So, your baby has convinced you that it’s time for them to take their first trip on an airplane. While their eagerness is adorable, you’re probably well aware that traveling with children is a crapshoot at the best of times, only made more challenging by the feeling that the general expectation for babies on planes is to be seen and not heard or smelled.
In the event that you end up seated next to the guy who hilariously quips that the only place for babies on an airplane is the wing, here are some toys and activities to keep your baby or toddlers occupied with as little movement, noise, and mess as possible.
The best baby travel toys to bring along
When choosing the ideal baby toy candidates to pack for your flight, here are a few criteria you’ll probably want to keep on your radar:
- Lightweight and easy to pack in carry-on luggage
- Won’t roll away and disappear when (not if) it’s dropped
- Not super loud and obnoxious (you know the ones)
- Toys that will make it through security (we ditch a few water/get filled items that might not make it through)
With those things in mind, here are some of the best travel toys listed by age (0-4) to check out before your next trip!
Lamaze Clip & Go Freddie the Firefly
This sweet sensory toy is bright, bold, crinkly and squeaky and comes with a peek-a-boo mirror and ladybug, teether and squeaker. It’s also got a clip to keep it attached to your diaper bag, stroller, or play mat so you can keep it secure as you cruise to your gate and won’t need to worry about rescuing it from the airplane floor. 0+ months. Find it on Amazon and Target.
The first time someone showed me these lightweight books, I was a little skeptical that they could really withstand the destructive powers of a baby, but as soon as I bent, folded, crumpled and attempted to rip one, I was sold. There are tons of cute stories to choose from, and they are totally chewable and washable, too. 0+ months. Find them on Amazon and Target.
Sassy Photo Album
This Sassy Photo Album can hold images of home, pets, family, or anything else you can think of. You could even clip out images from magazines of their favorite things to keep them happy for your next airplane ride. I would load a few images into each sleeve so I could reinvent the book if they got board with the images. 3+ months. Find it on Amazon.
Note: If you’d rather have a fully contained album, you could make a custom softcover photo book at Chatbooks.
This adorable quiet book is the perfect travel toy for kids six months and older. It’s easy to carry and play with thanks to its oversized parts, and it’s got lots of interactive pages with different materials and objects like ribbons, zippers, felt, buttons, and more to keep your kiddo entertained. Best of all, it’s machine washable, making it easy to de-germify when you get home! Get it here. 6+ months. Find it on Amazon and Target.
Fun Baby Tissue Box
If you’ve ever caught your kid going to town on the tissue box in your bathroom, you’ll probably agree that whoever made the reusable, cloth version is nothing short of a genius. There are lots of brands that make their version of this one but I liked the compact size of this one. 6+ months. Find it on Amazon.
Fat Brain Toys Dimpl
Help your baby resist the urge to lick the tray table by giving them the infant’s version of a Pop It. The brightly colored buttons are 100% food grade silicone, making them safe to chew and fun to pop! 6+ months. Find it on Fat Brain Toys, Amazon and Target.
Fat Brain Toys PipSquigz Loops
These extra-fancy rattles are a sensory teether toy that no baby can resist. The bendy, suction cup creation comes with three rattle rings that are safe and fun to feel and chew and can be stuck to any non-porous surface. 6+ months. Find it on Fat Brain Toys, Amazon and Target.
Fat Brain Toys MiniSpinny
The MiniSpinny makes for some excellent grab and go sensory entertainment. The 3 colorful propellers spin down a corkscrew pole, and can’t fall off thanks to the stoppers on each end. Flip it over to give it another go. 10+ months. Find it on Fat Brain Toys, Amazon and Target.
I know I’m featuring a lot fo Fat Brain Toys but they are well made, quiet and often self-contained making them great on-the-go toys.
Fat Brain Toys Whirly Squigz
Babies and grownups alike will get a kick out of the Whirly Squigz, which are essentially food-grade silicone fidget spinners. There are three colorful spinners with two, three and four petals and a suction cup on one side. They are great to stick to a window on a plane, tray, or tabletop. 10+ months. Find it on Fat Brain Toys, Amazon and Target.
These fun toys come in a variety of shapes and styles but all of them include buckets that can be clipped and unclipped. Not only is it a great way to keep littles entertained, but it also helps build their fine motor skills. Know your kid on this one, though, there is a fine line between focus and frustration with toys like these. 12+ months. Find them all on Amazon.
This silicone activity toy comes with textured cords that make satisfying (not-too-loud) sound and vibration when pulled from side to side. It’s easy to grab and feels slightly destructive, which we all know is a favorite for this age. 18+ months. Find it at Target.
My First Crayola Double Doodle Board
If your older kids love to color but you don’t want to pack along their entire coloring book collection, the Double Doodle Board is a fun alternative. One side has a sealed gel surface for mess-free doodling and tactile play, and the other has a reusable drawing surface to use with the included Ultra Clean washable crayons. 2+ years. Find it on Amazon and Target.
Amazon Fire 7 Kids Tablet
If you’re okay with screen time, have a few videos that your little one loves downloaded ahead of time, along with headphones so your fellow passengers don’t have to sit through an emergency episode of Cocomelon. If you’re looking for some engaging apps to add, Peekaboo Barn and Baby’s Musical Hands are two fun ones they’ll probably enjoy. 2+ years. Find it on Amazon.
Melissa & Doug Poke-a-Dot Books
These sturdy board books are great for toddlers aged 3 and up, and come with buttons to press and pop and count on every page. Each poke can make a different clicking and popping sound, depending on how they’re pressed. There are many different themes, like oceans and farms, and even books featuring popular characters, like Blues Clues. 3+ years. Find them on Amazon and Target.
Genuine Fred Match UP Memory Snack Tray
Any parent will tell you that a snack in the hand lasts about 1.7 seconds, and there’s only so much room in a diaper bag when you’re trying to keep your kid fed and entertained for an entire flight. This Snackle Box Memory Match UP game is so clever, I wish I’d thought of it. Older kids will love making a game out of their snack, and as a bonus, it might actually last to the minute mark. 3+ years. Find it on Amazon.
Note: If you’re looking for a straight up snack container, I like the melii Snackle Box. All the compartments are visible so you can see what you’re getting.
Water Wow Books
Water Wow Books bring the magic of painting without any of the mess. Just fill up your “paintbrush” with water, and prepare to reveal the pictures underneath. These books can be used over and over again and come in a bunch of different themes. 3+ years. Find them on Amazon and Target.
Grab some themed window clings and let your kid go wild on the airplane window (you’ll have to give them the best seat in the house to make this happen, though). Use the clings to make up stories and different pictures to mix things up. 3+ years. Find them on Amazon.
Sticker books are another fun activity that kids of all ages go crazy for. There are some cute options out there with themed pages that kids can add and remove stickers from to make different scenes. I like the ones Melissa and Doug make because the books are nice and compact. Just make sure none of those stickers end up on the head of the grandpa sitting in front of you. 4+ years. Find them on Amazon and Target.
Painter’s Tape and Post-it notes
Lastly, a cheap and easy travel hack is some Post-Its or Painter’s Tape. They are both easy to use for stick-and-go activities for a bored toddler who digs peeling this (you know these kids). Just make sure to peel everything off and put it away when you’re done so the flight crew doesn’t have to deal with it. Also, keep in mind these need more supervision than age-specific toys – nothing like eating a ball of tape on a transatlantic flight.
A smooth journey for air travel with babies and toddlers
Most parents would probably agree that flying with busy babies isn’t for the faint of heart. However, coming prepared with novel activities, toys and snacks is a great way to stave off hunger and boredom, which we all know is a no bueno combo at the best of times.
With your Mary Poppins bag full of tricks, and the universe on your side, you may just luck out and have your baby fall asleep after takeoff, but just in case you don’t, you can consider yourself ready to take on the skies.
Also check out: Tips for Flying with a Baby (Free Packing Checklist)