Does anyone have suggestions on how to keep a toddler & preschooler entertained on a 4 hour flight?

Courtney - posted on 11/03/2009 ( 29 moms have responded )

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We will be taking a flight for Thanksgiving week. We will be traveling with our 4 year old and 20 month old. Does anyone have suggestions on how to keep them calm and entertained during a 4 hour flight?

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Ashley - posted on 11/03/2009

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We travel alot so I made little bags for each of my children and I keep them packed with little books, coloring books, a few small quiet toys and snacks lots of them. then if you happen to have a laptop or personal dvd player you can also bring their fav. movies.

Gloria - posted on 11/03/2009

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I work with preschoolers and 4 hours is a long time for them, pack snacks, books, a special toy/ blanket. When all else fails good old fashioned singing songs never fails. Good luck and be safe.

Kristi - posted on 11/03/2009

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Of course portable DVD players or gameboy advanced movies do wonders but besides that- my kids were always entertained by coloring books, lots of snacks, new toys (recently bought and opened on the flight) and small stuffed animals or figures.

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Shelly - posted on 11/05/2009

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Quoting Courtney:

Does anyone have suggestions on how to keep a toddler & preschooler entertained on a 4 hour flight?

We will be taking a flight for Thanksgiving week. We will be traveling with our 4 year old and 20 month old. Does anyone have suggestions on how to keep them calm and entertained during a 4 hour flight?



crayons, paper & toys. things that can fit into a backpack.

Carly - posted on 11/05/2009

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I bought a portable DVD player. Play there favorite movies.We went on a 5 hour car ride and that kept my toddler entertained for a while.

Connie - posted on 11/04/2009

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We swear by the LeapFrog Leapster game systems. My 4 & 6 year olds love them - we've had ours for 2 years and it is one of the toys they keep going back to. The game cartridges are educational and based on favorite characters. We also use these for car trips and restaurant waits (with earphones - found great ones "Kidz Gear" on Amazon.

Also, highly recommend having lollipops for them to suck on during take off and landing - will help with ears popping. (The younger one could also use a bottle, if you still use them.) We use dumdums because they are small.

We have also used the bag of small gifts to surprise them throughout the trip - try the mini color wonder booklets, small paperback books, $ store toys, coloring books, etc. If trying the leapster, you could include cartridges as some of their surprises. For the 4-yr old, try a book of mazes - my son worked on his for 1/2 the flight we took in Oct!

Definitely pack a jacket or blanket to wrap up in, and any lovey and/or pillow to snuggle with. Some favorite snacks are worthwhile too, depending on what airline you fly. Good luck!

Claire - posted on 11/04/2009

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we flew on a 4 hour flight with our eldest for his 1st birthday he was as quiet as a mouse as he had his dummy for taking off and landing he had toys but he decided to just watch the flight attendants instead if flying with a partner ask for isle seats as one adult can have the kids while the other has there food and vice versa good luck hope this helps

Anneke - posted on 11/04/2009

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We had an almost 4 hr flight when my youngest was 7 mos and my oldest was 3. 3 yr old had to sit in his carseat, but it put him the perfect height for the little table. A bag of snacks, toys, books and colouring books came in handy. The company we flew with had free TV service, but you had to buy the headset for 1.00. We flew at like 7 am, so my baby slept most of the way, but my 3 yr old was quite content with the colouring and TV. People didn't even realize we had a baby on board, until we got off the plane and they saw us!! The loudest my 3 yr old got was when the plane landed and was taxi-ing he yelled "Ok you can open the door now!!" People around us giggled. The flight attendants were amazing at making sure we had everything we needed.

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Must have a dvd player, your four year old may like an MP3 player with their own music on so they can listen while they color, and the baby can watch a movie. lots of snacks, and you may want to hit the dollar store for some new toys you can bust out if things get rough. Also, if all else fails, walk them up and down the plane isle. The other people on the plane provided the most entertainment for my 18 month old-go figure :)

Kristy - posted on 11/04/2009

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If you have one of those learning lap tops they work awesome on any long trip. Try a memory game thats fun for them too.

Mandi - posted on 11/04/2009

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bring coloring books and lots of snacks i know how it feels try keeping a one year old entertained on a flight back an forth from california to ohio at least three times a year lol

Maegan - posted on 11/04/2009

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You could go to the dollar store and buy cheap little "prizes". Set a time frame that is needed and every 15, 20, 30 min, they get to open a special prize. This can be a new thing for them to play with and we all know that new things seem to held their attention longer then the same old old things or it could be a snack to eat. they must be on their best behavior to open a special treat!: ) this might help keep them focused and guessing that will be next. Good luck!!

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Definitely do the new toy trick. We are planning on flying next summer and our little one will be about 1 year, and from what everyone has said to me - FOOD, DRINKS, NEW TOYS, + favorite sleep toy. My girlfriend also took a few small gift cards to the local coffee show to give to the closer "neighbours" incase things got really testy.

Good luck.

Jessica - posted on 11/04/2009

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get the 4 year old a nintendo ds and the 20 month old teething tablets...they are all natural made from chammomile dont forget the baby bottles and blankies!

Tina - posted on 11/04/2009

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I have traveled with my 2yr. old and 6mth. this summer. The first thing i would say is make sure you feed them before you get on the plane..It's tough w/ the space. My daughter likes to color so we took bunch of color books w/ markers, puzzles, and a DVD player w/ dora, & elmo dvd's that worked..and eventually after 2hrs. everyone was sleeping b/c they were fed, and entertained.
Hope this helps.

Leslie - posted on 11/04/2009

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Recently my husband and his family went to Hawaii it was a five hour flight. I have a nine year old and a three year old, and I had the same concerns about keeping the little one busy. I found that bringing a carry on bag solely for the purpose of preoccupying did the job. I made sure to bring a charged portable DVD player, lots of movies which I took out of the bulky case and put into a CD organizer. Snacks, coloring books, reading books, favorite stuffed animal and special blankly. Through it all I found the DVD player and snacks worked the best!



Best of Luck

Leslie Smith

Alison - posted on 11/04/2009

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Go to the dollar store and buy 8 new toys for each child. Pull out one toy for each of them every hour. (I heard this recommendation, but never tried it).



Do walk around with the kids when you get a chance, and do take advantage of friendly strangers who may be able to occupy your little one for awhile and give you a break! I have a colleague who likes to look after little ones on his business trips.

Adrienne - posted on 11/04/2009

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Oh and check with the airlines about the carseat for the 4 year old. I thought they required carseats for non-lap children. (I'm not sure but wouldn't hurt to double check.)

Adrienne - posted on 11/04/2009

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It's all about variety! We took our almost 2 year old on a plane to London this past summer (a 10 non-stop flight and 13+ hours for our lay-over flight home). We brought a few of her favorite books and quiet activities and bought some new "presents" for her to use for the first time on the plane. I went with new books that were similar to those that she was really into, and other fun activities (new stickers, small puzzles, coloring books). For older kids like your 4 year old, I second the portable DVD player idea. My daughter even liked to look at the inflight magazines just because they were new.

Jeanne - posted on 11/04/2009

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Depending on your childs interest a portable DVD player can help along with books, coloring books and crayons. Make sure you bring your children's favorite "comfort item" whether it is a stuffy, doll or blanket so they don't feel so out of place. I also recommend to pack snacks with you because airlines don't always have something that your 20 month old likes or wants to eat. If you are flying during their nap time that is a bonus because sometimes all that is required is a little cuddling and they will nod off. Whatever happens you have to remain relaxed before you leave....because if the children feel you are stressed or anxious they will pick up on it and it will affect their behaviour during the flight. Remember you will not be the only person flying with young children during the holiday season so just take a deep breath and dive in. I recently took a full six hour flight where eight young children (2 newborns were included) and we didn't hear a peep from them. And people who have had children usually understand if the kids are a little agitated and make some noise during a flight. If your children are used to travelling by car for extended periods then they will do fine on a plane. Enjoy!!!!!

Maria - posted on 11/04/2009

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Try those invisible ink pages or color wonder is always fun, the glitter pak is fun too.

Whitney - posted on 11/04/2009

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I always bought a new toy they have never seen before, that helped. OH! don't forget to carry a blanket on the plane. The youngest might get cold. Plus, food is always good. My twins have been flying since they were 8 months and food can work wonders.

Courtney - posted on 11/04/2009

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Thank you everyone for your thoughts!! It has truly been helpful to read all of this. We won't be taking either of their carseats because we have some at our destination and with 4 of us, it would be rather hard. But, I'll definately be stocking up on snacks and getting them each a couple of new toys. Unfortunately when we fly there it's at 8am, but when we fly back it's 10pm. I'm actually more concerned with our 20 month old because he constantly wants to be on the go. He did great last year when we went. But, he's also a small 20 month old and may still be able to fit in his Baby Bjourn, so we may try to use that again. Thank you again for all of your insight. It has really been helpful.

Krista - posted on 11/03/2009

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Oh, and I suggest NOT taking the car seat on the plane, especially if there is one parent per kid. My daughter (10 months old at time of last travel) was comfortable in the seat when she slept but when she wasn't sleeping she was not comfortable in the seat so I had to juggle and squish things around when I really could have used the space!

Krista - posted on 11/03/2009

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Fly in the middle of the night!!! I flew by myself with my 10 month old daughter and 3 year old son, getting going was the roughest, but you're still fresh getting started into your trip. As soon as they get a good handle on where they are and calm down a bit, they'll sleep! For the calming down that takes a while, let them look around!!! Even my 10 month old wanted up on the back of the seat to check everyone out and was a LOT less squirmy once she had a peep around for a couple of minutes.

For the older one, I just picked up an aqua-doodle, from target, that you put water in the pen and can write on the inside of a little folder, when it dries, it goes away. Perfect no mess with lots of entertainment potential. I also take some other generally quiet toys. I take the IPOD with movies on it but avoid at all costs since after watching TV my son gets super energized and whiny, def want to avoid that on a plane.

Also, make sure you have plenty of snacks and drinks, i know it just makes sense but on our last flight I was talking to the flight attendant who applauded me for bringing all of my own stuff including food, water and juice etc. She said that i would be amazed at how many parents don't think to bring that stuff... Check the TSA guidelines, but you should be able to take food/drinks for your little people, I called beforehand just to make sure.

HAVE FUN!!! Try not to get too stressed out or they will too!

Crystal - posted on 11/03/2009

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I second (or third) the dvd player. Instead of crayons we do the color wonders - no mess no fuss. SNACKS! I packed him his own small backpack and allowed him to pick out some favorite books we could read. A good window seat is a good suggestion and lastly we packed his leapster. I know this might be a pain but with your 20 month old i definally suggest TAKING the car seat aboard the plan. theres a good chance he might just fall asleep and then you dont have to entertain at all.

Debbie - posted on 11/03/2009

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Sit in the back of the airplane...it is a little bit more noisey but it will also distract the toddler...also get a seat with a good window view...over the wings you can't see anything... bring snacks and pick up water at the airport...you can get the little packets of mix to put in the water if you want flavored. Crayons and color book are good... small cars and what really worked for me was a video player with my childs favorite dvd... it is work the investment...make sure you bring battery backup. I would also suggetst a flight that would encompass their nap time ... if you can get them to sleep on the flight all the better for you and for them. My little one loved to listen to the ipod with kids songs on it also.

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