How to Entertain a Toddler on an Airplane

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Don’t Do It

Alright y’all, I am about to give you some very good advice. If you have more than one child, especially more than one young child, you really need to listen to what I am about to say. I can’t really relate if you only have one child because I don’t remember what that’s like. Did we ever only have one child?? Oh yeah, for about 7 months until I found I was pregnant with baby boy #2. 

Needless to say, I don’t remember much about that concept, but I’m sure if you only have one child you may be able to relate to what I’m about to tell you as well.

Ready? Ok, here goes. If you have a trip planned, and it is in drivable distance, DRIVE. For the love of all that is holy, do not fly with those people (i.e. your kids) if you don’t have to. And when I say drivable distance, I mean anything up to around 10 hours or so. For real. I drive ten hours with my one and two year old’s on a regular basis, by myself, and it is quite doable. Flying with them, with my husband there to help = JESUS. AND. WINE. It is not doable.

Ok, it’s doable, but it will seriously make you rethink this parenthood thing, only, it’s way too late to rethink this parenthood thing, so just don’t do it. 

Y’all, if you drive, they are RESTRAINED!! Need I say more? And if you tell me there are seat belts on planes or that you can put your child’s car seat on the airplane, you’ve never had two toddler boys where one has his own seat and one is “in arms.”

Exceptions

Exceptions to this rule: You have one child, or you have girls. I have quickly learned yes, there is a huge difference in boys and girls, and unless you have both or have been around both on a consistent basis, you probably think I have no idea what I’m talking about.

I keep telling myself that boys are hard while they’re younger and will grow up to be easy, but girls are easy while they’re younger and then their parents will have to deal with all their nonsense when they’re older; therefore, I’m just getting the nonsense over sooner rather than later. Sorry parent’s of girls, I forewarned ya. If you have both and know this actually isn’t true, please don’t rain on my parade and tell me I’m wrong. Thanks in advance.

Seriously?

My husband seriously asked me if I wanted to meet him in Orlando at the end of his conference so we could take the boys to Disney World. Yeah, that sounds great and all, except for the fact that I’d be flying with them both by myself. No thank you. Have you ever tried to change a toddlers diaper on an airplane? Much less two toddler’s diapers because let’s face it, I’m not letting the “potty-trained” toddler wear underwear on the airplane. And y’all, that’s just the diaper changing issue. Don’t get me started on all the other issues. I’m pretty sure I looked at Chad like he had about six heads. He got the memo pretty quickly. Next time, Disney World. Next time being when they are capable of going to the bathroom by themselves on the airplane, and, or when we live somewhere that is in the before mentioned drivable distance to Disney World.

Believe it or not, the whole point of this article is how to keep toddlers entertained on an airplane, if I haven’t scared you from trying it yet. Both of our boys have actually flown several times, so you’d think we would have it down by now, but not quite so much; however, I have had a few friends recently ask me how they should keep their kids entertained on their upcoming flights, so I started thinking I should just write down my suggestions and share. 

Can I add that one of those friends kids did well and one of those friends kids slept on the first flight? Maybe it’s time I just start coming to terms with the fact that maybe it’s just my kids? 

Airplane Activities

Now, I must say, I personally think these are all great ideas, and if we had one child, or only girls, or toddlers that weren’t uh hmm… spirited, they may work better. I must say though, I really think for our upcoming flight next week (please start praying for us now), I am going to rock this whole flying with toddlers thing. Side note: the only reason we are flying is because it is a 15+ hour drive to see my husband’s family in Kentucky, so that’s when I give in and we fly. 

Here’s what I have in the Mary Poppins’ Airplane bag for our flight:

  1. Finger Crayons – Ok, I mean these are just way cooler than regular crayons, and they’ve never used them before, so they’ll be amazed by them. Don’t forget a coloring book or paper – mental note to self, I haven’t packed that yet! We always take crayons with us wherever we go, and we always get at least a few minutes of entertainment out of them.
  2. Grab and Go Book to Color – I know I just said crayons, but if you can’t find finger crayons, get one of these grab and go color books. They’re already in a bag that zips, which is perfect for a plane ride!
  3. The 3 Little Pigs Felt Book – So this was actually a steal I found at Target, and I can’t seem to find the same one online, but you can google “felt story books” and there are many things that come up. Plus, if you’re super creative and a mom of the year, you can make your own. In this house, ain’t nobody got time for that!

  4. Felt Counting Pizza – This was another Target steal that I can’t find online, but this one would be super easy to make, and even though I said, “ain’t nobody got time for that,” I could/would make this one pretty quickly. Motor skills, math, interactive – check, check, check! Toddlers love to learn new things, so learning activities are great for little ones. If you have an elementary kid, maybe not so much. Just give them your iPad.
  5. Play N’ Learn Puzzle Pairs – So I know you’re thinking a puzzle on a plane, no way, but hear me out. These are puzzle pairs, meaning there are only two pieces to each puzzle, so you can give your child 2-3 puzzle pairs at a time, let them match, then give them 2-3 more pairs. We have these and these.
  6. Glow Sticks – New pack of glow sticks? Yes, please. They can enjoy popping them to make all of the colors show up, they can connect them and make bracelets, they can wave them in the air like they just don’t care. Bottom line, kids love glow sticks. This will knock a few more minutes off of our in air time countdown.
  7. Gel clings – Ok, this one is a must. Get a window seat and give the child these! If you have a Target, you can usually always find some in Bullseye’s Playground. This will knock more than a few minutes off the clock, unless your toddler puts everything in his mouth like our 19 month old, then they may eat them all, but really, this one has been a lifesaver for us. Get over your germ issues, they will drop them on the floor, and they will be nasty, but let’s remember the end goal here: minutes. off. the clock.
  8. Painter’s Tape – I’ve written a few times about painter’s tape and how my kids love it, but really, they love it. Give them pieces of painter’s tape and let them stick it to everything around them. It comes off easily with no residue. Cheap entertainment.
  9. Don’t forget your go-to’s that you know your kids love – Download some apps on your phone, download their favorite movie on your iPad, buy a sticker book, and let them put stickers all over you. They think it’s hilarious.
  10. SNACKS – When all else fails, bring out the ridiculous bag of snacks you always carry with you as a mom because snacks are always a win!

Bonus Tips

I also must say that I think part of what will make this successful is that the boy’s have not seen the majority of these activities yet, and they won’t until we get on the flight. New things are always more exciting than things they’ve seen before!

Also, I bought this handy, dandy, organizer that has these great pockets to put everything into! All I have to do is put the folder down into our carry on, and we are set to go! Think about all of the stuff you’d take for entertainment, and one folder organizer really doesn’t take up much more room.

For more great ideas, go check out my mom blogger friend at Beautifully Imperfect Mama, and see how she entertained her little one on their last flight when reality set in!

Wish us Luck

So wish us look, say a prayer or two, and I’ll let you know how our next plane adventure goes 🙂 How do you keep your toddlers entertained on an airplane?

Disclaimer: I don’t really think I have it harder than girl parent’s or parent’s of only one child. Parenthood is hard regardless of the gender of how many there are! I’m simply bringing humor to the reality of life with wild, toddler boys. 

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36 thoughts on “How to Entertain a Toddler on an Airplane

  1. I’ve flown several times with my little boys, and while it’s not easy, it’s doable. I totally agree with you that novelty in the activities you bring is a large part of the battle…and lollipops…best treat ever because they take a long time to eat. 🙂 Also, those finger crayons look awesome!

  2. I love this post! I did something similar with tips for flying with a baby, but I have yet to fly with a toddler. Definitely bookmarking this for the future! Awesome tips!

    1. Thanks Christina! I have to start packing the few days before and make many lists for it all to come together 🙈

  3. I can’t even imagine trying to fly with my one kid! All of these sound like great ideas to keep my little one busy on our long car rides though. I have heard that Target has those felt books right now, and I have to go check them out!

    1. Flying is a whole different ball game for us 🙈 I’m definitely going to have to start sticking this bag in the car for our long drives as well. Target is like a teachers dream come true right now. So many great steals in Bullseye’s Playground! They had some felt color and money sets as well – not that my kids can count money yet, but I may or may not have gotten it anyways 😂

    1. Ours do so much better in the car for some reason. When they’re on a plane, they don’t understand why they can’t get up and go wherever they please 🙈 snacks and activities are a must for sure 😊 Thanks for reading, Alina!

  4. I have only ever flown with one (sometimes with my husband, but also alone) because we have never flown with our kids since we had more that one. Two reasons–cost, and exactly what you wrote here!! Oh my gosh, driving is so much better, at least for my kids. But the gel clings for the windows are a genius idea! I’ll have to get some for road trips, thanks!

    1. My kids so much better driving too!! And yes, it is so expensive. Great idea to put the gel clings in the car too. I’ll have to try that!

  5. Laughing so hard at “don’t do it”! Our last couple flights have been pretty miserable, and I don’t know how I am going to do it with 3 mini-people (I don’t really count the teen). On the flip-side, I had a very enjoyable trip with just my 4 year old to Washington recently…

    1. 😂 the struggle is real! Glad I’m not the only one that has had a hard time with flying. I was starting to think it was just my kids 🙈 glad it went well with your 4 year old! I’m thinking we shouldn’t go anywhere else until mine are about that age!

  6. Great tips here! I completely agree. Thankfully, all of mine are old enough now that if we do have to travel via plane, it’s not as bad anymore.

  7. This is fantastic! The activity ideas are great, I wish I had throught of felt activities! Although (as you saw in my article) most of my planning is all for nothing hahaha better to be prepared though right?!

  8. Keeping them busy and full usually means happy! 😉 These are great suggestions…and seriously if you can drive, DRIVE! I totally agree! And of course my children have to buck the status quo…both are energetic, but our daughter keeps me on my toes constantly!

    1. Thank you! Haha mine definitely do better driving. Too funny about your daughter! She’ll be an awesome boss lady in the future!

  9. Oh wow – good luck, mama! That sounds stressful to me. We’re very blessed to live in the same area as our families, and my extended family is only 6 hours away. Plus, Disney World (our favorite place, too!) is 10 hours away, so we can always drive. My son is so busy all the time right now, and I can’t imagine trying to corral him on a plane for several hours at a time.

    Question for you: are the glow sticks allowed in carry-on luggage? I was thinking they contained liquids, and that would be a no-no, or one to put in the liquids bag. I’ve never tried to take them on an airplane, so I don’t know if they’re allowed or not.

    1. That’s so nice everyone is so close! It’s definitely hard to keep them corralled at this active age.

      What a great question! I hadn’t even thought of that until you asked. I looked it up and the TSA website said they could be carried on or in checked baggage 🙌🏻 good thought – thank you!

  10. Haha so funny, I totally agree with your beginning statement “don’t do it”!!! I am not brave enough to take our daughter on a plane yet so we definitely won’t be traveling anywhere that isn’t within reasonable driving distance! Thanks for your tips! 🙂

    1. 😂 it seems so much harder than it should be! Something about toddlers not liking to be confined. After you think you could do it again, but during you think never. again.

  11. This was so funny I literally laughed when your said your husband had 6 heads when he asked you to meet him in Orlando after his conference. Loved the tips. We are.planning on taking the kiddos to Jamaica and efinitely looking for those finger crayons because my kiddos haven’t used or seen those ever.

    1. I think when we were on the plane yesterday he quickly understand why I was unwilling to do it by myself 😂 oh that sounds fun! The finer crayons were a hit – they thought they were so cool!

  12. We have done a lot of flying with one child. And for us this was fine. We dont really watch movies in our home, so one thing that works for us is that is one of the very few times he gets to watch them. So he usually sits there the whole time. We get up every once in awhile and walk around, but we have travelled a lot without drama as of yet.

    But this is where it all changes. Our first flight with two boys is coming up. I reserve my right to change my opinion. LOL!

    Let’s see how it goes.

    1. That’s great you’ve had a good experience and that he’ll watch a movie! I’m sure yours will do great 😊 enjoy it while the youngest is still immobile and will let you cradle him ❤️ good luck!

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