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Forget snakes on a plane, toddlers on a plane is a far more terrifying experience for a parent!
One of the biggest concerns of parents travelling with a toddler is how to keep them entertained on the flight. We’ve all been there; toddler tantrums are hard enough to deal with in the home never mind in a confined space at 30,000 feet with dozens of witnesses!
At home, I’d quite happily let my toddler have their little moment, and usually, they calm down after a minute or two. Otherwise, the art of distraction is my go-to response. This is also true of keeping toddlers entertained on a flight, although the distractions might need to last a little longer!
Help is at hand with our top tips for keeping toddlers entertained on a flight. Remember, don’t bring everything out at once, supply your toddler with toys, activities and snacks periodically to keep them entertained for longer.
Nothing distracts a toddler better than food. Make sure you have stocked up on small healthy snacks and tasty treats. Try to avoid too much sugar (natural sugars are ok) as your child will be much harder to contain in their seat if they are powered by Haribo!
Make sure you have drinks packed for your toddler, avoiding anything sugary. Encourage them to take sips regularly particularly during take-off and landing to distract them from the changes in air pressure.
Pack a couple of their favourite storybooks. Books with plenty of bright, colourful pictures and lift the flap books are great. Richard Scarry’s ‘A Day at the Airport’ is a beautifully illustrated book (available in a small paperback version), great for spotting and discussing everything you’ve seen at the airport!
wrap up small gifts
Wrap up small toys or gifts for your child. Bring them out periodically as a reward for good behaviour. Your toddler will love the excitement of unwrapping their gift and then playing with whatever is inside. They don’t have to be expensive; a game of snap or a new storybook are perfect.
Stickers are a great way to keep a toddler busy. You can get cheap sticker books with various themes and characters at most bookstores or discount stores. Look for one that has multiple activities such as colouring and dot to dot. Make sure you pack some colouring pencils too.
There are so many great travel games around, from card games to board games; the options are endless. A simple game of snap with some colourful animal pictures can be turned into several games such as matching pairs or making up fun stories featuring each character.
drawing and colouring
Pack some coloured pencils and paper and let your toddler get creative. Get them to draw some of the things they’ve seen at the airport or perhaps what they would like to do on holiday.
Pipe cleaners are brilliant for travelling. They are cheap, small and come in a variety of bright colours. Help your child make a bouquet of flowers, a headband, a crown, bunny ears, animals; the options are endless. You can even thread beads on to them to make a bracelet.
be patient and be prepared
Wait until the latest possible moment to get on the plane. There’s no need to prolong the amount of time you need to try and contain your toddler in a seat. If you can book your seats in advance, choose seats that are near to the toilets for nappy changes or last minute toilet requests. Plus you’ll typically be first off if you are seated at the front.
REMEMBER - As well as all the exciting activities don’t forget the essentials like changes of clothes and plenty of spare nappies or pants.
Travelling on an aeroplane is extremely exciting for a toddler, they will certainly be tired (after that 5 am wake-up call) and in their sleep deprived, semi-crazed state they are going to be more high maintenance than usual.
Even with all the distractions you’ve packed to take on board, it will still involve plenty of parental involvement, walking up and down aisles and smiling politely at that stranger three rows in front that you’ve just passed for the twentieth time. If you are travelling with a partner, take it in turns and know that you will soon be at your destination.
join the conversation
Do you have any tried and tested ideas for keeping your children entertained on long journeys? We’d love to hear from you. Let us know your top travel tips by commenting below.