How to Keep a Toddler Busy on an Airplane

Two Methods:

Long flights can be exhausting for toddlers and even more so for you if you don’t find ways to keep your toddler occupied. Many parents dread spending hours on an airplane with a toddler, but there are ways to make the experience as comfortable and relaxed as possible. Scroll to Step 1 to make traveling with a toddler much easier.


Preparing for Your Flight

  1. Learn something about airplanes and flying.Toddlers ask a million questions, and it will help if you are prepared to answer your child’s questions about air travel at his or her level. Consider learning about the parts of the plane, for example, and how high and fast it flies – you’ll be able to explain all this to your toddler during the flight.
  2. Explain the rules in advance.Before you fly, tell your child what will happen on the plane and how you want him or her to behave. Children are calmer and happier when they know what to expect.
    • If your child has never been on an airplane before, consider getting a children’s book about flying. This strategy will help you explain your expectations in advance, and once it’s time for the actual flight, your child will find the situation more familiar (and perhaps less frightening).
  3. Make sure your child gets plenty of sleep.Children tend to be nervous, grouchy, and easily upset when they are too tired. Plan for a full night’s rest before your flight, even if that means adjusting your toddler’s usual bedtime.
    • You might be tempted to time the flight so that your child is sleepy when you board, but this strategy can backfire. The excitement of the airplane may keep your toddler awake, and then he or she will be overly tired (and probably very cranky).
  4. Bring food.Hunger also makes toddlers cranky. Some flights do serve meals and snacks, but it’s best not to rely on whatever the airline might provide. Bring some easily transportable foods that you know your child will like.
    • Dry cereal, granola bars, string cheese, applesauce cups, bananas, and nuts appeal to most children and are easy to throw in a carry-on bag. If healthy eating is important to you, there’s no reason to resort to cookies or potato chips.
  5. Pack some of your child’s favorite things in your carry-on luggage.Books, small toys, crayons, and stuffed animals are easily stowed in a carry-on bag and will come in handy on the flight.
  6. Pack a new toy or two as well.In addition to well-loved favorites, it’s a good strategy to buy or borrow a few new toys for your child to discover on the plane. Happy surprises can go a long way to making a toddler content and cooperative.
  7. Take care of toileting needs before you get on the plane.If your child still wears diapers, make sure he or she is freshly changed before the flight; if your child is out of diapers, use the restroom right before boarding. This will minimize the number of times you’ll have to deal with these issues on the plane.

Keeping Your Toddler Occupied on the Flight

  1. Break out the books and toys.The books, toys, games, or stuffed animals that you packed are likely to keep your child occupied, at least for a little while.
    • Consider taking these items out one at a time to maximize the length of time your child will be happily occupied. You can read a book together first, then take out a toy to play with, then bring out a stuffed animal to cuddle with, and so on.
    • Your toddler will be happier – and the time will pass more quickly – if you play with these books and toys together. Don’t just hand your son or daughter some crayons! Spend some time coloring together or teaching your child how to draw something new – maybe an airplane!
  2. Get creative.Use whatever materials are available – foil, paper, plastic cups, whatever – to create new toys and distractions for your child.
  3. Consider electronic distractions.If you have your laptop, you can pull up some cartoons or educational programs for your child to watch; if you have your MP3 player, you can let your child listen to some music.
    • If you are going to use electronics, be courteous and have your child wear headphones to avoid disturbing other passengers.
  4. Offer snacks.Get out some of the snacks that you’ve packed in your carry-on luggage, and offer them one at a time to your child. Snacks will keep toddlers temporarily happy and occupied.
    • Do not overdo the snacks, especially if you think your toddler might be susceptible to motion sickness. You don’t want to make him or her sick.
  5. Consider socializing with other children.If you are seated near another toddler, let the children play together. They can exchange toys or just talk; either way, the flight is likely to pass more quickly.

Community Q&A

  • Question
    What about stranger danger?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    Not really an issue, since you'll be with your toddler(s) the entire time. Keep your eyes on them and monitor their interactions with others around you.
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  • Praise good behavior regularly. Compliment your child when he or she remembers to speak quietly or follows your instructions without complaining. Regular positive reinforcement generally works better than constant scolding.
  • Stay positive. If you are happy and relaxed, your child will be in a better mood as well.
  • After the flight, make sure your child gets some time to rest and relax before rushing to another activity. Some milk or juice, something to eat, and some time to run and play will do wonders for a toddler’s mood.


  • If you are on a long-haul flight, encourage your child to nap when the lights have been dimmed - not only are the lights representative of night and day in your destination (for the most part), but this saves you from possibly disturbing other passengers by turning on the overhead reading light.
  • Make sure your child doesn't kick the seat in front of him or her. It's extremely annoying to have someone kick the back of your seat - explain to your child that the person in front can feel the kick and that it's impolite.

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Date: 11.12.2018, 03:24 / Views: 53382