How I Kept My 1-Year Old Happy During a Cross-Country Flight

When my baby neared the one year mark, she was determinedly mobile. In music class, she was the baby crawling out of mommy’s lap to the center of the circle. Her naptime and bedtime routine included exploring every corner of her crib until she got drowsy. And it became increasingly challenging to change her diaper and dress her, as she fought to roll and crawl away as soon as she lost interest in the items within reach.

So I was understandably nervous about a 6 hour flight we had to Boston for my brother’s wedding. I knew I couldn’t count on her sleeping through most of it, as she had done during her newborn days. And I imagined her constantly squirming and squealing to get out of my and my husband’s laps to crawl around.

So I  googled “how to entertain baby on a the plane” and also asked mommy groups I belonged to. Some recommended buying new (but light) toys for the plane. Others said to ask the flight attendants for cups, plastic silverware etc. One mom said that regardless of what we decided to bring, to “wrap” it as that creates another activity. I decided to rummage the house for “found treasures” to wrap. These items all fit into a ziplock bag for my carry-on:


So what did I end up wrapping?

  • A new “lift the flap” book from the library that I had not yet shown my daughter. This one featured flowers (her favorite) that transformed into animals once the flap was lifted. She loved it.
  • A small rubber ducky. One of her favorite bath toys that I knew she would be excited to see on the plane. She was. It was also of course helpful to have the ducky for her baths in Boston.
  • A small tin spice container with a string of paper clips & a few pads of mini Post-It strips inside. While wrapped, it was a fun rattle. Once opened, she had fun playing with the paper clips and also reaching for the post-its we stuck around her.
  • Some sheets of old stickers featuring farm animals that I found in my crafts box. She loved sticking and removing the horse stickers everywhere.
  • A home-made “puzzle” of a flower I created using items from my crafts box. Entertained her for a few minutes.
  • An old slap bracelet.

Nothing terribly exciting in that bag – but it was a lifesaver! She only slept 45 minutes during the almost 6 hour flight, but because we had that bag of random wrapped surprises to fall back on as soon as she started getting fidgety and restless, she only had one breakdown (when my husband tried to change her diaper in the bathroom).

What tricks do you have for keeping your baby entertained on the plane?


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