Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Activity Backpack-for Toddlers

I have been getting this question a lot lately...
Any tips on how to keep a toddler occupied on a long plane ride or road trip?  
Yes, I do.  It has worked the three or four trips with our kids, and the numerous friends and clients who have done it under my advice.  This is for an independent walker up until older kids...(dunno, depends on your kids, you know them better than I do!)  
First, you take a small compact backpack.  Don't get one of those chincy ones with crap hanging all over it, and frills and bows... for airport security and your sanity.  You want your toddler to put it on his/her back.  This makes them feel important and grown up.  Weeks or days before the trip, you hide it and store it somewhere.  When you go to the store, look for teeny little activities to put inside.  Small notebooks, some crayons, stickers, bandaids with cartoons on them, tattoos, small novelty bubbles, and snacks.  You can also print out pictures of your pets and grandparents and friends and put them in a little book so he/she can show people where your visiting.  My two year old loves it when we give her a disposable camera and we show her how to take pictures on it.  Of course, the pictures are not going to be very good, but it still makes her feel cool.

Put all this stuff in your hidden backpack, make sure it's not too heavy (over two pounds for their little back might be too heavy.)  And don't let them open it until they get on the plane, or at the airport when you guys are waiting for awhile and that toddler starts to be, well a toddler. What objects to avoid? Too many pens with caps.  Play Dough or clay.  Paint.  Stuff that would get all over. I would also suggest not putting a bouncy ball in the bag (I did it.) and chasing it around was not fun.  Of course, if you have a kid that puts stuff in his or her mouth (my first one never did, I don't know about Emmy yet.) Be sure to put things inside that are not choking hazards.  (Good rule of thumb: If it can fit into a toilet paper roll, it's too small.)

If you can, I recommend a portable DVD Player... we have a Sony one that seems to be indestructible if someone wants to know a brand, just email me.  

Anyway, that was my toddler boredom tip for the day.  Let me know if you try this stuff out and how it worked for you! -MELISSA


li'l momma said...

I swear by the toddler backpack! We always pack one for Cham, regardless of the length of trip. We have that thing whether we're going on an hour-ride to Vegas or 11 hours to the PI. I've put in finger puppets, fave board books, as well as mini activity books and such.

120 Days Later said...

I think the trick with some kiddos for the longer trip, is to not show it to them until the last possible minute. Only because they then have something coming, and it's a good reward system to keep them occupied. Any particular activities you guys favor? My favorite with the toddler is the recap game. I usually take their crayon and write in their designated journal, and we go through what they saw that day. Depending on what stage your toddler speaks, it helps them learn how to tell a story and it also helps them communicate better. Also, when your doing it with your baby, and you write it down, it helps journal their trip. For instance, Myles favorite story is when she took, the white parrot in Tagaytay, Philippines and freaked out and threw it. Her journal reads, "BIRD, ALLACK (AFLACK is the name of a bird that looks like it) ARM (went on my arm) THREW (and I threw it) SORRY! (and I was very sad and told him sorry.) =)

Trisha said...

We took WJ on his longest road trip this past weekend, and used this idea even for a fellow as young as him (4 months). I packed books and toys he likes, as well as a few we hadn't tried with him yet but were in our closet.

Then I put about 3 in the seat pocket in front f me and sat in the back seat with him, and when he'd wake up, I could entertain him for a quite a while. At each stop, I'd rotate the toys in the back seat pocket until by the end of the trip, we had a few sure-fire items at hand.

Having a little plastic mirror (it came with one of the toys from our baby shower) was great... he could be crying and when he'd see his reflection he'd smile and get very social.

Anyway-- great idea... and it works even for little ones! (We gave you a shout-out on WJ's site.)

120 Days Later said...

Thanks Trisha! I HAVE been meaning to make an addendum on this post regarding infants, because yes, it does work for them also. When we took Myla to the UK, we brought different toys (6 months) and switched them out after she was bored of them. I want to hear all about your trip!!

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