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How to Entertain a One Year Old on a Plane

Wondering how to entertain a one year on a plane? From the moment my little girl was born, I envisaged all of the wonderful adventures we could go on all over the world, providing her with those unique and once in a lifetime-style memories. Time has crept up on us and she is nearly a year old! We were meticulously planning our first holiday abroad and then it dawned on me… how do I entertain a one-year old on a plane?

baby and toddler playing with a puzzle toy on the plane

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Flying with a baby can be a daunting experience for any new parents (or even those well-experienced!) due to peering eyes of other travellers and your child’s desire to be on the move and occupied at all times. Hopefully this blog post can help to give you some tips and travel activities to consider when you travel with a one-year old baby and some carry on ideas while travelling with your baby in flight. For even more toddler travel toys ideas see here.

We all know that children at this age find concentrating on one activity for a prolonged period of time difficult and are perfecting their pinching grasp so it’s important to consider various baby travel toys when partaking in air travel with toddlers!

The most effective airplane activities for one-year olds are often the simplest. These include homemade toys which create great airplane games for kids and are small enough to be popped into your hand luggage. Ideas for these include:

Stacking cups

Little ones love putting things in them and taking them out again. I particularly liked this bath set from Munchkin. Whether your child likes to knock them down, build them back up, nest them together or hide things in them, these can create hours of easy fun both on the plane and in the bath/pool when you reach your destination. It’s great for cause-and-effect learning but just be aware that they could be quite noisy however!

Homemade tissue box

Ever had your child get hold of a packet of wet wipes only to be in complete dismay as the entirety is emptied all over their bedroom floor? Children love pulling things out and ripping things so this is the perfect game when you travel with kids.

However, this is costly and messy but I have a solution! Find an old box, cover it in coloured paper. Create some holes in the lid, and find yourself some coloured chiffons or scarves. Tie a note in the end of each one and poke a small amount through the hole in the lid so only a little is showing.

Secure the lid to the box and your child can have hours of fun pulling and ripping scarves through the hole and you can push them back in! A similar toddler airplane activity is filling an old (clean) spice jar with cut pipe cleaners so that your little ones can pull them out over and over… and over again!

How to Entertain a One-Year Old on a Plane  - A toddler travel toy made out of a spice jar and pipe cleaner, The most effective airplane activities for one-year olds are often the simplest. These include homemade toys which create great airplane games for kids and are small enough to be popped into your hand luggage.

Post-it notes

Keeping with the ripping theme, post-it notes can provide hours of fun in the way of sticking and ripping off the seats, windows, trays and any other surface (no doubt including you and your little one at some point). 


Who doesn’t love to read on the plane? Your little one might be too young to indulge in a new novel but will love to explore cloth, touch and feel or lift the flap books. eg The Julia Donaldson ‘Lift the Flap’ series. Fox’s Socks, Hide and Seek Pig etc.  Again lots of things to spot and fun lifting the flaps to see who is hiding. Be prepared for some ripped tabs so sturdy board books are a good choice and a lovely story may even help your little one to drift off to sleep… if you’re lucky!

Phone and Keys

There are some great mobile phone and key toys on the market these days which look and act realistically, saving your own versions from new teeth and dribble. These can act as fun toys and aid in role play to keep your air travel with kids a little more entertaining for you all.


Being flexible and having the ability to move in a small space makes a slinky a great flight companion. Your little one can watch it move across their seat or tray or create shapes and moves of their own with it.

Shaker bottle

We are all trying to do our best to help the environment but we can still often find ourselves with spare plastic bottles. In order to get unlimited use out of these, fill them with noisy items such as: pasta, lentils, coloured buttons or coloured rice for a homemade instrument, or pom poms, water and glitter or pipe cleaners for a sensory experience. Easy to make but endless fun.

Finger Puppets

Finger puppets are a dream toy for airplane travel with a one-year old. Not only can you play the favourite game of hide and seek with them but they can aid singing songs, role play and story telling.

Teething toys

The days are long and the nights are longer when you’re little one is teething so can you imagine how long a flight might feel when you are travelling with a one-year old internationally? Teething toys are a must and even better if they have multiple uses such as sensory style toys. 

Gel window stickers

Gel Window stickers are simple and easier to use than paper stickers. However, make sure they don’t leave any marks on the window and are removed after the journey.

Build your own bead necklace

Find some string or a pipe cleaner and add some large beads. Your little one will enjoy moving the beads to and fro and if the beads are safe, could even be used as a teether too. 

Easter eggs

Fill plastic easter eggs with small toys, snacks or anything that will fit. Your little one can enjoy opening and closing them whilst emptying and enjoying the contents and refilling again.

Tablet (for example: iPad)

Even if you don’t usually advocate the use of electronics, this could keep your one-year old entertained on a plane for longer than most other activities. Make sure you download some excited apps, games and even a couple of episodes of their favourite programme to fill time and give Mummy and Daddy some well-earned rest!


No journey with a one-year old can be complete without a repertoire of snacks. Bring various snacks in case you have a fussy toddler for the day and hide them in different places or stagger their introduction to ensure eating snacks eats into the time you are on the flight.

I hope these ideas make travelling with children an exciting experience. Remember, it’s all worth it when you land in your dream destination!

You can also buy pre made activity packs or busy bags, which are tailored to your child and save you a heap of time! Some are better than others and this guide to the best busy bags for toddlers will help.

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