Best Toys For Toddlers On Airplanes (No More Horror Flights)
Flying with toddlers can be either great or a nightmare. Kids don’t really understand what’s going on, and if they get scared or uncomfortable, there’s a good chance you’ll be “that parent” with a screaming child on a long-haul flight.
Sure, you can start the journey by buying your child their own kid’s luggage, but in the end that is all forgotten once you are on the plan. So, to avoid a disaster you need to make sure that you have toys that can keep your kid occupied throughout your flight. In this review, we’ll show you the best toys for toddlers on airplanes – ones that are quiet, mess-free, and that fit in your carry. So, if that’s what you were looking for, then you are definitely in the right place!
What Makes A Good Toy For Toddlers On Airplanes?
If it’s your first time flying with your toddler, there are probably some things that haven’t crossed your mind yet. So, here are the most important factors to consider, when choosing the right toy to entertain your toddler on a long flight.
This is perhaps the most important thing to look for in a toy – it shouldn’t make any noise at all. No matter how cute or entertaining the toy is, if it squeaks or beeps, you and pretty much every other passenger will have a headache.
Feel free to bring as many loud toys as you want on your trip, but check them. Otherwise, there’s a pretty good chance that every single person on that airplane will be angry with you, and I seriously doubt you want that.
The best toys for toddlers are completely quiet. And there is a ton of those – every single toy that I show you in this review makes zero noise.
It Fits In Your Carry On
The last thing you want is finding an awesome toy, and then having to check it because it’s too large. No, a good toy for a toddler on an airplane will easily fit in your carry on or in the seat pocket. That way you can get it for your kid quickly, and put it away easily when they get bored with it.
It Can’t Hurt Anyone Or Damage Anything
A toy car might seem like a good option to entertain your toddler on a long flight. It’s small, quiet and fits in your bag – but what’s going to happen if your kid tosses it in the air and it hits another passenger?
That’s another thing you need to think about – toys that can’t hurt anyone in case they get thrown at them. So sure, a toy car, but one that’s plush and soft.
Coloring books also seem like a good idea, but they’re really not. It’s enough that you turn your head away for two minutes, and the seat in front of you can be as colourful as a rainbow. And then you’re in trouble – that’s damaging airline property, and they will come at you.
What you want is a mess free toy. Something that won’t require any cleaning up – and luckily, we can show you several of those.
Quantity Is Important
This is a pretty individual thing, but how long can a single toy entertain your child? Some kids can play with a doll for hours, while others will get bored in twenty minutes.
There’s two things to consider here – how long the flight is, and how long do you think your toddler will play with a particular toy. And then try to bring enough toys that they can stay entertained the entire flight.
Don’t count on them falling asleep – you never know with kids. Maybe they were a perfect little human on the previous flight, but that doesn’t mean you’ll have the same experience the next flight. Kids get scared easily, especially if they are uncomfortable, so you need to be prepared for everything.
Of course, you also need to think about how big the toys are – all of them need to fit in your carry on, alongside everything else you’ll need in the cabin. So yes, it is a challenge, but we’re here to help you as much as we can. Therefore, we’ve done our best to find only toys that are reasonably sized, and that don’t take up too much space. But are lots of fun.
The best toys will require very little to none supervision or help from parents. So that you can relax, and catch up on some reading on that flight.
I’ll do my best to show you some great toys that require no supervision from you, and that are guaranteed to be mess free. However, I will include some toys that require a parent to engage in the play, but that’s mostly because of the educational aspect of them.
So depending on what type of toys you prefer, you’ll be able to find something that suits both you and your toddler.
Best Toys For Toddlers On Airplanes
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The Lauri Toddler Tote is one of our favorite options. What we love the most about this toy are the rubber cutouts and shapes – they are small, easy to pack, and they can keep your kid entertained for a while. But that’s not all you get in this toy; you get two mini pegboards, seven tall-stacker pegs, a geometric shape puzzle, four smaller crepe shape puzzles, and three rubber animal shape puzzles.
It’s the shape puzzles that we think are perfect for a flight. They don’t make any noise, they are soft and can’t hurt anyone if they hit them on the head, and they are absolutely mess-free. You can just pick out the shape puzzles you want and throw them in a little pouch in your carry-on – they’re small and super convenient to carry around.
I would recommend taking out the pegs – they are a bit of a hazard, in terms of landing on another person. Plus, they stack on top of each other, and they can easily just get scattered around the cabin. But they’re a great toy to have at home, so you’re actually getting a lot of different things for very little money.
The shape puzzles are also educational for your child – they enhance hand/eye coordination and fine motor skills, and also promote color and shape recognition. But, they won’t keep your kid occupied for a long time – they can go through all the shape puzzles fairly quickly, and then what?
The JesPlay Farm Animals Gel Clings are a great option, but they only work if your kid is sitting in the window seat. Since gel clings only adhere to glass, they’re pretty much useless if your child feels uncomfortable next to the plane window.
Luckily, they’re not really expensive, so you can give them a go. If the kid loves them, awesome! You’ve found a quiet, mess-free toy that can keep them entertained for a while. And if not – well, at least you tried. And you’re out only $10.
So, in case you’ve never seen these before, gel clings are reusable window clings. They come in lots of different shapes and sizes – I’ve linked farm animals here. But, if you follow the link, you’ll see lots of other related options, including sea animals, letters, fruit, jungle animals, etc. Actually, the alphabet gel clings might even be a better option – you set the word, and your kid spells it out with these on a window.
And that game can last for a while. The clings are completely mess-free, which is great. That makes them a better option than regular stickers since they leave no residue and they’re reusable.
Plus, they are educational as well – perhaps pick up a set of clings that will allow you to teach your child something during the flight. Maybe they haven’t discovered the world of dinosaurs or the solar system? There are lots of different options, and I’m sure you’ll find something that can keep them entertained for a while.
This is probably an obvious one, but sometimes bringing your iPad will be enough to keep your toddler entertained for hours. Nowadays it is pretty easy to find apps and games that are fun but also educational at the same time. And if they get bored with one game, just open a different app.
It’s mess-free, it’s convenient to carry around, and it’s completely quiet – as long as you remember to mute it or put headphones on your kid. In addition to that, you can also play a movie for them – that will give you an hour or two to relax and catch up on a book while keeping your child entertained.
One thing to keep in mind is that you need to protect your iPad, in case it winds up on the floor – be that on accident, or on purpose. So, we recommend getting a good shockproof case. There are actually lots of different ones specifically designed for children, but the Avawo Kids Case is one of the best-rated options. It’s thick and completely shockproof, plus it has a neat little carry handle for your child.
The handle also doubles a stand, which makes it super convenient for watching movies. As for the apps, Bamba Airport, The Very Hungry Caterpillar & Friends, and Pacca Alpaca are just some of our favorite options.
The main idea here is a scratch book. You can find lots of different options online, but we chose this one because it has outlines that your kid can trace. So, even if they’re not really good at drawing, all they have to do is trace outlines with a stylus, and magical rainbow colors will appear. This particular scratch book features shapes of animals, but you get it in lots of different versions.
There are lots of different pages in this scratch book, so it should keep your kid entertained for a while. Especially if they actually try to trace the shapes nicely. The wooden stylus for tracing is included in the purchase, and the entire thing is pretty affordable – under $10. And the scratch book also includes blank pages, where your child can draw whatever they want.
The book is pretty small, and it will fit into any purse. This makes this a good toy not just for airplane rides, but also for everyday outings – it’s something you can carry around every day.
As for similar scratch books, you can also find ones without any shapes. These are a good option if you have a really creative kid that loves to draw – they can do whatever they please with the pages.
The only downside is that they’re not 100% mess-free – as your kids scratch off the matte coating, it will fall to the ground. Perhaps they aren’t the best option for light-colored seats and carpets, but if you find a way to take care of that, you’ll be fine.
How about a drawing mat? It will keep your toddler occupied for hours! And this is one that is simply perfect for air travel because it is 100% mess-free. It’s a water mat – you get special markers with it that you pour water in, and after about half an hour, your kid can draw on the mat. As they draw, rainbow colors appear, and their drawing will remain on the mat for 5-10 minutes, depending on the temperature and airflow.
Absolutely no mess, no dirty hands, and no chance that the seat in front of you will become their canvas. It’s perfect for planes, especially because the mat folds easily, and it’s very convenient to carry around.
The mat also comes with sketch shapes, which your child can use to learn how to draw various sea creatures. So, it’s kind of educational as well. Another thing we love about this toy is that you can fold a mat to a size that your kid can use on a tray. So, very travel friendly.
The product arrives in a clear waterproof bag, and you can just throw it in your carry-on. Also, the back of the mat is made from water-resistant material, so you don’t even have to worry about the seat or your kid’s clothes getting wet. A really great toy for less than $10!
A sticker book is a good way to keep your toddler entertained for hours. Especially one that has more than 500 stickers inside it – they definitely won’t go through the entire book in one flight. Also, they’re fairly affordable, so you could always pick up several of them.
This toy is pretty fun, but it is also educational. It helps your child learn new words, improve hand-eye coordination and start to develop word and picture association. And also recognize shapes – there are hints about which stickers go where, which will help them fill out the book correctly.
There are lots of different themes for these books – animal sticker books, trucks sticker books, numbers and shapes, and whatnot. So, pick up the one that you think will be the most fun for your child. We recommend the Roger Priddy books because they are well designed and perfectly suitable for really young toddlers. Just keep in mind that some of the 500 stickers are words – not particularly fun for a toddler who can’t read. But a good opportunity for them to start to develop the skill – with your help, naturally.
The only downside to these is that you’ll need to pay attention to what your kid is doing with the stickers. And stop them if they decide to decorate parts of the cabin with them. But even if they do, it’s not the end of the world. Stickers are easy to unpeel, and a lot less messy than crayons.
A magnetic drawing board is a great way to keep your toddler occupied for hours. It’s a toy they can use without your supervision, and there still won’t be any mess – perfect for long flights.
This particular magnetic board is about 16” wide – so almost like a laptop. If you can fit a laptop in your carry-on, you can easily fit this. Plus, it has a carry handle, which is very convenient for your little one.
The entire thing is plastic, but it’s made from non-toxic and BPA-free material. You don’t have to worry about your child’s safety, in case they decide to check out just how good the magic board tastes. And it is soft around the edges, so they can’t really hurt themselves with it, which is very important.
It’s a really entertaining toy. There are four different color zones on the board, so there’s an element of surprise to it. You’ll also get different stamps that your kid can press onto the board, as well as a bunch of stickers to decorate the toy. It’s a lot of fun for less than $20.
One advantage this has over the water drawing mat is that there’s no downtime. When your toddler fills up the entire board, just slide the erase button and they can start over. The only thing you would need to worry about is if they decide to see if the toy can fly – it might be perfectly safe for your child, but your fellow travelers getting hit by a chunk of plastic will not be a pleasant experience for either of you.
Wikki Stix are perfect for creative children. Their imagination is the only limit to the number of things and shapes they can create with them, so these could potentially keep your toddler occupied for hours on end.
They are made from food-grade wax, so they are perfectly safe for children and also pets. You don’t have to go through a panic attack if your kid decides to eat one – it’s the same wax that is used in bubble gums and lipsticks.
They are great for flights because they are fairly small, and they will easily fit into your carry-on. Plus these are completely mess-free – they don’t stick to carpets, fabric, or plastic. If your kid decides to tie a knot, it will come undone easily. If they try to mush them together, you can separate them easily.
It is a fun, reusable toy, so you’re getting a lot of value for very little money. And it can also be educational – your toddler can create shapes, letters, and numbers with Wikki Stix while learning about colors at the same time.
As for variety, Wikki Stix are available in several different packages. We featured the neon pack because it’s the most portable option, but you can also get a box of more than 400 sticks, a traveler’s playset that comes in a carry case, a lot of three-feet long sticks, and a bunch of others. This is one of the toys that require very little to no parent supervision, so it’s definitely one of our favorites!
Felt storybooks are a great option for flights. They are quiet, mess-free, and completely harmless toys that require very little to no parental supervision. Of course, if you want to make sure your toddler is learning something and placing the shapes where the book suggests they should be, they will need a little assistance from you.
The books are fairly small, and all the felt shapes fit inside them. So, they won’t get scattered around your carry-on, which makes them really convenient to carry around. And they can provide hours of fun for your kid – they can place the shapes however they want, and every time they pick up the book they can create a new story.
A similar option is felt storyboards. One set gets you four storyboards (made from felt and cardboard) and several groups of shapes that your kid can use to create different scenarios. The storyboards, however, are more expensive than the books, and that’s one downside. They’re also not as convenient – each board measures 15” wide, and the lot of four of them is fairly thick. But they are very fun nonetheless.
As for variety, there are lots of options to choose from. Apart from the Fuzzy Ocean, we featured here, you can also pick up Fuzzy Farm, Fuzzy Christmas, Construction Site, and several others. It should be fairly easy to find a theme your toddler will love and enjoy.
Coloring is one of the best ways to keep your kid occupied for a while, but it’s rarely mess-free. That’s why we recommend the Crayola Color Wonder – the magic pens in this set only show color on the pages of the special coloring book, and nowhere else. So, everything else inside the plane is guaranteed to stay mess and color-free.
Each Color Wonder set comes with a coloring book, magic mini markers, and a set of stickers that are blank and left for your toddler to fill in. There’s plenty of themes for the coloring books to choose from – Moana, Paw Patrol, Disney Princesses, and lots of others. You can even pick up a lot of 60 blank pages and 20 magic markers if your kid prefers drawing to coloring.
One downside of this is that if your kid really likes coloring, they can go through 18 pages pretty fast. So, I would recommend picking up more than one of these – they cost anywhere from $8 to $25, depending on the set you’re interested in.
The Crayola Color Wonder books are great to have not just for airplanes, but also at home. Especially if you’re tired of constantly having to clean marker stains from your kid and furniture. But in terms of travel, these are small and fit in your carry-on, completely mess-free and quiet. Overall, definitely one of our top recommendations for entertaining bored toddlers on airplanes.