Survival Guide: Entertaining A Toddler On A Plane

Written by James Kicinski-McCoy
12:00 pm

Photo via Bleubird/Instagram

Traveling with kids in general can be intimidating, especially when you’re flying with your rambunctious toddler. Kids get bored easily, and now you’re asking them to sit still in a confined space…for hours. Rest assured, we have some great tips on how to survive your trip and keep your little one entertained for a more peaceful flight.

1. Dress your tot in comfortable clothes or pajamas, with shoes that are easy to slip on and off. Also, bring a favorite blanket, small pillow, or stuffed animal to encourage your toddler to get cozy and take a nap.

2. Pick up some special books that are all about the airport or airplane. This will not only get your toddler excited about their upcoming flight the days prior to take off, but also get them familiar with the things and people they are about to see. We suggest Richard Scarry’s A Day At The Airport, Airport, and Amazing Planes.

2. Pack a few books that are specific to your child’s interests and also a sticker book or two. You’d be surprised just how well stickers can entertain a tot. Find one with several pages and tons of stickers.

3. Crayons, paper, and coloring books. All kids like to color, and getting in some mid-air coloring time with mom or dad while on the plane can lead to some interesting conversation and bonding.

4. Magnet sets are a lot of fun for little imaginations and so are vinyl reusable stickers, because they stick to the airplane windows, which kids get a kick out of.

5. Make a portable doctor’s kit complete with a box of bandaids, cotton balls, tape, and q-tips for your toddler to fix-up her doll or stuffed animal.

6. Load up your smartphone or iPad with plenty of age-appropriate apps that will occupy your little one and possibly give you and your fellow travelers a small stretch of quiet time.

7. For extra long flights, load a couple of your kid’s favorite movies or a preschool series like Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood or Sesame Street. Don’t forget the headphones.

8. Pack healthy snacks for when they get hungry. Things like string cheese, raisins, granola bars, low-sugar cereal O’s that are high in fiber (you can make necklaces with them if you bring along some dental floss), travel packs of almond butter, crackers, apples, mini bananas, tiny pickles, and turkey roll-ups.

9. Purchase special toys that are perfect for travel, like a mini MagnaDoodle, little plastic animals and dinosaurs, magnetic blocks, or a couple of tiny cars or trains to drive around their tray table.

10. Play I Spy.

11. Bring along an envelope of photographs to look at. Printed instagram photos from a service like PostalPix are great and kids love to recognize themselves, family, and friends.

12. Pack a little tantrum ammunition (just incase you need it) like lollipops, mini marshmallows, cookies, and other favorite treats to help prevent meltdowns.

13. Build excitement and encourage good behavior by rewarding your child with meeting the pilot at the end of flight and receiving a set of wings. Talk to the flight attendant ahead of time to make sure this is a possibility.

Leave a Reply to Natalia (cancel)



Good list! I fly long-haul (US to Australia) at least once a year with my toddler and I will add;

– Find out what the airline can provide in terms of snacks and toys. We fly with Qantas and they have activity packs for kids that include coloring books/pencils, and healthy snacks that you can help yourself to whenever you like.

– Keep in mind the time of day you are flying – if you’re flying at night you probably won’t be using a coloring book or reading material.

We bought ‘Amazing Airplanes’ for our little girl and she adored it. I really like that it runs through the entire process of checking in, boarding, what will happen during the flight and what happens when it lands.


    Oh one more thing! If your little one is still in diapers, pack a little diaper kit and keep it in a separate bag (just a small wet bag will do). Include a few diapers, wipes, a change mat and something to wrap your dirty diapers in – this way you can just take the little change bag with you to the bathroom.


give them an ice cream cone before boarding…rest assured it’ll be alllllll good!

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