Keeping your infant entertained on your next vacation
I won’t deny that one-year-olds can be one of the most difficult ages to travel with (ok, for parents!) especially, flying! Still so tiny but wriggly and active and unsure what is happening around them; not quite a toddler but beyond a baby.
How on earth do you entertain your one-year-old while you’re travelling?
There are plenty of great one-year-old toys, but for this age group they are often large, clunky, interactive (ie noisy!) and not particularly luggage friendly! You really do need to consider a separate set of portable plane and travel toys for your one-year-old.
Other than our baby travel essentials, here we’re going to talk you through 20 great ideas in what you should specifically be packing to entertain a 1-year-old while travelling – our big focus is on being road trip and flying friendly.
This post is part of our tried and tested travel gear series – don’t forget to also check out our baby travel advice home page
If your child is slightly older, don’t miss our post best travel toy ideas for a 2-year-old.
Travel toys for a 1-year-olds
The most difficult thing about this age group is their propensity to want to either a) insert everything they find into their mouth or b) throw it on the floor! So finding items that are either made for chewing is great, but also easy to clean, and not too small so you can find it if it falls into a small confined space! Here’s our selection of the best travel toys that have stood the test of time with our 1-year-olds.
Travel Toys for a 1-year-old: Buckle Buster
Buckle Toys Buster is ideal for travel as he folds up quite small and is great for those fine motor skills and problem-solving. There are 6 different clasps and buckles allowing for several different activities. Buster also has many colourful pals these days, some bulkier than others!
Travel Toys for a 1-year-old: Finger Puppets
An interactive fun way to play along with kids is finger puppets. They definitely fit well into the portable category much smaller than most soft toys, but not too tinee tiny you will lose them under a plane seat! There’s plenty of imaginative games you can make up -and worst case if they simply end up in your tot’s mouth it’s not the end of the world!
Travel Toys for a 1-year-old: Take-Along Shape Sorter
Take-Along Shape Sorter by Melissa & Doug is a great travel choice of a classic baby toy favourite. The soft case holds 9 colourful, plastic shapes and offers 2 activities (sorting and identifying pictures). Its easy-grip handle is great if your tot wants to independently hold the toy but it also has parental approval for squishing down conveniently into your hand luggage.
Travel Toys for a 1-year-old: Classic Baby Beads
Manhattan Toys Classic Baby Beads are a baby essential from this maker of unique educational toys (do check out the full Manhattan toys range – we ended up with a toy box full of their stuff we loved them so much!) The beads are solid wood but portable and the rattle is fun but not an overpowering noise it won’t annoy your neighbours on a plane. It’s great to see them through the teething stage, and also perfect for those fine motor skills.
Travel Toys for a 1-year-old: Cute Character Snack Cup
We all know just how important it is to keep little bellies satisfied, whether it’s at home or on the move. And we all know how quickly kids knock these things over? Cue the latest generation of infant snack cups from Skip Hop that are not only designed with an (almost) spill-proof lid, they come in some cute and fun designs too that will only add to the enjoyment factor of snack time – hence we’re including in here amongst our favourite travel toys for 1-year-olds as they have definitely been a saviour in the past for quick and easy toddler entertainment – 2 birds and all that..
Travel Toys for a 1-year-old: Lamaze Plush Puzzle Toy
Have we mentioned before how much we love Lamaze products? Their plush mix and match puzzle toy caterpillar is an absolute beauty. With all the sensory pieces that we love above Lamaze, plus the parts of the caterpillar can be pulled apart and rebuilt. We normally don’t advocate any travel toy that comes in multiple parts but these bits are quite chunky so shouldn’t be easily lost between seats.
Travel Toys for a 1-year-old: Car Keys
A reluctant inclusion as I truly hate any baby travel toy that makes an irritating sound – if it’s annoying me it’s got to be annoying others around me too – but car keys really are one of those wonderful reality toys that infants simply can’t get enough of. No losing your own keys mid-journey, these B.Toys Funky Toy Keys are super easy to fit into any travel bag and a sure-fire quick win for teething tots – even if just a little noisy they are the closest to ‘the real thing’!
Travel Toys for a 1-year-old: Sensory Fidget Toys
These simple plastic contraptions have taken the world by storm! Even since my bubs have grown into tweens they STILL love these sensory toys. The small satisfying pops and textures are non-disruptive to other passengers. Bouns if you can find anything with a suction cup too for on the go – they can easily be placed on windows, tray tables, even bathing on the go to give your 1-year-old something small and fun to play with.
Travel Toys for a 1-year-old: Learn to Dress Monkey
Learn to dress monkey is a wonderfully loveable teddy that comes with 11 different activities for small hands from ties to zips and buttons, a guaranteed entertainer, and he’s pretty loveable and cuddly too. Also comes in Learn to Dress Kitty.
Travel Toys for a 1-year-old: Felt Quiet Books
Felt Quiet Books are a fabulous baby entertainer. Children can independently explore with a variety of different scenes to choose from. All the parts attach to the book so no missing spare parts, and no problem if it ends up in their mouth as it’s machine washable.
Travel Toys for a 1-year-old: Stacking Cups
Such a simple but vital travel toy! We never went anywhere without our stacking cups. Because they so stack away so small they’re an easy grab and go item, and most importantly we have been able to double these up as a bath toy and a baby beach toy on the go too!
Travel Toys for a 1-year-old: Tissue Pouch Toy
Hands up whose infant LOVVVVVVES pulling tissues out of the box? OK, any infant worth their grit in cookie crumbs will work out this is a fake next to the real thing, but the My Tissue Pouch Travel Toy is as close as it can get to the real thing for this super fun baby activity! With 11 brightly coloured, machine washable and totally reusable ’tissues’, plus a fun character packet to play with, this will surely gain you 5 minutes peace road tripping with your 1-year-old, right?!
Travel Toys for a 1-year-old: Board Books
We will always throw in at least one set of board books. They’re a good interactive activity with your baby whilst being small enough to slip a different one in your carry bag each time and pretty robust against little fingers and searching teeth!
Travel Toys for a 1-year-old: Soft Activity Book
Another great book option is a soft activity book. The MAMMA Kiddie soft activity book is a great option as it comes with lots of added extras including sensory touches that are chewable and bead counters. It’s still super light so an easy carry on bag inclusion.
Travel Toys for a 1-year-old: Chunky Crayons
As your baby transitions to the toddler years, colouring games are great but finding the right sort of product is tough. We love the chunky crayons by Honeysticks – completely infant safe made from Beeswax and easy to grip in those sweet chubby little hands.
Is your infant ready for a car seat travel tray? As infants progress to toddlers they may benefit from having a good surface to eat and play on on long car journeys especially – see all our favourite car seat trays here!
Travel Toys for a 1-year-old: Magnetic Drawing Board
Another super portable toy that’s not too chunky for travel is a magnetic drawing board, best from 18 months+. Always best not to go too cheap in design for these products – and not too many ‘extras’ that can go missing. We like the design of Fly2Sky Magnetic drawing board as its has a sealed back to prevent scratching, and it’s small enough to still slip into a carry on.
Travel Toys for a 1-year-old: Fubbles Bubbles!
This one is not for you to hand to your one-year-old unsupervised, but more an emergency piece of kit that every travel parent should have handy! Be it making a road side stop and getting your little one to stretch their legs, or when you’re waiting for rides at an amusement park, a quick bubble blow is an INSTANT crowd pleaser! – be warned though, other kids will always want to join in!!! We like Little Kids Fubbles No Spill Bubbles, much less mess than larger novelty wands if it’s for travel. (NB, obviously this includes liquid so not a good one for the plane!)
Travel Toys for a 1-year-old: Sand Toy Kit
This was another reluctant inclusion as we know it can be a little bulky for travel – we’re hardly suggesting this will work for the plane – but no beach vacation with the kids is complete without your very own sandcastle! From activity moulds to a watering can, you’ll want some sort of beach activity kit if you’ll br travelling anywhere with sand.
Travel Toys for a 1-year-old: Toy safety straps
Last but not least, we’d be remiss at this point not to introduce you to the sheer genius of Nuanchu toy safety straps. No more dropped pacifiers on the plane floor or sippy cups that have fallen in the seat well at your child’s feet. Anything that you can strap on – do! These work great for all types of toys with a loop that can be locked in.
And what toys should I leave at home?
These are items that we have either had bad experiences with or for the sake of safety or commonsense we do not recommend using as a travel toy for this age group:
Playdoh – there I said it. I’m going to have some haters shouting NOOOOOO!! But sorry, this one is on my banned travel toy list!! Some love it, but it’s icky, messy and ends up everywhere but where you want it (mashed under fingernails, smushed into the airplane seat), you get the picture. At your peril.
Reusable Stickers – these are still really a bit too small and chewable for the one-year-old age group and they may not yet have the fine motor skills for peeling leading to frustration. The felt books are the best alternative for this age.
Musical instruments – no matter how much they love these at home, loud, noise-making toys on a plane or transport with others is a big no-no.
Tablets/iPads – I won’t deny that I’ve let my kids use our devices from a pretty young age. But not all the time, and certainly not on the plane. The main reason being the best younger kids apps tend to be noisy, and a one-year-old is not for keeping headphones on. Save the tablet for at least 2+.
Jigsaws – again, these may be favourites at home but too many an item has been lost down the side of a seat over the years to recommend this as a good travel toy.
Novelty Suitcases – sorry folks, 1 is waaaay too young for these. When they reach at least 2 you can start introducing their own cute independent toddler backpacks with a harness, but I would wait until at least 3 or 4 before trying ride on or wheeled luggage for kids.
Leave us a comment below if there are any other one-year-old travelling favourites you think we should add to our list! (or something that should definitely be left off!!)
More tips for baby travel
Are you new to travelling with a baby, or would like some more pointers and advice to make your first trip run smoothly? We recommend you also pop over to these pages:
- Our very best baby travel advice
- Safety, essential gear and tips & hacks you will want to know road tripping with a baby
- 10 baby travel essentials for every journey
- How to tackle your very first baby flight
- Are you ready for a camping trip with a baby?
- How to fly with a baby once they no longer fit the baby bassinet
- Do I really need a travelling high chair?
- Best pop-up sunshades for babies and toddlers at the beach
- Best lightweight strollers for travel (that can even fit on the plane)
- The best infant sleep solutions on the go
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Don’t miss our latest travel toy guides:
- Travel toys perfect for your 2-year-old
- Terrific travel toys for a 3-year-old
- Engaging toys for toddlers on road trips
- Fabulous Toys for 4-year-olds
- Fantastic Toys for 5-year-olds
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