything from their mouth. You know your kids better than anyone else, but don't take chances with the serious stuff!
Hi, I'm Abi, a doctor turned writer who's worked with Lonely Planet, the BBC, UNESCO and more. Let's travel more and think more. Find out more.
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