Practical Travel Tips

Traveling with a Little One? Here’s the Toy You NEED!

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A year before we took Little A abroad for the first time, I began fretting about planning for the trip.

One question came back to me again and again.

How would I keep her entertained on the plane?

Eight hours on a plane is a long time for most people. It’s an eternity for a 17-month old.

I began scouring Amazon for the perfect age-appropriate toy, something that would absorb Little A’s attention for more than two minutes.

I ordered lots of activity books. Bad idea. Little A was just too little to get the awesomeness of stickers. When I enthusiastically peeled up a cupcake sticker and stuck it on another page, she looked at me like I had lost my mind and got back to building tall Lego towers and knocking them down. (Sadly, the airplane tray table is no place for a toddler’s Lego collection.)

Fast forward a year, and she loves these activity books. But at the time of our trip,  she wasn’t there yet.

I also ordered her the kid’s Kindle Fire with the Free Time subscription. It’s awesome. I had a great time downloading books and apps. Little A wasn’t into it yet. (A year+ later, she would be happy to watch Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood all day long if we let her.)

And I won’t enumerate the books I bought and the trinkets from the Dollar Spot at Target I frantically grabbed.

Instead, I’ll tell you about the toy I ordered well before Little A could play with it. That didn’t matter. At six months, she loved examining it, eager to figure out how it worked.

While she rejected other toys after a few weeks or months, she would come back to this, clearly determined to master it.

By the time we left for our trip, she was getting the hang of it.

By the time we got home, she had it all figured out but still loved to play with it.

What is this wonder toy that holds my toddler’s attention?

Becky Buckle.

But we just call her Ladybug.

Little A’s fascination with buckles started early, prompting me to go online in search of buckle-based entertainment for her. At Amazon, I found a whole selection of toys by Buckle Toy.

Becky Buckle–a ladybug with a zipper and two buckles down her back and embroidered numbers and four buckles across her tummy–caught my eye.

Before Little A was born, we called her Ladybug, so naturally we ordered the ladybug, but there are plenty of other critters available.

Little A took to her Ladybug right away even though it was nearly a year before she could really manipulate the buckles. By the time we left for our trip, she had mastered one of the buckles. By the time we got home, she could clip them all and had even figured out that the pink buckle and the yellow buckle were the same. Was she pleased with herself when she clipped together a pink half of a buckle to a yellow half? Damn straight she was!

Everyone who noticed Little A’s Ladybug asked where I bought it or commented on how they wished they’d had one for their kid or grandkid. And I have said again and again that one of the Buckle Toys will be my go-to present the next time I’m invited to a baby shower. There are lots to choose from. In addition to Becky Buckle, there’s Belle Turtle, Blossom Butterfly Backpack, Bolt Airplane, and Barkley Dog among others.

Did Little A play with Ladybug for hours on end? Of course not. If you live with a toddler, you know that they don’t do anything for very long. But Ladybug occupied Little A long enough for this mommy to enjoy her in-flight gin and tonic, and that’s what counts.

Long story short: I recommend Buckle Toys for young toddlers whether you’re flying transatlantic flight with them or just trying to get to the supermarket and back.

Bonus: The short straps on these toys mean that you can secure them to your carry-on luggage rather than try to cram them in with the 8 million other things you’ll need for the flight. The Husband quite happily walked through three airports with Ladybug buckled to his backpack. The things daddies do for their daughters!

What about you? Do you have a sanity-saving toy you’d recommend to parents of toddlers?

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