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! They are still so tiny but wriggly and active and unsure of what is happening around them; they are 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 (i.e. noisy!) and not particularly luggage friendly! You really do need to consider a separate set of portable plane and travel toys for 1-year-olds.
Other than our baby travel essentials, here we’re going to talk you through over 20 great ideas on what you should be packing to entertain a 1-year-old while travelling – our big focus is on being road trip and flying friendly toys.
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
- The Best Travel Toys for a 1-year-olds
- What 1-year-old Toys Should I Leave At home?
- More tips for baby travel
If your child is slightly older, don’t miss our post best travel toy ideas for a 2-year-old.
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The Best 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!
Therefore, finding travel toys for 1-year-olds that are made for chewing is great, but also look for items that are easy to clean and not too small so you can find them if they fall 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 six different clasps and buckles, allowing for several different activities. Buster also has many colourful pals these days, some bulkier than others, but all offer great opportunities for your tot to work on their hand-eye coordination while keeping them occupied on the move.
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 that you will lose them under a plane seat!
These are the best toys for 1 year olds in any situation as there are 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: 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 young toddlers 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 include 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 – two birds and all that.
Travel Toys for a 1-year-old: Lamaze Activity Spiral
Have we mentioned before how much we love Lamaze products? Their activity spiral is an absolute beauty and the perfect travel toy for a 1-year-old.
With all the sensory pieces that we love above Lamaze, it is easily attached to your tot’s infant seat, ideal for long road trips.
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, perfect for long car rides.
No losing your own keys mid-journey, these B.Toys Funky Toy Keys are super easy to fit into any diaper 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
The small but satisfying pops and different textures are a great way to keep fingers busy in a way that’s non-disruptive to other passengers.
Bonus if you can find a fidget toy with a suction cup, too, for on-the-go; they can easily be placed on windows, an airplane tray table, and even bathing; a sensory toy is perfect for a 1 year old when travelling.
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 perfect for long flights, he’s pretty loveable and cuddly too.
Travel Toys for a 1-year-old: Felt Quiet Books
Felt Quiet Books are a fabulous baby entertainer and make the perfect travel toy for 1-year-olds in any situation.
Young children can independently explore with a variety of different scenes to choose from. All the parts attach to the quiet 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 – in fact, I’d argue these were our favourite travel toys!
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 portable bath toy and a baby beach toy on the go, too – these should be in every family travel bag!
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 of peace on long road trips with your 1-year-old, right?!
Travel Toys for a 1-year-old: Board Books
Travel Toys for a 1-year-old: Soft Activity Book
Another great book option for a one-year-old is a soft activity book.
The MAMMA Kiddie soft activity book is a great travel toy for a 12-month-old 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 for your one-year-old.
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, an ideal travel tour for 18 month old.
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 it 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 travelling parent should have handy!
Be it making a roadside 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, which are much less messy than larger novelty wands if it’s for travel. (NB, obviously this includes liquid, so not a good one for the plane – but it’s one of our favorite camping toys for toddlers)
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 be travelling anywhere with sand; these are the best travel toys for 1-year-olds on a beach vacation.
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 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 into any of your 1-year-old travel toys.
What 1-year-old 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 one year olds:
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 is the best younger kids’ apps tend to be noisy, and a one-year-old is not for keeping headphones on. Save the screen time and toddler apps for at least 2+.
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. 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.
Jigsaws – again, these may be favorite toys 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.
Shape sorter – for much the same reason as jigsaws. We love the hand-eye coordination aspect and won’t deny that they’re great toys for 1-year-olds, but with small pieces that can easily get lost, they don’t make our best travel toys list.
Novelty Suitcases – sorry folks, one 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!!)
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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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