Best Toddler Toys for Long Plane Trip

Updated on August 19, 2008
A.B. asks from Fountain Hills, AZ
16 answers

We are about to take our 14-month-old on a long plane trip (14 hours in the air plus one layover). I'd like to buy some new toys to give him on the plane to help keep him happy. Does anybody have any experience with this? What are the best toys for this situation?

Any other tips to make it a smooth trip would also be appreciated!

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So What Happened?

WOW, thanks so much, what excellent ideas!!! I never would have thought of the magnadoodle but clearly it's a winner. I made a list of everything everyone suggest and I'm going to do a little shopping. I also never would have thought to wrap them, awesome!

We are actually moving there (Germany) so I definitely will be bringing his car seat, but he has never been very good in the car and I'm a little nervous. I'm going to bring my nursing pillow on the plane so he can snuggle into my lap like he does at home. He is not walking yet so I'm a lil worried about how to let him get his energy out at the airport. I'm not comfortable letting him crawl around on those filthy floors.

We have never let him watch any TV or DVDs so I don't think we'll invest in a DVD player, but we'll have our lap top, so those suggestions gave me the idea to maybe let him watch some of our home movies we have stored on there as a last resort. Maybe I'll pick up a DVD as a LAST last resort :)

Thanks so much for all your ideas and warm wishes. This site is awesome!!

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answers from Tucson on

We became a fan of these websites this summer when we went on vacation:

Good luck and safe travels!


1 mom found this helpful


answers from Tucson on

my brother and his family are doing the same thing - their kids are 3 and 5 though - a portable DVD player with some age appropriate videos would be a good investment for long "sit still" time - let him run around (really) when you are on layover - and you might want to think about an excellent SAFE and very effective herbal formula (for all of you) called Calmazon - let me know if you want any more information - have a safe trip

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answers from Tucson on

When we go on long trips we alway wrap up some little presents and have them open them throughout the trip. has some great travel toys and games for kids of all ages. I would have to say our life saver is our portable dvd player however. Good luck on the trip.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

We take a small container of playdoh and one or two small cookie cutters. When my son was younger we left it in the bag and he just smooshed the bag between his fingers.

We also bring:

Stickers and a small spiral bound notebook
Color Wonder markers with a few pieces of the paper
A travel size etch a sketch or a travel size magnadoodle
A 'mommy' pen because they always want to use what we do:)
Two to three small matchbox cars
Board books

I keep everything in separate ziploc bags and pull them out as they get bored with the previous activity. I also bring a lot of snacks and the First Years sippy cups(pack extras in your suitcase in case you loose the one on the plane)

We have flown with my children at various ages and these items are kid tested mother approved:) My son was 11 months on his first flight and then 19 months on his second and I brought all of these things and he was happy and content.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

I would recommend going to the dollar store and looking around. I bought fat crayons and coloring books and a stamping kit there for our last plane trip. If you shop at the dollar store, you don't really care if they throw the items on the ground and so on. You also don't have to keep track of them like you would some expensive toy. I also highly recommend a sticker book of some sort. Can you bring a DVD player for him to watch his movies on? Lots of snacks -- we went through an entire row of oreos on our last trip, but the boys both kept quiet the entire time. Good luck!

Ooh -- and actually the layover will be better. It helps break up the trip. My boys (ages 3 & 4) and I flew from AZ to MI (one way we had a layover and the other was non-stop) and the boys actually did better on the leg with the layover to my dismay! It was hard for them to sit still for 4 hours straight on the non-stop. But with coloring books, stamps, treats and some action figures, we made it without any difficulty.

P.S. Playdoh got confiscated by security at the airport. Just an FYI.



answers from Phoenix on

I've had good luck with the magnadoodle.

I can't specifically remember 14 months old but perhaps you could practice (make a game out of it - or just straight out implement) quiet times where he has 15 mins each day or each morning and again each afternoon to be quiet and color (if he's into that yet?) read/look at books, etc.

You want to encourage some jaw movement (eating, drinking, gum, nursing, whatever is age appropriate) during take off and landing to help with the ear pressure. Get a window seat and let him watch the baggage going in, etc. Try not to use up all your toys and goodies before you even take off!!

Fun little treats that he doesnt usually get - teddy grahams, mini oreos, marshmallow "treasure" cereals like lucky charms, jellybeans, fancy(to him) crackers, meat/cheese cut into fun shapes (early on in the trip before it gets warm!) etc. Then you dole them out sparingly. Try to look for more protein/complex carbs than sugar otherwise you're dealing with a WIRED child on a sugar high who cannot calm down or be reasoned with. Hunger (and/or crashing from having had too much sugar) does not lend itself to calm behavior!!!!!
I've also noticed with my baby that he'd be at his fussiest right before falling asleep, so it is hard on a plane when you cant get him away from other tired passengers. Keep in mind that sometimes he may just be tired and trying to get comfortable (bring out his favorite blanket or lovey or whatever to signal "naptime"). At this point, stop with the toys & foods, that'll just overstimulate him and prolong the moment he'll fall asleep.

They pre-load children/babies first which is both nice and a curse. Once you're in the plane, you are confined to a small space.

And another thing - the best toys are NOT ones that make noises!! And whatever your son is interested in. If, for example, he is into trains, get him a pair of trains (one for each hand) to play with on his lap or seat tray or plane window. Peek-a-boo, finger rhymes, etc, are all better than toys you can buy at the store because 1- they've got your attention and YOUR time and 2- you cannot lose them! So brush up on some finger/hand play rhymes/songs (and lose your self consciousness about your singing or whatever).

Teach your son (along with quiet time) what "inside voices" are and practice those. Let him know he can use his playground voice at the play ground, etc but not inside church/banks/meetings/airplanes (wherever you are that is appropriate for quiet voice "practice")

And, of course! during your layover and before boarding the plane, walk walk walk (let him run) and visit the bathroom just before boarding. :-)

We travelled quite a bit with my son when he was a baby-toddler and to this day he LOVES flying (he's 6 - and in fact, was mad that he and I "only" got to drive during our month long vacation to visit family while his dad flew up to join us for a week with his family.)



answers from Phoenix on

We travel alot w/our kids. New toys in a carry on obviously are the best. During your layover walk your child around the terminal to tire him our for the next plane ride. and save a toy or two that he's never seen before for this 2nd plane.
Also if you dont have to travel w/ a carseat then dont. Have the shuttle company, taxi or rental car company have your carseat ready when they pick you up.
Try traveling w/a very small light weight, inexpensive travel stroller.
Theres nothing more frustrating to land in another country and the airlines have broken a wheel off your stroller!
And take your stroller right to the plane and park it next to the plane's door, The baggage crew will put it back in the same place for you when you's very convienent.
If you travel alot you may want to invest in a small DVD player. Time fly's when your watching a movie.
Have a good trip



answers from Phoenix on

My kids love a small magna doodle or etch a sketch. That way they can 'color' and draw but there are no crayons to keep track of. One other thing...the airlines allow those traveling with young children get on first thinking it will be helpful. I have found with my kids (4yrs, 21 months, 3 months) that it is easiest to be the very last ones on the plane. That way they don't have to sit as long before we take off. I let them get that last minute energy out for a little bit longer.



answers from Albuquerque on

Hi! We took our daughter to Spain, and it was actually a very pleasant trip. First, I would definatley take a great stroller that he could lay down in while you are at your destination. The tv is a great idea (maybe some baby einstein dvd's). They now also make triangle crayons (at target), so they won't roll on the floor. Crayola makes a great product of color wonder. It is special paper, that works with markers that only color on that mess on them or the table. I would also take some ear plugs for him. If this is his first flight, his ears may have a hard time adjusting to the pressure. Your pediatrician can give you some ear numbing drops. If you get on the plane, and this is a problem, you are going to be stuck for 14 hours with him in pain. Also, something he can suck on (bottle, paci, sucker) during take off and landing helps, to keep their ears from not hurting. GOOD LUCK!



answers from Flagstaff on

We just got back from a trip with our 17 month old, but the first time she flew was at 13 months. I know it is expensive, but my best advice it to get your toddler their own seat! You can take your carseat on the flight and buckle them in, or if they fall asleep you can lay them down and actually have the freedom to move around a little bit yourself. As for toys, we took books, a portable DVD player with favorite DVDs, and lots of snacks. There are no restrictions on beverages for your little ones, so you can bring juice, milk, or whatever for your child (and doesn't have to follow the 4 oz. rule)! I read (but didn't try this) that you can go to the dollar store to get a bunch of new toys, wrap them up and give them to your toddler as he gets bored. The wrapping alone will keep them occupied for some time, as well as a toy they've never seen before. Hope this helps!



answers from Albuquerque on

I go to the dollar store and buy a bunch of different toys and don't show him until we are on the plane and it is new and exciting for him. He has done very well with this. We also bought a portable DVD player and took it with us...make sure to take earphones. Good luck.



answers from Flagstaff on

Hopefully you've purchased him his own seat, and can bring his car seat. For my boys, they were most comfortable flying in their own car seat, since that is how they travel in the car. They also knew getting out was not an option (unless they were wet, or needed to move around after numerous hours.)

In addition, a teaspoon of Benadryl (suggested by their pediatrician) helped keep their ears clear so they weren't in pain, and made them just a bit sleepy, so they could rest during much of the flight. I never had a crying or fussy child on a plane with these techniques. Hope it works for you, too!


answers from Philadelphia on

Travel aquadoodle is great. It's about $10 at Target. Everyone is suggesting a DVD player- just be sure to bring toddler headphones. :)



answers from Albuquerque on

We have traveled a few times with my now three year old. The last time, he loved a cd walkman, it kept him quiet so I could rest at times! I agree with the magnadoodle idea, especially if it's new. Anything new will last longer than old toys he/she already knows.
Good luck.



answers from Phoenix on

Everyone has listed great toys. The best advice from an experienced friend was have games/toys to change out every 15 minutes. I also had bottles (and the big treat - lollipops if desperate) for the take off and departure. I chose not to medicate.

My daughter wasn't into movies until she was older. Now a dvd player can keep her happy for most of the time.



answers from Phoenix on


When our daugther was about that age, we brought a kid's memory game in a zip lock bag. Not to actually play the game, but to have her go through the cards and point out and name things that she knew. Along the way she picked up some new words, too.
We also like the travel-size Doodlepro since it does not involve water (like the Aquadoodle) and the pen is attached to the drawing board.
Lots of book of course, preferably new to him. Target has sometimes really good ones in the $1 section (Sesame Street, lift-the-flap etc).
DVD player of course, but that comes with a lot of other stuff and with carry on restrictions, may be not the best. Check out the airline schedule online, they might have a TV schedule already posted so you can plan/check out what they offer for that age.
Check out your lay over airport online, to see if and where there might be a children's play area. Some have some really good ones.
We also brought some new finger puppets (Ikea) in a ziplock bag. They are small and you can make up all sorts stories with them.
Have lots of snacks ready at hand.

Beyond all this, make sure YOU get a lot of rest before the trip, so you get into this with batteries fully charged to be able to cope with all the things that will come your way : ) Door-to-Door you are probably looking at 24 hours of travel time, so make sure you take care of yourself!

Best of luck on your trip and move!

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