road trips used to be spontaneous and adventurous? Gone are the days when you could just hop in the car and go. Now, with kids involved, you have to plan out car rides with military precision, taking into account nap times and potty breaks, and packing enough snacks, toys, and activities to keep everyone in the car, adults and children alike, from having multiple meltdowns (no matter how short it is). After all, the best family road trip is a drama-free road trip — and the best car toys for toddlers are the key to achieving that dream.
Sure, you can hand a
toddler a tablet to distract them, but there are also other analog options for not only entertaining your tots, but educating them, too. And the longer they get absorbed in toys in the car, the less likely they’ll be bothering you, or demanding you play the Encanto soundtrack for the zillionth time.
The best car toys for kids are fun, hard to lose under and in-between seats, and mess-free — because your car is already littered with loose Cheerios. Whether your little one loves to read, color, tinker, or take in the sights, here are 10 toys to give them something to do in the car, and give you some well-deserved peace and quiet, at least for a few minutes.
01 A Set Of Stickers That Won’t Ruin Your Windows
As much as we love a good set of stickers, what we don’t love is scraping sticker residue off every surface your child can reach. This set of
reusable stickers includes five backgrounds (school, grocery store, restaurant, hospital, and firehouse) and 200+ cling-style, reposition-able stickers. That means maximum entertainment for your little ones no matter how long the car ride is, and minimum clean-up time for you.
You can also choose from six other themes — from fairies to dinosaurs — so there’s a sticker set for everyone.
Review: “Got a pair of these for 2.5 year old twins. Kept them busy for most of a long long trip over 2 days. [...]Also, these will stick to car windows, sippy cups, etc, but are easily removable, for some extra fun.” 02 An Activity Board To Keep Their Hands Busy (And Off You)
You know what they say about idle hands, and that applies especially to kids’ hands. Keep those little hands and fingers busy and out of trouble with this
busy board, which has a variety of sensory experiences. The board was designed by parents and has nine buckles, ties, and buttons, which not only help sharpen fine motor skills, but can also help your toddler practice dressing themselves so that getting ready in the morning might even get easier. Review: “This busy board is awesome! My kids love all of the elements - zipper, velcro, snaps, clip - it has it all. I love that they are learning how to dress themselves while they have fun.We travel a lot, and this is a great toy for road trips. No screen needed.I love the little carrying strap. My oldest daughter likes to throw it over her shoulder and take it with her. My 3 toddlers fight over this fun, educational toy.” 03 A Truly Mess-Free Coloring Kit
Whether your kid likes
Blue Clues, Paw Patrol, Baby Shark, or all of the above, they can draw to their heart’s content with these coloring pads. Each pad comes with 16 pages and is spiral bound to keep the papers together. And the marker colors only show up on the special Color Wonder paper, so you won’t have to worry about showing up at your destination with colorful faces, hands, clothes, or car seats. Review: “Great for little ones that draw on walls the marker will only show up on the paper! Also great for on the go or roadtrips to entertain the little ones![...]” 04 A Set Of Car Toys To Ride With You In The Car
car toys (school bus, family car, fire truck, and police car) are the perfect road trip companion. They don’t require batteries and are made of soft fabric (no accidental injuries), and the wheels detach. Once you’re out of the car or back home, your kids can play with the toys by pulling them back and letting them race across the floor. Review: “I gifted this to my 1 year old and he has been playing with these cars regularly for the last year. They are the perfect size - small enough to travel well but large enough that they can’t get lost. They move very well on hard floors. [...]” 05 A Drawing Pad That Requires No Ink Or Paper
Let your little one get artsy with a
magnetic board, which uses an inkless pen to draw with four different colors for endless masterpiece creation. Your kid can practice drawing, writing, and stamping (two different-shaped stamps are included), and it just takes one swipe of the eraser to create a blank slate again. Choose from four different colored boards: blue (featured), pink, red, and dark rose pink. Review: “My 2 and 3 year old love the way the colors change as they draw. They like to play waitress with it! Also good for long road trips.” 06 A Quiet Educational Toy That Can Be Tossed In The Wash
Help your tot learn some new skills *quietly*. This
soft book is easy to pack and has nine different activities, including matching shapes, learning how to use zippers and buttons, and touching different textures. All the pieces are tethered to the book for safe keeping, and when the book gets too grimy, all you have to do is put it in the included bag and toss it into the washing machine for a quick refresh. The highly rated book (just check out those Amazon reviews) is available in five colors. Review: “This was the perfect thing to get our 3yr old daughter through an 8 hour carride. She absolutely loved playing with all the different pages of activities and such a great way to learn how so many things work. She loves it!” 07 A Magnetic Puzzle So You Never Lose A Piece
Use time in the car to work on fine motor skills, problem-solving, and color recognition, all in the form of a fun
puzzle. Kids can use the attached magnetic wand to guide balls through a maze, navigate through obstacles, and, hopefully, sit still through a whole car ride. Review: “[...]I buy very few new toys but usually pick up something for each road trip to work the wow factor. This item was worth it for us. I will keep it packed away for the next trip.” 08 A Portable Library With 43,000+ Ratings
It’s never to early to instill a love of reading in children. This wildly popular set on Amazon has 10
small books full of bright images and child-friendly, sturdy board pages. Your child can start to learn their ABCs, numbers, shapes, animals, fruits, colors, and more. Review: “Must have library for kids... Bright pictures and thick pages... Small size so can easily carry individual books while traveling.” 09 Some Compact Magnetic Blocks That Are Fun To Play With & Hard To Lose
Your tot will have a whale of a time playing with these
wooden blocks. They have magnets inside so it’s harder to lose them inside the car, and they can be configured into a variety of different shapes. They’re just the right size for small hands and made with sustainably-sourced woods, have water-based finishes, and are nontoxic and lead-free. Choose from 6 designs. Review: “This is a delightful travel companion for a little one in the car, on a plane or even in a restaurant. It is made of wood so it will not break. The whale is small but tiny hands can handle it. [...]” 10 A Pair Of Binoculars For When You Arrive At Your Final Destination
If there’s not enough to play with inside the car, encourage your kid to look outside. These pocket-sized
binoculars are made of nontoxic rubber, have soft eye cups, and a neck strap. Your little one can use them for exploring when you get out of the car or home. There are numerous color options within the listing. Review: “[...]My husband and I run a pedal boat business and decided the kids needed something to take with them. [...] Bought several of THESE that have held up to daily use for months [...] None of these binocs have fogged up or broken. They aren’t [the] strongest, but are perfect for kids!”