Heading out on a long road trip with your toddler soon? Or heck even an hour-long journey down the road can feel a million miles when there’s a little one in the back crying out for your attention and to be entertained.
Before you embark on a long car journey with a toddler, you need to check out this guide to the most appropriate toys for toddlers in the car.
What Makes a Great Road Trip Toy for a Toddler?
Toddlers really are a tricky bunch to travel with. This age and stage really brings back the best and worst of all our travel memories! The memories are undoubtedly beautiful and we wouldn’t change those moments for the world. However, don’t be mistaken; traveling with a toddler takes careful planning.
Whilst yes, we do recommend you pack toys for a toddler, you don’t need to go overboard – there’s only so much room in your diaper bag! And at the end of the day, what your toddler really wants is YOU!
Make sure any car travel toys you buy for toddlers:
- Are safe for your toddler to play with without direct supervision (particularly if you cannot directly reach your infant in the car).
- Not too small so no risk of being swallowed or disappearing off between car seats.
- Won’t distract the driver – we’re talking those horribly noisy ones – or even worse a tablet being played at full pelt and no headphones!!
On this toddler toy list, we have deliberately ignored electronics. Yes, in theory, you could start introducing a small tablet at this age or passing them your device to get them through a tough moment. But there are so many other wonderful and engaging toys for this age group, you really don’t need to resort to electronics just yet.
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Our 10 Favorite Toddler Toys for Road Trips
We’ve selected here 10 tried and tested toddler travel toys that are perfect for long road trips.
1. Manhattan Toy Soft Activity Book
Soft Activity Books have hands down been one of our best toddler entertainers over the years. Children can independently explore with a variety of different scenes to choose from. All the parts attach to the book so no need to fear missing parts, and you can even teether the book to their infant car seat so it doesn’t fall down. And no problem if it ends up in their mouth as it’s machine washable.
2. Buckle Toy – Buster Square
Buckle Toy Buster is one of our favorite toddler road trip toys. Buster is a small soft, foldable lovie, ideal as a toddler toy for road trips. There are 6 different clasps and buckles allowing for several different activities that can be undertaken independently.
3. Learn to Dress Monkey
Learn to dress monkey, as well as his friend Learn to Dress Kitty, are wonderful, loveable teddies with 11 different activities for small hands from ties to zips and buttons, a guaranteed car entertainer without any small parts to go missing making them the perfect road trip toy for a toddler.
4. Billy Bear Busy Board Toddler Backpack
Billy Backpack Bear (from the same makers as Buckle Buster) is a great way for your toddlers to store a few of their small possessions with them on your next road trip. As a toddler backpack, it’s small and light (13″ x 8″) with the added bonus of plenty of fine motor fun, plus Billy has his own belly clock – perfect for answering that question “are we there yet!”
5. Bebe Monde Crinkle Baby Books
Bebe Monde Crinkle Baby Books are another great option for toddlers in the car as they come with lots of added extras including sensory touches that are soft chewable and satisfyingly crinkly! They’re still super light so an easy inclusion in your luggage, and yes, machine washable!
6. Quiet Book for Toddlers
Montessori Activity Quiet Book is another great road trip toy for toddler without parts that can go missing, everything your toddler needs is sewn into this soft activity book. Plenty of bright colors and engaging activities from zips to snapping and tying. It even comes with it’s own machine washing bag so small parts don’t get damaged in the wash.
7. Magnetic Drawing Board
As your toddler dexterity improves, we love introducing a Magna Doodle Magnetic drawing board. We’re starting to get a little chunkier now than the soft toys, so keep it to toddler lap size, and do watch the appropriate age group. The pens on Magna Doodle products normally attach, but the stamps and other attachments may not!
8. Alphabet Water Cards
Alphabet Water Painting is such a great travel toy for toddlers. They are super easy to fit in your bag, far less mess than normal paint you only need a few drops of water and your little artist is ready to go. We love that the Alphabet water cards come clipped together so the parts don’t go missing, making them the perfect toddler toy for the car. You can also get these water painting cards n numbers.
9. Hide & Seek Alphabet Pop-Up
This Hide-And-Seek Alphabet Pop Up has 50 shapes, color and letter push flaps. Made with sturdy BPA-free plastic, it’s again getting on the larger chunkier side for small children but guaranteed hours of self-guided fun. With it’s own carry handle your little one can take it everywhere with them on your road trip.
10. Car Seat Toddler Travel Tray
As your little one starts to grow, it’s time to level up their car play space! A Car Seat Travel Tray works great for your older toddlers who are moving on to the next stage of travel toys where coloring and higher concentration level games can take place. Look for features such as built-in bottle holders and a handy carry strap when choosing a car travel tray for your toddler.
More Road Trip Activities for Toddlers
Whilst toys that engage your little one will most definitely help, remember the most important thing your little one wants is YOU! Now we know driving the car from the back seat really isn’t practical, but here are a few more ideas on how to engage your toddlers on long road trips, even if you’re the driver:
Songs – a singalong in the car to their favorite nursery rhyme is bound to put a smile on your little one’s face. Allow yourself to have fun and be goofy! Mis-singing their favorites and add your own words (maybe about your destination) always gives ours a giggle
Imagination games – I’ll admit I’ve always found this one tough, I simply think I was born without this creative bone! But you can do it!!! Once you get started your little ones will help keep the creativity flowing. Start with a sensible story, then each of you has to add a silly twist.
Audiobooks – When you’re all done with the talking, a great way to pass the hours on a long car journey. A wonderful non-toy gift you can suggest to family & friends is to give something like Audible a try. They have a great range of kids storybooks to choose from – as well as adults, a few you could try:
- Amazing Animal Adventures (suitable for 2 to 5 year-olds)
- Llama Llama Red Pajama (a really cute collection of 20 stories from Anna Dewdney)
- Beatrix Potter: The Complete Tales (great introduction to these classic childhood characters, the older ones can read along with Kindle Book)
Snacks – We cannot emphasize enough how important snacks are for a long journey – they are half the event in themselves, never mind what’s happening out the window! Do take care with toddlers though, if they are in the back unaided it may be sensible to pull over for snack stops, a good chance for you to all stretch your legs.
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