Stash travel distractions into the car’s seat-back pockets

Here’s how Christine’s keeping her daughter entertained in the car:

My 18 month-old daughter is often quite tired and grumpy by the time I pick her up to take her home from child care. I often need to have something in the car to distract her. I have found that things clipped onto the car seat straps get in the way when putting her in and out. I have taken to slipping about 4 books in the pocket on the back of the seat in front of her.  After she is clipped in, I offer her the books and she chooses one she wants to read.  She loves turning pages, so I make sure they are books with real pages (rather than board books).  She usually "reads" the book out loud for the rest of the trip.  It has been a great sanity saver.

Those early toddler months were the trickiest for us when it came to keeping the peace in the car. The kids  are old enough to want to play, but still novices when it comes to manual dexterity, and frustration tolerance…well we all know about how much of that a toddler can manage. Music and audiobooks helped us. Any more tips for keeping toddlers happy in the car with a minimum of parental involvement?

Related: Check out audiobooks from the library before your road trip


  1. says

    We have a small mesh bag with an assortment of entertainment, crayons and sticker coloring book, tiny toy car and airplane, travel size magna doodle, couple light paperback books. I like the bag because it’s portable. It was a life saver recently when we had to take a sudden trip to the ER. (All was fine, husband just had a bad nose bleed.) I grabbed the bag and brought it in with us and it helped me keep her entertained for two hours.

  2. Heather G says

    I can’t say enough about the travel size Magna Doodle and Aquadoodle. The kids get to “color”, and I don’t have to worry about what they are actually coloring on.

  3. Julia says

    Like Allen, we started off with stickers when my daughter was a toddler. She loved to stick them all over herself. Eventually, we were able to get away with just scotch tape. I’d stick several pieces loosely on her leg when we got in the car, and she’d be entertained moving the pieces all over. If she ran out, I could easily pull off of a few more pieces for her at the next stop light. Cheap and easy to pull off if she happened to stick the tape on the car or car seat, rather than herself.

  4. says

    After reading this yesterday I was remembering one of the best times I had with my little toddler was when she got fussy in the car on the way home from a pediatric appointment. I started reciting one of our favorite books, “Moo, Baa, La La La,” and she played along, making the sounds of all the animals in the book. We got a lot of mileage out of that, reciting it on quite a number of car trips around town.

  5. says

    We have an assortment of items hiding in the compartment between our front seats. From matching race cars,crayons and paper, magnadoodle, etch-a-sketch, the view master (that great little toy you look into and see a reel of pictures) snacks and books. Of course theres more in there, but it’d take a day to remember it all.

    The thing is, those toys don’t leave the van when we get home. They don’t get bored with them as easy because they only see them on trips out. ^-^

  6. Steph says

    I’m glad I’m not the only one with a bag of tricks in the car. Now my question if how to keep 3 age groups simultaneously occupied with out them fighting?! (Mine are 8, 4, and 2)