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In about 2 months we will be going on a trip which involves a 5 hour flight. Our 2-year-old is typically very active and I'm really worried that he will have a hard time on the flight.

What are some good techniques for making sure he stays happy?

  • Have you read parenting.stackexchange.com/q/1653/316 – Rory Alsop Dec 17 '15 at 9:05
  • iPad or other media device with shows. Our 2 year old prefers Umi Zoomi. While we have all the episodes streaming through Amazon Prime, we went ahead and brought a season and downloaded them (be sure to start all of them, so the licence gets loaded on the device!!). There are also some great apps, doodle buddy, apps from duck duck moose, LEGO Duplo apps (ice cream duplo). – Ida Dec 17 '15 at 22:40
  • bag of popcorn can last a while. – Adam Heeg Dec 18 '15 at 22:01
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I've actually had to deal with virtually this exact situation a few times over the past year or so. We're in California, my family is in DC (5 hour flight). My son is almost 3, my daughter is 1.

As with all things in dealing with small children, it's really a game of distractions. So the best way to prepare is to be well equipped with a full arsenal of distractions.

  • Old (familiar) toys
  • New toys (keep them hidden)
  • Snacks
  • Stuffed animals (only one or two)

One of the greatest tips that was given to us is new toys... These will generally be your secret weapon. When you anticipate your child growing bored, break out a new toy for him to play with. I'm going to assume that you are familiar with your son's tastes, so with any luck he'll be entranced with his new toy for 30-60 minutes (or more, if you're lucky). Try to avoid giving him a toy during a tantrum, or you could be inadvertently rewarding bad behavior.


Here's some toys that were great for my son...

Toy taxi

Toy taxi. Although, really any vehicle will do. On another trip, we gave him a toy mail truck... he still plays with it at home!

Magnetic Tin

Magnetic Tin. It's a metal tin, about the size of a book, and opens up to reveal a landscape background image. It comes with a bunch of magnetic vehicles, people, props, etc. There are tons of them out there, with different themes (farm, city, dinosaurs, etc)... This one was a huge hit with our son!

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Water Wow! "paint" book. This thing is brilliant. There is no actual paint, you just fill the brush with water. Every picture is a thin white surface overlaying a full-color picture... When the kid gets the page wet, the white becomes transparent, giving the feeling of "painting". We've got plenty of Melissa & Doug toys, but this is probably my favorite (um, I mean my son's favorite).


Most importantly, make sure to keep these new toys hidden until the moment is right! And only leak them out one at a time... You'll want to milk each of these distractions for as long as possible.

Good luck, and enjoy your trip!

  • I completely agree with this answer! – Demis Dec 17 '15 at 19:13
  • One thing we did was to also get our son (2-4yrs) his own case so he could lug his own toys around. He was actually pretty excited to bring his own stuff. A wise friend once pointed out that it's way less effort to just play with your kid the whole flight, rather than trying to get them to be quiet and behave the whole time. Going for walks up and down the aisle is also great - walking down and getting a cup with ice & straws provides hours of entertainment! – Demis Dec 17 '15 at 19:15
  • I like this sooooo much better than iPad or TV...but it requires creativity, and constantly being present. Of course that's not so bad. – dgo Dec 19 '15 at 2:47

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