10 Easy ways to entertain a toddler

10 Easy ways to entertain a toddler

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9 Easy ways to entertain your toddler during a 12+ hour flight (or shorter) + a surprise!

 So you’ve booked your flight.
You have your passports.
You are so stinkin’ excited about your trip you can’t stand it.
Then, as you start to sorta mentally prepare what you’re going to pack, what clothes to bring, what shoes you’ll need, what all your little one will need….
You realize that you should and need to also  bring along toys and items to keep your toddler occupied, because you’re going to have one very, very long flight – say 12+ hours?
Then the panic sets in? How in the world am I going to keep them occupied for 12+ hours?
In a cramped airplane! With hundreds of strangers around!
If this hasn’t happened yet, hopefully it won’t.
But if it has, and that’s why your here, then within this post I hope you’ll get enough ideas to help everyone survive the long flight. You, your toddler….and those around you 😉
Then let’s get started:
Take a deep breath…….seriously do it…….
O.k., so now that I’ve taken a deep breath with you 🙂 let me fill you in on my past experience, because I’ve been exactly where you are now:
I was preparing for a long, long trip with my toddler.
(Full disclosure: I was traveling with both my parents which was helpful but they are very much the you need to do it yourself parents so…)
It was three flights, one which was 12+  hours long and because I’m a first time mom, even though I would consider myself an experienced traveler, I was …terrified. Well, ok, maybe that’s a little strong.
I was extremely excited about the trip, but nervous too.
Having a toddler ‘stuck’ in an enclosed space with hundreds of other people, that they don’t know and they are still wary of strangers!
You’re thinking:
I hope he doesn’t kick the person in front of us.
I hope he doesn’t start screaming at the top of his lungs because he thinks it’s funny.
I hope he doesn’t have a crying fit.
I hope he sleeps.
I hope his ears don’t bother him.
Sound familiar? We’ll that was me too!
So me being me, I wanted to do as much research ( and I do mean as much research) as I could possible do.
I came across lots of great ideas but because of my financial situation (living with my parents, working on getting back on my feet) I needed to not spend too much. But a lot of suggestions of course were not in my price range ( and I’m even just talking about $10-20!)
Needless to say, I decided to go with items that I had at home – our own books, toys, blue paint tape (I’ll explain that one later) etc. but also chose to go to the Dollar Store  for some easy options.

Entertain your toddler with toys:

Small cardboard books:
These are light weight, they don’t take up much space and they are quick reads so it should be able to keep your little one focused for a few minutes at least! Plus, let me just tell you, we’ve had ours for almost a year now and they have become one our most favorite books to read at night before bed.
Post-it notes:
I know, why in the world would you have post-it notes as a toy? Well, unlike stickers, that can get really stuck on things post-its will go on and off of things without making a mess, nor keeping sticky stuff of any surface. The Dollar Store has a great packet with four different colors – for $1! (even at the big discount stores the cheapest is around $4)
Another suggestion was blue paint tape. Again, it will stick but it won’t get stuck so it will help keep things clean but will still give your little one the ability to ‘sticker’ things without issues.
I went back and forth with getting these. You know, the little Matchbox type cars. I felt like they could be very easy to lose on the plane, in-between seats, on the floor. I ended up getting them but not using them until we were at our destination. Definitively a great distracter!
If you notice, all these items are quiet. This is huge. If you are worried your toddler could be a noise-maker, let’s not have their toys be one! And even if that isn’t a worry, your fellow travelers, including, I would imagine, yourself, will be happy they don’t have their ‘noisy’ toys with them.

10 Easy ways to entertain a toddler on a 12+ hour flight. Includes a bonus tip.

Now , if you’re still not sure if all these, or any of these could really do the trick to  entertain your toddler, toys will not be your only option in entertaining your little one during your long flight.
But before I jump into those, let me mention one little trick that is actually a huge help. If you have time, and I hope you gave yourself extra time, before and in-between flights, let your little one run, play, explore. Basically try and let them get out as much energy as possible so when they are in the cramped airplane they might actually be ready to settle down a bit.
Here are five more options, that believe it or not, will help pass the time better than you might think.

Entertain your toddler with activities:

Walking around plane:
You’ll want to do this one too anyway! If you’re starting to feel antsy or you can tell your little one is on the verge of a breakdown of any sort and it is safe to do so, get up and walk around the cabin.
Even if you have to hold your little one, the new scenery and people should help take the edge off. And if they can walk, all the better.
They’ll enjoy exploring everyone around them. And I found people pretty accepting of him ‘intruding’ into their space. (meaning, he’d stop in the aisle, especially if someone acknowledged him, and ‘interact’ with them)
Eating, etc.:
They still seem to come around every few hours with another snack, meal, drink, customs papers, so if they aren’t sleeping at the time this will pass them time, them eating and you trying to too!
Not only that, but the cart going back and forth will keep them entertained too.
If you are bringing along a car seat then you’ll be golden with this one. When it’s time for nap or bed then you have the perfect spot to plop them into and strap them in so you can get some sleep too, or go to the bathroom, eat, etc.
Our 12 hour flights always seemed to be at his natural bedtime so we got extremely lucky. He’d be out for about 9-10 hours of the flight but we didn’t have a car seat.
He had is own seat and we’d lay him in it and buckle him in. I still never felt completely comfortable with this so I always still had a hand on him but manage even still to get some sort of shut eye. (I never sleep very well on flights anyway :()
Exploring the plane seats:
There’s so much to explore in terms of plane seats. The cushions, the arm rests, the buttons on the arm rests, the pocket in front, the magazines in that pocket, the tv screen. Let them explore, just be aware of whether they are interfering with another passenger when they are.
Watching the tv/cell phone/iPad/etc.:
I, personally, used this as a last resort. I really wanted to follow the guidelines of little to no screen time for my guy until he was two.
But so many suggestions out there say to put games on an iPad or your cell phone to help keep them quiet, etc on flights. So, I did. We even practiced using headphones before our flight so they wouldn’t be new to him if we needed them. Well, I never did use them but there were always plenty of other people watching their screens or cells for him to watch. It is inevitable and unavoidable.
If you are not like me 🙂 then there are several options on the provided tv free of charge to let your little one watch or play. And/or of course you may already have great games on your iPad/cell phone that your little one likes to play. But please note: if they aren’t use to headphones, maybe practice a bit before the flight so that’s not an extra challenge!
And for the best part, and the surprise you’ve been waiting for:
The airlines also passed out Goodie bags for the little ones.
We got a great water coloring book (one of those when you wet the page the colors show up). So awesome because you don’t have to worry about getting them, you or anyone or anything else dirty….maybe just a little wet. We also got crayons, books and a backpack.
The backpack was filled with stuff that we still actually haven’t ever opened up. I felt like most of these were a little to ‘old’ for my little guy (he was about 18 months at the time) but it was still nice to have the distraction of the items, the crinkling of the bags, the colors, just getting something!
There you go. Not only will all of these options help pass the time but they are either free (yea, yea- who doesn’t like free) or extremely cheap!!!!
I hope this post helps in the planning of your trip. (And if it’s not for a bit, I will be putting out an all-inclusive packing list for traveling with a toddler/baby soon. So keep an eye out for that!)
And if you need a great packing list immediately, check out my Never forget Anything Again Packing list.
What are your tricks and tips for surviving a long flight with a toddler?
I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Happy Travels!

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