This article about the Best Toddler Airplane Toys was written by toddler travel expert Celine Brewer and may contain affiliate links.
Based on my years of traveling with my toddlers, I can tell you that flying with a toddler can be intimidating. What makes flying with a toddler so scary is that they do not sit still, and there’s no amount of convincing (read: pleading) that can get them to. This is precisely what makes toddlers, over all other ages, so challenging to handle on flights. In my experience flying with toddlers, I can tell you that a little planning goes a long way. It also never hurts to pack these toddler travel essentials along with a selection of my favorite toddler toys for airplane travel.
I’ve learned that the key to success on a flight with a toddler is to pack a selection of particularly engaging airplane toys for toddlers. I always tried to pack a variety of small toddler airplane toys in my carry-on bag, so I can easily rotate between them.
Plus, if you think about it, a family flight is a wonderful opportunity for some one-on-one time with your toddler. One of the things I loved most about traveling by plane is that I could sit sit next to my kids. Don’t go spend a fortune on toddler airplane toys – always keep in mind, none of these toddler airplane toys could entertain your little one as much as you – their favorite playmate!
When choosing the toddler airplane toys for your child, just remember that they need to be light and compact enough to fit in your carry-on bag or your toddlers travel backpack. The best toddler plane toys should be easy to carry, take out and put away quickly, and durable enough to handle the rigors of travel. Bonus points, of course, if they have an educational aspect to them!
I know, it’s a tall order. But don’t fret, because I have distilled my years of family travel experience into a curated list of my favorite toddler toys for airplane. When reviewing my list, consider your child’s personality and select a variety which will appeal to your child the most.
My Plane Trip Coloring Book – Talking to your toddler about an upcoming flight is an excellent way to prepare them for the experience. This fun coloring book helps prepare them for the flight, and then helps occupy them during it. Trust me – make sure you pick up triangular crayons too!
What You’ll Find in this Article on the Best Toddler Airplane Toys:
I loved bringing gel clings along for my toddlers to play with on an airplane. My kids could just peel them off and stick them onto any surface, like the airplane window or the food tray. Given how small, yet entertaining they are, gel clings might just be one of the best toddler toys for airplane travel.
Little fingers love the thickness of these vibrant stickers, and they're also easy to reuse, remove and replace over and over again, without leaving behind any residue or mess.
There are gel clings for all interests. There's dogs, cute farm animals, jungle critters, etc.
My toddlers LOVED their boogie boards and I loved that they would entertain my kids for hours.
For toddlers that love to draw (or scribble) a boogie board is an easy, lightweight travel toy for toddlers. Young artists love creating masterpieces with fun rainbow colors, then easily erasing the screen the a push of a button! I love how the latest models have glow-in-the-dark colors, which would be especially fun on a night flight.
My kids loved playing with Melissa & Doug Reusable Sticker Books on family trips, but sadly they are too big to qualify for my list of the best toddler airplane toys. Luckily, Melissa & Doug make these smaller puffy sticker activity books which are the ideal size for the airplane. Your toddler will love creating and recreating the scenes.
The best part about this toddler airplane toy is that there are so many fun options, that you are guaranteed to find a set of stickers that your toddler will love.
One of my favorite strategies for preparing for a family flight was to talk to my toddlers about the flight. I found that by doing so, my toddler was better prepared to deal with the new experience of flying.
This My Plane Trip coloring book is the perfect toddler airplane toy. Not only will it entertain your child, it gives you a natural opportunity to talk through the elements of a flight with your toddler.
Don't worry if your toddler seems too young to understand, focus on repetition instead. Go through the book and color some pages before your flight. Talk about all the aspects of the upcoming flight (taking off, wearing seat belts, etc). You'll be amazed how much your toddler retains.
Then you can pull out this familiar book on the plane and do some more coloring together!
I think whoever invented triangular crayons is a genius! I used to spend half my time on family flights picking up rounded crayons off the floor - these triangular crayons simply lie flat and do not roll. Amazing!
Another game-changer in the 'not picking stuff up off the floor' category is to travel with one of these toddler airplane beds. When my messy little toddler had triangular crayons and an airplane bed at his feet, it felt like he didn't need me at all!
Democa makes toys that encourage kids to learn while having fun, and their "My Quiet Book" is no exception! With a belief in creating toys that educate and inspire children while positively impacting our environment, their toys often feature thoughtful designs and plenty of opportunity for quiet play. Making them some of the best travel toys for toddlers on airplanes.
This Montessori toy, for instance, features 9 different activities that children will love interacting with through touch and feel. This is fantastic news for parents, because sensory play otherwise tends to be quite the messy affair.
With lots of cute, attached elements like zippers, buttons and buckles, your kid will get to use this book to engage in activities like matching shapes and getting dressed, without even having to get out of their seat!
Parents will also love that this durable toy is machine washable, comes with a zippered washing bag, and retains its shape and quality even after multiple washes. Fun and easy to maintain, this toddler travel you has it all!
One of the most popular and best airplane toys for toddlers, the Water Wow! activity pads from Melissa and Doug provide your little one the joy of screen-free playtime with no mess!
The Water Wow! books are great for promoting fine motor skills for toddlers aged two and up, but they're even better for endless fun times on the plane. Each pad comes with four reusable pages and a refillable water pen. The chunky pen is easy for kids to hold and store neatly in the front cover of the book. Kids love using it to color in the scenes, and revealing more details and vibrant colors with each stroke.
My kids loved their Water Wow! activity pads and played with them over and over. I loved them too as they are great travel entertainment for toddlers as they are small to pack and can occupy a child's time for quite a while.
These waterproof sticker books feature over 100 reusable stickers across 3 different scenes and multiple themes, making them ideal toys for toddlers on airplanes. Kids will have a blast peeling and pasting stickers of animals, dinosaurs, vehicles; farm animals, seasons, insects; and ocean animals, my body and space on the different backgrounds provided.
When they’re done setting up a scene, starting over is as simple as peeling them off and using them again, wherever they like! The vivid imagery paired with the corresponding words in the sticker books help to build vocabulary, while encouraging the use of their creativity and imagination.
Toddlers will also enjoy using these reusable stickers to express their big personalities on surfaces like mirrors, windows, glass and more. And the best part? They leave no mess or residue behind, making them some of the most ideal airplane toys for toddlers!
I had great success with pull back toys for plane travel with toddlers. They're cute, travel-sized, easy-to-use and require no batteries to operate. I'm sure you even remember playing with a few yourself as a child! These "Pull Back & Go" car toys are an assortment of 12 mini construction vehicles and race car toys that take this classic a step further!
These small travel toys are made of colorful plastic and are easy to operate, allowing little ones to race them with a simple pull and release mechanism. Watch your kid’s delight as the little cars zoom across the floor (or airplane tray table) noiselessly and far more effectively than any other toy this size.
The best part is that the vehicles are made with realistic details like joints that actually move and swing, so your child can play with them however they please, even when they aren't in the mood to race. While they are great for keeping kids occupied on a plane, they are also perfect for taking to the playground or the beach, due to their size and portability. Just drop these small toddler airplane toys in your carry-on luggage and you're ready to go!
If this is your toddler's first flight, then these small toy planes may be the perfect travel toy for your toddlers!
Storytime with your kiddo just got a lot more fun with this delightful set of animal puppets! These finger puppets make airplane toys for toddlers as they are designed to fit both your toddler's fingers as well as your own with ease. These tiny puppets are made from a soft velvet material, and ensure hours of comfortable and fun pretend-play.
This animal finger puppet set comes with 20 different animal puppets, encouraging your tiny tot to develop a curiosity for learning about the world around them.
Again, I loved having finger puppets in my carry-on bag. These fun toys for toddlers on planes are super small and super versatile. All you need is a little imagination!
Buckles toys are ideal toddler toys for airplane travel and Buster Square is one of the most popular. Not only does it feature 6 different colorful buckles in clasp style for “clicking” and “snapping” away, but is also geared to help them develop their fine motor skills like their pincer grasp and hand eye coordination.
Buckle toys like Buster Square come with brightly colored numbers and shapes embroidered on its side for additional learning, and a hidden easy-glide zipper pocket for storing whatever your little one wants.
Wikki Stix is the ultimate craft toy that promotes creativity, building and imagination. Made of nothing more than yarn covered in food-grade, non-toxic wax, these colorful, soft and pliable sticks stick to each other with ease to allow for hours of 3-D creativity. With no right or wrong way to play with them; no mess, clean-up or prep involved; and even a convenient carrying tube that comes included, these simply are one of the best toddler travel toys for airplanes out there!
I once made my son a homemade version of this toy with pipe cleaners and an empty spice jar. It was a hit, but to be honest, these look so much better for inflight entertainment. I really like these toys for airplane travel!
The Color Wonder Art Kit are one of the best toddler toys for plane travel as it encourages children to create colorful, mess-free art. The kit's art supplies are easy to use and don't stain hands, furniture, or fabric. The fact that the pens only work on the special Color Wonder Paper makes them super safe to use on-the-go no matter where you are.
With two 30-Page Color Wonder Pads, 10 Classic Color Wonder Mini Markers, and 10 Pastel Color Wonder Mini Markers, toddlers will have hours and hours of fun times to look forward to. Just know that the ink does take a little time to dry and show up on the paper, but most children love the results and feel it's part of the magic!
Similar to the Water Wow! activity pads, my kids also loved the Crayola Color Wonder books. This creative toddler airplane toy kept them busy for long stretches at a time.
Coloring books are an excellent educational toddler activity for the airplane. You can spend time talking about the pictures and coloring with your toddler. Or your toddler might prefer to work on it all on their own.
I really like coloring books as toddler toys for flights. They are super easy to pack in a carry-on bag and are one of those special airplane toys for toddlers which can occupy large chunks of time.
As you can see from the picture, these mini plastic animals were a favorite toddler travel toy in my family. These small mini animals are a great choice for toddler toys for flights! Easy to pack and incredibly detailed, this 54-piece Animal Play Set has everything from wild animals, farm animals, trees, fences and even grass for kids to get imaginative and creative with playtime.
Just like with the finger puppets, this toddler airplane toy is a great opportunity for you to play with your child and teach them about their animal friends through storytelling and role-play, and then let them take over. They won't even notice the time slip by and you'll get a little time to yourself!
I spent a lot of time on our family flights with picture books just like this. What a great opportunity to teach our kids some new words, all while keeping our toddler entertained during the flight.
Board books make ideal travel toys for toddlers on airplanes. You can use them to help your toddler get to sleep on the plane, or your toddler can spend time looking at the pictures. They are perfect for talking through, pointing out pictures, words and colors.
I love this apple threading toy as it's a small and versatile toddler toy for airplanes. This simple pocket-sized lacing toy is made from super durable and child-safe materials, and is guaranteed to keep your toddler entertained on the flight. See the curiosity in their eyes as you help them lace the caterpillar through the different holes in the apple block for the first time.
The Montessori toy is great for developing hand-eye coordination, fine motor, cognitive and visual perception skills in young children. It's also a great starting point for learning essential skills and concepts like eating, shoe tying and buttoning, all while helping to improve their patience, imagination and concentration. Add this one to your toddler toys for the plane!
Ok - I realize this isn't a toddler airplane toy, but if your goal is to keep your child occupied on the flight, trust me on this - a snack cup is worth its weight in goal.
Plane rides with toddlers require plenty of snacks! They are a great way to occupy your toddler even for short spurts of time. I LOVE these snack catchers (see ours on the edge of the tray table) because it allows your toddler to be independent, without you having to deal with a mess on the floor of the airplane! (Can you tell I love picking up stuff from the floor on airplanes??). All kidding aside, these snack catchers are essential toddler travel gear.
Our toddler carries his snack cup EVERYWHERE! It's literally in every single family travel photo we have of him as a toddler.
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.