20 fun travel toys to keep toddlers entertained on long road trips

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Travel toys for toddlers: 20 versatile toys for kids

  • Travel toys for toddlers aren’t just good to have, they’re an absolute necessity.
  • To keep a toddler busy while traveling, you need engaging toys that aren’t too challenging.
  • Travel toys should also be easy to carry and difficult to lose – the fewer pieces, the better.

Travel provides a lush breeding ground for boredom, which is why every caregiver needs a reliable selection of mobile distractions when traveling with a toddler. As a parent of two young children and a specialist in early childhood development, I have been fine-tuning my stash of travel toys over many years.

A good travel toy is quiet enough that it won’t bother other people, and simple enough that you won’t lose or need to pick up a ton of pieces. It should also be something a child can safely handle on their own. Finally, you want them to work for you for as long as possible.

Here are 20 travel toys for toddlers, with age-appropriate pro tips.

Reusable stickers that are great for window seats

Melissa & Doug Play House! Reusable Sticker Pad and Reusable Sticker Pad My Town Bundle

Melissa & Doug Reusable Sticker Pad, available at Amazon, $5.99

These reusable stickers are perfect for travel because they can go on and off any surface, and the pad is small enough to fit on your toddler’s lap. They’re especially good if your child is seated by a window and the scene outside provides a dynamic backdrop.

A toddler twist on an old classic

plastic links for toddlers

Bright Starts Lots of Links, available at Buy Buy Baby and Amazon, $4.99

As young kids, when my sister and I had to sit through temple during long High Holy Day services, my aunt always gave us and our cousins a handful of paper clips. It was so simple, but so effective. These plastic rings are basically the young toddler version. Plus, they can double as teethers, and you can incorporate different sets. 

A magazine just for them

magazine for traveling with a toddler

Highlights Hello Magazine, 1-year subscription, available at Amazon, $39.99

These practically indestructible booklets contain miniature stories, poems, and/or songs, plus a find-it game in every issue. The content is geared toward 0- to 2-year-olds, but they’re also great for when your big kid wants to practice reading or storytelling. You could also try Highlights High Five Magazine for 2- to 6-year-olds, which has excellent content but is considerably less indestructible.

Travel-themed magnets that are easy to carry

travel toys

Magnetic Fun Cars, Planes, and Trains, available at Deseret Book, $9.99 

This breaks my small pieces rule, but it gets a pass because the magnets are contained in a compact tin. Most importantly, the magnets offer many variations on a theme, and because it mirrors the toddler’s travel experience, it’s easier for them to stay engaged longer.

A stuffy that comes with distractions

buckle blu whale

Buckle Toys Blu Whale, available at Amazon, $21.99

The Buckle Blu Whale is bright, soft, lightweight, and engaging. It keeps hands busy and provides lots of number and color learning opportunities. 

A soft busy board with carry strap

montessori busy board for toddlers

Kenley The Original Toddler Busy Board, available at Amazon, $28.99

Traveling with more than one toddler? Try this wool sensory activity board. It is similarly engaging to the Buckle whale but includes more variety in the fine-motor activities and has space for at least four tiny hands. It comes with a carry strap but could also fit into a small backpack or carry-on

A busy bag they can customize

stephen joseph llama purse

Stephen Joseph Crossbody Purse, available at Amazon, $14

Encourage your toddler to make their own busy bag to bring on the go. These purses are adorable and durable. The zipper is easy for little hands to maneuver, and little kids love carrying around small domestic items (think: pretend keys). This one also breaks the few-pieces rule, but it’s perfect for car rides with a toddler since everything will remain in your car.

A travel-themed coloring roll

coloring roll mini

Mudpuppy By Air, By Land, By Sea Mini Coloring Roll, available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble, $6.99

These roll-up coloring sheets from Mudpuppy are each a whopping 10-feet long but still convenient for travel. Older toddlers, especially, will appreciate all the different items to color. Unroll a small bit at a time while you’re on the go and unravel to display it all at your final destination.

A mess-free paint pad and pen

water coloring book

Melissa & Doug Water Wow!, available at Amazon, $5.93

Fill the pen-brush with water and watch as your toddler intently “paints” the pages over and over again with almost no muss, and certainly no fuss. These work everywhere and are available in multiple designs as well as single or multi-packs.

A very fun activity for older toddlers

lacing cards for toddlers

The World of Eric Carle “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” Lacing Cards, available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble, from $14.08

From Eric Carle’s “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” come these 10 lacing cards, perfect for older toddlers. Not only are they a beautiful way to travel with illustrations from the classic story, but they are perfect for keeping hands busy while fine-tuning those fine motor skills

Books that distract without disturbing

crinkle books for toddler travel

Coolplay Baby’s First Non-Toxic Soft Cloth Crinkle Book, set of 8, available at Amazon, $13.99

We got these four years ago when my daughter was an infant, and she still enjoys them and can share the excitement with her baby brother. The books make a crinkling sound, and the set features themes such as color, number, and animal. They are small, light, and fall easily to the bottom of our backpack, making them the perfect clutch surprise when we’ve run through the rest of our options.

Durable headphones for toddlers

kids headphones

LilGadgets Connect+ Wired Headphones, available at Amazon and Walmart, $16.95

Plugging your kid in for the trip? LilGadgets Headphones are light and flexible but can handle a little rough play. The cord is encased in nylon, and the audio volume maxes out at 93 db, which is safe for limited use. Perhaps the most attractive quality of these headphones is that they have a port on each side, so you can link more than one pair together to watch and listen on a shared device.

Sensory sticks to settle tiny hands

sensory toys

Bunmo Stretchy Things, 6-pack, available at Amazon, $9.49

These discreet sensory sticks are designed for restless hands. My kids love using one or more of them at a time, and I also appreciate the stress relief they can provide. Even better, they are designed with neuroatypical people in mind, so if your child has autism, ADD, or ADHD and benefits from sensory stimulation, give these a try. 

Familiar travel buddies

sesame street figures

“Sesame Street” Playskool Collector Figures, 5-pack, available at Amazon, from $9.84

It feels almost foolish to try to pitch the benefits of keeping a “Sesame Street” character or two in your travel bag, so my only advice is this: occasionally rotate the characters.

Letters and words, delightfully bound

flash cards for toddlers

Mudpuppy Alphabet My ABCs Ring Flash Cards, available at Amazon, $12.99 

R is for ring! I like playing cards as a toy in general, and these have the added benefit of being attached to a ring for easy use while traveling. These flash cards are brightly designed, and toddlers of all ages can engage with the illustrated animals, letters, and words.

Easy-to-hold sketch pads

up up mini notebooks

Up & Up Spiral Memo Pads, 3-pack, available at Target, $2.19

I cannot recommend mini notebooks enough if your child can be even marginally entrusted with crayons or pens. They can be used for scribbling, tracing, learning, taking pretend food orders, and so on. Suggest prompts that align with your current travel and watch their imaginations take off. Pro tip: Carry one in each bag you’re traveling with. They’ll all get used.

A long-lasting memory game

memory game for traveling with a toddler

Melissa & Doug Flip-to-Win Memory Game, available at Amazon and Target, $9.99

Great for older toddlers, this memory game comes with 14 themes for repeated rounds of play. The cards slide into the back, and most importantly, the memory pieces aren’t detachable.

Slow and steady wins the ride

magnatab travel toy

Kid O Free Play Magnatab, available at Amazon, $20.61

The Magnatab’s strength as a travel toy is how slow it is. Creating on it requires deliberate action and occasionally correcting errors. It also works surprisingly well as a group toy because each child’s level of concentration is practically contagious — I once watched four pre-kindergarteners patiently take turns.

A 2-in-1 learning toy

mickey mouse board book for car rides

Disney Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Learning Board Book, available at Amazo, $8.99

Older and younger toddlers alike will appreciate this two-in-one toy. At top, there is an erasable drawing pad with a conveniently attached pen. On the bottom is a board book with simple corresponding games.

A classic set for pretend play

battat play phone keys

Battat Cell Phone and Key Toy Set, available at Amazon, $14.94

Pretend phones are an old standby in my house, and this combo set has the added bonus of pretend keys so you don’t accidentally lose yours. They are chunky but light — great for tiny hands — and make just enough sounds to keep toddlers interested without bugging your seat neighbor with aggressive songs. Throw them in your purse, or theirs!

Read the original article on Business Insider

20 versatile travel toys to keep toddlers entertained on long road trips

If you buy through our links, we may earn money from affiliate partners. Learn more.

Travel toys for toddlers: 20 versatile toys for kids

  • Travel toys for toddlers aren’t just good to have, they’re an absolute necessity.
  • To keep a toddler busy while traveling, you need engaging toys that aren’t too challenging.
  • Travel toys should also be easy to carry and difficult to lose – the fewer pieces, the better.

Travel provides a lush breeding ground for boredom, which is why every caregiver needs a reliable selection of mobile distractions when traveling with a toddler. As a parent of two young children and a specialist in early childhood development, I have been fine-tuning my stash of travel toys over many years.

A good travel toy is quiet enough that it won’t bother other people, and simple enough that you won’t lose or need to pick up a ton of pieces. It should also be something a child can safely handle on their own. Finally, you want them to work for you for as long as possible.

Here are 20 travel toys for toddlers, with age-appropriate pro tips.

Reusable stickers that are great for window seats

Melissa & Doug Play House! Reusable Sticker Pad and Reusable Sticker Pad My Town Bundle

Melissa & Doug Reusable Sticker Pad, available at Amazon, $5.99

These reusable stickers are perfect for travel because they can go on and off any surface, and the pad is small enough to fit on your toddler’s lap. They’re especially good if your child is seated by a window and the scene outside provides a dynamic backdrop.

A toddler twist on an old classic

plastic links for toddlers

Bright Starts Lots of Links, available at Amazon, $4.99

As young kids, when my sister and I had to sit through temple during long High Holy Day services, my aunt always gave us and our cousins a handful of paper clips. It was so simple, but so effective. These plastic rings are basically the young toddler version. Plus, they can double as teethers, and you can incorporate different sets. 

A magazine just for them

magazine for traveling with a toddler

Highlights Hello Magazine, 1-year subscription, available at Amazon, $39.99

These practically indestructible booklets contain miniature stories, poems, and/or songs, plus a find-it game in every issue. The content is geared toward 0- to 2-year-olds, but they’re also great for when your big kid wants to practice reading or storytelling. You could also try Highlights High Five Magazine for 2- to 6-year-olds, which has excellent content but is considerably less indestructible.

Travel-themed magnets that are easy to carry

travel toys

Magnetic Fun Cars, Planes, and Trains, available at Deseret Book, $9.99 

This breaks my small pieces rule, but it gets a pass because the magnets are contained in a compact tin. Most importantly, the magnets offer many variations on a theme, and because it mirrors the toddler’s travel experience, it’s easier for them to stay engaged longer.

A stuffy that comes with distractions

buckle blu whale

Buckle Toys Blu Whale, available at Amazon, $19.99

The Buckle Blu Whale is bright, soft, lightweight, and engaging. It keeps hands busy and provides lots of number and color learning opportunities. 

A soft busy board with carry strap

montessori busy board for toddlers

Kenley The Original Toddler Busy Board, available at Amazon, $28.99

Traveling with more than one toddler? Try this wool sensory activity board. It is similarly engaging to the Buckle whale but includes more variety in the fine-motor activities and has space for at least four tiny hands. It comes with a carry strap but could also fit into a small backpack or carry-on

A busy bag they can customize

stephen joseph llama purse

Stephen Joseph Crossbody Purse, available at Amazon, $14

Encourage your toddler to make their own busy bag to bring on the go. These purses are adorable and durable. The zipper is easy for little hands to maneuver, and little kids love carrying around small domestic items (think: pretend keys). This one also breaks the few-pieces rule, but it’s perfect for car rides with a toddler since everything will remain in your car.

A travel-themed coloring roll

coloring roll mini

Mudpuppy By Air, By Land, By Sea Mini Coloring Roll, available at Barnes & Noble and Target, $6.99

These roll-up coloring sheets from Mudpuppy are each a whopping 10-feet long but still convenient for travel. Older toddlers, especially, will appreciate all the different items to color. Unroll a small bit at a time while you’re on the go and unravel to display it all at your final destination.

A mess-free paint pad and pen

water coloring book

Melissa & Doug Water Wow!, available at Amazon, $5.93

Fill the pen-brush with water and watch as your toddler intently “paints” the pages over and over again with almost no muss, and certainly no fuss. These work everywhere and are available in multiple designs as well as single or multi-packs.

A very fun activity for older toddlers

lacing cards for toddlers

The World of Eric Carle “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” Lacing Cards, available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble, from $14.08

From Eric Carle’s “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” come these 10 lacing cards, perfect for older toddlers. Not only are they a beautiful way to travel with illustrations from the classic story, but they are perfect for keeping hands busy while fine-tuning those fine motor skills

Books that distract without disturbing

crinkle books for toddler travel

Coolplay Baby’s First Non-Toxic Soft Cloth Crinkle Book, set of 8, available at Amazon, $13.99

We got these four years ago when my daughter was an infant, and she still enjoys them and can share the excitement with her baby brother. The books make a crinkling sound, and the set features themes such as color, number, and animal. They are small, light, and fall easily to the bottom of our backpack, making them the perfect clutch surprise when we’ve run through the rest of our options.

Durable headphones for toddlers

kids headphones

LilGadgets Connect+ Wired Headphones, available at Amazon and Walmart, $16.95

Plugging your kid in for the trip? LilGadgets Headphones are light and flexible but can handle a little rough play. The cord is encased in nylon, and the audio volume maxes out at 93 db, which is safe for limited use. Perhaps the most attractive quality of these headphones is that they have a port on each side, so you can link more than one pair together to watch and listen on a shared device.

Sensory sticks to settle tiny hands

sensory toys

Bunmo Stretchy Things, 6-pack, available at Amazon, $9.49

These discreet sensory sticks are designed for restless hands. My kids love using one or more of them at a time, and I also appreciate the stress relief they can provide. Even better, they are designed with neuroatypical people in mind, so if your child has autism, ADD, or ADHD and benefits from sensory stimulation, give these a try. 

Familiar travel buddies

sesame street figures

“Sesame Street” Playskool Collector Figures, 5-pack, available at Amazon, from $9.84

It feels almost foolish to try to pitch the benefits of keeping a “Sesame Street” character or two in your travel bag, so my only advice is this: occasionally rotate the characters.

Letters and words, delightfully bound

flash cards for toddlers

Mudpuppy Alphabet My ABCs Ring Flash Cards, available at Amazon, $12.99 

R is for ring! I like playing cards as a toy in general, and these have the added benefit of being attached to a ring for easy use while traveling. These flash cards are brightly designed, and toddlers of all ages can engage with the illustrated animals, letters, and words.

Easy-to-hold sketch pads

up up mini notebooks

Up & Up Spiral Memo Pads, 3-pack, available at Target, $2.19

I cannot recommend mini notebooks enough if your child can be even marginally entrusted with crayons or pens. They can be used for scribbling, tracing, learning, taking pretend food orders, and so on. Suggest prompts that align with your current travel and watch their imaginations take off. Pro tip: Carry one in each bag you’re traveling with. They’ll all get used.

A long-lasting memory game

memory game for traveling with a toddler

Melissa & Doug Flip-to-Win Memory Game, available at Amazon and Target, $9.99

Great for older toddlers, this memory game comes with 14 themes for repeated rounds of play. The cards slide into the back, and most importantly, the memory pieces aren’t detachable.

Slow and steady wins the ride

magnatab travel toy

Kid O Free Play Magnatab, available at Amazon, $20.61

The Magnatab’s strength as a travel toy is how slow it is. Creating on it requires deliberate action and occasionally correcting errors. It also works surprisingly well as a group toy because each child’s level of concentration is practically contagious — I once watched four pre-kindergarteners patiently take turns.

A 2-in-1 learning toy

mickey mouse board book for car rides

Disney Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Learning Board Book, available at Amazo, $8.99

Older and younger toddlers alike will appreciate this two-in-one toy. At top, there is an erasable drawing pad with a conveniently attached pen. On the bottom is a board book with simple corresponding games.

A classic set for pretend play

battat play phone keys

Battat Cell Phone and Key Toy Set, available at Amazon, $14.94

Pretend phones are an old standby in my house, and this combo set has the added bonus of pretend keys so you don’t accidentally lose yours. They are chunky but light — great for tiny hands — and make just enough sounds to keep toddlers interested without bugging your seat neighbor with aggressive songs. Throw them in your purse, or theirs!

Read the original article on Business Insider

Hasbro is dropping the ‘Mr.’ from its Potato Head toys because ‘culture has evolved,’ and it’s angering critics who say ‘woke imbeciles are destroying the world’

Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head
Life-size versions of the toys formerly known as Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head.

  • Hasbro announced it was dropping the “Mr.” from its line of Potato Head toys.
  • The decision stirred strong feelings online, with critics blaming the choice on “woke” activism. 
  • But the rebranding is part of a broader modernization movement in the toy industry.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

America’s favorite anthropomorphized spuds are getting a rebrand.

Toymaker Hasbro announced on Thursday that it’s dropping the “Mr.” and “Mrs.” from its Potato Head toys beginning this fall. According to Fast Company’s Elizabeth Segran, the decision was based on the way toddlers play with the toys: Young children often make families with the Potato Heads, and not all families look the same.

“Culture has evolved,” Kimberly Boyd, a senior vice president and general manager at Hasbro, told Fast Company. “Kids want to be able to represent their own experiences. The way the brand currently exists – with the ‘Mr.’ and ‘Mrs.’ – is limiting when it comes to both gender identity and family structure.”

Dropping the titles will allow kids to adding whatever type of clothing and accessories they want to the potatoes, allowing for more varied expressions of gender and sexuality, Fast Company reports. 

Hasbro noted in a tweet Thursday afternoon that the Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head toys it currently sells aren’t being discontinued, but will be part of the broader Potato Head product line. 

But the decision to modernize the spuds seems to have stirred some strong feelings, particularly among conservative critics, who are calling the decision silly and over-reactive. 

TV host Piers Morgan has tweeted multiple times about the move, saying it was made in order not to “upset a few wokies.” 

Rep. Lauren Boebert, who represents Colorado’s 3rd congressional district, also implied that the rebranding goes too far in a tweet posted Thursday. 

Political commentator Ben Shapiro has also tweeted about the name change several times, making multiple tongue-in-cheek remarks about the effects of the decision. 

Others have posted comments such as “It’s time for Republican states to secede” and “I’m ready for the apocalypse now.” 

While much of the social media uproar surrounding the potatoes and their genders appears to be at least partly joking, the decision to drop their titles does point to a broader trend in the toy industry: modernization.

As Insider’s Tanya Dua reported this week, other legacy toy brands including Mattel are thinking of ways to reposition their decades-old brands. Barbie, for instance, has transitioned from a plastic supermodel with impossible proportions and a fixation on dating to a role model for young girls – these days, Barbie is speaking out about racial equality and pursuing a career that has nothing to do with Ken.

And she’s no longer just a thin, white, blonde woman: Barbie now comes in 175 different skin tones, ethnicities, eye and hair colors, body types, and abilities. As a result of these changes, sales have increased 19% year-over-year, according to Insider. 

Hasbro, for its part, has also seen sales rise, even amid the pandemic. But as CNBC reports, its success is driven in part by its relationship with Disney: Hasbro holds the master toy license for Marvel and Star Wars content, and it also makes companion toys for wildly popular franchises like “Frozen.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

The last 2 Toys ‘R’ Us stores in the US have closed down after the COVID-19 pandemic hit sales

tru kids
A rendering of a redesigned Toys ‘R’ Us store, from owner Tru Kids.

The last two Toys ‘R’ Us stores in the US have reportedly closed, bringing to an end a two-year effort to re-establish the onetime behemoth’s retail footprint. 

The Toys ‘R’ Us brand, purchased in 2019 by Tru Kids, will reportedly continue as an online retailer. The brand is active on Twitter, YouTube, and other social channels, but its retail effort was hindered by the rise of COVID-19, according to CNBC

“Consumer demand in the toy category and for Toys ‘R’ Us remains strong and we will continue to invest in the channels where the customer wants to experience our brand,” a Tru Kids spokesperson told CNBC.

The final stores were in Texas and New Jersey, Bloomberg reported on Friday. 

toys r us founder
Toys ‘R’ Us founder Charles Lazarus.

After its first store opened in 1957, Toys ‘R’ Us grew into a national chain of more than 700 US locations. In the 1980s and 1990s, the company’s ads saturated children’s TV, saying, “I don’t wanna grow up, I’m a Toys ‘R’ Us kid.” 

 

It filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in September 2017.

At the time, the company placed some blame on Amazon, Walmart, and Target, saying online retailers had created a “perfect storm” that drove Toys ‘R’ Us into bankruptcy. 

The following March, it told employees it would be closing all retail locations in the US. Its UK arm also announced plans to liquidate its business, closing about 100 stores. 

Read more: A ‘tsunami’ of retail bankruptcies is about to sweep the US and drown courts in Chapter 11 filings, lawyer says

In February 2019, newly formed Tru Kids said it planned to revive the brand. In July 2019, the company opened new locations in Houston, Texas, and Paramus, New Jersey. 

The Houston store closed on January 15, and the New Jersey store closed on Tuesday, The Associated Press reported.

In 2020, the renewed company relaunched its website in partnership with Amazon.

Tru Kids didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on Saturday. 

Read the original article on Business Insider