Everyone hates a screaming kid on an airplane. But you know who hates a screaming kid on an airplane the most? The parents. Believe me, we don’t want our kids unhappy and uncomfortable and disrupting the whole plane. Sure, kids cry, and sometimes, there’s nothing you can do but attempt every trick up your sleeve to settle them…and of course, the tricks don’t always work.
Keeping my son happily entertained on the airplane is always my goal, and I do everything I can to keep him content and quiet for the duration of the flight by stocking up on snacks, drinks, diapers, and wipes and keeping a change of clothes close in case there’s an accident. But on top of all that, I now travel with a backpack full of items that help make the trip go smoother for everyone: me, my son and my fellow passengers. So what’s in my backpack? Here are some of the items I never get on a plane without—and that in my experience help keep kids quiet on the plane:
1. Travel backpack ($35.99)
First things first: the backpack. I use the Commuter Backpack from Mark & Graham, which is no longer available. But a lot of moms rave about this backpack from HaloVa because it’s got lots of handy compartments and a spacious main interior pocket. It’s waterproof and easy to wipe clean. I have to admit that I resisted the idea of a backpack for a long time. It’s not the most stylish bag and doesn’t always go with my outfit (LOL) but in the end, it’s a very practical choice since it leaves my hands free to hold my son’s hand or carry him.
2. Fly Tot ($79)
The best way to have an easy flight with your little one? Get them to sleep! Easier said than done, but the Fly Tot really helps. Placing this inflatable cushion at the end of a seat essentially turns a coach seat into a first-class seat for kids. Kids can lie down flat and sleep comfortably. Thanks to the Fly Tot, Jack has sometimes slept for three-plus hours on a plane, which has been amazing…for everyone!
3. Casper Nap Pillow ($35)
A lie-flat seat is great, but a small pillow is the cherry on top for a comfortable sleep. We never travel without ours for Jack. When I was nursing him, a small pillow was great for propping up my arm or placing beneath his head. The Casper Nap Pillow is a great option. It’s machine-washable so you can keep it clean between plane rides.
4. AVAWO iPad case for kids ($14.99)
While we try to limit screen time when we’re at home, the airplane is a different story. Jack gets to watch his favorite movies and TV shows (Curious George and Paw Patrol, mostly) when he flies. This AVAWO iPad case is perfect for his use. The foam offers tons of cushiony protection for the many bumps, scrapes and falls that the iPad endures in Jack’s hands, and there’s a convenient handle for him to carry the iPad around with. The handle also folds back and turns into a stand so that the iPad can be propped up while he’s watching. At $14.99, this was an easy one.
5. Snug Play+ kids headphones ($15.95)
Jack needed headphones to use with his iPad on the airplane, and after plenty of research, I decided on this pair from Snug Play+. They have a volume-limiting feature, which was the number-one thing I was looking for (so his little ears don’t accidentally get blasted). They fold in half so they’re easy to pack and you can’t beat the price. Also, I love the assortment of fun colors!
6. Water WOW! activity pad ($14.99)
These Melissa + Doug activity pads are perfect for the plane! You just fill the pen up with water and then ‘paint’ on the reusable pages to reveal the hidden pictures beneath. When the water dries, the colors disappear so the pad can be used over and over again. The best part is that this is truly a no-mess activity!
7. Eye Found It card game ($13.68)
My son loves “look and find” books and games. This card game from Disney offers lots of quiet playtime as I ask him to find various elements within the cards.
8. “Where Is Curious George?” look and find book ($9.99)
This “look and find” book is another favorite. And since my son goes bananas for Curious George, it’s the perfect book for him. But there are lots of other “look and find” books (like these) with different characters if your child has a different preference.
9. “First 100 Animals” board book ($5.99)
The entire series of “First 100” books (seen here) is a big hit with my two-year-old son. He loves identifying the animals, numbers, colors, and shapes (depending on which book it is) but “First 100 Animals” is definitely his favorite. I love that the book is relatively small in size and easy to pack.
10. Crayola Pip-Squeaks Washable Markers & Paper Set ($12.99)
Drawing is one way that my son and I pass a lot of time, on the airplane, during mealtime or just hanging out in a hotel room. This Crayola travel kit is perfect. It’s got a great selection of colors and packs up compactly in an easy-to-carry case. And the markers are washable, which is key, so you don’t have to worry about your kid drawing on the seats or tray tables! Just make sure you have some wipes on hand to clean up any marks (they’ll wipe off easily)!
11. “My World” board book ($8.98)
We get our drawing inspiration from this book. Jack chooses a picture from about 350 options and I draw it (sometimes he tries to draw it himself but usually he wants me to draw it for him). He chooses the colors he wants me to use, then I write the word out, and finally we talk about the word and spell it out together. This activity combines fun with learning and it passes a lot of time.
12. Paw Patrol AquaDoodle travel kit ($35.99)
Since Jack loves to draw, this AquaDoodle travel kit is perfect for the airplane. You just dip the marker into water and draw on the fabric. When the water dries, the images disappear so it can be used over and over again. It doesn’t hurt that my son also loves Paw Patrol!
13. Toysmith Wood Puzzle Fidget ($9.22 for a four-pack)
I’m sometimes shocked at how much Jack loves this little puzzle. He spends tons of quiet time with it, manipulating it into different shapes and, I think, trying to figure out how it works. Whatever has him so engrossed is fine with me as it keeps him quiet on the airplane—and develops his hand-eye coordination and improves his dexterity. Plus, it’s small and easy to throw in my purse.
14. Mickey Mouse Magnetic Zoo ($8.93)
This little metal box features 26 magnets that kids can stick to create different scenes within the zoo. What I like best about it is that it’s magnetic so the play pieces stick to the box and aren’t continually falling on the floor.
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Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.
- 1 1. Travel backpack ($35.99)
- 2 2. Fly Tot ($79)
- 3 3. Casper Nap Pillow ($35)
- 4 4. AVAWO iPad case for kids ($14.99)
- 5 5. Snug Play+ kids headphones ($15.95)
- 6 6. Water WOW! activity pad ($14.99)
- 7 7. Eye Found It card game ($13.68)
- 8 8. “Where Is Curious George?” look and find book ($9.99)
- 9 9. “First 100 Animals” board book ($5.99)
- 10 10. Crayola Pip-Squeaks Washable Markers & Paper Set ($12.99)
- 11 11. “My World” board book ($8.98)
- 12 12. Paw Patrol AquaDoodle travel kit ($35.99)
- 13 13. Toysmith Wood Puzzle Fidget ($9.22 for a four-pack)
- 14 14. Mickey Mouse Magnetic Zoo ($8.93)