Wednesday, December 19, 2012 at 1:58 PM
10 ways to entertain a toddler on a plane
Will you be traveling with a little dude over the holidays? Last year, I wrote 10 tips for traveling with a baby, but now that Toby is an energetic toddler, he also needs to be entertained en route. Here are a few tips we've figured out...
1. During the days leading up to your trip, read the book Airport. This was a great tip from my friend Randi, who said: "It's the perfect explanation of the whole airport experience, and our son was so excited each step of the way since we'd read the book a million times before we left. He's even more obsessed with it since we've been back; I read it to him five times a day!"
2. Wear a backpack, so your hands will be free in the airport. (Everlane has nice waterproof canvas ones.) Fill it with all the snacks, toys and diapers that you want to have on hand, so you won't end up rooting through your suitcase for a pack of raisins. If your child is old enough, consider letting him or her carry a mini backpack of their own.
3. Surprise your child with a new book, especially one with lots of different things to look at. We love Richard Scarry books, which take a while to read and are filled with discoveries.
4. Bring a toy car with doors that open. For Toby at least, if you give him a toy car with doors that can open, he'll open and close the doors for a solid ten minutes, and then drive the car around with his fingers ("Fingers driving!") wedged inside the doors for another ten.
5. Scroll through family photos on your phone. Toddlers are (adorably) self-obsessed, so they typically love looking at personal photos. We can spend forever looking through "Toby photos" and talking about each one. We also talk about what we're going to do on our trip, which gets him excited for everything. (For example, my mom is going to drive her car with her hands on the wheel and read Toby "a bunch a books.")
6. Ask the flight attendants for a plastic cup with ice and straws. The combo is weirdly entertaining.
7. Bring a box of raisins or the end of crusty baguette or a lollipop or any snack that takes A LONG TIME to eat. This is key; you want this snack to last a long time so you can sit and chill:)
8. Pretend to cook food. Not sure about every toddler, but Toby loves to whip up a fake meal, and the more specific our requests, the better. I'll ask him for cheesy pasta with meatballs and zucchini, plus purple juice and very hot tea. The feast can go on and on and is a great way to pass time while sitting in a seat.
9. Play favorite videos on your laptop (Toby's a Bubble Guppies guy), or apps on an iPad (say, Freight train or Hugless Douglass) if you have one. This tip is probably a no-brainer. :) All our rules fly out the window!
10. Chat with other passengers. I've been surprised by how friendly most people are on planes (with a few traumatic exceptions:). Toby and I will go on an "adventure" down the aisle (I'll build it up for a few minutes first) and scout out chatty passengers (typically grandparents) to have conversations with. Once, an older man on a flight to Michigan did that trick where it looks like your thumb is popping off, and it basically made Toby's whole year.
Good luck! Happy travels! And I'd LOVE to hear any helpful tips you may have discovered along the way...
P.S. 10 overall tips for traveling with a child, and an unusual thing we do on vacations.
(Photos from this trip)