your cart

the best airplane snacks for kids: 40 airplane snacks for a happier flight

the best airplane snacks for kids: 40 airplane snacks for a happier flight

You booked a trip with your kids—exciting! But now you’re left wondering how you're going to occupy them for several (or more) hours while they’re flying through the air on a crowded plane. Have no fear. I’ve been there, and I can tell you snacks go a long way in keeping everyone happy (including the childless couple across the aisle who just wants to sleep). 

Packing snacks for an airplane is a different challenge than packing snacks for a day at the park or a playdate. So, we’re giving you a list of the best airplane snacks for kids, along with special considerations for air travel (like TSA restrictions). 

a boy looks down at a bento box that includes a pastry, pretzels, and fruit

Save time and skip ahead, or read straight through for a full crash course in snacking at 35,000 feet. 

tips for packing airplane snacks

adhere to TSA restrictions

Your snack plans shouldn’t hold you up at security. Here are the general guidelines:

  • Food is allowed in your carry-on
  • Any gels or liquids must not exceed 3.4oz (think: pouches, yogurts, and dips) 

Bringing little ones with you? Formula, breastmilk, and pureed baby food are all considered medically necessary. You may bring them with you in quantities larger than 3.4oz if needed. Security will simply need to test a small portion of your milk/formula/baby food 

If you’re unsure about a specific food item, you can check out this TSA web page, which details any restrictions by food items and provides contact information for live assistance. 

consider allergies and choking hazards 

I probably don’t have to tell you not to bring peanut butter if your kid is allergic to it. But even if you don’t have peanut allergies in your family, you may want to be wary of peanut butter. If another passenger has an allergy, you may find yourself on a “no peanut flight.” 

The other health consideration? Choking. Make sure you pre-slice foods like grapes for children under five. Plus, it’s best to avoid corn chips like Doritos for young children. 

minimize the mess 

A big difference between playdate snacks and airplane snacks is your ability to clean up a mess. Here are my tips for keeping things clean: 

  • Avoid single-use packaging, so that you have less to throw away (and bring a small bag to collect garbage in one place). 
  • Avoid disaster spills. Drop a banana? No big deal. Spill a family-sized bag of M&Ms all over the floor? Probably a bigger deal. 
  • Consider the impact of Cheeto fingers or chocolate smeared across tiny faces—which brings me to…
  • No matter how old your kids are, bring baby wipes. Napkins aren’t going to get those Cheeto fingers clean. 

Ultimately, you have to decide what kind of mess you’re willing to deal with. Personally? I’m okay with Cheeto fingers as long as I have baby wipes. I’m not okay with dealing with post-M&M-spill embarrassment.

pack wisely 

The first time I flew with my daughter, she was only 11 months old. We threw her snacks (and ours) in a backpack. This worked okay with a baby, but I won’t be flying that way with my now almost three-year-old. 

When I’m packing, I’m trying to:

  • Avoid single-use plastic 
  • Give my kid the ability to independently eat her snacks without handing over a whole bag of chips 
  • Get my child involved in picking and packing some of her favorites 

This makes bento boxes--compartmentalized lunchboxes--a great option (I like for kids). for kids also has these snackboxes, with two leak-proof compartments (and one compartment can hold a whole piece of fruit, like an apple). 

a snackbox and a bento box are shown against a green background

keep your kids happy during take-off and landing

Do you know that ear-popping sensation you get during take-off and landing? While you might find it irritating, your children might find it uncomfortable or even painful. Chewy snacks can help to alleviate the pressure. Pack fruit snacks—or even something fun, like Skittles (depending on your child’s age and your own comfort level with sugary snacks)—to keep the tears at bay. 

parent-approved airplane snacks for kids

For me to deem a snack parent-approved, it has to meet the following criteria:

  • Little to no mess
  • Nutritional value (i.e., the food should help fill them up)
  • Tastes great! 

So, without further ado, here are 30 of the best snacks for airplanes, organized by bento box compartment and/or food group:

grains and seeds 

  1. Trail Mix: Combine nuts, chocolate, granola, and raisins for a healthy, filling snack. 
  2. Homemade muffins: Make muffins at home for a filling, nutritious airplane breakfast.
  3. Granola bars: Make them yourself or grab a box of favorites from the store. 
  4. Rice cakes: Full-sized rice cakes or rice cake balls are easy, mess-free snacks.
  5. Cereal bars: Dry cereal by itself could spill—cereal bars minimize the mess.
  6. Wheat thins: Wheat thins are great with dips and fruit! 
  7. Ritz crackers: My daughter loves Ritz crackers, especially with cheese! 
  8. Puffs (for younger ones): Puffs are those melt-in-your-mouth cereal snacks for very young kids, and they saved everyone’s ears on my daughter’s first flight.
  9. Sunflower seeds (without the shell): Sunflower seeds are a great nutritious snack (just make sure you skip the shells). 
  10. Pumpkin seeds: This seed option is healthy and tasty! 

fruits and veggies

  1. Sliced fruit: Strawberries, melon, and grapes are all great options!
  • Pro tip: Use a snackbox or lunchbox to store a whole apple—no need to worry about browning! 
    1. Pureed fruit pouches: As long as you don’t exceed 3.4 oz, these are great options.
    2. Raisins: Easy, nutritious, and mess-free.
    3. Cucumber slices: Refreshing, nutritious, and delicious! 
    4. Fruit cups: Pre-packaged fruit cups are easy and don’t require an ice pack.
    5. Fruit leather: This dried fruit is great for chewing during take-off and landing.
    6. Dried seaweed snacks or baked kale: Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it. These are great alternatives to chips. 

    dairy/cold items

    1. String cheese: Use an ice pack to keep this snack cool.
    2. Cheese cubes: Serve them up with crackers or pretzels!

    a snackbox is packed with pretzels and cheese cubes

    1. Simple sandwiches: Use an ice pack to keep a simple ham and cheese slider cool. 
    2. Deli meat rollups: Grab some ham and cheese, and skip the bread.
    3. Homemade “lunchable”: Pack crackers, cheese, and pepperoni for a homemade lunchable.


    chips, dips, and other snacks 

    1. Chickpea puffs (like Hippeas): Chickpea puffs are a less-messy (and more nutritious) alternative to Cheeto puffs.
    2. Pretzels or pita bread with hummus: Pack a small container of hummus and serve it with pretzels or mini pitas. 
    3. Veggie sticks/straws: These tasty alternatives to chips are great for snacking.
    4. Animal crackers: You can’t go wrong with this classic. 
    5. Dark chocolate pieces: You might want to keep wipes on hand for chocolate-covered hands, but otherwise, these are a great sweet treat. 
    6. Rice pudding cups: Pre-packaged rice pudding cups are easy and delicious. 
    7. Banana chips: Dried banana, so you don’t have to worry about a fresh banana losing its luster on the flight.
    8. Edamame: Prepare some cooked or dried edamame snacks for nutritious snacking. 

    kid-approved snacks

    Ideally, your kids “approve” of some of the snacks above. But, here are a few treats just in case. I like to choose snacks from the parent-approved list and let my kid pick one off the list below. Again - your list of treat options may vary depending on your child’s age. 

    1. Skittles 
    2. Starbursts
    3. Cheetos 
    4. Pop-tart bites 
    5. Cheese crackers (like Cheez-its or Goldfish) 
    6. Mini muffins 
    7. Fruit snacks
    8. Pre-packaged cookies
    9. Gummy bears
    10. Marshmallows

    so, what am I packing for my kid’s next flight? 

    These lists are helpful, but I know it’s still tough to narrow things down and choose the best snacks for your kids. Here’s an example of what I plan to bring for my three-year-old on our next flight. 

    • Cheese cubes with strawberries
    • Pita and hummus 
    • Mini muffins (let’s be honest, I’m probably going to go pre-packaged here)
    • Fruit snacks
    • Pepperoni 
    • Chickpea puffs 
    • Special candy (she picks)

    a toddler sits in her carseat on a flight, smiling at the camera, next to her father

    My now-toddler on her first flight! Don't worry, we buckled her up.

    If that seems like a lot, it’s because it is. Our flight will only be a couple of hours but I want variety and back-up snacks to keep her happy. Plus, I want to make sure we don’t wind up empty-handed while waiting in the terminal and traveling in the rental car.

    meet for kids

    I love using snackboxes for kids and lunchboxes for portable snacks and meals that my kids can eat independently. Made with leak-proof compartments and non-toxic materials, for kids checks all the boxes for me when I’m shopping for reusable lunch products. When I’m preparing for my next flight, I know my snack and lunchboxes will help me pack with ease!

    Previous post
    Next post