Next week, I make my annual transatlantic trip back to England with my two kids (who are now ages 4 and 2). And while, I’ve been flying with children ever since my eldest son was less than 3 months old, I still get a case of nerves right before I travel.

This time is no different. After all, my little one is now at the age where he is hyperactive, into everything and very vocal and loud. And, unlike, older children he is not capable of sitting still – let alone watching a movie!

With this in mind, I thought I would dig into my mommy memory banks and share some of my favorite airplane-friendly kid products; in case you are looking for some entertainment ideas for your own children when you fly this summer.

Infants

The great thing about infants, under the age of 12 months, is that they typically sleep a good portion of the flight. This makes things much easier on mom. However, please remember to nurse or give your baby a bottle of formula during take-off and landing because this will alleviate the air pressure build-up in their ears and avoid unnecessary crying. (Note: When your child is older, have them suck on a lollipop for the same result). Products to consider (when your infant is awake), include:

  • The Sassy Sensation Station – The best thing about this product is that it has a suction cup that will stick to your seat’s drop down table. And the spinning, rattle and cool sounds will keep your baby entertained.
  • A good teether is a must-have if your baby is starting to cut his/her first teeth. And you can’t go wrong with Sophie the Giraffe, who has been entertaining babies for more than 50 years.
  • Baby Einstein Take Along Tunes – Two things that babies love are music and lights and this handy-sized product from Baby Einstein does both.
  • Lamaze Tug and Play Knot – If your baby is anything like my two, then this toy will provide lots of entertainment. And the little mirror is bound to catch his/her attention.

Toddlers

At this age, your little one has found his/her sense of self and is starting to feel very empowered and independent. The trick is to harness this development milestone with products that give them a sense of accomplishment. It is also important to take with you any item that is part of their structured routine and/or provides them with comfort – like their favorite lovie, stuffed toy, or sleep/nap time blanket.  Toddler products to consider include:

  • A small rolling back pack containing a few of his/her favorite toys and travel items. Not only is it practical, but your little one will have lots of fun pulling.
  • While not a toy, the Gogo Kidz Travelmate can provide a fun ride through the airport and help you kill two birds with one stone: easy transportation of your car seat and the ability to luggage check your stroller before you go through security.
  • With toddlers you need to think about interactive toys that will keep them focused. For instance, I always pack a few Lego pieces so that my son can build a tower. I also love the mini magnetic sketch tablets and Crayola’s Washable Dry-Erase Activity Mat because you don’t have to worry about any mess!
  • And if your child has started to show an interest in imaginative play, then consider packing a couple of small toy cars/trains or dolls. Thomas & Friends have great little travel “Take-n-Play” sets that are the perfect size for the fold down tray table in front of your seat.

Pre-Schoolers/Kindergartners

The good news is that most pre-schoolers and kindergartners can be easily entertained via in-flight entertainment programs. But if you want to control the content that they watch, or if your flight doesn’t have a multitude of options, then definitely consider alternate sources (some of which are listed below).

  • Just like toddlers, pre-schoolers and kindergartners love taking their own bag with them on the plane and my personal favorite is the Melissa & Doug Trunki because it is big enough to hold a selection of favorite toys, as well as a spare set of clothes. Plus kids love scooting on it while in the airport. (My son has the blue Trunki).
  • Story books. Not only are they normally light, but books with great pictures will keep your child entertained long past your narration.
  • Activity books. At this stage your child has an appetite for learning, so why not take advantage of it? Stores like Target and Lakeshore Learning all sell activity books that are perfect for travel. Whether they involve stickers, puzzles, letter writing, counting or coloring, they are sure to entertain for hours.
  • Junior Laptops. These are also a great learning tool – plus they have huge entertainment value. Most cost under $30, which isn’t bad for a product that you will use over and over again. My son is absolutely nuts about super heroes, so his Batman laptop from Oregon Scientific was a huge hit!
  • Portable DVD players have come down a lot in price in recent years (most are under $100 and some are less than $50) and they are a great way to keep your older child entertained. Let them watch their favorite movies or treat them to a new DVD especially for the flight.
  • If you are not looking to spend much money on DVD’s and DVD players, you can always have your child pick out some of their favorite shows prior to travel. There are plenty of download options for iPhones and iPads. In addition iTunes let’s you buy or rent movies and TV shows for very little cost.

Do you have a go-to travel toy that wasn’t mentioned above? If so, please share!

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Michelle is director of public relations for Fly.com. A British native, Michelle has lived on three continents but, more importantly, she is an avid traveler. She is also an adventure enthusiast and her travels have included bungee jumping off Victoria Falls, kayaking to see brown bears (Alaska), surfing in Costa Rica, driving cattle in Wyoming, stunt flying in Hawaii, and swimming with sharks in Bora Bora.
  • http://www.carriedonthewind.com/ Rebeca

    Wikkistix! I have four kids, nine and under, and these are one of our essentials for flying. I also always bring fruit leather for young ones who aren’t big enough to chew gum. 
    Great ideas… thanks! 

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