10 Ways to Entertain Your Child In-Flight Without any Toys

I knew travel would never look the same after having a baby, namely because they need so much stuff and it’s hard to pack light when you have another human fully dependent on you for everything. But with a little creativity and resourcefulness, I learned I didn’t need to bring many extra toys along because the airline has plenty of distracting options for babies and toddlers. Take a look!

1. Disinfecting wipes

These practically became an industry standard during 2020. The wipes are individually wrapped and handed out during boarding on most airlines. The wrapper makes a very satisfying crinkle sound for babies, and a great pretend sponge for toddlers and preschoolers.

2. Window shade

Nothing is more entertaining than opening and closing the window to the world. This is also a great way to teach them the etiquette of quietly opening and closing the shade.

3. Seatbelts

Don’t be afraid to let your child explore all the components of seatbelts, like pulling the strap to tighten, practicing buckling and unbuckling, pulling the flap just to hear the “click” are wildly entertaining. I also use the lighted seatbelt sign above the seat to teach my son when he can and can’t have his buckle on.

4. Empty snack wrappers

For airlines that include a complimentary snack, ask the flight attendant for an extra pack for your child, even if they aren’t eating solids yet. The sound of the wrapper is great, and so is the texture of the food inside. If you do remove the food for your infant to explore, make sure to supervise for safe handling.

5. Facemasks

TSA just extended mask mandates through April 18, 2022, so airlines will keep extras on board until further notice. The elastic string is fun to pull, and it can also double as a toy or pacifier chain if you forgot yours!

6. Plastic cups

I ask for an empty cup or two during beverage service, and boy does my son love it. He can crinkle it, put toys inside it, stack the cups, or pretend it’s a telephone.

7. Napkins

Get ready for the greatest game of peekaboo you’ve ever played! We still use napkins to play peekaboo at three years old. You could also wrap and unwrap toys or snacks with your napkins.

8. Safety card

These are laminated so I never worry about the paper getting ripped or torn by curious little hands. We like to play “I Spy” with the infographics or practice letter and number recognition.

9. Sick bags

Hear me out on this one! Your child can put things inside and take them back out, the paper itself makes a fun sound, and the paper can double as doodle space for your stickers and crayons. You could even play “grocery store” and pretend to buy your in-flight snacks.

10. Magazines or airline advertisements

Not only beautiful pictures to look at, but you can practice letter, number, and color recognition, use the route maps to start em early on a geography lesson, and of course, just flipping the pages is fun too.

Did I miss anything?? Let me know in the comments! How do you keep your children entertained in-flight? Don’t forget to check out my companion blog post that contains our Top 10 favorite toys for travel.

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