Our son was exactly one year old when we flew from Dallas to Mumbai, India (via London). I was pretty confident in our 4 year old’s ability to be entertained on the flights, but Mr. A was just 12 months old and not too fond of being confined to our laps for any length of time!
We didn’t know it at the time we booked our flights, but British Air has a special infant seat (like a car seat) that attaches to a foldout shelf on the bulk head seats. We found out about this just in time to call the airlines and ask to reserve the “cot seat” for myself and the baby. Thankfully the were also able to accommodate my husband and Miss A on the same row – all for no extra charge! It worked out perfectly. Mr A is totally happy in his carseat and stroller, but if someone is holding him, he knows he can escape and he won’t give up until he is successful! So the inflight “carseat” was perfect – he liked playing there when he was awake – he could see lots of people from his perch – and he slept comfortably there also. The only downside was that he had to be removed when the “fasten seatbelt” sign came on.
I knew he would’t sleep the entire journey so I tired to plan ahead and pack a few lightweight toys that I hoped would entertain him more than just a few minutes. So aside from snacks and baby food, I packed the following toys (these were all new to him at the time so that also added to the fun factor)
1. PipSquigz – these fun suction cup toys were perfect to stick on the wall of the airplane or trains once we were in India. They won’t fall to the ground and get dirty and the best part is the baby loved them!
2. A Travel Magna Doodle – He was happy to “draw” with this for quite a decent time. This was one of his favorite toys during the trip. And I didn’t have to worry about any messes to clean up! Sadly ours broke mid journey but we were able to replace it in India.
3. Soft blocks that could clip onto each other or anything else to keep them off the floor! Mr. A was going through quite the “stacking” phase (he actually still is!) So I thought these blocks would be great since they were squishy and didn’t weigh much and I could keep them clean by keeping them off the floor.
Other things that worked to entertain a 12 month old:
- A box of crayons – he was not really into coloring much at the time but he loved taking the colors out one.by.one. and putting them back one.by.one. This trick not only came in handy on the planes and trains, but also during church! Of course the “game” was all over when he got bored and decided to start putting the colors in his mouth. But with close supervision he did remarkably well for his age.
- Plastic Snack containers and something to “hide” inside. He would open and close it over and over again.
- Small cars that he cold roll back and forth.
- Books – we tried to limit the number of books we took due to weight, we opted for paperbacks instead of board books. Just be aware that they might get torn up – so don’t bring favorites! I hit the Dollar Store before we left and found some good choices.
- Water bottles – never underestimate the entertainment power of cheap plastic! Just be careful of the lids – Mr. A had not yet mastered unscrewing the lid so we were able to give him the bottles to play with without too much worry about him getting the lid in his mouth.
- He was given a Shape Box in India, so he enjoyed playing with that while we were there. We chose not to bring it home with us because we already had one at home, so we passed it on to another child before we left.
- Pots and Pans and Wooden Spoons – he loves “cooking” so we would find all sorts of steel vessels at my Mother-in-Law’s house and we would throw the shapes from the Shape Box inside and he would stir them up and just generally play with all of that for a long time. This didn’t work for the airplane but was great when we were in houses that didn’t have any “toys.” This could be modified for the airplane with empty plastic cups, and plastic cutlery if your flight attendant will bring extras.
- A plastic chair – again not for the flights – but he was just starting to walk (he actually took his first steps in India!) and he would push the plastic chair around the house like a walker. Worked great on the granite floors in India!
Those are some of the things that worked for us in our travels. What have you done to keep little ones entertained while traveling?