Last Updated on April 17, 2021 by Travels with Kids
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 tips for traveling with a 1 year old internationally and the best toys for airplane 1 year old.
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1 Year Old Travel Toys And Airplane Activities
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. If you are looking for the best airplane activities for 18 months old and older take a look at our post, Brilliant Toddler Plane Activities.
A Necessary Activity, Eating – Best Travel Food For 1 Year Old Baby
So what is the best travel food for 1 year old baby? I assume that your bub is now eating a range of solid foods, and the short answer is that you take food that they like from home.
These days there is a wide range of nutritious convenience food available in the supermarket – especially fruit pouches, with mixes of fruits, and also nutritious meals. These are all marked so that you know that they are age-appropriate. The same types of pouches are available in yogurt. You need to supervise carefully that bub doesn’t over squeeze the pouch and the puree or yogurt go everywhere That is not a good look! What a mess! However, in general, these are a great way to carry food for one-year-olds!
A 1-year-old baby can eat a wide range of soft fruits, like peaches, bananas, strawberries. However given that they need to be cut up into relatively small pieces and you can’t take a knife on the plane, these will need to be eaten sooner rather than later. Sliced cucumber travels well, as does celery though you need to be careful that the baby doesn’t take a chunk. There are always choking risks with raw vegetables.
When flying I also feed my 1-year-old from my own airplane meal. Some rice, pasta or mashed potato would all work well. I’d also take a little bit of my chicken or fish and give the baby tiny pieces of food to eat.
Most importantly, the baby still is drinking a lot of milk at 1 year old. Breastfeeding on the plane or road trip is best, as the child gets sustenance and connection/and soothing while traveling. If you are traveling with formula, make sure you have packed enough for the trip and that you have organized how you are going to heat it up.
So while food is not necessarily a travel toy, it can be a necessary distraction.
One of the key aspects of how flying with 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 Calamari. 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! However, we think this is one of the best travel toys for babies hands down.
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)! They are relatively inexpensive but provide hours of entertainment. They are also great for family travel as you can have the older kids explore the book with the baby. You can check out the current prices on Amazon below.
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. Our little one loves playing with it. It is inexpensive and makes a great 1 year old travel toys idea.
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.
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. This is one of the best travel toys for babies, in my opinion, because you can easily carry it in your purse. 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. It can literally buy you some time when you need just a few minutes to focus on something else like paperwork or checking-in with the airline.
There are toys that have buckles and zips that your baby can play with like this one. I 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. Not only is this great to keep a baby occupied when flying with a 1 year old but it is also one of the best road trip toys for a one year old. Inevitably you will always have your purse with you so this is just an easy way to keep them occupied.
Things Already On The Plane
While it is great to pack lots of 1 year old travel toys, they can get bulky pretty quickly. 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
- 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. While not necessarily one of the best toys for airplane travel for a 1 year old, they are a necessity and serve a dual purpose.
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
- Syringe/medicine plunger
- Old glasses (without lenses)
- Little plastic bottle
- Sticky tape
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. However, they are usually given out on the airplane and, for the sake of recycling, are great 1 year old travel toys. They are really something simple that can help develop fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination with your baby.
What’s The Best Handbag For Travel With A Baby
So I bet you didn’t know that theft-proof bags or slash-proof bags could also work as great bags to have when traveling with a one-year-old baby! They do! And, after all, you need something to carry all of these best travel toys for 1 year old in!
You will see all sorts of reviews online for bags that are useful for travel with a baby. I personally use an anti-theft handbag from Travelon. Honestly, the anti-theft factor is mostly about protecting myself from my little thief (the one-year-old baby) than a thief themselves! That is, the bag is very durable (being anti slash) and has a range of carabiners to close the zips. These are useful so that the baby can’t open your bag and pull the passports or purse out.
There is also a range of very useful compartments so that you can put keys in one, lipsticks in another.
You will see diaper bags like backpacks, but in my case, I nearly always travel with my laptop so that the laptop needs to go on my back with baby clothes, nappy change bag, and toys for a one year old in, while my money and valuables are still in my handbag.
Below are some of our recommendations for best handbag for travel with a baby, click each one to see current prices on Amazon.
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 on 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 anyway. While I know many parents rely on them, I wouldn’t personally recommend them as a best travel toys for a 1 year old.
How To Change A Nappy (Diaper) On A Plane
Having changed many, many nappies on planes, I’ve put together these tips on how to change a diaper in flight.
- You realize that your baby needs a change – or will soon. Look out for times when there is not a long line at the toilets.
- Hopefully, you don’t need to wait too long, or the baby is happy and occupied since they are out of the seating area.
- When the time comes for the baby to change you realize that there is not too much space!
- Babies do love mirrors though, so you might want to let them get used to the strange sounds in the airplane toilet by looking at themselves in the mirror!
- I put down a diaper pad/nappy pad, get out the nappy and wipes, and then lay the baby down.
- If they are a wriggler you are going to have to keep them still, and hopefully not touching too much stuff.
- Sing a song, talk about your actions, talk about their body parts, and talk about what you are going to do when you are off the flight!
- Tidy up baby and put the nappy in a smell proof bag in the toilets.
- A BIG WORD OF WARNING! The flushing sound of toilets on the airplane is very frightening to babies and children. It is a loud whoosh and all three of mine have hated it. So if you need to flush the toilet with the baby – get outside the cubicle and then flush! Oh yes, if you are traveling solo, managing to go to the toilet on the plane while holding a baby is doable! But requires some contortions!)
We hope that this gives you some ideas of how to change a diaper or nappy on a flight!
Tips For Road Trips With Babies
We’ve got a lot of experience with having road trips with babies.
We normally have an adult or an older kid sit next to the crying baby and try to entertain them, but sometimes it just doesn’t work. Believe me a crying baby in a traffic jam when your boobs are leaking is not fun. However, this is what we do so that our family can experience things together. Read about it in Tips For A Successful Road Trip With Kids.
What Is The Best Car Seat When Travelling With Babies
A baby car seat is one of the most important investments you can make for your child. There are loads of buying guides and dedicated information about how to buy the best car seat. And, besides safety, they can be entertaining for your child. So while it is technically not a travel toy for kids, it can have some useful and entertaining features.
My Tips Are:
- Buy a new car seat in order to ensure the car seat has not been in a crash.
- Pay for installation for the seat – apparently, poorly installed children’s car seats are one of the reasons for injuries in accidents.
- Pick a car seat that will be easy to clean – bright colors look fun but they show the dirt. We had a red car seat – I know this from experience!
- If you have multiple kids and they all need to fit in the back seat, you might need to look for narrow fit car seats to ensure all kids get maximum comfort
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!
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!
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? Flying with a 1 year old can be difficult if you don’t have anyone to help out.
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 Guide To Baby Travel Essentials.
The Verdict – Best Travel Toys For Babies
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!
Do you have any suggestions for best travel toys for a 1 year old? We would love to hear all your suggestions for best travel toys for babies in the comments below.
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