As much as we all love to travel with our kids, keeping a toddler entertained on a short or long(er) flight, can be a daunting task at times. Luckily, our daughter is an easy and calm child and even as a toddler we never had much trouble keeping her in her chair. However, since most toddlers are a little more active, we’ve gathered the best toddler airplane toys that will help you entertain your little one.

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OVERVIEW

ARE TODDLER AIRPLANE TOYS A NECESSITY?

Can’t I just bring a tablet and leave it at that?

We don’t mind screen time all that much, because we like to indulge in some series or movie time once in a while as well. Especially when travelling, our daughter can use our smartphone or the inflight entertainment system as much as she wants.

However, when she was still a toddler her average attention span for anything screentime related was about 5 minutes…

This means we always brought along her own little backpack filled with toddler travel toys. Most toddlers usually don’t have such a long attention span, so even if they like the tablet it might be wise to bring a couple of toys.

How many toys for the plane should I bring?

Luggage is limited when you’re travelling by plane (especially if that happens to be carry-on!), so you don’t want to overdo it. Children are creative and can find a lot of things to entertain themselves. However, you don’t want to bring too little either because toddlers can be picky already about what they want to play with. And well, the whole being trapped in a metal box high up in the air kinda makes you want to be prepared for everything.

Don’t forget that you usually receive a fun package from the airline, which will keep your kid entertained for a while. However, that will usually be the case when they’re older than two (we did receive a soft toy elephant from Qatar on our trip to Malaysia!).

How do I transport the best travel toys for my toddler?

We always brought along a little backpack with a couple of small books, a soft toy/a (not so small, unfortunately) doll, some pencils and a notebook for drawing, a memory game and a small box of lego.

We have a separate tote bag that contains all our snacks and drinks, meaning our daughter’s backpack ( the Panda backpack from the French brand Coq en Pâte) can be stuffed with fun stuff for her.

me and my toddler prepared to travel
With her little backpack – ready to take off!

It’s important to have a small backpack that your little one can easily carry (though don’t worry, it will probably last all of 5 seconds before you have to click it onto your daypack). I particularly like the Skip Hop toddler backpack with leash, not to control the kiddo but because she would like to play with the leash attached to the backpack herself. Pretend it’s a dog or something similar. That makes for one travel toy less. Win-win!

How to select which toys to bring?

It might be difficult to choose which toys you should bring for your little one on a trip. If you pick the wrong one, they won’t play with it and that’s a shame because it takes up extra space and they already have only a few items.

The best airplane toys for toddlers are diverse (no use bringing more or less the same thing a couple of times – except when you know for sure that they’re crazy about it), small enough to fit in the backpack and should give your toddler a decent amount of entertainment time. Furthermore, you want them to be as quiet as possible (no vtech!) and they should be easy to stay on the tray or in your child’s lap (rolling things or 50 different pieces are a no-go).

TABLET & HEADPHONES

Most parents let their toddlers watch cartoons or play games at a certain point during their plane trip.

It might be useful to bring a kids tablet that you can fill with downloaded movies and cartoons and (educational) games.

The Fire kids edition tablets are a popular choice (and they come with an if-it-breaks-we’ll-replace-it-for-free 2-year guarantee), but here are some other options:

If your toddler isn’t happy watching or playing without sound, bring some headphones (you and your airplane neighbours will be happy!). Young children are often not that fond of the common headphones. That’s why we like the CozyPhones kids headphones which are actually fleece headbands. They come in a whole bunch of cute designs, check them out here!

TODDLER AIRPLANE TOYS FOR 1 YEAR OLD

Lift-the-flap books

Books are so very important for children, so they can’t really be too young to get started. Reading is not only great for their language acquisition but it’s an amazing bonding time as well.

Bring a couple of small books on your trip and have lots of fun together. Make sure to choose lift-the-flap books to ensure interaction and you might want to stay away from the ones with loud (animal) sounds (both for yourself and the other passengers).

Books are useful travel toys for 1-year-olds because you can use them for your nighttime ritual as well.


Soft toy/teddy bear

Don’t forget to bring your little one a soft toy when you’re thinking about airplane travel with a toddler, or in fact any trip at all.

Bring their favorite soft toy from home but even if they don’t have one (which was the case with our daughter) they will like to have something to cuddle on a long flight or at night in bed.


Triangular Crayons

Crayons are one of the best travel toys for a 1-year-old.

Even though your toddler is still young, grabbing a crayon and scribbling around will give them lots of fun.

Make sure to bring triangular ones as you don’t want to fold yourself in two trying to get hold of that damn rolling crayon under the airplane seat.


Tegu Magnetic blocks

The wooden Tegu magnetic blocks are a true joy and one of the best plane toys for a 1-year-old.

The blocks are simple but attractive, toxic-free and they come in a little pouch that you can tuck away in your jacket, purse or (backpack) diaper bag.

This is genuinely a genius idea!


Shape sorter with attached pieces

Shape sorting is always a lot of fun but packing a regular shape sorter will end up in searching like a maniac for the pieces under the seat.

The Oombee Cube sorter is a genius invention as the 6 shapes are attached to the corners of the cube. This way you don’t have to worry about your little one dropping something.


Pipsquigz

Pipsquigz are unique travel toys that you can use in any situation on the go (in the stroller, the bathtub, the high chair etc.).

With them being small, brightly colored and with suction cups to stick them to a surface, they are one of the very best toys for the airplane for a 1 year old.


Quiet Book

Don’t forget to bring a quiet book for your little one, as it is one of the best travel toys for a 1 year old on a plane.

They will surely entertain themselves for a while thanks to the fun activities – and develop some sensory skills and imagination too!


Activity cube

Another one of the best toddler toys for airplane is an activity cube that was specifically designed for travel.

The BrainUpToys busy cube for toddlers is super lightweight (only 5 ounces/142gr) and portable. Just tuck it into your diaper bag and go.

AIRPLANE TOYS FOR 2 YEAR OLD

Magnetic doodle board (etch-a-sketch)

An Etch-a-Sketch or magnetic doodle board is a great toddler airplane toy that helps your kid be creative while on a trip. They can doodle and draw as much as they’d like because when full, they just have to push the slider back and forth and ta-da: a brand new page!

Because it is mess-free a magna doodle board is one of the best travel toys for toddlers or preschoolers.


Books

Books are very important for children, so they can’t really be too young to get started. Reading is not only great for their language acquisition but it’s an amazing bonding time as well.

Bring a couple of books on your trip and have lots of fun together. Make sure to choose lift-the-flap books or ‘where’s Wally’-type-of-books to ensure interaction and you might want to stay away from the ones with (animal) sounds.

Bringing a couple of books is great for the nighttime ritual as well!


Triangular Crayons

Crayons are indispensable travel toys for a 2 year old. But even at this age, make sure to bring triangular ones as you don’t want to fold yourself in two trying to get hold of that damn rolling crayon under the airplane seat.


Quiet Book

Don’t forget to bring a quiet book for your little one, as it’s one of the best airplane toys for kids.

They will surely entertain themselves for a while thanks to the fun activities – and develop some sensory skills and imagination too!


Lego Dublo

If you’ve got yourself a little builder, bring along some lego for toddlers. They’re great on the plane, but even more so as one of the best travel toys for a 2 year old.

You can put the blocks in a diy lego kit to make them easy to use on the plane table.


Water wow writing pad

Coloring with water. Which kid isn’t gone for it? You might think that such things are unthinkable on a plane, but guess what, if it involves a fillable pen it suddenly doesn’t sound that messy anymore!

The Water Wow writing pads are small notebooks with ‘magical’ drawings. Your toddler can use the accompanying pen to color the pages and see the images come to life!

TIP: cut the cardboard top (right above the rings), this will save you some space!


Scribble and play E-writer

If you’re looking for a screen that your toddler can use all the time, a Boogie Board e-writer is a great toddler on airplane toy!

It is small, so you can easily tuck it into a backpack or diaper bag. The big stylus is easy to hold for little ones and the colorful background adds some extra fun to the scribbling.


Magnetic blocks

The Tegu magnetic building blocks are a great choice in travel toys for an 18 month old and up.

This set is compact and comes with a pouch, making it super easy to tuck away and bring up to entertain your little one when they’re bored.


Reusable stickers

Many reusable sticker books look great but are too large to tuck away into a kids’ backpack.

We like the Giggles & Pebbles sticker books, however, because they are still manageable at A4-size (14×8″ or 27×20 cm).

The overall quality exceeds those of comparing products as well as the stickers are thicker, can be reused indefinitely and dirt doesn’t stick to them when they fall on the floor.


Magnetic Fun Tin Box

The magnetic fun tin boxes are very similar to the reusable stickers.

Each set comes with a bunch of magnets (too much to be handy, so leave some at home) that your kid can stick to one of the scenes.

There are many different designs including Mickey Mouse, Disney princesses, dinosaurs and of course transportation.

Be aware that this toy contains quite small pieces!


Aquadoodle travel mat

Just slightly bigger than an A4, this aquadoodle travel mat might become your little one’s best friend.

A toddler in an airplane can put this on their lap and scribble away. You fill up the pen with water (after security check!) and every drawing disapears after a couple of minutes.

Although it states to be suitable for kids age 3+, there’s no reason not to use it with your 2-year-old.


Puffy stickers

Puffy stickers are reusable stickers that have a more sensory aspect, making them extra fun for toddlers.

You can buy them separately (and put them onto the plane table or some other hard plastic surface or you can buy them with glossy backgrounds for endless playtime.

These puffy stickers travel toys for a 3 year old from Melissa and Doug are about the size of an A4-paper.


Threading Toy

How cute is this little apple with worm?! Toddler travel activities can include learning threading skills as well.

A 2-year-old that loves fine motoric play will have a lot of fun with this wooden travel toy.

AIRPLANE TOYS FOR 3 YEAR OLD

Magnetic Doodle Board (etch a sketch)

An Etch-a-Sketch or magnetic doodle board will make toddler airplane travel a lot easier, while it also helps your kid be creative while on a trip. They can doodle and draw as much as they’d like because when full, they just have to push the slider back and forth and ta-da: a brand new page!

Because it is mess-free a magna doodle board is one of the best toddler airplane activities.


Books

When it comes to toddler plane activities, books are a great choice. Reading is not only great for their language acquisition but it’s an amazing bonding time as well. At this age, they might be able to spend a little time looking into the book by themselves.

Bring a couple of books on your trip and have lots of fun together. Pick a couple of interactive ones and a couple that you can read to them (great for bedtime rituals as well!).


Pencils/markers/crayons

Depending on the preferences of your child, bring pencils, markers or crayons.

Most kids enjoy drawing and/or coloring, so it’s a safe choice and it takes up little space in your backpack or purse. A piece of paper is usually quickly found (the backside of entry or transportation tickets work great for us). We always bring a pencil case for our daughter when we go out!

When it comes to travel toys for toddlers on airplane, it might be smart bringing triangular pencils or crayons at this age still, to make sure they don’t roll off the table all the time.


Aquadoodle travel mat

Just slightly bigger than an A4, this aquadoodle travel mat might become your little one’s best friend.

A toddler in an airplane can put this on their lap and scribble away. You fill up the pen with water (after security check!) and every drawing disappears after a couple of minutes.


Lego Duplo

If you’ve got yourself a little builder, bring along some lego for toddlers. They’re great on the plane, but even more so as one of the best travel toys for 3 year olds.

You can put the blocks in a DIY lego kit to make them easy to use on the plane table.


Scribble and play e-writer

If you’re looking for a screen that your toddler can use all the time, a Boogie Board e-writer is a great toddler on plane toy!

It is small, so you can easily tuck it into a backpack or diaper bag. The big stylus is easy to hold for little ones and the colorful background adds some extra fun to the scribbling.


Water Wow writing pad

Coloring with water. Which kid isn’t gone for it? You might think that such things are unthinkable on a plane, but guess what, if it involves a fillable pen it suddenly doesn’t sound that messy anymore! In fact, it becomes one of the best toys for a toddler on a plane!

The Water Wow writing pads are small notebooks with ‘magical’ drawings. Your toddler can use the accompanying pen to color the pages and see the images come to life!

TIP: cut the cardboard top (right above the rings), this will save you some space!


Imagine Ink coloring book

Another great option for kids’ aeroplane toys is an imagine ink coloring book.

These coloring books work only with a specially designed marker. This means you only have to keep an on one marker and they can’t secretely color away on the airplane seats!

There are many different options available!


Magnetic building blocks

The Tegu building blocks are great travel toys for a 3 year old. They come in a compact pouch and are easy to handle.

Tegu offers a lot of inspiring products. We prefer the 6 piece set with a pouch for traveling, but the other sets look great as well. Bring your own little bag for easy transport. We love the car set or buy both sets and make combinations wih the rectangular and prism blocks.


Reusable stickers

Many reusable sticker books look great but are too large to tuck away into a kids’ backpack.

We like the Giggles & Pebbles sticker books, however, because they are still manageable at A4-size (14×8″ or 27×20 cm).

The overall quality exceeds those of comparing products as well as the stickers are thicker, can be reused indefinitely and dirt doesn’t stick to them when they fall on the floor.


Magnetic Fun Tin Box

The magnetic fun tin boxes are very similar to the reusable stickers.

Each set comes with a bunch of magnets (too much to be handy, so leave some at home) that your kid can stick to one of the scenes.

There are many different designs including Mickey Mouse, Disney princesses, dinosaurs and of course transportation.

Be aware that this toy contains quite small pieces!



Puffy stickers

Puffy stickers are reusable stickers that have a more sensory aspect, making them extra fun for toddlers.

You can buy them separately (and put them onto the plane table or some other hard plastic surface or you can buy them with glossy backgrounds for endless playtime.

These puffy stickers travel toys for a 3 year old from Melissa and Doug are about the size of an A4-paper.


Threading Toy

These little animals are great aeroplane toys for 3 year olds!

Children learn best when playing, so while these wooden threading toys provide a lot of entertainment, they will also teach your toddler hand-eye coordination.



Gel window stickers

If you’ve got a window seat available for your family, bring a pack of gel window stickers and let your little one have fun sticking them to the plane window.

There are many many options available!


Quiet/Busy book

Sometimes, you just want your toddler to play with something quiet and what better option is there than a soft book with silent activities.

These type of books are great travel toys for a toddler on a plane because they are very interactive and they come with a zipper so the material can’t get lost.


Travel puzzle

Puzzles don’t usually sound like toys for the plane, but there are some options that are well worth bringing them!

You can either choose a magnetic puzzle to make sure they don’t fall or you can pick these MudPuppy puzzle sticks. They aren’t magnetic, but thanks to the added puzzle tray it is fairly easy to keep them at hand. Furthermore, they are super cute and original.