Home » Mothering » Keep a Young Toddler Busy on an Airplane

Keep a Young Toddler Busy on an Airplane

We kind of fly a lot.  Probably not as much as some people. but probably more than the average people.  Ike definitely travels more than the average one year old.  Typically we are fortunate enough to be given a middle seat between two strangers who just love little kids.  They NEVER ask to be reseated when they see us coming.  Never.  Ike and I make it our mission to change their minds about traveling with adjacent to kids.  In order to be successful in such an endeavor we have to have some tools.

Our “Tools for Success”

  • Toys – Small toys, since the carry-on diaper bag will probably be packed with extra necessities, like all the milks, all the diapers, a ton of wipes for any and every spill that may happen, snacks, a change of clothes, etc.  The toys should also be somewhat quiet, so as not to disrupt our such welcoming neighbors.  A toy set with a ton of pieces is probably a no no, since they will inevitably end up in the seats in front of and behind you.  Our favs: soft books, toy phones (turned off), one or two Little People (Ike loves the super hero ones).
  • Food – pack them lots of snacks!  Puffs, crackers, bananas, string cheese, cereal bars, whatever travels best for you.  Sometimes the chaos of parking the car, getting the bus, checking the bags, passing security, etc can take longer than expected.  While we may be able to hold off for a meal, a toddler definately can not, and they do not hesitate to let you know it.  Pack lots of snacks.
  • Things already on the Plane – Part of what makes a kid so squirmy is the fact that they are in a new environment that begs to be explored.  Let them.  Within reason of course.
    • Those magazines in the back of every seat that say “take one, free”? Take it.  Let him tear it to shreds try to keep the shreds in your own seat), keeps them busy for at least 10-20 minutes.  Ignore the eye rolling when you hand over the ball of paper to the flight attendant (they said “ANYTHING you wish to discard”).
    • The tray table – figuring out whether to push, pull, turn, twist to get it to fall is a source of entertainment as well.
    • The window shade (if you are fortunate to have one) makes for an excellent game of peek a boo.IMG_9673
      ep that’s the straw from my drink, we were playing seal.
    • Ask for an extra cup when the complimentary drink service begins, the fact that it isn’t a toy and isn’t given to them by a parent makes a huge difference.  A nice, pretty, blond, flight attendant could give my son garbage and he’d treat it like treasure because he is a giant flirty ham.
  •  Hand Games – Itsy Bitsy Spider, Patty Cake, Where is Thumbkin?  Any, all, and over and over again.  These are particularly effective during landing when the patience of everyone is wearing thin.
  • ScreenTime – I saved this one for last, because I know that screen time is a Big Bad Wolf for children under two, but, desperate times.  When all else fails get out the ipad or smartphone.  We have a few Baby First shows and two or three apps for emergencies or when we’ve run out of all our other distractions.

Or you can always hold out hope that this will happen.

Asleep in the most uncomfortable position. 

There are two main times on an aircraft where a toddler needs to be kept busy.

1. Taxi/Takeoff/Landing where the child needs to be seated and relatively still.  I usually distract with food, milk, a sippy cup, my phone during this time.

2. Cruising where we are afforded a little bit more freedom.  I let Ike down and he is happy to play on the floor for a while, and work on unpacking the diaper bag.  Sometimes we take an exciting walk to the lavatory to change his diaper.


How do you keep your kids busy on long flights or road trips?


This post is linked at:


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s