Last Updated on June 27, 2020 by Kinacle.

Trying to keep an energetic toddler entertained at home is hard work, but when you’re enclosed on a plane for hours at a time it adds a whole new challenge entirely. Many parents dread the thought of flying with their toddler and for good reason. The last thing you want to encounter on your flight is a full-blown toddler tantrum.

If you’re jetting off with your little one this year, it doesn’t hurt to learn a few useful tips before you go. Below you’ll discover 15 of the best tried and tested tips that will help keep your toddler entertained on a flight.

1. Invest In An Etch A Sketch

entertain toddler on airplane flightToddlers love to draw. It’s one activity that can keep them occupied for an hour or two, perfect for shorter flights. However, as many parents have discovered the hard way, providing pens and pencils can prove to be a very bad idea. Unless you want to spend the entire flight picking up dropped pencils, it’s worth investing in an Etch A Sketch.

You can buy models which come with attached pens so there’s no chance your toddler will lose it. Simply hand them the etch-a-sketch, sit back and enjoy a little much-needed peace and quiet!

2. Read Airplane Related Books Together

A good book will hold your little ones interest for a while, especially if it’s new. Buying books specifically relating to airplanes is a fantastic idea as it boosts their excitement of the journey, while also educating them at the same time. You could even go a step further and invest in an airplanes activity book. This will keep them entertained for longer, providing them with little activities to complete either throughout the book, or after they’ve got to the end.

3. Kid-Friendly Apps

While some experts may frown upon the idea of parents handing over a tablet device to keep their little ones entertained, a lot of parents swear by them. Of course, when you’re at home, limiting your toddler’s access to technology is best. However, when you’re on a one-off flight there’s no harm in letting a tablet work it’s magic to keep you and the other passengers sane!

There are thousands of kid-friendly apps including fun games and learning activities that are guaranteed to keep your toddler happy. It may even keep them occupied for the entire duration of the flight!

4. Come Up With Creative 15-Minute Activities

All toddlers have a very limited attention span. They’re incapable of concentrating on just one thing for hours at a time. So, even if you do manage to keep them occupied with a tablet device, books and etch-a-sketch, if you’re on a long-haul flight you’ll also need to get creative.

Coming up with clever 15-minute activities is a great idea to fill in the gaps. For example, you can keep them distracted at the end of the flight by getting them to look out of the window ready for landing. This can also work during take-off too. Once you get high enough into the air, ask them if they can spot various landmarks (or even your own house).

Other 15-minute activities you can enjoy include games such as Snap, eye-spy and children’s magazines.

5. Invest In Buckle Toys

You may have already noticed that your little one loves all things buckle related. From the buckle on their push chair, to the buckle on their car seat – they no doubt love to play with it. You can use this to your advantage by investing in buckle toys (yes they’re a real thing!). Simply attach the toy to the buckle of the airplane seat and this will keep them occupied for a little while.

6. Portable DVD players

Movies are a fantastic way to keep your toddler quiet throughout the flight. Give them a portable DVD player and they’ll literally be engrossed in a movie for 1-2 hours. Take their favourite movie with you, or even a new film that they’ve never seen. Of course, if you have a tablet device that would also work well.

Don’t have a portable DVD player or tablet device? Many airplanes have their own in-flight entertainment system these days. They’re bound to have a few children’s films your little one will enjoy.

7. A New Toy

Taking your little one’s current toys on a flight could also work, but if it’s maximum distraction you’re looking for, new toys work best. What kid doesn’t love to get new toys? If it’s something they’ve never seen or played with before, it’s going to keep them interested for a lot longer than toys they’ve played with a hundred times over. Take a bag of new, small novelty toys and hand them over to your toddler at different parts of the flight.

8. Have A Mini-Picnic

If you’re going on a long-haul flight, a mini-picnic is a great way to handle meal times. A hungry toddler is a grumpy toddler so having easy-to-reach snacks is going to make sure they don’t throw a full on tantrum. Another great tip is to make sure you’re not giving them sugary foods. This will only heighten their excitement and activity levels, making it much harder to keep them quiet throughout the flight.

Snacks such as carrot sticks, apple slices and boiled eggs are a good idea. Of course, small finger sized snacks are also a lot easier for your little one to eat and reduces the amount of mess you’ll need to clean up afterwards!

9. Make A Scrapbook

A holiday scrapbook is a brilliant idea. Your little one will love creating their own little memories of their holiday. Buy a blank paper book, then give them the task of designing the cover. You can obviously help them with this, taking care of the writing and getting them to colour it in for example. Let them use a variety of craft supplies such as ribbons, stickers, glitter and colouring pencils. If you do give them glitter however, you will need to keep a very close eye on how they use it unless you want to have a mountain of mess to clean up afterwards!

Throughout your holiday you can then collect things to go into the scrapbook such as photos and post cards. Then on the flight back, let them stick your mementos into the book.

10. Give Them A Toddler-Friendly Camera

Let your little one document their own flight experience by giving them a toddler-friendly camera. They’ll love taking pictures of the flight and will feel super-proud of themselves when they get to see the pictures they took.

11. Sticker Books

Sticker books are a source of massive entertainment for toddlers. There’s a huge range of sticker books out there so you’re bound to find at least one which fits your little one’s interests. It’s surprising just how long a sticker book can occupy a toddler!

12. Take Photos To Look At

Close up Cute boy watching cartoons on mobile phone,Preschool kid with smiling face lying on sofaChild typing on cell phone while relaxingFor toddlers, the world most definite revolves around them. So, they love nothing better than to look at photos of themselves. Make sure you have a range of family photos uploaded to either your phone or tablet and then look at them together. They’ll have great fun pointing people out in the pictures and seeing themselves as a baby.

13. Have A Pretend Tea Party

While tea parties are typically more associated with little girls, you’d be surprised how much little boys enjoy them too. It doesn’t have to be a tea party either – you could host your own fake meal. Ask them to make you something creative like spaghetti and meatballs, then watch them dive into action invisibly stirring the sauce and cooking the pasta! It helps to have a few basic things that they would need such as plastic bowls and fake frying pans, but this isn’t essential.

14. Take A Pillow For Nap Time

Airplanes aren’t known for being overly comfortable, unless of course you’re in first class! Toddlers will be much more open to the idea of nap time if they’re comfortable and a pillow can really help. Not only is a pillow great for helping them drift off to sleep, but it can also be used as a little booster seat, enabling them to see out of the window.

15. Look Out For “Airplane Police”

By far one of the most ingenious tips for ensuring your toddler is well-behaved, is getting them to watch out for the airplane police. They don’t actually exist of course, but your little one won’t know that! Tell them the airplane police lookout for naughty children on flights as badly behaved kids are not allowed to fly. This will keep them on alert and put a stop to climbing over seats, kicking the back of chairs and being generally naughty.


Overall, flying with your little one doesn’t have to be traumatic! The 15 tips above can prove to be a godsend; especially on long-haul flights. The key is to be well-prepared. Have a good solid list of all the things you can do to keep your toddler entertained and stick to it throughout the flight.

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  1. These are all good ideas, and we can always use this when we go to restaurant or elsewhere that require kids or toddlers to sit still for some time. I always like to bring a goodie bag with me, with some small toys, books and papers to let the kids draw or write. I also sometimes make up stories to tell them, as my kids always like to listen to stories. Whenever I start with “Once upon a time…”, they will just come near and keep quiet. Sometimes I don’t remember so many stories, so I just make up my own.

  2. This indeed is an exhaustive list of things to do for a toddler to stay happy in the milieu of airport hassles. Even adults get disoriented with all that happens at airports.

    A bit of all what you have suggested could not only entertain the baby but you and even those passengers watching you being busy with those activities.

  3. When my son was a small child we could not go traveling anywhere because he didn’t stand a bit, he always had something to talk, sing or to show us. In some cases when he was starting to be tired he started to cry and then it was nothing to do than going home. Your tips are great, and the one I’m using now is the mobile phone and gaming. If I give my son the mobile phone he will let us travel in peace!

  4. Wow! I have been in a plane and saw how a mom that is travellig with her 2 year old daughter had issues keeping the baby in a comfortable condition. It’s really great that i read these tips for it will ensure that I don’t have such headaches with future kids and wife.

  5. Even growing up as an adult, I had difficulty adjusting to flight stress and fright but with time, sometimes I even puked but with time I got used to it and became comfortable flying anywhere I wanted to go.

    The tips provided here would have being a great help to me had I have the knowledge before now but certainly it’s going to help my young ones.

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