My little family recently made the trip to San Diego, my husband’s hometown, to finally bring our son there to introduce him to all of his daddy’s favorite places. We were so excited.
But getting to San Diego meant taking our wiggly, enthusiastic, social-yet-shy-pandemic-baby toddler on a plane for the first time. That felt less exciting.
The Top 4 Toddler Toys We Swear By For A Smooth Flight
I gathered up all our friends’ and family’s best advice (which apparently is only one thing, and that thing is snacks) and took a chance on a few random new toys I could fit into our backpacks.
As it turns out, four of those items were huge hits: a fidget toy, something creative, an interactive book and a highly-rated pair of headphones. And everything was perfectly packable. My son didn’t just enjoy these things, but he was happily distracted and well-behaved for nearly four straight hours…while at home he can’t sit still for 10 minutes.
It felt like magic.
These are four toys that my husband and I now totally swear by for traveling with our toddler, arguably the only things we even needed to pack.
That and snacks, lots and lots of snacks.
These Melissa & Doug books were a last minute recommendation from a friend, and they are fantastic. They’re similar to the Pop It Fidget Toys, except with a more audible popping noise and they are a part of a story. My kid loves books, especially if they’re interactive like these, and they’re the kind you’ll end up reading on repeat…but at least your kid won’t be kicking the seat in front of you, am I right?!
I spent multiple hours reading headphone reviews for toddlers, and even ordered the most commonly recommended versions to test out before our trip. This soft headband version by CozyPhones was our favorite. Purchasing them ahead of time gave our kid time to get used to them on his head (although it didn’t take long: he loved them). The internal headphone pieces do move around inside the headband, which some reviewers didn’t like, but we took the advice on the packaging to place the headband on our kid, draw marks on the band where his ears were, and then we could easily put them in place each time before using!
These are popular and stock dips during high travel times, so I recommend grabbing a pair earlier than you think you need to. There are a few other versions along with these cute animals, such as the unicorn, Sesame Street and Paw Patrol!
Crazy Aaron’s Thinking Putty was arguably the stand out star of the plane ride (a great selection over at Target, too). My son played with this for multiple hours, and it even seemed to help him stay focused on the cartoons he was watching as he moved it around in his preciously chubby little hands. When he wasn’t into watching shows, he simply stretched and poked this jar of putty with the most determined concentration I’ve ever seen him have. My husband actually enjoyed playing with it, too, chuckle.
Pro tip: the versions with less speckles or pieces inside the putty are easier to pull and poke and play with.
This simple, affordable toy is not only incredibly effective at holding my toddler’s attention, but was oddly soothing for me, too. It’s considered a “fidget toy” (one of those strategic sensory objects that can reduce stress and anxiety), and I must admit it totally worked on me. You can get a 4 pack if you have multiple hands that want one, or simply grab one of the many single shapes.
Let’s be friends on Instagram! Sharing life from my sleepy little beach town, daily style, makeup favorites, Gilmore Girl binge-athons, and endless cups of coffee – all with a good dose of adorable toddler content, too.
This one’s for the Pinners…