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10 Ways To Distract A Toddler During A Road Trip


Even short car rides can seem like they’re taking forever for a toddler. This is why many kids get restless and fussy in the car, especially the younger they are. A great way to combat this is to give your toddler a distraction, so they’re having fun instead of focusing on how much longer they have.

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Give the following ten activities a try if you need an easy distraction for your toddler on a car ride.

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10 Play A Movie

Putting on a movie is a great way to easily distract a fussy toddler. Nowadays, many vehicles come with built-in screens that allow you to play a movie or T.V. show. Or you can also invest in a holder for your tablet that attaches to the back of the seat.

While older children may be able to hold a tablet to watch a movie, this isn’t a great idea for toddlers since they may drop it and need you to pick it up or potentially damage it.

9 Animal Name Game

If you’re driving somewhere with a lot of animals (like an area with farms), then play this game with your toddler. Have them call out the name of an animal when they see it. Your toddler is likely just becoming familiar with animal names, so this is a fun way to educate them while having a blast.

8 Storytime

If you have few resources at your disposal, then you can always use your imagination to come up with a fun story to entertain your toddler. Try to get them involved as much as possible by asking them what the story should be about.

Depending on your toddler’s communication skills, you may even be able to ask them “Then what happened next?” so they can have control over where the narrative goes.

7 Sing-A-Long Session

Children love music, so put on some of your toddler’s favorite tunes and get the whole car singing. If you have time beforehand, consider making a family-friendly playlist of songs to which your family already knows the lyrics. Just make sure they’re age appropriate.

6 ‘I Spy’ Game

Another classic road trip game to play with children is ‘I Spy.’ One person picks out an object without saying what it is, and then gives a hint using the phrase ‘I spy….” Stick to items that are in your car, so you don’t drive by it before your child can guess what it is.

If your toddler is struggling or getting frustrated, give them clearer hints to get them on the right track.

5 Snacks

A simple way to distract your toddler in the car is to give them something to munch on. Snacks are a great thing to have tucked away for those moments you need a distraction. Keep them in the glove box and offer them to your toddler when they’re fussy. Make sure it’s a snack that isn’t going to spill or require a lot of adult help.

4 Magnetic Puzzles

If your toddler loves a hands-on activity, prepare a magnetic puzzle before hitting the road. The Mama Notes says all you have to do is stick magnetic dots to the back of each puzzle piece. You can pick up magnetic strips with adhesive at the art store or dollar store. Then, stick them onto a cookie sheet.

The magnets will prevent the pieces from falling to the ground, while the cookie sheet gives your child something firm to do the puzzle on. Of course, make sure the puzzle is age appropriate.

3 Coloring

It’s a smart idea to always have coloring supplies on-hand for your child in the car. It’s best to use crayons since these aren’t as easy to get on material or skin, unlike markers. They also don’t require you to sharpen them like pencil crayons, which would be a hassle while on the road.

Additionally, give your child a clipboard. Not only will this act as a hard surface, but it will keep the paper in place, so it doesn’t fall to the car’s floor.

2 ‘Simon Says’ Game

If you’re all out of ideas, then try ‘Simon Says.’ This classic children’s game has the leader – known as Simon – instructing everyone else to follow his lead. Do toddler-friendly actions that can be performed in the car (like touching your head or raising a hand).

Remember, if you don’t announce the action with ‘Simon says,’ then anyone who did it is out. However, you can modify this game depending on your child’s age and skill level.

1 Scavenger Hunt

Finally, consider doing an in-car scavenger hunt with your toddler. Since they’re so young, it’s not going to work to give them a list of things to find. Rather, go one by one, so they don’t get overwhelmed.

Instruct them to identify things that are easy to spot on your car ride (this will depend on the area you’re driving through). For example, ask them to spot a stop sign or a bird. Once they spot the object or animal, you can move on to another thing.

Sources: Parents, The Mama Notes, Emily M Krause,

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