As I plan several flights this summer I've been thinking about how to occupy the mind of a 20 month old on a plane full of people. At home, when she's bored I just pop on the TV, turn on the music or throw the bag of blocks all over the living room floor...these are not viable options on plane, as she doesn't use headphones yet, and for those of you who think these options are ideal (and, you know who you are...) shame on you as I'm not really in the market for annoying others on the plane, nor do I like the idea of treating the whole plane as my personal living room, as I am not so far removed from being on the other end of that experience. I remember quite clearly a mother and companion and three little people who sat in that space at the front of the plane (where there's leg room) and had crayons, markers, blocks, noisy toys et cetera all over the floor even as the plane landed and people wanted to get off the plane...not cool.
To me, the easiest way to entertain a tiny tot is to give them books, one at a time. 1] Books are quiet, even if the tiny tot in question wants you to read the book you can read it to them at conversation level or a whisper (much quieter than a noisy toy). 2] Books are not messy, your tiny person cannot write with the book, sure, they can write on the book, but that's only if you give them a writing utensil. 3] Books are small and can be easily packed into your childs carry-on.
Here are some books that I recommend as ideal travel reads:
- Baby Einstein Cats by Julie Aigner-Clark It's a tiny board book that fits easily into any compartment of a carry-on, or in a pocket. You're kid can eat it or bend it and if he/she wants you to read it, it's short and easy. This is a cat. Cats are warm and soft to hold.
- I'll Teach My Dog A Lot of Words by Michael Frith Again, it's a board book, not as small Cats (but, I'm guessing you'll be hard-pressed to find many other books as small as Cats) and I can attest to the fact that it's really easy to read on the plane and can be acted out with little to no interruptions to other passengers (it's all in the voice and the eyes). My kidlet likes to read this to herself and that's...well, it's nice. The first words I will teach my pup are dig a hole and fill it up.
- Duck and Goose Find a Pumpkin by Tad Hills This is a lovely interactive book where Duck and Goose ask questions about where to find a pumpkin, most of the answers are "No" and your kiddo can catch on pretty quickly and answer. Trust me it's fun. I hear there are other books in the series, but this is the only one we know by heart! "Is the pumpkin in the leaf pile, Duck?" "No."
- Baby Einstein My First Book of Numbers by Julie Aigner-Clark The tiny person can be entertained for hours by this book. Seriously...there's counting, there's colors, there's rubber ducks and marbles and flowers and bees, there's pictures of little people. This book is really big though, so big that when I've taken it on trips, it's been one of two books I take (and the other is usually a squishy bathbook like Seahorse or, a small board book like, um, Cats--can you tell what book my kiddo really likes?!) If you start with three and add one more, did you know you have the number four? Just draw a triangle and add a little line for a number four that looks just fine.
- Seaside Bath Books-Seahorse by Julie Clough We bought this book at Shedd Aquarium in Chicago and then spent the 8 hr. train ride home being entertained by it. It has a squeaker, but so far Lila can't squeak it, which is fine by me! Sally the Seahorse love to dance.
- Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr. An oldie, but goodie it seems that everyone knows this story. Lila likes to guess what's coming up next, she likes to label the colors and label the animals. This takes a book that might take 5 minutes to read about 15 minutes of entertaining reading and communication. Brown bear, brown bear, what do you see? I see a red bird looking at me.