Top 10 toys for toddlers on an airplane

What can be worse than having a toddler on a plane for a few hours?

A toddler on an airplane with no good toys!

In this post we will provide a list of the top 10 toys for toddlers on an airplane.  This can be a life-saver for you when flying with your young one.

We have watched at times where people have had almost nothing for their little prince or princess to do – and then they get upset when they start to create mischief or make too much noise.  Sometimes these flights have been over 10 hours long!  Be prepared!

So here goes our top 10:

You can also watch it on youtube here:

It is important to recognize that you know your toddler the best and so your order or toys may want to differ but this is a good starting list.  Hope this is helpful.

#1: IPAD or Portable DVD Player

#1 toy for flying on a plane with young child

Travel with an Ipad or Tablet but use it last!

Now – we are not huge fans of kids always on technology – but on a long trip in a confined space it can be a life-saver. We always used it as a last resort – bring it out if things looked like they were heading towards disaster!

Ensure it is loaded with some games / movies that do not require an internet connection to work!  Few aircraft have wifi onboard and if they do it can be quite expensive and often a bit slow for games.  Remember you will almost certainly need to have the ipad or tablet in flight mode and have it switched off during take-off and landing.

#2: Plain Paper and Stickers

#2 toy for toddlers on an airplane

Stickers are a wonderful, almost meaningless activity to entertain young children

It is amazing how good a booklet of stickers are for distracting a young child.  Often we just traveled with sheets of plain copier paper and various sheets of stickers.  Our various young children would spend a lot of time throughout a plane trip peeling off the stickers and sticking them onto the paper – creating their own colourful masterpiece.

Sometimes we would buy some themed sticker / activity books such as Dora, Thomas the Tank Engine, Princesses, Pirates etc.  These worked well and in some cases the stickers were reusable – but the simple sticker and plain paper is definitely a must have!

Its quiet and not messy too!

#3: A range of books

Sample books for toddlers on an airplane

Range of books for traveling with a toddler

Pack a variety of books for your child to enjoy – some they can just read the pictures / story themselves and some that you can read with them.

The challenge with books is their weight so choose carefully.

One huge advantage with books is they can be easily used during take-off and landing as they do not need the tray-table folded down to work on.  Also – they are not electronic and therefore do not need to be switched off during these parts of the flight.

#4: Paper and Felt Tips / Crayons

#4 Toy for toddler on an airplane

Pen and Paper for flexibility and creativity

Our children always loved to create and draw.  We moved towards felt-tips for the young ones as they do not need so much pressure to draw with.  This is great if they can’t use the tray for some reason.

You may wish to invest in a coloring book as an option to provide something different.

For paper, again just copier paper is great – we traveled with quite a few sheets :).

#5: Duplo (Lego for 2-5 year olds)

#5 toy for a toddlers when flying

A selection of duplo on a plane can add variety and creativity. Note how we pack it!

This is probably a little contentious to be this high on the list.  However we found our children would spend a lot of time building with the blocks during the flights.

We would carry them layered on top of a duplo plate and then build solid for 3-4 layers high using various brick sizes.  This gave variety for them to play with but also enabled us to ensure we had all pieces before we left the plane. A few accessories such as figurines of people and animals would be packed in a small plastic bag.

#6: Liked Generic Toys

#6 toy for toddlers on an airplane

Dolls with changes of clothes

#7 toy for a toddler on a plane

Hotwheels cars

Sometimes the kids just wanted to zoom around with a hot-wheels car or play with a barbie.  Maybe they wanted to play with a few plastic animals.

As a parent, you will know best what your children enjoy playing with and what might be good to take.  It might be the 3 best hot-wheels car or 2 dolls and 3 changes of clothing.

The key here is a little variety but not much size and weight.

#7: Water Painting Book

#7 toy for flying on a plane with young child

An easy, no mess activity – Paint just with water

Buy a water painting book to use on the plane.  If you are not familiar with them – you can just use a brush dipped in water to brush over the picture.  As the child paints with water, the colors change to reveal a beautiful picture.

The advantages are it is not messy and only needs the brush and some water – easily available on a plane.  These can keep a child occupied for a significant amount of time and lets their creativity flow.

#8: Jigsaw Puzzles

#8 toy for flying on a plane with young child

Jigsaw Puzzles – the 4 -12 piece set is awesome

Puzzles again can be a great activity to do with your child on the plane.  Of course they need to be appropriate to your child’s ability and attention span.  Also, ensure the puzzle is not bigger than an airplane tray table – most standard size toddlers puzzles will be fine.  We used to carry a couple of puzzles in a resealable plastic bag as the pieces will inevitably fall out in transit!

The advantage with puzzles as it is an engaging activity that can pass a good section of time.

The disadvantage is it is easy to lose or at least misplace / drop pieces.

#9: Magnetic Drawing Board

#9 top toy for flying with a toddler

Draw on a magnetic Doodle Pad

This is a very simple but great toy for toddlers on an airplane.  We used it extensively on the decent when everyone must have their seat-belts on.  I would sit with a child on each side of me and draw pictures for them – either as they requested or ones they had to guess.

The advantage is it can just be used on your knees and is very easy to just clear and draw another picture.  You can easily use this having packed up most of your other items prior to starting the landing process making it easier for you to exit the aircraft quickly once on the ground.

#10: Games

#10 toy for toddlers on an airplane

Snap and Travel Connect 4

Games like snap, travel connect 4, tell the time, number or letter games or similar can be great alternatives to pass more time during travel.  Often our younger ones may not even play the actual game but sort cards into piles or just generally amuse themselves looking through the cards or game parts.

Just like the puzzles in #8 above, the problems can be keeping track of all the pieces but generally a plane is not too bad as it is a confined space.


Packing the toys:

Okay, so this is a great list but how can I fit all this into my carry-on bag?  A couple of thoughts:

  1. Adjust to your own needs.  You know your child the best.  Some of these are very small and take little room such as paper and felts, water paint book and some books.  Take what you can fit from the list.
  2. If you have more than one child, some of these can be shared, allowing more options.
  3. Weight is also important and so especially for books you will need to take this into account.



You may also have questions about what else you need to pack for your baby or toddler, get more help through downloading a checklist.

Here is an interesting article I read with a few other ideas in it also.  Play-dough however is a bad one – we had it confiscated at security in Australia and I see some comments saying other passengers have also suffered the same fate in the UK.  The addition of loom bands is good but perhaps not great for a 3 year old!

So, here you have it – our top 10 toys for toddlers on an airplane.  Take some of these with you and your toddler will be well occupied for hours and you may just get the comment “wow your child is well behaved” from those traveling around you.

Thanks for taking the time to read this article.  We trust you enjoyed this post and invite you to share the post with your friends via social media and also to post some feedback or questions below.


Richard Wagener




owner and creator of the website

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