The BEST Travel Toys for 1 Year Olds

Author: Celine Brewer

Last Updated:

Perhaps you are already dreading being stuck on an airplane for hours with a 1 year old. I’m going to be completely honest, I found this to be one of the most challenging ages to fly with. That being said, being prepared and having some travel toys for 1 year olds will go a long way.

The thing is, young toddlers who are around 12 to 18 months old are mobile and want to explore EVERYTHING! Not exactly conducive to being confined to a seat on an airplane. I don’t say this to scare you, but rather to prepare you for flying with toddlers.

I’ve always said that some practical tips and setting expectations will make the flight much easier. Plan to be entertaining your toddler the entire time. Plan to be skipping from activity to activity. And most importantly be prepared with a multitude of activities and ways to entertain your 1 year old on the plane. This includes packing some of the best airplane travel toys, having plenty of toddler airplane snacks (plus a spill proof snack cup for toddlers) and even having a few ipad games to play (age appropriate apps, of course).

Based on the hand and finger skills for 1 year olds as published by the American Academy of Pediatrics, your toddler may struggle to pick up very small objects but larger blocks, switches, knobs and buttons will be very interesting. Also scribbling and painting is a good way to occupy your toddler for small amounts of time.

flying with lap toddler.
Toddler flying on lap. I’m using the phone to distract him!

What You’ll Find in this Article on the Best 1 Year Old Travel Toys:

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Best 1 Year Old Travel Toys

Don’t let yourself get too stressed about other passengers, if you toddler isn’t the best behaved! Toddlers are not developmentally capable of sitting in silence or engaging in activities like coloring, drawing or reading for very long durations. They are wired to want to explore and touch everything, which is why we recommend choosing a few favorite travel toys for one year olds.

You can expect your toddler to be more interested in the things around them like plastic cups, bottles, airplane seat belts and tray tables – and only for really short periods too.

toddler playing with seatbelt on airplane.
Our toddler happily playing with the airplane seatbelt.

After all that playing, hopefully your toddler will settle into a comfy toddler airplane bed for a rest and you’ll get some downtime too!

toddler on inflatable airplane cushion.
Our toddler playing on the inflatable airplane cushion.

When it is time to play, the best travel toys for one year olds are mess-free, lightweight, and easily-packable into your backpack diaper bag or your toddlers travel backpack.

We’ll go over some of the best toys for travel with 1 year olds, toys that are best suited for travel, toys which will enable you to keep your baby or your toddler busy during a long flight or a car ride and our favorite books for 1 year olds that are perfect for on-the-go reading. 

We’ve included toddler travel toys that are best suited to young toddlers from the age of 12 months to 18 months.

Toddler Books for Travel

Most parents want something to help toddlers feel relaxed, safe, and comforted during long flights and while on vacation, nothing beats a book for this! A familiar book can help maintain your toddlers naptime and bedtime routines even in challenging places like airplanes, (because let's face it, getting toddlers to sleep on a plane is no joke)!

Just get your toddler into pj's, grab a good book and you'll be ready to start mastering the technique of coaxing your toddler to sleep no matter where you are. Reading to toddlers also helps them develop better vocabulary, listening skills and communication skills among many other benefits, so there is no reason not to continue this on your travels!

Listed below are some fun books for 1 year olds to help get your baby book library going and make excellent companions to your best toys for airplane travel with 1 year old toddlers.

I also encourage you to take a read through our posts on the best baby travel toys and best travel toys for 2 year olds, as you might find some of these are also well suited to your toddler. You also will find some of our screen-free toddler travel toys make perfect travel toys for one year olds.

Finally, if you want some suggestions for apps for young toddlers, we’ve shared our favorites in our airplane activities for toddlers and don’t forget to practice using toddler headphones before the flight!

1 year old having a snack while flying.
Our toddler having a snack while flying.

My Top Picks for the 1 Year Old Travel Toys

I know you don’t always have time to read. You’re a busy parent! So here are my top picks for the best travel toys for 1 year olds:

Silicone Pull String Toys – Playing into your toddler’s interest in mechanical toys, this is a fun toy to include in your bag.

Buckle Toy – Similar to the pull string, your toddler will enjoy trying to get the buckles done up, especially toddlers closer to 2 years old.

Melissa & Doug On the Go Water Wow! – Let your toddler scribble away without the mess!

Fat Brain Toys Dimpl – This is an easy fidget activity that toddlers love and is easy for them to hold.

Animal Finger Puppets – If you are going to be entertaining your toddler, you might as well have some fun with it! Make up stories and enjoy some play with your 1 year old.

Other Toddler Travel Must-Haves

Best Travel Toys for 1 Year Olds

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Celine Brewer is the owner of Baby Can Travel. Not only does she have years of experience traveling with babies & toddlers, but she's helped millions of new parents travel with their babies and toddlers for over a decade. In addition to writing on her baby travel blog, she has shared her expertise on traveling with a baby or toddler by contributing to articles about traveling with a baby with the Washington Post, USA Today, the Lonely Planet magazine and Pregnancy & Newborn magazine.

Celine also writes about family travel on the site, which she co-owns with her husband. Being from the Canadian Rockies, she shares her passion about her home and travel to Banff National Park and area on their site

Read more about Celine Brewer.