mom toddler travel

How to Keep Your Toddler Busy on an Airplane

One of the things I always stressed about most while living here in Europe is traveling with a child. Not only do you have to keep them entertained but it is at least an 11 hour flight for us to go from Germany back home to Florida…..ELEVEN HOURS. I can barely sit there without going crazy by myself, let alone try to convince a child to do it as well. But after more flights back and forth internationally than I can remember, I feel like I have mastered what works for our family when traveling with a toddler.
How to Keep Your Toddler Busy on an Airplane
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  • Plastic easter eggs are the greatest invention ever. I place a new toy inside each one, my daughter prefers animals, and I let her open one every hour or every 30 minutes (depending on the length of the flight) to have something new to look forward to after good behavior. I also wrap each egg in tissue paper or wrapping paper to make it even more exciting.
  • The iPad. I try to load it up with new apps and movies so that she will be preoccupied for longer amounts of time. Daniel Tiger takes up most of the space on the iPad lately. To see our favorite iPad apps for ages 1-3 check out my post here. 
  • They also make headphones for children over age 2 now. Uh-mazing. No more being given the evil eye by people in the seat next to us because they’ve heard “Let It Go” blasted 700 times.
  • Happy Tot Organic squeeze pouches. My favorite thing to bring. It makes me feel good knowing my daughter is getting some kind of healthy food, despite all of the crappy airplane and airport food decisions we made so far. No mess, no fussing with plates and silverware. She scarfs them down too. A child with a full belly is usually a much happier child.
  • Reusable stickers. The kind that come with a book so the stickers dont end up all over the airplane. I made that mistake the first few times. Never again. These are so much fun and we act out scenes with the animals as well.
  • Cars. Any type of small car will do. We will have races on the pull out trays and I trick my daughter into rolling them up and down my back. Massage anyone?
  • Window clings. Obviously only if you have a window seat. These alphabet ones are perfect as you can get some education in there as well.
  • Wipe Clean activity books are also on the educational side. They make several different ones for different age groups as well. Perfect for erasing and using over and over again.
  • Pipe cleaners. These can be used for several things. We usually end up making bracelets and necklaces. You can tie up daddy while he is sleeping (because we all know he is not the one taking care of the kids on the flight) or make anything else you want with them.
  • Mega Bloks or any other legos. The bigger ones do take up more space but I dont trust my daughter with the tiny Legos quite yet. These keep us busy for quite a while.
Other tips:
  • Try to fly over night when possible. My daughter will sleep the entire overnight flight, but anything during the day and we are all up for at least 24 hours. She refuses to nap on airplanes.
  • Bring the child’s lovey or stuffed animal they love most to help them feel more comfortable on the flight.
  • Wipes galore. We ran out of them on one trip and my daughter puked all over me. I had to use napkings to wipe it up and I smelled like puke for 6 hours on the plane. Awesome times.
  • For the love of all things, PLEASE DONT FORGET THE IPAD CHARGING CORD.
  • I always bring books but my daughter has no intention of using them on flights. They are heavy and take up too much room to risk bringing I think. Especially when each kids book takes like 5 minutes to finish.
  • For those with babies still using a bottle. The Playtex Nurser Drop-in bottles are the best. No cleaning out bottles on the flight. Just throw away the old liner and drop in a new one.

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  • Reply
    August 18, 2015 at 3:36 pm

    Even as an adult I prefer flying overnight, so much better!

  • Reply
    August 18, 2015 at 5:32 pm

    love this! flying from germany to USA is a pain in my ass. i can never sleep on planes, EVER. were planning a trip to fly to berlin in may (and florida in 2 days) so i must remember all of this!

  • Reply
    Alyx @Every Day is a New Adventure
    August 18, 2015 at 8:42 pm

    The eggs!!! FREAKING GENIUS!!!

  • Reply
    November 2, 2016 at 1:12 am

    Can you really take the squeeze pouches through security? I had people tell me, no they wouldn’t make it through security.

    • Reply
      November 2, 2016 at 4:03 pm

      I have done it several times and never had an issue!! Even overseas!

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