My 1-year old has had his fair share of traveling. As an infant, the first few flights were tiresome, mostly because I was stressed, breastfeeding in crowded plane rows, diaper blow-outs just as we’re taking off and that damn seat belt sign just stays on for-ev-er.
Have you been there?
And as he’s getting older, it’s getting harder to entertain him. I walk and bounce with him up and down plane rows and long for the day to just watch a movie again. Or nap. A nap would be awesome.
In the summertime, when travel is inevitable for all of us, we could all use a few aces in our pocket to keep them busy while keeping our cool.
1. Food. Obviously. When all else fails, feed the child.
I don’t know what they actually put into those baby puffs, but it must be something addictive. They could eat them endlessly. Take it one step further…. get a pill box and put one puff in each box. Make them work for it.
Action Step: Practice signs for open/close, more, all-done and eat.
2. Pocket Magnetic Blocks
Small enough for any carry-on and awesomely magnetic with hopes to lose a few less under the seat. These blocks travel great.
Action Step: Work on prepositions like on, under, next to. For example, “the long block is under the square. Your turn! You put this one on top.” For older kids, split the blocks in half and see if they can match a design just like yours.
3. Crayon and Paper, or something fancier
If you’ve got an older one, some of these table top tasks can keep them busy for a bit. For 10 months+ try Melissa & Doug’s Water Wow or a Travel Doodle for easy drawing and magical disappearing. For 2 years+ this Travel Activity Book is my favorite. It has pages of coloring, tracing, matching, and identifying same/different pictures. Great tasks for early thinkers.
4. Masking tape
It’s kind of like stickers, which are also awesome. But way cooler, and easier to clean up. The old school kind will do, just fine... but if you want to really impress your kids (kidding, sort of), you can try some colored tape too. If you’ve got an older kiddo Melissa & Doug make an entire tape activity kit; it's a home run.
Action Step: Work on size concepts, like long, longer, longest or tall, taller, tallest. Work on prepositions like “next to the chair, under the table, on Mama’s nose.” If you’ve got older kids, give them a task like “Here are 8 pieces of tape, can you make a beehive with it?”
5. Travel Shape Sorter
Shape sorters are my all-time favorite developmental toy, and this one is always packed in our carry-on bag. We also use it as a sort of briefcase for our guy and put other toys in it too (not just the shapes). It’s soft, so it compacts and stores easily.
Action Step: It’s a two sided shape sorter, so on one side you can lift flaps and practice signs for open and close. On the other side, help your kiddo place the shape into it’s designated spot by using lots of verbs “Where does the triangle go? Let’s drop it inside the box…. turn it, turn it again…. and kiss it goodbye!”
Whatever tricks you pack on your next trip this summer, may the force be with you. Wishing you on-time arrivals, no traffic jams, and the kid that sleeps the whole time. But if they aren’t sleeping, at least you’ve got a back up plan.