We see a lot of questions about ways to entertain your baby on a flight. We typically fly with very few toys, as we have found they often get very little “airtime” and our kids are far too interested in everything else on the plane.
That being said, every kid is different and enjoys playing with different toys or books for different lengths of time (or in different ways). This is a starting point to help you get some basics, then maybe add on a favourite toy or something that happens to hold your baby’s attention longer than other toys.
If you have something that has worked very well with your little one, we’d love to hear about it and add it to this list!
0 to 6 Months Old
Between 0 to 3 months old, you really don’t need to worry about bringing any toys or books for your baby. With any luck your baby will spend a lot of time sleeping.
At 3 to 6 months old, your baby may start taking more of an interest in a few toys. They will likely be entertained enough by their surroundings but a couple of options to bring are:
High Contrast Board Books
Teething Toy or Necklace
Colorful Toy With Different Textures
6 to 12 Months Old
We found that when our kids were within this age range, they were mostly interested in playing with the stuff on the plane. From the window shade and the tray to the seat buckle and safety card, they are happy to explore everything (mostly with their mouth). Getting a plastic cup, straw and spoon from the flight attendant also provided plenty of entertainment. Even just a blanket, can provide minutes of entertainment.
This is the age where snacks can become a great distraction too. We always bring snacks that also take a long time to eat like Cheerios or Gerber Puffs.
Other passengers can be pretty exciting too. Peeking through the seats is a great game (if you can find someone interested in engaging with your baby). Or take them for several “walks” down the aisle.
We had a Bright Starts Clack and Slide Activity Ball that was a favourite in our house. If you have the room, this is a good toy to bring. Another option is the Manhattan Winkel Rattle and Sensory Teether.
Bring along a couple of board books, like the fun travel themed ones in our Shop, and you should be all set.
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12 to 18 Months Old
At this age, the attention span is still pretty short. There’s a great illustration from the book Happiest Toddler on the Block that shows a 7 minute time span of an 18 month old in a nursery moving from station to station. This helps to explain why each thing you bring will entertain your toddler for such a short time!
The plane and all the people on it are still going to be quite a novelty and will provide plenty of entertainment. Taking trips down the aisle and playing with everything around will take up a lot of time.
For this age, continue to bring simple toys that are going to be easy to put away and take back out because you’ll be doing a lot of that. Plenty of snacks that will provide some distraction are always useful at every age. We continue to bring those that take longer to eat, like Cheerios served in a spill-proof snack container.
For books, bring ones with plenty of pictures that you can talk about like the First 100 Box Set
We introduced very simple apps between 14 and 18 months of age. Like everything else, they don’t hold attention for long but it was nice to have other distractions to rotate through.
The Melissa & Doug On the Go Water Wow! Activity Books are a great item to bring for coloring. Not only does it work with water (i.e. very little mess) but they are reusable.
18 to 24 Months Old
Between 18 and 24 months, the attention span for watching short shows will start to appear. As for every age, the basics will work great here: favourite books, snacks, Finger puppets, coloring and stickers.
As your little one really starts to enjoy coloring, a great coloring book is the My First Big Book of Coloring. With 200 pages it may be a bit big to take on a short trip so an alternative is the Toddler Coloring Book
RELATED: How to Raise a Little Traveller
Other slightly more complicated apps can be introduced at this age. They likely won’t hold your toddlers attention for long, but if you have a few then flipping between them can provide a lengthy distraction. Some favourites at this age were:
Even if you bring the traditional coloring book and crayons, don’t forget the Melissa & Doug On the Go Water Wow! Activity Books. They are easy to pack and with very little mess are a great alternative when your toddler need a new activity.
2 Years +
As your little toddler begins to transition into a pre-schooler, he will get much easier to entertain on the plane. Their attention span grows such that they can watch a movie (or chunks of it at a time). They can also spend more time focused on a task like coloring or playing with stickers. The Melissa & Doug On the Go Water Wow! Activity Books are still a great mess-free option to bring along. Of course, plenty of snacks are still necessary too.
If your child loves books, bring along some favorites to (re)read. We have transitioned to bringing along magazines like Chirp or High Five instead of books. They provide not only stories but activities that can help entertain for the duration of your trip and they take up very little room.
If you are travelling with two or more children, often the older siblings can be neglected on the plane and left to watch copious amounts of movies on the iPad while you deal with your baby. One solution to this is to still provide the iPad but to include learning activities like those provided on ABCmouse.com.
You can reduce some of that mom guilt knowing your child is still getting something out of all those hours on the iPad. The added benefit is that it will provide some entertainment during those quiet times while on your trip.
ABCmouse.com has four great educational apps with offline content for subscribers.
Other apps that were a hit in our house between the ages of 2 and 4 years old were:
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Let us know what kept your baby or toddler entertained on your flights! Comment below...
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What do you pack to entertain your baby on flights?