Taking your toddler on a road trip can certainly be an adventure. While your child will get to explore new areas, keeping them entertained in the car isn’t always easy.
Luckily, you do have some options to help your toddler enjoy the entire trip, including the time spent in the car. Here are 10 tips for keeping your toddler entertained when you hit the road together.
1. Have Snacks Ready
To put it simply, a hungry toddler is a cranking toddler. If you want your child to stay calm and comfortable, make sure to pack healthy, travel-friendly snacks for your journey. Having water available is also a must, and consider packing a couple of your kid’s favorite treats along with healthier options.
2. Hold a Sing-Along
What family road trip is complete without music? Younger children often react to music in surprising ways, especially when the songs are simple enough for them to join in on while you are traveling. Nursery rhymes can be excellent if all of your children are younger. However, you can also create a playlist of family-friendly songs from any genre if you want to make the music suitable for a wider range of ages.
3. Download Some Apps
Many toddlers are perfectly capable of playing games on a tablet with a bit help or instruction. Download a few child-friendly apps before you hit the road and let your toddler have a little digital fun while on the road. Just make sure that the content feels appropriate. Learning-based games are generally a good option if they are made for toddlers.
Additionally, before you hand your tablet over, check the app’s and device’s settings to disable in-app purchasing abilities. Otherwise, your toddler may rack up charges without knowing what they are doing.
4. Bring Their Favorite Stuffed Toys
Soft, cuddly toys are great additions to any road trip. They can comfort your toddler, both physically and mentally (due to their familiarity with the toy). Plus, if the toy gets tossed in a moment of frustration, it won’t hurt anyone or break. If the stuffed animals are machine washable, even better. After all, spills happen, so having a quick way to clean the toy is a good idea.
However, for your own sake, avoid toys with noise-making capabilities. Otherwise, you may find yourself on the verge of a fit faster than you’d expect.
5. Try a Whiteboard and Dry-Erase Markers
A whiteboard is great for drawing designs, and dry-erase markers are easy to remove from the surface, giving them endless hours of creative fun. If you have two kids, then they can also play simple games like tic-tac-toe using a whiteboard.
Just be aware that dry-erase markers can damage fabric. While you may be able to remove the stains with a little alcohol and sponge, you might not be able to get all of the pigments out of lighter clothing colors or upholstery.
6. Bring Some Books
A few colorful storybooks can help keep your toddler entertained while traveling. Look for sturdy options, as softer paperback-style covers can be hard for tiny hands to control while bouncing down the road.
If you are traveling with older children or another adult, they could also read the book to the toddler. Since most kids enjoy story time, this is a great way to keep them calm and engaged.
It is important to note that some people do get carsick when they read in a vehicle, so do watch out for signs of queasiness if your toddler has never read while on a road trip before.
7. Pack Finger Puppets
Another great option if you have more than one young child is finger puppets. They can act out scenes and make up fun character personalities, giving them a unique way to interact while on the road.
Finger puppets can also give your toddler “someone” to talk to while on the journey. Plus, they promote creativity and imaginative play, both of which are important for young children.
8. Have Some Action Figures Ready
Many toddlers already have a few favorite characters from movies or television. If there is an age-appropriate action figure available, consider bringing one along on the adventure.
You can even take this to the next level by staging the action figure at various stops for photos. Then, when you get back home, you can make a collage or create a photo book to showcase their journey.
9. Prep a Scavenger Hunt
If you want to keep your toddler focused and engaged, consider creating an age-appropriate scavenger hunt for the trip. This encourages the development of observational skills and can help them recognize objects in unfamiliar environments.
Ideally, you want to make the scavenger hunt list picture-based, particularly if you’re going to add items with words they can’t read yet. However, feel free to write the word next to it too, as it never hurts to work on their reading skills.
10. Bring New Activity Books
There are tons of activity books designed specifically for toddlers. Look for options with stickers instead of pens, as these aren’t as likely to damage upholstery. Just make sure they don’t end up on your windows, or you may have to spend some time scrapping them off before you can roll that window down again.