I bought a fair number of small new toys because we had to take so many flights on our recent trip to the Philippines. I gave them out one at a time on the longer flights when the kids got antsy, and was able to make the things I bought last throughout all 8 flights. Toddlers Charlie’s age (2 1/2) are much easier to entertain because they’re verbal, can watch tv, and engage in imaginative play. Babies Olive’s age (10 months) are a bit harder to entertain. I didn’t pack nearly as many toys for her because I brought some old toys from home that she hadn’t played with, I brought a couple of random household items like a silicon cupcake liner, I knew she could play with some of Charlie’s toys, and there are so many things on the plane that you can use as toys.

Here are my recommendations for the best infant and toddler travel toys!


1) Lamaze Peek-a-boo Forest – Cloth books are great toys for babies from birth on up. They’re soft and often make crinkly noises that babies love. The Fuzzy Bee and Friends cloth book was a favorite in our household. Books that have textures and flaps like That’s Not My Monster, Where’s Baby’s Belly Button, and How Big? are also some of Olive’s favorites.

2) Green Sprouts finger puppets – Finger puppets take up very little room in your bag and can entertain babies and toddlers.

3) Fisher Price ipod/iphone case – All babies are obsessed with phones, and this case protects your iphone from falls and makes it easy for little hands to hold. Even young babies can be entertained by some games and videos — Charlie was able to play basic touch games from 5 months old.

4) Little Puppy Finger Puppet Book – This little book is a hit for younger babies. Both Charlie and Olive loved chomping on the little puppy. There are many other animals in this series including duck, lamb, etc. I didn’t bring this book with me on our trip, and instead brought this Elmo Puppet Book which Olive LOVES. It takes up a little more room in your suitcase, but who can resist Elmo? Even Charlie got a kick out of it.

5) Sassy Ring-o-Links – We use these all the time but Olive still hasn’t tired of playing with them. For even more links at a lower price, check out this set of 24 from Bright Starts.

6) The First Years Learning Curve Teething Blanket – This was Olive’s favorite teether because her fine motor skills were a little behind, and this was the easiest teether for her to grasp. Of course there are many other teether options out there like Charlie’s and many other babies’ favorite — Sophie the Giraffe!

7) Lamaze Jacques the Peacock – Neither Charlie nor Olive were big into plush dolls, but they did like Jacques. Lamaze has many other similar dolls that are equally popular like Freddie the Firefly and Mortimer the Moose.

8) Indestructibles: Jungle, Rumble! – These books are made of the same fabric as packing material and they’re really indestructible! They’re so thin they take up absolutely no space in your bag. These books only have bright, bold pictures and no words, but the appeal is that your little one can chew on it all they want. They’re even washable! There are many other books in this series like Mama and Baby, Wiggle! March!, Hey Diddle Diddle, etc.

9) Baby Einstein Takealong Tunes – This toy does play music, but I found it to be quiet enough that the plane’s engine was louder. This toy has had a really long life! It was a favorite of both Charlie and Olive — Charlie still even plays with it occasionally. Even though it wasn’t a new toy, Olive was still love playing with it on our trip.

10) Stuff on the plane – I didn’t bring that many toys for Olive because at this age, I knew she’d be most entertained by random things on the plane. For instance, Olive looooove straws, so we grabbed a couple at the airport. Take advantage of all the “toys” on the plane like the barf bag (puppet), the plastic cups, metal spoons, and water bottles. When the water bottles are empty, put small things inside them to turn it into a rattle/discovery bottle.

1) Sketchbook – Charlie prefers to draw on blank paper rather than color in coloring books. He loves to draw every single day! I like notebooks over drawing pads that are held together with glue on the top, because it keeps the artwork better organized. Charlie loves going back and looking through our previous drawings. Blank paper is also great for making origami boats they can decorate!

2) Crayola Color Wonder Travel Tote – Color Wonder markers are great because they only work on the Color Wonder paper. This little kit comes with 4 markers, coloring pages, and the case provides a hard surface for your little one to color on when tray tables need to be kept up during take off and landing. Since Charlie prefers drawing his own pictures to coloring, I opted for the separate Color Wonder markers and paper.

3) Crayola Twistable Crayons – I bought these Mini Twistable Crayons since they don’t break and are perfect for little hands. Charlie actually loves markers much more than crayons, but I thought these would give crayons a fun twist for him.

4) Giddy Up Thomas Water Wow Activity Book – These are soooo cool. You fill the included pen with water and then “paint.”  The water reveals a full color image, and when it dries, you can color again. Charlie loved this and played with it over and over again. It comes in many other themes other than Thomas, like Princess, Superhero, Littlest Pet Shop, etc.

5) ipad/ipod/iphone – We downloaded Thomas, Dora, and Diego episodes before our trip. We also downloaded a bunch of games/apps that we’ll review in our next post. The ipad was by far the best way to keep Charlie occupied. He loved all the screen time he got and I thought he would ask for it once we returned home, but he’s had almost no screen time since we got back and it’s been fine. For longer flights, I would definitely invest in a Mophie External Battery Pack.

6) Kidz Gear headphones – These headphones are made just for kids. I let Charlie use them before our trip so he could get used to them. They worked great but unfortunately he chewed through the wires early on in our trip, and then didn’t want to use our ear buds or the airline headphones.  I also bought a splitter so we could listen to the audio at the same time as Charlie in case we needed to help him play a game.

7) Fisher Price Travel Doodlepro – I bought this for our first flight when Charlie was 1. It’s really great for younger toddlers because just erasing drawings is half the fun!

8) Books – We took several of Charlie’s current favorite books, and we read them every night we traveled. Among them were Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site, Harold and the Purple Crayon, White Rabbit’s Color Book, I Love My White Shoes, Prince of the Potty (so he wouldn’t regress with potty training).

9) Airport – We got a book about the airport and read it in the days leading up to our trip to get Charlie excited.

10) My Plane Trip – This is a coloring book, but it’s actually a great book to teach kids about planes too!

11) Create-a-Scene Magnetic Construction Site – This is a magnetic play scene with construction vehicles, which is a huge passion of Charlie’s right now. Charlie had a lot of fun making up stories and moving around the magnetic vehicles. It’s available in many other scenarios like dollhouse, zoo, town, farm, etc.

12) Window Gel Clings – These are awesome to stick on airplane windows. You may be able to find off-season ones for very cheap at stores like Target, or The Gel Store has a huge selection online including Disney and Marvel clings.

13) Wiki Stix – Wiki Stix are made with yarn covered in food-grade wax, that you can mold, twist, and shape into anything. I also brought pipe cleaners, which are much more inexpensive and great for all kinds of crafts and imaginative play, but Charlie had a lot more fun with the Wiki Stix.

14) Painter’s Tape – I mainly bought painter’s tape to create tracks so Charlie could play with his trains and cars, but tape is fun for every toddler!

15) Thomas Trains – Charlie has been obsessed with Diesel 10 for a long time, and my brother bought it for him when we were visiting LA. I’ve found that most boys and girls love Thomas trains. Charlie is a superfan that’s memorized the theme song and the names of probably over 50 trains!

16) Thomas’ Sticker Express – If your little one is a Thomas fan, this monster book is awesome. It’s filled with an obscene amount of stickers and activity pages. All toddlers love stickers though. Some other options to check out are Roger Priddy’s Sticker Activity Books like First Words and ABC (which is a short book),

17) Play doh Creative Play Fun Factory – Playdoh was hands down Charlie’s favorite toy. I took a garlic press with me so that Charlie could make “spaghetti.” He played with this every night on our trip! Garlic presses can be a little difficult for little ones to use, so I’d recommend getting the Play Fun Factory instead. Note that this is messy so you may not want to play with it on the plane, but it’s awesome for the hotel room. It occupied Charlie for hours!

18) Plan Toys Nuts and Bolts – I found out about this toy when looch guest blogged her great travel gear guide. I didn’t end up buying it because I’d already purchased enough toys for our trip, but I think this is an awesome toy for a toddler.  Charlie would absolutely have loved this when he was around 18 months.

19) Buckle Toy “Buster” – This is another great toy I discovered through looch. Most kids become obsessed with buckles at some point. Charlie would have loved this toy as well around the 18 month mark.

20) Quiet Book – I’ve wanted to make Charlie a quiet book for a long time, but I knew I’d never find the time to make one. Quiet books are typically made of felt, and have fun little quiet activities on each page like identifying shapes, colors, playing with zippers/buttons, etc. You can find them on Amazon and Etsy, but many moms make one themselves. One of the best quiet books I’ve ever come across is from Serving Pink Lemonade. She even provides all the templates she used so you can make your own!

21) B. HelloPhone – I actually bought this toy for Olive, but she wasn’t that into it. I guess she grew up in a world of iphones so she doesn’t know what a flipphone is. But Charlie actually looooooooved this because you can record and playback your voice. We played with this every day on our trip!

22) Tegu Magnetic Blocks – Charlie has been into building with blocks for the past year, and his fascination doesn’t show any signs of waning. We have a complete set of Tegu Magnetic blocks that he loves, but this little set is perfect for travel. They are pricey, but they’re just so cool because they’re magnetic! I definitely think this is more appropriate for the older toddler. We’ve had these since Charlie was 18 months old, and he wasn’t that into them until he was over 2.

If you do a Google search for best travel toys, you’ll undoubtedly come across the suggestion to buy a bunch of cheap toys from the dollar store and wrap each one up. Then give one to your child every half hour or so to keep them occupied. Half the fun is unwrapping it! I happened to pass by a dollar store in Los Angeles while running errands, and this is what I was able to score:

1) Tissue or crepe paper – To wrap the toys.

2) Post-its – I knew Charlie would love post-it’s because he’s gotten into my post-it stash at home.

3) Plastic toys – I picked up some toy cars and animals. A themed set like barnyard animals can be fun for playing out scenes.

4) Playing Cards – Dazzle your little one with your shuffling tricks and practice counting numbers. Olive liked chewing on them too.

5) Calculator – Like a mini computer, and fun for Olive too!

6) Tickets – This is a random thing I picked up, but Charlie loved pulling the tickets apart, and we played make-believe with the tickets.

7) Flashcards – I picked up this box of Mickey Mouse flashcards. 99 cent stores often have a decent selection of children’s books, stickers, coloring books, and even flashcards.

8) Glowsticks – These were the biggest hit out of everything I got. I liked the sticks better than the bracelets and necklaces which has small connecting pieces that were choking hazards.

9) Slinky – Just plain fun.

What are some of your favorite travel toys?