10 Play-Doh Alternatives for Toddlers (The Perfect Travel Toy)

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I will be the first to admit I am not a fan of Play-Doh. My wife got our son into Play-Doh while we lived in Playa Del Carmen, and I am not happy about it. I prefer the Play-Doh alternatives in this post.

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Play-Doh has been around for decades, I even played with it growing up, but there are other options. Most parents don’t realize there are other molding-type brands out there for their toddlers.

I know this is a travel blog, but as a parent to an active 3-year-old, I am always looking for the best travel toys to keep our little guy busy.

Now that he loves to build, Play-Doh has taken over. It’s the perfect travel toy for toddlers, but I don’t like dealing with it, so that’s why I started looking for Play-Doh alternatives.

Related Post: Best Travel-Themed Board Games

Some of these alternatives are better for little ones with allergies, provide more sensory play, and your toddler can even color them. Here are my favorite Play-Doh alternatives for toddlers.


crayola experience toddler modeling play
Our little guy making his masterpiece at Crayola Experience in Orlando

The play-doh alternatives in this section are perfect for kids that love to use their imagination to create.

Your little one can mold the clay, foam, or wax into anything they can imagine. These are the few toys that keep our 2-year-old occupied for hours.

He loves to make pizza, planets, french fries, and lots of other food options. Here are my favorite play-doh alternatives for molding fun.

Related Post: Best Travel Books for Toddlers

Playfoam Go!

Playfoam Go!

Playfoam Go! is my favorite Play-Doh alternative for toddlers. I include Playfoam in our travel toy guides for toddlers and on our road trip activities list.

I love it so much that it will be one of our son’s birthday gifts (coming up next month) because I am getting rid of his Play-Doh.

It’s the perfect alternative to play-dog because it never dries out. I can’t tell you how often we find play-doh under the couch hard and unusable, so having foam that doesn’t dry out is perfect for us.

Another reason I like the foam is that it’s easier for him to mold shapes. He can make letters, shapes, or numbers without breaking, which reduces the tantrums because he gets frustrated.

The Playfoam Go! has a travel case, so your little one can take it on road trips, inside restaurants, on an airplane, or to grandma’s house.

Note: I do not recommend using this on the carpet, it can get messy.


  • Travel case included
  • Does not dry out
  • Different colors
  • Printable available


  • Difficult to mold for young kids
  • Can get messy

Playfoam Sets

Last update on 2024-05-22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Modeling Beeswax

Modeling Beeswax

If your little one has allergies, Modeling Beeswax may be the perfect play-doh alternative for your toddler. 

Although there are synthetic dyes inside the modeling wax, they meet the strict standards of the EU, which are significantly more stringent than the US. Outside of the color dyes, this is one of the most natural modeling materials available. 

With 15 different colors, your toddler can spend hours creating anything they can imagine. 

To make the wax more workable, you may have to dip it in warm water for 30-60 seconds, but it just makes it easier for little hands to manipulate. 

Combine the colors without them bleeding into one another like play-doh, so your toddler can mix and match colors to their heart’s content.


  • Includes lots of colors
  • Hypoallergenic
  • Never dries out
  • Easy to clean
  • Can be softened


  • More expensive
  • Need to warm up to make it easier to mold

Read More: Best Travel Toys for 3-Year-Old

Modeling Accessories

Last update on 2024-05-22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Crayola Model Magic

Crayola Model Magic

I fell in love with Crayola Model Magic when we went to Crayola Experience in Orlando with our toddler. It was so much fun, and I loved modeling clay.

This modeling clay is easy for toddlers to shape and comes in a manageable amount for toddlers. There is just enough for them to create, making it easy for your toddler to clean up.

You can reuse it multiple times, or let the modeling clay air-dry and decorate it. Your little ones can paint, color, or draw on the clay once it is fully dry, which takes roughly 24 hours.

This modeling set comes in 9 colors, project cards, and 14 individual clay packages. For younger toddlers, especially 2-year-olds, this is the perfect play-doh alternative.

Note: Keep in mind, that each package only contains 0.5 oz. of modeling clay, so if you need more I’d recommend this Crayola Air Dry Clay


  • Lots of colors
  • No mess
  • Includes project cards
  • Easy to mold/shape
  • Reusable or air-dry
  • Can be colored/painted


  • More expensive
  • Have to store in air-tight container to reuse

Read More: Crayola Color Wonder|Best Mess-Free Markers for Toddlers

Crayola Modeling Magic

Last update on 2024-05-22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Creative Kids Air Dry Clay

Jovi Modeling Clay

Creative Kids Air Dry Clay has everything that your toddler needs to bring their imagination alive. 

There are 30 bright colors, googly eyes, shaping tools, key chains, and even small Ziploc bags to store the clay when they are done.

If you are looking for a complete kit that could keep your toddler busy for hours, then this is it.

Like the other clay on our list, you can reuse this modeling clay by storing it in an air-tight container, like in the plastic bags provided. If your toddler wants their masterpiece to live on, leave it out for 24 hours to dry.

Many parents love that this kit is perfect for siblings in different age groups. Little ones as young as 3 years old and as old as 9 years old will love creating sculptures, ornaments, and keychains.

Note: This clay kit can get messy, so avoid using it on the carpet.


  • Affordable
  • Lots of colors
  • Sculpting tools included
  • Great for older kids


  • Messy
  • Can be sticky

Related Post: LEGO Alternatives for Kids & Adults

Kinetic Sand

Kinetic Sand

My wife loves Kinetic Sand. It recently went on sale here in Playa Del Carmen, and she bought every pack for our little guy.

He loves to play in the sand, so for $3, he got nearly 4 lbs of kinetic sand in several different colors.

We play with this Kinetic Sand as a family at least once a week. It’s a great way to have family playtime, but our little one is still learning how to share, so it doesn’t always go well, but it’s fun most of the time.

Parents love that sand sticks together, making it easier when it’s time to clean up. You can pick up loose sand with other sand, so take it on the go.

Kinetic sand is one of my favorite airplane toys for toddlers, especially active little ones. This interactive toy puts your toddler’s focus on building, so flights are a breeze.


  • Traveling sandbox
  • Hypo-allergenic
  • Includes molds and tools


  • Can get messy
  • May need to buy more sand

Related Post: Best Beach Toys for Toddlers

Kinetic Sand Colors & Kits

Last update on 2024-05-22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


Slime and putty are great alternatives for Play-Doh, especially for toddlers. Our son loves the texture of slime, so it’s great for sensory play for 2-year-olds.

Putty can be used to make creatures or twirl around. Check out these slime and putty-inspired play-doh alternatives.

Related Post: 50 Road Trip Activities for Toddlers

Crazy Aaron’s Putty

Playfoam Go!

In all honesty, I included Crazy Aaron’s Putty because I love the cool colors and couldn’t pass up including this unique color. What toddler wouldn’t want to play with glow-in-the-sparkling putty? 

This is one of the most popular brands for adults, so I’m sure kids will love this putty. The formula is non-toxic, so you don’t have to worry about your little one playing with this putty. 

Crazy Aaron’s is one of the few play-doh alternatives manufactured in the US, so if that’s important to you, this is the brand for you.

They’ve recently started introducing scented putty, so your toddler can smell the pleasant aroma while playing. Plus, this brand doesn’t leave any messy residue on your hands, so it’s easy to clean up.

I recently purchased this putty at Target on a whim, and it is a great way to keep my hands busy during long Zoom meetings.

Many parents rave about this product for children with high anxiety. Take it on your next flight and keep your little one’s hands busy. 

Note: There have been some complaints when it comes to opening the tin container. There is a video on the company’s website to show you how to open the container.


  • Lots of unique colors
  • Never dries out
  • Scented
  • Bounces


  • Expensive
  • Can difficult to open

Crazy Aaron’s Putty Colors

Last update on 2024-05-22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Inner-Active Play Putty

Inner-Active Play Putty

Inner-Active Play Putty is a fun toy that helps kids. Physical therapists created this putty to help kids with their intrinsic hand muscles and build strength in their hands.

It’s also a great way to keep your little one busy while on an airplane or in the car on a long road trip. It’s not as soft as other putties, so keep that in mind when purchasing it for your toddler.

This putty helps kids work the muscles in their hands, so your little one may need some patience. The charms included make it more fun, so your little one can create a little zoo.

This is a great alternative for kids that suffer from high anxiety. It can relax their minds and even help their parents destress. 


  • Includes charms
  • Helps kids build hand muscles
  • Easy to clean up


  • Expensive
  • May be difficult for little hands
  • Charms are ceramic, so be careful


Cra-Z-Art Snow

I ran across SlimySand while looking for a Play-Doh alternative birthday gift for our soon-to-be 3-year-old. You must admit, it’s a pretty cool concept to put sand and slime together.

Your toddler can build anything, and it’ll actually stay together. This is the only way I could build a sandcastle that’ll stay together.

Use it as slime and pull and twist it, or use the molds included to create sea creatures. The rolling pun has designs inside, so roll some cool footprints in the sand.

There is so much for your toddler to do with this fun sandy slime. Honestly, it’s the perfect play-doh alternative for parents looking for a fun screen-free activity.


  • Easy for toddlers to use
  • Lots of fun colors
  • Includes molds and stamps


  • Inconsistent quality
  • Can stain surface
  • Leaves some residue on hands


The play-doh alternatives in this section aren’t similar to the building clay, but they are fun alternatives that still spark your toddler’s imagination.

I wanted to include something different that toddlers will enjoy and keep them occupied for a little while. Anything productive (outside of screen time) that can keep our son occupied is a win in my book.

Related Post: 20 Toddler Travel Essentials


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WikkiStix is a favorite of my wife. She’s been a preschool teacher for nearly 10 years, and she loves using these with toddlers.

I wanted to include them in our list as a fun alternative. Your toddler can create anything that comes to mind with these fun wax sticks.

My wife recommends these wax sticks for kids at least 3.5 years old, which is when they are more likely to create 3-D figures from sticks such as these.


  • Great for older toddlers
  • No extra tools needed


  • Can stick to surfaces
  • Only comes with 24 stixs

Amazing Super Snow

Amazing Super Snow

I grew up in Northeast Ohio, but I spent the last 10 years in Southern California, so sometimes I miss the snow, but not the cold.

When we started our crazy gap year, we stopped in New Mexico to play in some snow, which our son loved. Ever since then, we’ve been on the lookout for artificial snow for our little guy.

We found Amazing Super Snow and have been having a blast playing with it. Who says you can’t have snow in Mexico? 

Use beach or snow toys to make fun molds of animals inside. Whether you are in the desert or on the beach, you can have some fun in the snow.

Note: Some parents use this to make slime, so it could be a fun DIY project for a rainy day.


  • Makes a lot of snow
  • Affordable
  • Easy to make
  • Can be used to make sline


  • Messy

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