No-Stress, No-Mess Flying Hacks for 6-18 Month-Olds

Let’s face it: Going to the airport is typically a downright stressful experience these days. You only have so much room in your carry-on, TSA is a hassle, and you’re on a tight time table. The last thing you need is picking up a mess at 30,000ft (or if you’re like me, scrambling to get the breakfast bar out of LAX’s carpeting while simultaneously boarding – rookie mistake). Don’t be the old me. Here’s some easy, no mess travel hacks for your little ones, 6 months to a year and a half. IMG_6767

Mini Books

Perfect for those pint-sized hands, the colorful pictures will engage your child and won’t add weight to your diaper bag or other carry-ons, and they’re mess-free. The older babes will enjoy turning the pages and pointing out pictures they recognize, while the younger kiddos enjoy hearing your voice as you read and point out the illustrations to them. Mini books are also good for independent playtime while mom or dad have a break and enjoy a drink (or two … no judgement).

Toys on a Ring

Another winner for no-mess, toys that come attached to a ring (like keys and teething rings) stay self-contained when they drop. You’re not scrambling to find all the missing pieces, and the babies are contented with chewing the fun teethers, and practicing those fine motor skills while manipulating the toy’s pieces. They’re lightweight, and probably already in your diaper bag!

Plane Inserts

The safety instructions and magazines that come with the seatback in front of you can prove a fun game for littlies 12-18 months. Our 13-month-old had a solid 10 minutes of engagement with taking them out of the pouch and putting them back again, another 5 playing with the safety card itself, and another 10 using the doggie bag for putting her hand-sized snack packs in, and taking them out again. That’s nearly a half-hour of entertainment that comes with the plane and doesn’t take up your luggage space.


You gotta have ‘em. There are several snack options that make little mess and are easy to toss:

  1. We took Plum Organics Mighty Snack Bars on our last trip, which don’t crumble or stick to everything within a 10 miles radius.
  2. Earth’s Best Oaty Fruit bars are also on the same playing field as Plum’s for the no-mess factor.
  3. Adding a bit of protein into the mix, Horizon’s Organic Cheese Shapes are an easy option if you have a diaper bag with cooler pouches for bottles. Simply put the cheese shapes in a baggie and place them in one of the bottle pouches to keep cool for several hours.
  4. Some airlines have kid-friendly snack options as well, but they generally fall into the carb category. Taking a banana or apple with you is tricky if you or your kiddos aren’t fans of bruised fruit. A solution is to check out the terminal where you’re catching your flight and see if any of the food options offer fresh fruit for purchase to help supplement those little belly cravings and avoid the inevitable squashing of fruit.

Of course, there’s always the built-in entertainment that comes along with your shiny smart phone, but if you’re a parent who wishes to avoid nonstop passive screen time for your baby (and pediatricians agree), then I hope these no-mess travel hacks help engage and stimulate your little ones for the journey ahead. What did I miss? If you have other no-mess, no-stress flying hacks for babies and toddlers, please share them here for our community. Happy mommies and daddies make for a happier flight for everyone. Happy Traveling!

                      — Vicki  D.

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