How to Entertain a Toddler on an Airplane

This post was a collaboration with Zoonicorn. Thank-you for supporting the sponsors that help keep Momma Society going. :)

My biggest fear of traveling internationally with two kids was the airplane ride. I dreaded the thought of the 12-hour flight to Tokyo so much so that we almost forgo buying tickets initially.

Airplane Entertainment Ideas for Toddlers

Was it really possible for a 3-year old to not go nuts sitting for that long? Heck, was it possible for me to not go nuts sitting for that long? Spoiler alert: It was. I am grateful I did not let that fear keep us from our Japan adventure---it was a truly magical trip.

We have been back a week now and everyone seems to be curious how the airplane ride went. Surprisingly, it went extremely well. I spent weeks beforehand strategizing for how we would keep the kids entertained (mostly Brody, age 3, since an empty water bottle is all it takes to entertain Isla at this stage). I stocked up on nearly a dozen little toys and activity books and kept my fingers crossed for non-traumatic experience for our family  (and the hundreds of other people on the flight). The preparation worked!

Here were the 5 biggest hits for entertaining Brody on the flight.

1)   Scissors

It always amazes me how the little common everyday items are the ones that excite my kids the most. Scissors are one of those things. I bought a Melissa & Doug Scissor Skills Activity Book for the flight and it entertained Brody for a solid hour both ways. It came with a pair of plastic kid scissors and a book full of pages to cut out. I love that it was an educational activity and entertaining.

Airplane Entertainment Ideas for Toddlers

2)   His Zoonicorn

You may have seen me talking about Zoonicorn on Instagram stories a few months ago. Zoonicorn is a fun new series of these cute mythical animals that are a combination of a zebra and a unicorn. Or, as Brody calls them, horses with party hats! Through activities on their website and short YouTube videos the Zoonicorns come to life and share life lessons as they navigate through relatable obstacles for toddlers and kid like making friends, being brave etc.

They’re super cute and Brody was really into playing with the stuffed Zoonicorns when they arrived.  Knowing our trip was coming up, I tucked them away and snuck one in his backpack on our flight. Brody’s imagination blows me away, so he had a lot of fun on the plane playing with his Zoonicorn. It was the perfect size to play with when he was strapped into his car seat on the plane.

Since coming back, he has asked to watch the Zoonicorn YouTube channel no less than five times. They have a bunch of free printable activities on the site too when you sign up for their newsletter--perfect for tucking in a travel bag. Plus, the plush Zoonicorns have a special offer right now where they are buy one get a second free!

Airplane Entertainment Ideas for Toddlers

3)   The iPad

On the topic of YouTube, packing an iPad was another lifesaver on the flight. As much as we try to limit the time Brody spends on electronics at home, come airplane rides and travel time, all rules go out of the window. When there was Wi-Fi, he could watch Zoonicorn videos and construction truck videos on YouTube. On the plane, we downloaded a bunch of children’s movies for him to watch. We also downloaded a few games, but he was much more interested in the movies.

Airplane Entertainment Ideas for Toddlers

4)   Label Stickers

One of my favorite tricks for long car rides, train rides, airplanes or waiting in lines is bringing a container of Avery Label Stickers. They are small and compact to keep in a backpack or diaper bag and Brody loves to peel the stickers off and stick them everywhere. From covering papers, himself, mom & dad his toys etc—they always make for a fun time. For some reason these Avery label stickers are such a hit whereas other stickers are not as exciting to him.

5)   Water Wow Activity Books

Since my early days of motherhood, I have heard friends rave about Water Wow! Activity books . Anything involving water just sounded messy on the go, so I avoided it like the plague--until this trip. Boy do I wish I had bought some of these books sooner! When you fill the paintbrush with water and your little one paints on the pages of the cardboard book, the water magically reveals a colorful image. Brody and I were equally enamored. The pages are reusable and even after being home for a week; Brody still pulls this activity book out on a daily basis.

After a successful first international trip with two kids, I cannot wait to plan the next adventure. In the meantime, I’ll be using these activities again on our cross-country road trip when we move to Greenville.

To learn more about Zoonicorn, the sponsor of this post, check out their Parent's Page.