Traveling with children can be overwhelming, from what to pack, what to prepare, and how they behave on such a voyage. Traveling by plane can be even more overwhelming as you try to entertain them on a flight and not annoy your neighbor. As an Early Childhood Specialist, my biggest tip is to bring snacks for your toddlers and kids to eat on the airplane, and lots of them! However, you don’t want them filling up on cookies and puffs the whole flight, either.
Check out my list of healthy airplane snack ideas for toddlers and kids that you can pack and serve mid-flight that will be appealing and healthy to your little one while keeping their bellies full longer. Then, read some snack-packing tips to help you stay organized and make mealtime easy and accessible.
10 Healthy Airplane Snacks for Toddlers and Kids
1. Homemade Muffins
Muffins are easy to eat on the go, low-mess, and energy-dense, and you can pack them full of fruits and veggies. They are a great vessel to hide extra fruit and veggies without your littles knowing. My “mom hack” is to buy a boxed mix and blend in some carrots, berries, or even zucchini for added nutrition.
A child favorite and a filling snack, too. Try to avoid ones with nuts or nut butter due to allergies on the plane, but granola-packed ones are great to fill up on.
3. Sauce Pouches
These pouches are 100% allowed on planes. They fall under the “baby food” category, which you can bring. Mix up the flavors and even bring veggie ones for added health benefits. They can also help with constipation issues, which tend to happen on vacation due to our eating habits and schedule changes.
4. Dried Cereals
Make a container of Cheerios, a snack and an activity all in one. Create Cheerio bracelets and necklaces or use them to play a game of checkers or tic tac toe. The possibilities are endless for this snack idea.
5. Cheese Sticks
This is a great protein-packed snack but can be challenging for long flights without refrigeration. If you are packing a cooler for the baby, toss some of these in there for your older ones.
6. Trail Mix
A fun activity to do before the flight (and to clear out your cabinet) is to let your children make their own trail mix. Take all the cereals, pretzels, and snacks out of the pantry and let them make their own “travel mix.”
7. Whole or Cut Fruit
Choose fruits that aren’t super juicy to minimize mess. We like grapes, apples, and bananas. Be sure to pre-cut them to help with choking hazards and ease of eating. To avoid browning, squirt a little lemon juice on them to keep them fresh-looking and add a little tang.
Pack the single-serving kind and let kids dip their crackers, fruit, or veggies. It gives them a boost of protein and healthy fat, all while keeping portion control.
9. Whole Grain Crackers or Pretzels
Great for dipping into that hummus or alone as a salty treat.
10. Raw Veggies
Choose easy-to-eat options like baby carrots, sugar snap peas, and bell pepper strips. Easy for little ones to grasp and great for dipping, too.
Snack-Packing Tips for Successful Travel with Children
Keep snacks in zippered plastic bags.
As much as we love reusable containers, dealing with reusables during travel is a huge pain. Instead, pack snacks in individual portions that are easy to get and hand them to kids one at a time.
Pack your kids’ favorite cups.
Flights don’t commonly offer milk, so if you plan to serve some in your day, buy it after going through security or bring milk boxes for extra convenience and a treat.
Pack an activity bag.
Pack a small backpack or bag for your kids with a few things they love, including one or two books, some snacks, and their own cup. Kids love this independence; even toddlers love being in charge of their “stuff.” And you won’t have to carry as much.
The key to any successful travel day is full bellies, which make for happy campers. Hopefully, these tips will help you feel prepared for your next flight. Be sure to check your TSA guidelines in case things have changed, and avoid nuts and nut butters due to the allergy factor of all those on board. If you are worried about your child eating too many airplane snacks and not enough substance, my advice is to start your day with a solid meal or a green smoothie if you do not have enough time. This will help balance nutrients, protein, and fruits/vegetables to help fill your little one up and make you feel better about the rest of the day’s snacking.