This article about the Best 1 Year Old Travel Toys was written by toddler travel expert Celine Brewer and may contain affiliate links.
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.
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.
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.
What You’ll Find in this Article on the Best 1 Year Old Travel Toys:
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.
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!
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.
What a perfect multisensory toy to distract your toddler when you need. These pull string toys are ideal for toddlers 1 to 3 years old. They have fun colors and lots of different textures and areas for your toddler to explore.
You'll be glad you packed this one in your toddlers carry-on bag!
I love the Buckle Toy for an easy to carry, engaging and fun toy to take on trips! This plush toy from The Buckle Toys features bright colors and a bunch of clasp buckles that toddlers love playing with. If your toddler is anything like mine, he'll love to play with those buckles over and over again!
All the buckles are attached in place, helping toddlers build their hand-eye coordination and problem solving skills without a load of loose, easy-to-lose parts. You can even strap this Buckle Toy onto your stroller, backpack or your car seat. This makes it one of the best car travel toys for 1 year old and easy to carry while on-the-go.
These on-the-go painting activity books from Melissa & Doug are perfect for young toddlers between 12 to 18 months because while they promote fine motor skills, early literacy and visual discrimination, they are also so much fun with no mess! Each of the six themed pads -sports, occupations, adventure, safari, under the sea and animals, include four reusable pages and a refillable water pen.
We think these are one of the best travel toys for 1 year old toddlers because of the refillable water pen. While clothes might get a little wet, there's no mess to clean up.
Toddlers don't need to worry about how they color as each stroke reveal new details and vibrant colors. The pictures on the pages are designed to allow little ones to color them in over and over again after they dry.
The reusability aspect and durability of these books ensure that they are easy to travel with and great at keeping your toddler entertained.
Duplo Lego Sets are some of the best travel toys for 1 year olds in the market and they are sure to keep your toddler occupied, at least for a little while. This one comes in the shape of vehicles, making it ideal for toddlers who love cars, planes and helicopters. While we'd say that Duplo sets fall into the category of best travel toys for 18 month old toddlers or older, this will completely depend on your toddler.
Soon to be one of your top toddler travel essentials, Duplo is a great travel toy for flying, since you have the tray table for building and playing on. Our toddler loved having the Duplo to build and play with in our hotel or apartment rental too.
This sensory toddler travel toy is made from 100% food-grade silicone and is great for little ones to engage with their senses. It is durable, strong, and perfect for them to hold and pop the bubbles for fun!
It comes especially handy when you want to grab your child's attention for a few minutes while you're changing their diaper, or just want to distract them. The pop push toy is easy to use, and features a hole for attaching a hook or carabiner to clip onto your toddler travel stroller or diaper bag.
These spinners are so much fun for toddlers! What's great is that you have a window at perfect level to stick them on to occupy your toddler! They are also small enough that you won't mind carrying them around.
While we recognize that this is obviously not a toddler travel toy, we do know that snacks are an excellent way to distract toddlers on airplanes! We never travel without a snack cup like these ones! Not only does it give your toddler independence in holding their own snack, but it won't all end up on the floor!
These fun and colorful learning cards from Morababy are one of the best travel toys for 1 year olds and are the perfect starting point for helping them learn to read. The characters are fun and engaging, with vivid patterns and colors that make them a fun travel toy that will definitely draw and keep your child’s attention.
They are especially great for promoting parent-child interaction and helping improve your toddlers' observation and thinking abilities.
Puzzles like the jigsaw sets from Magifire are excellent for keeping little hands busy. They are also excellent travel toys for younr toddlers that help improve a child's patience, imagination and hand-eye coordination. These cute, big, chunky wooden puzzles come in a variety of different animal shapes to keep your toddler occupied while on the move.
They're nicely made and designed to be easy for little fingers and hands to handle. Plus, they come with a drawstring bag for easy storage and are small enough to fit in a purse or diaper bag, making it one of the best travel toys for 15 month old toddlers (and older).
Another of our favorite airplane travel toys for 1 year old toddlers! There are so many places that toddlers could use these vinyl gel clings. On airplanes, on windows of cars, on the fridge, in the bathroom, even on walls, these vinyl gel clings are a fun way to help kids learn shapes and colors and to decorate, too!
Since these animal shaped stickers are removable, reusable and leave no mess behind after using, they are some of the best toys for flying with toddlers. There's easy access to a window and no mess!
Finger puppets are ideal travel toys for a 1 year old on a plane. Parents and toddlers can engage in some fun imaginative play with these little animal finger puppets from Oiuros. The tiny puppets fit on your toddler's fingers as well as yours and are made from a soft velvet material. The set comes with 20 different animal puppets, making story time as endless and interactive as ever!
Perfect for travel, you can whip these little guys out and use them without a hassle anywhere you go. All you need is your hand and a little imagination!
Most people (like us) buy their toddlers a shape sorter for at home. This fun shape sorter toy from Melissa and Doug is travel sized! It has 9 different blocks in various colors, textures, and shapes that your toddler can sort and put through one side. On the other side there are crinkly flaps with pictures of familiar things above, matching with the shapes beneath.
While this learning toy does have loose parts, its fine for playing with in locations like Airbnbs and the airport waiting areas. Or if your toddler has place to play on the plane, like one of the Flyaway Designs airplane beds for toddlers.
Once your little one is done playing, you can zip the blocks together to keep them safe. It’s even designed with a handle for your convenience, making it the best toys for travel with 1 year old toddlers as its easy to carry around anywhere you go.
These stacking cups from The First Years is a versatile toy for babies and toddlers to learn and play with. They can choose to stack the eight brightly colored cups, turn them over and hide things underneath them or find their own creative way to play with them.
Each cup has holes at the bottom for water play so kids can use them during bath time if they like. Easy to carry around and clean, this toy is great for encouraging counting skills as well as sharing with a friend, sibling or parent.
This is another fun set of stacking cups for babies and young toddlers. It has suction cups to keep the pieces together. Add on some pom-poms and you can use these as a fun sorting toy as well! Your 1 year old will have a blast with these!
Fidget friend from Learning Resources is a tactile toy that comes with six different fidget actions—spin the wheel, turn the crank, press the button, twist the knob, pull the plunger, and move the switch.
The compact size of this toy makes it easy to take along on the go, whether it be by car or plane. It helps in building the hand strength that toddlers will need to hold a pencil or play at the playground in the years to come.
Ideally used as one of your travel toys for 18 month old toddlers, it really is one of the best go-to toys for travel you can have in your stash!
The best way to quickly entice your toddler to look at you is with a musical toy that he or she will enjoy. This one from Baby Einstein's Store has 10 different melodies you can switch between, volume control, and flashing lights that match the music.
It's small, requires no assembly and is easy to carry, making it an ideal travel toy for 1 year olds on plane. Chances are, your fellow passengers will all be wearing headphones and won't be bothered by a little music here and there.
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.
First 100 Words from Priddy Books is a picture book for speech development. It is great for learning and developing vocabulary, for pointing, naming objects, and for reading. The tough, soft, and durable cover makes it perfect for little hands to hold.
It fits perfectly into a diaper bag and is an ideal choice for long periods of reading, play, and learning. We have a larger version of this book but wish we did have the small, portable version! Our toddler loves going through it and pointing out all the things he knows!
Kids love helping Dolly choose her outfits for different occasions with this fun activity book from Melissa and Doug. It also doubles as a toddler travel toy because the doll can be removed from the book and played with on its own too.
The pages of this book are full of lovely scenes, crinkling pages, and elements that flip and flap at every turn. It makes reading so much fun for toddlers, while keeping them quietly occupied at the same time. The book is also machine washable, making clean up convenient and easy.
Manhattan Toy Store is known for blending science with early childhood fun, and they continue to innovate and deliver great products like this one, The "Buzz through" soft activity book with tethered toy. It features a bumblebee that children can “buzz” through the holes within every page of the book.
It also has a loop that you can use to tie it to your travel stroller or travel car seat, which makes it perfect for traveling purposes. We love it as it encourages hand-eye coordination and curiosity for your little one, and it's really fun too!
Don't have time to pick out all your own toys? Keep em Quiet puts together toddler travel packs that come with everything to keep your toddler entertained on a long flight. We love that you can choose based on your toddlers age!
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 FamilyCanTravel.com, 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 TravelBanffCanada.com.