Saturday, 29 March 2014

Thrifty ways to amuse a toddler on a flight

The thought of taking a toddler on a flight would fill any parent with dread. Before I had my daughter, I was that person on a plane... I would sit, arms folded, frowning at parents of unruly children, whispering "why can't they do something?!" However, times have changed, and in 2 weeks I will be on the other side of the equation, doing everything I can to keep my unruly little one amused. Infants under 2 are generally not given their own seat, and instead are expected to sit on their parents' knees for hours on end. And we all know how easy that is!  

It's difficult to know what to bring to entertain a child on a journey, so the temptation is to spend wildly, buying everything... well, they might like it! This plan of action, however, will result in super-heavy hand luggage, rummaging through a bulging bag and having more to carry all round. 

Here are my top (inexpensive!) suggestions: 
  • Small books. Little books won't take up much room, or weigh much, and you can take quite a few in your luggage. I love these ones, which my husband found in TK Maxx for £4... only 44p a book! Nine tiny books take up the same room as one bigger book, and will extend the fun for much longer. 
Only £4 for 9 books from TK Maxx!
  • Unfamiliar toys. These do not need to be all new toys, as this will add expense. Why not dig around at the bottom of their toy box for things that haven't played with in months, and have probably forgotten about? Go for lots of small items over just a couple of big ones- variety is key. Consider keeping aside one or two presents from your child's birthday or Christmas, to reveal on the journey. I love this fun toy plane- it's small, not expensive, and has lots of activities in one. Wrapping the toys up and giving them to your child as gifts every once in a while will extend the novelty further. 
  • "Non-toy" items. Toddlers love playing with anything which isn't technically a toy (they love the remote control, but the kids' versions just don't cut it!) As long as the item is safe, let them fiddle with it for a while- even if it involves ripping up the in-flight magazine, chewing the menu, playing with headphones or even rustling a sick bag. It will pass valuable time!
A definite toddler-magnet!
  • Bring snacks. Eating does help to break up the journey, so pack plenty of snacks to keep your toddler occupied throughout. Think carefully about the snacks you choose, and steer clear of messy things like yoghurt. Sugary snacks may keep them occupied, but beware of the sugar high (and subsequent slump!) thereafter. Oat bars and fruit crisps which release energy more slowly are better choices. 
  • Tablet/ Smartphone- OK, so this one isn't a cheap option. However, if you already have a tablet or a smartphone, there's no denying that it is an incredibly effective way to keep little ones amused for periods of time. Lots of apps designed for babies and toddlers are free to download, and Fisher Price's free games are really cute. If all else fails, turn to BBC's iPlayer app to download some of their favourite programmes in advance. 
My little one loves the Giggle Gang! 
Please feel free to share and suggest any of your fail-safe tricks and tips for a stress-free journey with little ones in the comments space below! 


  1. If I were you I would let my little one carry a small backpack with a few of the items in it. Make sure to have the little one practice wearing it before your flight. Also, I would make the backpack have an additional strap across the chest making it difficult for your toddler to remove the pack.
    Good luck and most importantly HAVE FUN! Who cares if she is a little rowdy. Most parents understand and those singletons don't really count.
    Ta Ta for now, Cathy the Bagg Lady @
    stop by and visit. I am now one of your followers

    1. Hi Cathy, she'd probably love carrying a little backpack! I'll give it a go.

  2. Great suggestion Gayle, I have raised 4 boys and have traveled all over I would also recommend music, movie (on phone), and I know this sounds crazy but anytime my boys were going crazy I just start whispering, they have to stop and be quite to hear you, and if I told an amazing story they would pay close attention and stay quite for the whole story!! Good Luck and let me know if you try the whispering thing!!

    1. Brilliant suggestions- thanks! I'll certainly try the whispering.

  3. Nice blog! Finger puppets work well over plane seats, a good old fashioned sticker book and a couple of little lollipops too. Failing that find a sweet-looking grandparent...they LOVE interacting with little ones and will both get a kick out of it.

    Love the whispering idea...this works well at school too!

  4. Loving the sweet grandparent tip! She certainly charms everyone this way in church- let's just hope for nice people round us on the flights!