I suppose I could also say media-free, or something, but I'm looking for ideas to help amuse my 2 and a half year old toddler during a 3 hour flight, and the corresponding return flight, not to mention all the travel adventures in between. This is the first time we will fly since she turned 2, so new rules will apply since she will be required to have her own seat (and sit in it).
Relatives and friends are suggesting that I bring her carseat and a DVD player! Ha! Except, my daughter isn't a big fan of her carseat (she is used to being worn or having her freedom, and we keep car rides to a minimum). And we don't expose her to any TV, videos, etc., and I don't want to bend that personal rule for the sake of the flight.
I'm thinking of bringing lots of new books, small games, coloring, stickers, etc., and generally making the most of the newness of a different situation. Anyone have any great suggestions that don't involve videos?
You've got some great ideas! DH and I had a similar issue with keeping our several little guests busy at our wedding. We made up these "kid kits" that had some little books, crayons, empty notebooks for colouring, a couple little toys, snacks, and finger puppets (these were the favourite by far). The kids and the parents loved them. We got most of our supplies at Stubby Pencil Studio, but checking websites/stores you like for a sale or "under $10" section would be a great place to look.
I also checked on Etsy just now and saw a lot of travel play mats with some little cars, dolls, or animals to go with them, and crayon rolls. There was also an i-spy game for toddlers that was a fabric sack filled with rice or beans with a bunch of little toys hidden inside, and a "window" in front. The idea is that the child pushes the rice/beans around to see what's inside. I thought that was kind of neat and you could probably make it yourself.
Whatever you do, just make sure you have lots of snacks and colouring paper :)
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I would also bring some snacks to help with ear pressure. Also once that plane is in the air she can move around a bit or sit in your lap until the plane starts to land unless things have changed. You have some great ideas to keep her entertained. I would also try to seat her by a window so she can look around.
The last time I was on a plane I was worried about my almost two y/o and she slept through the whole flight. So if you want to make it really easy you could try to get a flight time where she would be tired
I look forward to seeing other ideas as well because I doubt this will last long! Everyone tells me to download iPad apps or watch DVDs, but I don't want to go that route either.
Oh Can I post our driving tip. DH works nights so we always leave at about 9 pm and drive while the kids are a sleep. When we get there DH sleeps and the kids and I go swimming or exploring. Geesh I guess traveling when the kids sleep is my all around answer to make it painless.
Other then that and what everyone else said I will add simple puzzles.
We flew with our daughter around that age, and here are things that worked for her: sticker activities, pages for drawing and a new set of markers, Jacob's ladder, finger puppets, new read-aloud books (especially interactive, lift-the-flap varieties), clay or playdough, some small Playmobil sets, small shape magnets and magnetic board for making pictures, chalk and small chalkboard, magnadoodle ... it's been a while but that's the best I can remember. I hope your trip goes well. I can't imagine needing a DVD player--there's so many exciting things going on that we never had an issue with a 3-hour flight.
I am a big fan of CARES for this age. Allows them to use their tray table. Untraditional options we've loved play clay (no really, very easy), coloring with some new something, stickers, duplo blocks, finger puppets, books, etc. Media-free has never been an issue for us.
Really, just giving undivided attention with a nap on my lap does the trip.
And snacks, many snacks.
you have loads of ideas of your own and from others - my biggest tip is don't overdo the carry on luggage - it's only a 3 hour flight, you don't have much space, there's usually the take off, landing and meals served (and extra snacks) that take up a lot of that time, plus there are the other people on board whom your toddler is likely to charm - and then walks up and down the aisle, trips to toilet - a couple of well-chosen light storybooks and some drawing- after all that there's not much time for anything else!
another tip: take cotton wool for the ears too in case of discomfort with take off and landing. Getting children to have a snack or something they really like to drink at that time is also good.
sometimes the worst bits are the airport and waiting around - these can also be good times for snacks and perhaps a little story.