Are you traveling with a toddler soon? I can understand the challenges and all the planning that goes into making sure that you’re as prepared as could be! My family just came back from a trip to Australia and New Zealand with a total of 8 flights on this trip. So I put together my top 5 things that helped entertain our baby boy! He is currently days away from 14 months and slept so little on the plane. It was too much to do and too much to see that kept him from sleeping like I planned.
By the way, on the way back home it took us 40 hours to get home, from 3 airplanes, 3 countries, 3 times going through security, 3 times going through customs (yikes), and then 2 hours in traffic leaving JFK, and another 2.5 hours driving to get home. If we got through it, you can do it too! It’s hard, but absolutely possible!
Airplanes have so many things to entertain babies! Once Rollo turned 13 months he was so interested in the buttons, clasps, seat belt buckles and even tray tables, he would play with each of those for up to 3 minutes each, which is a long time in toddle age! Some clicking noises are not as annoying to people around you as a crying baby, so let them discover stuff in this new environment. The airplane seat belt buckle kept him going for a while, just make sure you’re quick switching from one thing to the next showing them how it works and letting them practice to click things in on their own!
Ask for games. Most of the airplanes have games or toys they can give as soveniers or for your baby to play with on a plane. Now we ask every time, and if you are nice to your flight attendants, they may give your baby one even if the flight is short. On Qantas airline we’ve gotten a little magnetic drawing board and it’s a perfect souvenir to take home too! They will often only give it to babies over a certain age, so push for it and they will most likely give it to you.
Toys at the airport can be fun! The last time we flew we bought 2 toys at the airport and our boy loved them! We walked through the souvenir stores and let him pick one or two items. He loves this airplane with a propeller! He can push the button to make it spin and it was such a mental and fine motor skills challenge for him! He was entertained the longest with this toy! I’m sure hey have one of this kind everywhere! The best part, there is a spot for little candy snacks, I just added our own snack in there so he could reach in and take it out himself. Best $7 spent at the airport!
If you’re not buying a gift/toy at the airport, bring 1 toy for every 1 hour of the flight; pick up some new cheap toys at the dollar store, wrap them in foil, or in several layers of wrapping paper and let your baby open one toy every hour. You can put stickers on each toy with a number, teach your baby numbers, how to wait, even time at which they can open the toy. You can give them a watch so they keep track and tell you when it’s time. It all depends on what is appropriate for your child’s age.
Bring your kids favorite book, preferably a tactile or a sound one. Toddlers are still developing mentally and physically, any tectile book that allows them to practice fine motor skills are challenging and will keep them entertained longer then a regular boy. Right now rollo loves this book where each page has a farm animal and a button on each page to push for the sound that animal makes. He also loves this small book where he can hold it easily and read it himself. Anything that will give you a few minutes of peace! I brought 2 of his favorite books with us that are medium size, and 2 tiny books that he loves reading by himself. We usually buy books on our trips and we found some fun ones for when he’s older and some books he picked out himself on our trip to Australia. It’s almost like a souvenir to bring home and now its a tradition to get a book for him that we won’t be able to get at home.
This coloring book is great because the markers only work on this paper and will not leave mark on clothes or stuff. Depending on your baby’s age, you can get a coloring book (girl or boy theme) or just a notebook where they can doodle and practice writing skills. Because we aren’t into coloring books yet, we brought some of these markers and paper that Rollo could doodle on. He liked it and we used it to entertain him when not on the plane.
Let them walk it out. If you’re in a lucky row with a bassinet, you will have room for your baby to walk or crawl in front of you. (check to make sure that the floor is clean and not wet, it happened to us once and I had to make sure nothing was on the floor because it would all get wet; someone must have spilled something before we got there.) If you don’t, just let them walk down the aisle, get some energy out. If you’re on a large plane, often they have a “hallway” hang out spot in the very back, that’s where all the bathrooms will be, an area for drinks and snacks, there is enough room for your little one to walk and try out their balancing skills. Just keep a small hand sanitizer on you, the airplane is filled with germs, at least that will help some. After walking around in the back, I’d take him to the bathroom and let him wash his hands by himself, he loved it.
If all else fails, give them the iPad. Or your phone to watch their cartoons or movie. Our baby boy isn’t a fan of tv yet, there is only one cartoon he likes so far, and I’m ok with that. He’s more interested in the remote control and the buttons then sitting still to watch something. He also grabs his headphones off and doesn’t let them stay on, so I’ll stick to the distractions that keep him busy and work for us.
I hope you found this post helpful, and can find some relief that traveling with a toddler is not easy, but it’s absolutely possible, and it’s nothing to be scared of or nervous about.
If you try any of my tips, would you write in the comments below how your baby did on the flight?
Have fun traveling and exploring the world!