The airplane is a stressful environment for anyone, but children can be especially overwhelmed by the new surroundings. If you have a toddler who will be flying soon, it’s important to prepare them with some snacks and activities to keep them entertained. This blog post contains ten snacks that are easy to pack and carry during plane travel.
Whenever someone asks me how to survive a flight with a toddler, I tell them, “Bring lots of snacks.”
I truly believe that snacks are the best way to survive a flight with a toddler.
I also tell them to lower their expectations and be okay with the snacks not being the healthiest of the healthy. It’s usually just a couple of hours and then you can get back to your normally balanced diets. Of course, you don’t need to bring candy bars and M&Ms for the whole plane ride (I’d save those M&Ms for emergencies!), and there are healthier snacks you can tote along.
But regardless of what you bring – small and mess-free is ideal for young kids. Snacks are just a great way to help pass the time and keep your tinies occupied for a while! With older kids, you can often have other airplane activities but toddlers have such a short attention span, coming up with activities can be tricky (especially if you are opposed to screen time).
The number one rule I have about snacks? Make sure they are easy to clean up – and bring some wet wipes, because even a less messy snack can turn into a huge mess with a toddler – at least, if yours are like mine at all!
I have flown many times with toddlers and little kids, so I think I’ve got a pretty good handle on what snacks to bring and how to bring them. Here are some of my best snack ideas and some of my best tips for success. Please let me know if I missed any of your favorite airplane snacks for your toddlers!
Pack for the TSA
Before we get into the snacks, I wanted to mention how we pack our snacks.
Once upon a time, we were flying out of Denver International Airpot. They pulled us aside and said they had to swab EVERY. SINGLE. SNACK. we brought because they couldn’t see inside.
We had about 20 packages of fruit snacks, and they swabbed each one. It took forever, and we almost missed our flight.
Now, I haven’t had this happen at other airpots, but I have been pretty determined to never have it happen again. So, before we leave, I always take all the food that I can out of their original packaging and put them in see-through containers.
We have had several TSA people thank us for doing this. It just makes life easier for everyone in the security line. I’ll share some different snack containers at the end, but we love using our ZipTop Reusable silicone bags. They have so many sizes – including cute little snack ones that look like animals. We really love using them on the airplane – you can use the code CLARKSCONDENSED15 to get 15% off.
Make sure you either pack them in a separate bag or in an easily accessible place in your carry-on bags to make life easier for everyone as well. Regardless, make sure you give yourself enough time to get through security just in case something doesn’t go as planned.
Types of Snacks
There are different types of snacks you should consider bringing on the plane – they are great options for different purposes and adds variety. I usually recommend choosing a couple different snacks from each category. With my kids, I never know what snacks they are going to want. On our last flight, all my son wanted were apples and clementines!
I do recommend having most of your snacks be ones you can keep at room temperature. While you can definitely bring an ice pack, I find it to be much simpler to have snacks you don’t have tow worry about at all during your air travel.
Also keep in mind that many airlines still provide snacks at some point during the flight, so that can be an added bonus. However, not all do – so don’t bank on that for being your snack plan!
It’s a good idea to bring some healthy snacks so your child doesn’t get all hyped up on junk and sugar. Healthy snacks can feel a little trickier to bring on the plane, but there are plenty of options that are easy to pack and won’t be too messy. If you bring something that has a peel or rind, bring along an extra Ziploc bag to put the waste in.
String Cheese – Kids can eat these by themselves and they’re high in calcium which is good for kids’ bones. You will need a freezer pack for these.
Blueberries– It’s easy to pack a container of blueberries so toddlers can munch on them throughout the flight without making too much noise or spilling anything onto other people.
Yogurt– This is fairly easy to bring and can have some nice protein. However, I would recommend getting the pouches that aren’t refrigerated. It’s a little easier to manage
Carrots are a healthy snack for toddlers on airplanes. They are high in vitamins A, C, and K as well as fiber and water content. They can be a choking hazard, though, so I would pre-cut them or get the pre-sliced carrots.
Homemade Muffins – My son loves when I make homemade muffins, and he doesn’t mind at all when I make more “veggie” based muffins. You can make a batch at home before you go – mini muffins are even better!
Sauce pouches – Apple sauce is what we always go for but there are lots of varieties you can choose from.
Hard Boiled Eggs – Might be a little smellier of an option, but they are filling and have a good amount of protein. You will want to have a freezer bag for these.
Hummus or Guacamole– You can buy the little individual containers of hummus or guacamole at the store to bring along – they can be a bit more filling. They will probably need to be refrigerated. Make sure to bring something to dip in. These can be a little messier.
Apples – People have different comfort levels when it comes to apples. Our toddler can eat a whole one (while being watched, of course), so I just wash them before we go and bring the whole ones on the plane. This way it doesn’t get all brown. However, if you don’t feel comfortable with that, you can easily pre-slice some apples and sprinkle it with either lemon juice or some fruit fresh.
Clementines – These are my toddlers absolute favorite! Easy to eat. Bring a bag for the peels.
Grapes – Obviously make sure you pre-slice these ones before you get on the plane!
Peanut Butter & Jelly sandwich– this lunch staple is easy to make at home or buy from a nearby store if you’re making your own snacks before the flight. See my note about allergies at the bottom of the page.
Easy to Eat Snacks
These are those snacks that are usually small and easy to eat – and there are larger quantities so they might keep your child occupied for longer.
Keep in mind that if these snacks spill, they will go everywhere. So be careful!
Cheerios – Always a favorite for toddlers! Really, any cereal will do. Just be c
Goldfish – Another great finger food option for kids, Goldfish are low in sugar and have great flavor. They are a great snack cracker that children love.
Cheese and Breadstick Dippers
Rice Cakes – My kids always love these. Lots of different flavor options, too!
Granola Bars – We love granola bars. They can get kind of messy though. I recommend steering clear of those Nature Valley Oat bars – not sure if that’s the name, but they are SO crumbly and get everywhere. I like ones Nutrigrain bars (or a toddler equivalent)
Annie’s Bunnies – Similar to Goldfish but there are some different varieties. They might be a little healthier?
Trail Mix – You could make a toddler-friendly trail mix with chocolate chips, raisins, etc. I would skip the nuts, though, since those aren’t particularly good for toddlers.
Veggie Straws – my kids always love these!
I always enjoy something sweet while flying, and I know my kids do, too. Try not to go too overboard, but these can be fun to have.
Fruit Snacks– Always a popular option!
Fruit Leathers – I almost put these in the healthy section, because they can be. However, they do tend to be higher in sugar, and they definitely can satisfy a sweet tooth!
Raisins – For an extra yummy treat, spring for the yogurt covered ones! They can be a good source of fiber for helping with any travel tummy issues.
Teddy Grahams – I personally love Teddy Grahams. I think they have some really nice sweetness to them, and they definitely feel like a treat.
These are the snacks you pull out when your child (or you) are about to lose it! Definitely use them as a last resort or bribe. Yep, I’m not above bribery when it comes to flying!
Licorice Nibs – These are sweet, but my mom swears they also help with constipation. Win-win!
One of the most miserable flights I have ever been on was with my second son. He was a toddler at the time, and there was a lot of choppy air, so they weren’t able to do the food and drink service.
We had forgotten to fill up our water bottles because we got to the airport late and were rushing. He got SO thirsty and had a complete meltdown over it. It was probably a good hour of him screaming, “I want water, I want water” over and over again. I can’t say I blamed him – I was thirsty, too!
After that experience, I have always made it a priority to have plenty to drink. I recommend having a larger water bottle that you can refill one of their sippy cups for.
You could consider bringing some juice boxes, too, if you give your kids juice. This juice box holder could be handy!
We have a handy silicone sippy cup lids that you can stretch over cups, which we’ve used an airplane cups. However, we often request for our kids to get a lid and straw with their drinks, which is really nice for preventing spills. We usually just get them water, but I will usually ask for the whole can so we can fill up extra.
How to pack snacks for toddlers on airplanes
Pack snacks in a checked bag and make sure they’re not liquid. You can take ice packs, so long as they are completely frozen.
1. Pack perishable snacks in a soft sided, insulated lunch box (or something of the sort). , such as a Rubbermaid Lunch Blox or an insulated lunch box with ice packs.
2. As I already mentioned, try and separate items into see-through bags, such as plastic bags or the ZipTop bags that I already mentioned.
3. Be careful about bringing anything too smelly on the plane. If you do, make sure you have a way of disposing of the items after you are done eating.
4. Bring a separate backpack or carry-on (if allowed) where you can put all your snacks that is separated from the rest of your belongings. It’s much more convenient to have them in one designated spot.
5. Make sure you pack things so you don’t have your whole fruit and granola bars being smooshed to pieces at the bottom!
6. If you have multiple children, you can either divide snacks ahead of time into individual portions and put them in a small backpack for them, or bring everyone a bag to divvy up during the flight.
7. Pack reasonable quantities for the length of the flight. If your flight is only one hour, you won’t need nearly as many snacks as you might need for a long trip.
What to Bring
We’ve already talked about what snacks to bring – but let’s chat a little bit about different containers and items to bring to make it easier.
Definitly bring bags or containers that can be closed with a lid or zipper. You don’t want snacks just flying all over your bag and on the ground. As I mentioned, we really like the ZipTop silicone bags. They stand up straight and close really easily.
If you want to bring a little snack container, you might want to bring one that has a suction cup so your toddler can’t as easily just fling it across the airplane. Same goes for little plates if you want to bring something like that. I really like the EzPz brand.
Sippy cups are great. I would avoid straw cups just because they can easily get lost. You can also bring that stretchy universal lid I mentioned earlier.
I have never tried these squeeze pouch containers before, but I’ve heard rave reviews. It makes it so you child can’t just squeeze all the contents out at once (making a huge mess).
I love catcher bibs. They are probably one of my all-time favorite baby products. Great for bringing on the plane for quick clean up and making things less messy. You could also bring silicone placemats to make things even less of a mess.
Wipes – I am sure you probably will have wipes already but don’t forget it! You will want them not only to clean up your toddler but any mess they inevitably will make.
Rules for snacks on airplane
The rules for snacks on airplanes are simple. You can bring your own food on an airplane, though always check with your carrier to see if there are any specific rules.
Additional Tips and Tricks
There are many allergies that people have. Allergies to nuts are very common. You can bring nut-based snacks, but Iwould suggest leaving them at home if at all possible. While some people may speak up and let the airline know that it needs to be a nut-free flight, not everyone will.
Obviously you can’t control all the allergies – if you skipped everything people were allergic to, you wouldn’t ended up with very many options. However, just be aware of the people around you, a nd if someone tells you that there are allergies, be kind and considerate.
On the flip side, if your child has an allergy, make sure you pack plenty of allergy-friendly snacks. Notify the airline ahead of time so they can make an announcement on the plane about what snacks should be limited.
Always buy your snacks before you get to the airport! They are always way more expensive and more limited in option.
And finally, don’t get all the snacks out at once! I like to have bigger bags of snacks that I can portion out throughout the flight into smaller bags (like these ZipTop Kid Snack bags). If they eat all the snacks at once, and you have a long flight ahead of you, it can make life a lot harder! This is especially true if you dont’ have a direct flight
and you are going to need good snacks to last through the next flight. Start with the least desirable snacks and build up from there.
It may seem like a lot of work upfront, but I promise, it’s worth it to be prepared.
I hope that this was helpful in helping you coming up with the best snacks! for your next trip. Honestly, these are great travel snacks for kids of all ages! Try not to overthink it and bring a variety of snacks your toddler while enjoy. Good luck!