Best Travel Toys For 1 Year Old

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What are the best travel toys for a 1 year old?  With two older kids who’ve racked up thousands of hours of flying as infants and toddlers, I feel like I should have a handle on this.

I’ll not lie, I am not looking forward to entertaining a 1 year old on a plane!  It will be a total of 12 hours of flying with a one-year-old on a lap and I will definitely need some good travel toys and strategies.   She is an active crawler and climber but not yet walking.  She is also got clear preferences of her likes/ dislikes and if you take a toy off her she will do the cutest little tantrum as she throws her head onto the floor and screams.

Did I say cute?  Yes well, it is cute at home, but I can’t imagine that it will be at 30,000 feet!  So here goes.  Here are my best airplane activities for 1 year old and the best toys for airplane 1 year old.

Here I am looking cool and collected about to board a flight at 11.30pm!
This post may contain affiliate links, from which we would earn a small commission, at no extra cost to you. More info in my disclaimer.

1 Year Old Airplane Activities And Toys

Who are these airplane activities and toy suggestions intended for?  On the day of our flight, my baby will be one year old and one day.  However, these activities could be used for a 9-month-old right through to 16-18 months.  After 18 months take a look at our post, Brilliant Toddler Plane Activities.  So if you are looking for the best travel toys for 9-month-old this post should help!


One of the key aspects of how to entertain a 1-year-old on a plane is understanding that they love new things that they have NEVER seen before.  Make sure you put all these items away for a week or more before travel so that when you pull them out baby says, “oh wow, new”.

For awesome Screen-Free Kids Airplane Activities check here.

Best Travel Toys For 1 Year Old

Toys That Move/Has Different Textures

Most prams will have a couple of these toys with lots of great parts.  We love the Lamaze Captain Calmari.  It has been hidden for over a week now in preparation for our trip.  Keep in mind that some of the Lamaze toys make noise – you don’t want them on the plane!

Board Books With Touch And Feel Sections

Not only do you read the books, but run your fingers over the textures again and again.  Books are a bit chunky in your bag, but in my opinion, it is worth packing 2 or 3 of them for your one year old baby to play with.  Books have always been amongst my kid’s favorite activities when traveling.

Some books we would recommend as best travel toys for a 1 year old are the “That’s Not My…” series of books (my kids love them)!

An Activity Ball

These plastic twisty balls have got bits that move, mirrors and are designed to grab the attention.  There are also infant specific textured balls sets that you can buy.  However, we use one that was supposed to be for the dog.

Chew Toy/Teether

This is not exactly an airplane travel toys for 1 year old, but something that every 1 year old has in their care kit!  Chew toys that they can munch their teeth on are great for the plane.

Fidget/Twisty Toys

I have this great cloth fidget toy which I keep in my handbag.  Plus, these little wooden fidget/twisty toys that you can pull out at any time.  They don’t occupy the one year old for long but its enough to distract them for a couple of minutes and avoid a meltdown.

Buckle Toy

There are toys that have buckles and zips that your baby can play with like this oneI prefer to let them use my backpack and the clips on my travel handbag.

Having a big practical travel handbag with plenty of compartments is seriously the best thing for traveling with a baby – especially if they have lots of clips and buckles they can play with.

Things Already On The Plane

There are plenty of things already on the plane that will entertain a 12-month-old baby or toddler for a while.  Think 3 minutes each thing, that really adds up!

  • Sick bag
  • Headphones
  • The safety card (small babies love the safety card on flights)
  • In-flight magazine
  • Cutlery and cups from the in-flight service


Snacks are every parent’s go-to distraction.

Everyday Items You Don’t Have To Buy

The top-secret best travel toys for 1 year old won’t cost you a CENT.

Look around the house for everyday items that are curious.  They need to be small, light and easy to carry.  They need to move or rattle, and they need to be fascinating to a one-year-old.

These are some items:

  • Hair clip
  • Clothes peg
  • Rattle
  • Syringe/medicine plunger
  • Old glasses (without lenses)
  • Little plastic bottle
  • Sticky tape
  • Stickers

The Plastic Bottle

Plastic? Yes I know, Plastic is rapidly filling up the world’s oceans and is one of the world’s biggest environmental concerns

What About Screens

It is recommended that children under 2 have absolutely no screen time at all.  I have noticed that my one year old loves my phone and will swipe the screen back and forth.  She gets frustrated pretty quickly.

It all depends on your attitude to screens but I’d rather not get my baby addicted to a screen early.  Also, I did experiment in the last flight to see if children’s shows would capture her attention.  They did, for all of 60 seconds! So based on my experience screens aren’t a panacea for entertaining a 1 year old on a plane anyway.

The Verdict – Best Travel Toys For 1 Year Old

In short, flying with a moving baby who is yet not verbal is amongst the most difficult times to travel!   Expect to get very little downtime and to spend a lot of time entertaining your 1-year-old on the plane.  However, hopefully, these ideas of the best travel toys for 9-month-old through to about 18 months old will give you some food for thought! Good luck!

Bonus – Tips For Flying With A 1 Year Old

Likely your one year old is super active – if they are not walking they are crawling – fast.  Also, they are very opinionated as to what they like and dislike.  Our baby tends to sound like a scalded cat when she doesn’t get the toy she wants!

Be Prepared

Have the toys in a small bag easy to reach during take-off and landing.

Have an Easy to use Baby carrier 

Having a baby carrier on the plane makes it much easier to carry hand luggage and move more freely around the plane.  There are many models on the market.  I’ve always admired the Forward facing baby carriers as the kids can see where they are going!

Accept Help

In my experience, people LOVE helping with babies – both in airports and on the plane.  Yes, you will get the naysayers and the people who look at you in horror – but they are far outweighed by the kind people who know that traveling with a baby is hard.  If you need to go to the restroom – why not ask a hostess or the friendly lady next door?

Make Friends

On my last flight with the 1 year old she was kept busy for at least 20 minutes by people all around her playing peek a boo, smiling and more.  She would reward them with big toothy smiles and I think that they were just as happy to pass the time as she was!

Prepare For Contingencies

I pack 2 changes of clothes and extra nappies for a flight.  An extra bottle, and extra snacks…  (is there a common theme here).  My number one tips for flying with a one-year-old is about OVER planning.  I don’t know why vomits and poonamis always happen on planes, but they do.

Here we have just covered tips for flying with a one year old – there are a lot of other tips for travel with a baby, take a look at our essentials for baby travel.


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Best Travel Toys For 1 Year Old

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Hi! We are a multicultural family from Peru, Nicaragua & Australia. We believe adventures can be global – and local – and are one part of our sustainable lifestyle, and raising children who are global eco-citizens.