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Having great airplane snacks is one of the best ways to keep a toddler calm and entertained.
Not only do frequent snacks prevent your child from getting hangry (one of the worst fates of any parent flying with a young child), but they count as their own activity!
Snacks are a great resource to have up your sleeve not only if your child is hungry, but also if your child is getting restless, bored, or starting to meltdown.
We’ve had a lot of experience flying with young kids on both short and long flights. Here are some of the best toddler airplane snacks for toddlers.
For more helpful travel items, see our ultimate list of toddler travel essentials!
The best airplane snacks for toddlers
After many, many flights we have some snacks that have really stood out as favorites. Here are some of our top choices for baby and toddler plane snacks.
Healthy(ish) Airplane Snacks
- Fruit and veggie pouches– we’ve never had a problem bringing these through security. Just put them in a separate Ziploc bag and let security know you have them before putting your bag through the screening.
- Pirate’s Booty
- Veggie straws
- Animal crackers
- Goldfish crackers
- Fruit- Avoid fruit that is too juicy or fragile
- Grapes (cut in half or quarters)
- Mandarin oranges
- Cheerios or other cereal
- Hawaiian rolls– our kids love these and somehow it’s become a tradition to bring them with us when we’re traveling
- Sunbutter and jelly sandwich (we try to avoid anything with nuts on planes- you never know when someone might have a serious allergy)- go light on the jelly so it doesn’t get too messy
- Fruit leathers
- Granola bars
- Fig bars
- Banana bread or muffins- make sure to pre-slice any bread you bring
- Ice chips- it sounds strange, but this kept my little guy entertained for a good 20 minutes. You can request a cup of ice chips from the flight attendant and give them little pieces to suck on. This works great for a teething baby or toddler. Just make sure the pieces aren’t too big.
Toddler Airplane Snack “Treats”
We try to keep most of our plane snacks relatively healthy to avoid a toddler sugar crash, but it can be fun to include some treats that are a bit more sugary or that your child doesn’t have very often.
- Candy- I try to avoid anything that’s meltable because my kids tend to hold it in their hands for a while before eating it and it turns into a huge mess. Some good mess-free options are jelly beans, Sour Patch Kids, Starbursts, etc.
- Fruit snacks
- Prepackaged cookies (Chips Ahoy, Oreos, Circus Animals, etc)
- Suckers– the sucking can prevent their ears from hurting due to the pressure change when the plane is ascending and descending
Tips for Picking the Best Airplane Activities for Toddlers
Bring several different snacks and keep mixing it up when they get bored. Even switching from crackers to raisins can feel like a new activity for a young child. Pulling out a new snack can be a great way to stop a meltdown in its tracks.
Along with other toddler airplane activities, this is a great way to keep your child entertained.
Novel, but not too much sugar
New snacks are exciting snacks. My kids love getting snacks that we don’t have very often. Even if it’s something ordinary like goldfish crackers, if it’s not something we have in the house often it feels like a treat.
I also try not to pack a lot of sweet treats when choosing airplane snacks for toddlers because I think it tends to get them wired up, which isn’t exactly what you want on a long flight. Aim for things that they don’t get all the time but aren’t necessarily packed with sugar. It’s all about the novelty of it.
Not too messy
There’s nothing worse than realizing that you’ve brought a disastrously messy snack…after your kid has already started chowing down on it.
One time I thought it would be a great idea to bring fresh blackberries. Yeah…. within about 30 seconds, half of them were smeared all over my son’s face and clothes and the rest were dumped in my lap. It was a banner start to that flight! From that I learned what I probably should have already known- that fragile berries are delicious, but not great for flights.
So make sure to choose snacks that are not going to make a huge mess. Chocolate is another one that melts everywhere, especially if your kid is like mine and likes to hold it in his hand for a while before eating it…
This might seem obvious, but it’s tricky to bring anything that requires refrigeration. Unless you’re going to eat it quickly, go for snacks that won’t spoil.
Make sure to store your snacks in a way that is accessible and easy to distribute to hungry kiddos. It can help to pack snacks in small, separate containers to reduce the chance of spilling.
Plastic baggies are my favorite. Yes, some snacks can get a little squashed, but I like being able to save the space that containers take up. And then as we eat the snacks we get lighter as the trip goes along.
It’s also helpful to bring a snack catcher to prevent snacks from spilling everywhere. Just dump the snack of choice into the snack catcher when they are ready to eat it. Then you can let them manage the snacks without having to hover over them to ensure nothing gets dumped. I love this snack catcher because it is collapsible, which makes it ideal for traveling.
These great little containers have flaps that prevent the snacks from spilling everywhere. For young toddlers, this is a snack and entertainment all in one- how do I get that snack out of there?!
Think ahead to the flight back
Make sure to save some good snacks for the flight home. By that time everyone is tired from the trip and it’s even more important to have some good snacks up your sleeve.
Usually when I’m packing for a trip I’ll fill a bag with snacks for the return flight. Then I stash it in the suitcase so I won’t be tempted to dig into it during the trip.
TSA Guidelines For Snacks
You might be wondering what TSA’s rules are on the kind of food items you can bring through security at the airport. You’ll be pleased to know that there really aren’t any restrictions on the types of solid foods you can bring through security.
The only exception is liquid or gel food items that are larger than 3.4 oz. However, baby food, breast milk, and formula are all allowed in your carry-on luggage in “reasonable amounts”.
We’ve never had a problem bringing food pouches or milk for our babies or toddlers. But often they will screen it, so have it in a separate bag that’s easy to pull out when you’re going through security.
Finding the right airplane snacks when traveling with a toddler can be a real trip saver. It’s food and a time-filling activity all in one!
It never ceases to amaze me how long my kids can stay content if they have a snack in front of them, especially if it’s something they don’t get very often.
Plus, my kids have a tendency to get hangry when they haven’t eaten in a while and a well-timed snack perks them right back up.
I’ve preempted many a tantrum by getting a needed snack into a fading child at the right moment. And it also has the added benefit of keeping their mouth busy for a while so mom and dad can enjoy a little peace and quiet. I’d call that a win on multiple fronts.
If you’re planning a road trip and need meal and snack ideas, see this post!
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