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Plane travel with young children can seem daunting – how to entertain them, keep them quiet, help them sleep, eat, be happy, while confined to a small seat, miles in the air?
In our experience, distraction and comfort (and a well-timed snack!) are key, and we have selected some products that can help you entertain and soothe on flights short and long.
1. Teebee toy box, £27.48
These cute little boxes provide toy storage and a lap tray all in one. With a really fun design, the Teebee is sturdy and folds out to reveal a sorting tray, a Lego surface and a main compartment. Made from food-safe plastic with a leather carry handle, it is sturdy and compact, but lets your kid pack a deceptively large amount of knick knacks. Fill the Teebee with Lego bricks, play dough, LOL dolls or a mix thereof, and it will offer lots of entertainment time. One of our offspring just likes filling and unpacking his box again and again – job done!
Available from: Amazon and Teebeebox.com
2. My Busy Bots Busy Bags, from £8
If you don’t have time to make your own selection of travel-friendly activities, try a pre-selected activity pack. However, not all of them are created equal – some only offer a mix of plasticky and branded tat. We love the Busy Bots Busy Bags: founders Candice and Leanne are a designer and teacher respectively and have thoughtfully created each activity.
The ‘busy bags’ are available for different age groups, from 18 months to 8 years, packed in neat little pouches. All are unisex, well designed, offering engaging games and puzzles to keep your kids busy – mix and match and earn yourself a little rest in-flight!
Available from: My Busy Bots and Learning Bugs
3. Tegu Tints 8 Piece Pocket Pouch, £19.94
Tegu is a sustainable brand of magnetic wooden building blocks to fire your little one’s imagination. It’s really easy to build with these, as they click together satisfyingly, but allow for endless iterations and constructions. Suitable from 12 months, Tegu blocks are super practical for the plane as the magnets mean there is less chance of everything falling apart. Best of all, the brand has a number of “On The Go” sets that come in little felt pouches to sling in your travel bag.
Available from: Amazon, BabiPur and Kidly
4. Amazon Fire HD Kids Edition Tablet, £129.99
Any tablet is a great tool to keep kids occupied. The Kindle Fire, however, is extra special – a deserving gold award-winner of our MadeForMums Awards Family Travel Product over £50 category this year.
The Kids Edition comes with a 1-year subscription to Fire for Kids, which has a huge amount of videos, audio books and games to explore. There are parental control settings to give you peace of mind, and storage of 32GB – plenty of room for a super-long-haul flight’s worth of entertainment.
Available through deals at under £100, it’s a fraction of the price of an iPad, and as our MFM Awards judge Anthony says: “It’s all set up for hours of fun.”
Available from: Amazon, Argos and Currys
5. Snuggly Rascals, £14.99
Some kids-friendly headphones are crucial if you’re planning on using audiobooks, music or video. The Snuggly Rascals are ingenious – a pair of headphones tucked into a comfy and fun headband. The different animal designs will appeal to any kid, and you can adjust the fit with Velcro. They also have a volume limiter and are fine to wear with glasses. They are also much easier to pack than rigid headphones – and are machine washable.
This fantastic product won our Silver Award for most innovative product in 2018, with judge The Honest Dad blogger Adam Riches praising the level of innovation.
Available from: Amazon, Argos and Keepemquiet.com
6. Sky Baby travel mattress, £29.99
Whether your baby will get enough sleep on a flight can be the biggest worry for new parents, and the Sky Baby travel mattress aims to make it a bit easier.
The ingenious design works with the airplane seat’s infant loop safety belt to allow your baby to lie across your knees in a natural position. It cushions and envelopes your little one to make sure they are comfortable.
The mattress is handy to fold up, only weighs 300g and can be used as an impromptu nap station anywhere in transit. It comes in a carry bag that can clip onto your handbag. Worth a try for some extra zzzz’s.
Available from: Amazon, JoJoMamanBebe and Kidly
7. PuroQuiet Headphones, £69.99
Type: Noise cancelling headphones
If you’re looking for a way to keep the kids occupied on a long flight, these wireless headphones are a great option. As well as being noise cancelling, they limit the volume to a safe listening level and have a Bluetooth connection of up to 30 feet.
You won’t have to worry about constantly charging them as they have up to 16 hours of battery life, so can be used for up to 200 hours in standby mode between charges.
Available in black, pink and blue, they fold flat and come with a handy carry case to transport them.
MFM tester Louisa says “The bluetooth facility on the PuroQuiet headphones is a real game-changer. My daughter’s been wandering around all over the place (including the garden) while listening with them, and it means I still have control over my phone and can stop/start the story when I want.
“She’s said they were very comfortable, and she’s been keeping them on for half an hour or more at a time. The instructions are easy to follow and the battery life seems very good; we’ve not had to recharge it yet.”
Available from: Amazon
8. Fly LegsUp hammock, £59.99
If your kid is not one for sitting still for any length of time, especially not on a grown-up airplane seat, then you might want to consider this clever product. The LegsUp comes with a hammock-style carrier that you attach to your seat’s tray table. You can then use different combinations of its two inflatable cushions to make your flight more comfy.
You can turn your kid’s seat into a mini bed so that they can stretch out to nap; and for adults, use it to support your legs – no more cramped wedging of knees against hard edges.
Available from: Amazon
9. Trunki Yondi travel pillow, £12.99
Like all Trunki products, the Yondi travel pillow for 2-5-year-olds combines a charming design with some clever features. Filled with super soft microbeads, it has hidden magnets that fasten it under your little one’s chin, preventing their head rolling forward when asleep. There is also a Trunki grip that you can hang your kid’s favourite comfort blanket or soft toy from – and the cute animal designs (from red Fox to Betsy the pink cat) are bound to delight children.
Available from: Boots, Little Trekkers and Trunki
10. Sea-Band nausea relief wristbands, child size, £7.99
This pair of anti-nausea wristbands is a great way to combat travel sickness without resorting to medicated alternatives. If your child suffers from nausea while travelling you have probably tried all sorts – anti-sickness lozenges, ginger and some GP-prescribed medicines are all worth a try.
The Sea-Band wristbands, however, work with acupressure points, and can be used again and again, and come with a little travel box – some of the mums on our forum even swear by these to combat morning sickness!
Available from: Amazon, Chemist-4-u.com and Sanareva
11. Organix Goodies Mini Gingerbread Men, from 60p
Do not forget the snacks. The more snacks, the better! Hungry kids mean cranky kids, so keeping them sated is crucial – and the process of eating keeps them busy and quiet for a few precious minutes.
It’s worth stocking up on little packs that take a while to eat, such as raisins or mini biscuits (Organix Goodies Mini Gingerbread Men have the added bonus of sickness-fighting ginger).
For older kids, make sure they have something to suck during take-off and landing to help equalise the pressure in their ears.
Available from: Ocado, Morrisons or Tesco
12. Robinsons Squash’d Orange On-The-Go Squash, £2
It’s crucial that you remain hydrated during a flight, but it can be a battle to get some kids to drink enough. Keep these handy Robinsons Squash’d Oranges handy and you will have a sure-fire way of pepping up the contents of your water bottle to help the liquid go down. At just 66ml, you won’t need to worry about getting them through security.
Available from: Asda, Ocado and Sainsbury’s
13. DryNites Pyjama Pants, £5.25
If your little one is not long potty-trained, it’s worth keeping some pull-up nappies handy on a flight. If you’re strapped into your airplane seats, you could still easily swap pants for a nappy if an emergency arises. Or if accidents mean you run out of underwear, an emergency pull-up could be a god-send.
Available from: Tesco
14. Doodle It and Go Chalk Book, £24.95
This handy, take-along chalkboard book is great for the budding artist, and provides endless fun. No need to dig in your handbag for scraps of paper and pens, just provide the Doodle It and Go for plenty of drawing time. It also comes with ‘zero dust’ ButterStix chalk that makes the colours more vibrant and mess-free.
Available from: NotOnTheHighStreet
15. Galt Water Magic, £5.99
The Galt Water Magic books are also great for endless, no-mess drawing fun – useful for slightly younger kids that can’t yet draw that well themselves. The ‘water pen’ can be easily filled to reveals the vibrant colours of the pictures in the book. Once the book dries, your kid can do it all over again – bonus!
Available from: Amazon, Hobbycraft and John Lewis
MadeForMums product articles are independent, honest and provide advice you can have confidence in. Sometimes, we earn revenue through affiliate (click-to-buy) links. However we never allow this to influence our coverage. Our reviews and articles are written by parents who are professional journalists, and we also include feedback from our parent community and industry experts.