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Today’s Hint: The Best Toddler Travel Toy

During a recent flight, my daughter had a major meltdown. In fact, it was her worst temper tantrum ever, all because she couldn’t walk around once we started the descent (and when I say it was bad, I mean it was the kind of tantrum where we got lots of dirty looks and all we could do was laugh as nothing we tried would calm her).

So, before we flew back to San Francisco, my mother suggested that we get one particular toy to occupy our tot during the return trip: Stickers. Turns out, as usual, my mom was right. The stickers, which we strategically brought out just before the descent, occupied my daughter on the flight for a good 15 minutes, a long span in toddler time.

This is why today’s hint is to bring stickers along with you on your next flight or road trip with a toddler. Not only will stickers likely occupy your little one longer than many other toys and help him or her develop fine motor skills, they also pass “the ouch test” for what constitutes a car seat safe toy.

So what kind of stickers should you bring? Toy company Melissa and Doug sells great inexpensive sticker books, and certain sticky items you probably have around your house – think post-its, band-aids, masking tape and sticky return address labels — should work just as well.

Many parents already know how helpful stickers can be on the road, or in the air, with kids, and I’m not the first mom to write about them.

Recently, the Rookie Moms asked their Facebook fans to “share a product or thing you pack on a road trip to make hours in the backseat more bearable for your kiddo.” Responses included stickers, post-its and making tape. Elsewhere, Liz Gumbinner of Cool Mom Picks included stickers in her roundup of “7 of the best toys for the car,” as did Mrs. Bee of Hello Bee in her look at the “best infant and toddler travel toys.”

To be sure, stickers can be messy and hard to clean up, and you’ll want to remove the sticker remnants before you disembark or return a rental car (especially if you’re letting your little one play with sticky return address labels). Stickers also can be hard for little fingers to peel (this trick from Parent Hacks can help with that).

What if you and your tot aren’t fans of stickers? There certainly are a host of other great travel toys you can opt for instead, as pointed out by Ms. Gumbinner, Mrs. Bee and Rookie Mom Heather Flett in her list of “10 Ways to Entertain a Toddler on an Airplane.” And a toasted bagel also deserves an honorable mention: On another recent flight, my daughter spent about an hour eating (or rather gnawing) half a toasted bagel.

Of course, once your little one can correctly operate an iPad or similar device solo, or at least watch something without pushing buttons, you probably won’t need to rely on stickers and similar toys. But until then, I’m sticking with stickers.

What do you think is the best toddler travel toy and why?

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  1. Lindsay says

    I can’t take credit for this tip (it was from another mom) but it’s worked like a charm. We bought one of those Mon – Sun pill box cases (a box for each day) and loaded them up with cheerios. Our little guy had fun shaking it, then trying to open the little containers and then taking the cheerios in and out. When we ran out of cheerios… we used little pieces of paper and it was still entertaining.

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