In August our family took a flight to Florida. Since the little boy is on the go all the time, I knew I should plan ahead with some in flight entertainment, toddler style, for the multiple hour flight. I've had a couple friends ask me for tips on keeping little ones entertained, so here are my ideas, but I'm sure there are plenty more things I haven't thought of.
Before flying, I try to let him walk around the terminal as much as possible to get some energy out. Also, depending on how you feel, you could board later on in the process to minimize sitting time. There's plenty to look at with all the planes, people, and luggage carts outside the window, so in-airport entertainment is easy.
When you get on the plane, make sure everything you need is within arm's reach. Keep your entertainment, food, and diapers under the seat in front of you so you can grab them easily. (Of course, make sure diapers are clean and dry to help keep a happy kid.) First off, I try to find entertaining things around us before pulling from my bag of tricks. There's a lot to look at just watching passengers board the plane and flight attendants get ready for departure. I've also found that the magazines they leave in your seat have quite a few dogs, airplanes, and other interesting things to search for throughout their pages. But a lot of our early entertainment is just talking about what's happening around us or out the window and answering the many questions that the little boy has about the unfamiliar environment.
I try to take advantage of walking the aisle when given the chance, since you aren't able to do that all the time. Also, a good game of peek-a-boo with an extra jacket or the magazine from your seat is great for getting a happy kid and wasting some time. As for the things I pack, here are some of the things I took along this time around.
- I printed off some of these coloring pages from Made by Joel and some of these coloring pages from grandparents.com based on what I thought would be most entertaining. I stapled them together into a book and punched a hole in the upper left corner. Then I used yarn to tie on a red, a yellow, and a blue crayon to prevent little hands from tossing them all over the plane when he lost interest.
- Since balls are a favorite toy, I made a pair of these yo-yo balls since they'd be better for keeping under control. I kept building up this pile of scrap fabric when working on projects and finally found a use for it when I made the yo-yo balls. It was a great stuffing for filling them up.
- These fabric nesting dolls caught my attention as something that could be entertaining in flight. I made the largest one a rocket ship since that's been a recent interest. The little boy found additional uses for this toy such as placing the rocket ship on the arm rest of the seat and making it blast off with sound effects.
- I made several sewing cards. I quickly sketched out items of interest and then had the little boy color them so he could participate. There was a rocket, Curious George, and an apple tree. After he finished coloring, I glued the picture onto cardboard. I trimmed it and punched holes around the edges. Then I tied yarn to one hole (with the other end secured with tape so it wouldn't fray) so it would be ready for sewing around the card. You could also use an old shoelace.
- I made a little older version of these fleece play squares. I cut various shapes and sizes from different colored fleece and a larger white piece to be used as a canvas.
- Last but not least, there's the food entertainment. I try to have a variety of easy to eat snacks ready to go - raisins, other dried fruit, fruit chips, crackers, chopped veggies, a banana, cheese cubes. Sometimes I use juice as a treat since we don't drink it normally. You can also ask for a cup and straw on the plane if you didn't bring your own.
My goal was to keep everything small and light weight. Even though I had several toys to grab when needed, they all fit into a small bag or could have been stuffed into the diaper bag. These toys have also become ones that I grab as I'm running out the door for a car trip or weekend away when I want quick toys to take with me.