Airplane Activities for a One Year Old

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My husband and I have always loved to travel. Since Hubby works for an airline, we fly often. I’m happy to say that hasn’t changed much since we’ve had Buddy. (Although now we usually travel to see family instead of traveling to new places.)

Even though this was Buddy’s fifth trip involving air travel, Hubby and I were nervous. Buddy is 15 months old, and our last plane trip was several months ago when he wasn’t as mobile. Now that Buddy is used to moving around a lot, it’s hard for him to sit still for a long time. I spent a long time looking for ideas for one year olds to do on planes. However, a lot of ideas I found (coloring books, DVD players, etc.) were better for slightly older kids. Eventually, I found a bunch of small activities for our trip.

Before we got on the plane, I didn’t pull out any of the travel toys. I wanted to keep those for times when Buddy had to sit still. At every airport (we had three different flights on this trip), we looked for seats by a window with empty space. We let Buddy crawl around to burn off energy. He spent hours watching the planes through the window. Another game he loved was stroller basketball. We took our bag from dinner and crumpled it into a ball. Buddy loves balls, and so he loved this “ball” too. He put it in the stroller’s basket over and over again. Our first flight was delayed by four hours, and Buddy was entertained that whole time by these activities (and eating too).

Buddy loves watching the planes.

Buddy loves watching the planes.

I brought a ton of small activities for the plane. Our first and last flight were both over four hours, and I anticipated that Buddy would be awake for most of that time. Our second flight was much shorter (an hour and a half), but I still wanted new activities for that time. In the end, we didn’t need a lot of these activities. Our four hour delay meant that our first flight left hours after Buddy’s bedtime, so he slept that whole flight. He also slept for half of the short flight and more than an hour of the last flight. Luckily, we didn’t need everything, but I was happy to have more activities than I needed.

On each flight, I packed a pencil pouch of small activities and a gallon sized ziplock with a few larger items that didn’t fit in the pouch. I had another gallon sized ziplock in my suitcase of things to switch out for new flights.

Here is what ended up in the pencil pouch for our last flight:

Airplane activities 2

  • Pencil pouch – This was intended to be an activity as well as a holder of other activities. I added a carabiner to clip onto the seat back pocket for easy access. Buddy enjoyed pulling the zippers and pulling things out of the pockets.
  • Cubs teether
  • Post it notes – Fun to put on and pull off of the seat.
  • Dinosaur light up toy from the dollar store
  • Small slinky
  • Police car from dollar store
  • Poms container – This was a salad dressing dispenser from the dollar store and a few pom poms. I wanted to make a travel size version of this activity. This was Buddy’s favorite thing to do on the plane. He loved putting the poms in the container. He also loved trying to put the cap on the container.
  • Koosh ball
  • Penguin toy – We got this as a souvenir on our trip.
  • Finger puppets
  • Measuring tape from the dollar store – Buddy liked pulling out the tape and letting it go back in. He also liked shaking it to hear the noise of the keychain on the box.
  • Small board books – One of these was an old favorite and one was new. The new vehicle books were bought here.
  • Painters tape wrapped around a folded piece of paper. I ripped off tape to put on the back of the seat, and Buddy pulled it off the seat. We actually didn’t use this on this trip, but it was a huge hit on previous trips.
  • Pipe cleaner with some beads to slide around.
  • Altoids tin with cut out stickers and a small notepad. Buddy liked to hold the stickers, but he wasn’t interested in actually putting them on the notepad. He also liked dumping them out everywhere and opening and closing the tin.

This is what the pouch looked like when it was filled.

Airplane activity bag

Here are the additional activities from the gallon ziplock bags:

Airplane activities 3

  • Quiet Book – This was the main thing in the extra ziplock bag. (I was pretty sad that it didn’t fit in the pouch.) If you want to know more about this quiet book and how I made it, read my blog post about it here.
  • Pill case (from the dollar store) filled with snacks
  • Indestructible books – These are one of my favorite travel toys because they take up no space and can’t be wrecked.
  • Bath book from the dollar store
  • Animal chip clips from the dollar store – Buddy loves animals and he really enjoyed these. I brought an index card to clip them on, but we found other things to clip them on as well. Buddy really liked putting them in our empty drink cups, shaking them up, and pouring them out again.
  • Empty easter egg – Buddy enjoyed breaking it open and putting it together again.
  • Playing cards from the dollar store – When we have played with cards before, Buddy liked pulling them out of the box, holding them, and trying to fold them. I bought Pup Patrol ones because he loves dogs. We actually didn’t play with these, but I’m sure we will on our next trip.
  • Button snake with felt scraps – I thought Buddy would enjoy pulling the felt off and putting them on, but he wasn’t really interested. I think he’ll like this more when he’s old enough to practice buttoning.
  • Bead necklace
  • Window gel clings – This was another favorite of Buddy’s. He loved putting them on the window and taking them off. I got these at the Target dollar section, but you can get similar ones here.
  • Small container with a ribbon of buttons and bells – Buddy played with this for a long time. He liked shaking it and hearing the noise of the bells. He liked taking the ribbon out and putting it back in the container. He also liked putting the lid on the container.
  • Extra small books

Not pictured:

  • My phone with a few baby game apps
  • My Kindle with picture ebooks checked out from the library
  • Extra snacks and sippy cup
  • Stuffed monkey

We also had a lot of fun just pulling out the cards and magazines from the back of the seat. Buddy did this for a long time. He also liked stacking our cups after we were done with our drinks. He also liked looking at the people around us and waving at them.

If you have any other ideas for activities, I’d love to hear them!

*Edit*- Here is a more recent blog post of the airplane activities I did with Buddy at 20 months. Some of them are the same, but there are many other ideas as well.

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