Toddlers are notoriously hard to entertain on a long trip. They do not have the attention span for movies, cannot read, find it impossible to sit still, and, despite what the toy companies want you to believe, there is no fail safe travel toy that will entertain a toddler (or any child) for hours on end. So what is a parent to do? The key to entertaining toddlers on a long journey is distraction.
Instead of trying to find that perfect toy, pack a variety of simple toys that, combined with imagination, can be used in a variety of ways. Think quality – you want enough toys to be able to swap out often.
Before the trip, create a toddler activity kit containing a variety of age appropriate toys. Things like stacking cups, links, cars, puzzles and chunky crayons are all good choices. Finger puppets and small animals are fun for playing let’s pretend and engaging your child for slightly longer periods of time. Think outside the box as you are selecting toys. For example, squeeze toys are always fun in the bathtub but they are perfect for creating a distraction. Puff some air in a toddler’s hair or on their arm and you immediately get their attention. In desperate times you can even fill one with water and watch the giggles start.
Use your toy assortment wisely. Pull out the first thing and if it doesn’t capture their attention immediately, put it away and try something else. Use toys in unusual or unexpected ways. For example, a large stacking cup can become a hat. Lastly, do not wait until they get bored with a toy to introduce a new one. Gradually transition between toys – it makes both items last a little bit longer.
The best travel toy for toddlers is a well stocked activity bag that allows you to continually distract them. With a little imagination, you might even enjoy the trip.