What to Do on a Plane with a 4 Year Old

Updated on July 20, 2009
M.K. asks from Tampa, FL
11 answers

hello every one,
i was just wondering if anyone had fun or creative ways to keep a very energetic 4 year old intertained on a plane for 4 hours. i have his dvd player but you can only watch it for so long and he has his leapster. thank you for your help.

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So What Happened?

hello every one!!!

thank you so much for all the advice the trip went well i packed his bag with fun stuff that he did not know about. he sat by the window and we talked about what was going on and the clouds. thank you for every ones help becuse of you guys we enjoyed the flight and i am sure the rest of the passengers would thank you also lol

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answers from Jacksonville on

We recently went on a trip with my 3 yr. old. I bought a few things to keep him amused - small travel dry erase board, travel size coloring book with his favorite characters and the "magic" markers that do not write on anything besides the coloring book, some fun flash cards, and a few little toys from the dollar store. I hid them all until we were on the plane, and they kept him occupied. Target & WalMart both had areas in the toy dept. for "travel" size toys, etc.

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answers from Tampa on

I'm about to travel with a 7, 5 and 2 year old so I feel you. Buy new items like stickers, coloring books with cool pens, etc and put them in a special back pack for them. Don't let them see it until they are on the plane. A felt book is nice too. Anything they can create with their hands, that doesn't have too many little pieces or is messy (like play doh). Good luck.



answers from Tallahassee on

Coloring books and crayons
Small stuffed animals or dolls or action figures for pretending
Small cars or trucks for pretending
A new toy or activity book that you present to him on the plane will help
Snacks for take-off and landing to help his ears adjust themselves (they pop when you swallow). Please make sure it is something helathy like crackers, a granola bar, whole grain crackers, so his blood sugar doesn't get out of balance and cause crankiness on the plane.



answers from Tampa on

Get him some puzzles to do, color books, playing cards. The memory games are great because any age can play them. Get him some sing a long DVD's. My girls loved these. You can get them with the ABC's, numbers, old songs from years ago...
The music videos are a lot of fun and a great way to learn and burn energy. Mine sang and danced to them. Would entertain them for a long time. I figured they were learning and getting exercise. But I also sang and danced with them. Being a single Mom is a tough job.I know, I was for most of my girls lives. Happily married now will be 8 years in Sept. I worked full time, lots of times two jobs, also for 8 years I owned my own business that kept me busy but I always found time for the girls. I built a tent with chairs and blankets for them to play in a lot of afternoons. That kept them busy. There are a lot of fun things to do...


answers from Orlando on

When my sisters and I were young my mom would buy each of us a new backpack and fill it with new little toys, books, coloring books, crayon, etc. We didn't get to see it or even know about it until we were on the plane/in the car (we used to drive to IL every summer 22 hours in the car each way). She never bought anything expensive and now the dollar secion at Target is a great place to look. This way he'll have something new and exciting for the plane ride and it will be a special suprise!



answers from Tampa on

Take along a bag that has 4 paper bags in it. Each bag is opened at a different time. The first may be a coloring book and crayons; the second - playdoh; the third maybe a snack to eat while watching a video; and the last a book to read together. The child looks forward to the 'next' opening because they do not know what is in it.
Enjoy! Mar. Musicwithmar.com



answers from Lakeland on

"I SPPY" books. I bought a couple when my husband was going to have spinal fusion surgery and I was worried about my daughter (2 1/2 at the time) being in the hospital for extended periods of time - not allowed down on the icky floor and having to be quiet. They worked GREAT - she would either sit in the bed with daddy, or in her stroller and we would play for hours. They have some paperback versions that are inexpensive and lightweight - I've gotten them at Walmart and B-Dalton. Good luck! -Oh - and also Crayola Color Wonder books & markers. FANTASTIC if you have never tried them. The markers all look the same and just make a little wet spot when they are on anything except the special crayola color wonder paper - then the colors magically appear. They sell them in the school/office supply area @ walmart and have the books & markers together in one bag for about $7 - so worth it. We use these for my daughter whenever we are in a restaraunt or someplace that I need her to be quiet and still - I never let her use these at home - so there is always the "get to do something special" factor when we do bring them out - works like a charm!



answers from Boca Raton on

Hi M.! We fly a lot with our daughter..so here are some suggestions. You obviously want to keep things small, as you don't want heavy bags. Any craft supplies are great, if he likes that sort of thing. I bring crayons with a slim coloring book. Also, Crayola makes the "magic" markers that are color-free until they hit the special paper. You can get them in any kids art section. They are great for the plane b/c they are mess free. I also bring a clipboard with blank paper, for freestyle drawing, and then I bring a few small tubs of play-doh. I flip over the clipboard, and then she has a work surface that can go right on her lap. I also make sure I bring tons of snacks. Oh..I also pack a few thin books. Hope any of this helps!!!
A. :)



answers from Orlando on

I agree that the idea is to have things that are NEW. Think about the things your child already loves and plays with and go with that. For example, my son loves dinosaurs and small animal toys. He has tons of them. I could just stash away a few of them before the trip and whip out a few at a time and he'd be entertained for hours. I like the one mom's idea of having a few seperate smaller bags in a larger backpack. Pull out a new bag every time he gets bored. CHeck the dollar store and the dollar spot near the entrance at Target for a few cheap new toys and activities.



answers from Fort Myers on

My girls are now almost 7 and 4. We have traveled with them since they were infants. On our most recent trips we have taken along those magnet activities (my 4 year old loved an easy animal tangram set and they both liked a Noah's Ark one & magnet dolls); colored pencils & paper; stickers; special activity books that we bought for the trip (like one about dogs and one about horses); photo books of the people we were going to visit; a couple of favorite books and a kid magazine with hidden pictures and other games; a deck of cards. We have gone as far as FL to Hawaii with great success.

Another key ingredient to success is talking about what is going to happen ahead of time and being patient yourself. There is a lot of airport wait time. Definitely walk around and look at everything at the airport so that sitting on the plane won't be so hard. Also talk about the airport and airplane rules. You need to keep your feet from bumping the seat in front of you. You can turn on lights and fans, but not push the flight attendant button unless there is an emergency, etc. Children can look at the emergency evacuation instructions, the magazines in the seat pockets, etc.

My girls loved being able to order their own fruit juice or water and getting a special treat on the plane. We also bought special chewies (like fruit chews) for take off and landing so their ears don't hurt. I make sure that we have our own snacks so they don't get too hungry as well.

Hope that helps.

mother of 2 young travelers



answers from Tampa on

My son is 2 not 4, but we just got back from a plane ride that longer on the way home due to delays... his dvd player a big help! Bring your laptop too if you have one (but remember to charge it - (extends video time); they make you open the dvd player & laptop- so it's a hassle... just be careful, I dropped his dvd player going thru security on the way home & broke it :( - but he was still good!

New little toys cheap were great. A $3.99 toy that spins & lights up (from target), crayola self-stampers (no inkpad needed), & stickers (other people gave me the idea) but he stuck them up his arms, on his legs, on me.... We talked about everything out the window & he even came into the bathroom w/ me. We hit turbulance & he called it 'speed bumps'... entertained him & made everyone else laugh :) Just relax as much as possible & it will be fine!