First-time parents may find they don’t know what baby travel items they’ll need when going abroad. So, they may go overboard with their packing checklist in anticipation of what they may need for the trip. This ends up taking away space or adding a carry on to a flight of things parents will never use. Not everything needs to be taken, and some can be purchased when you arrive at your destination.
Having the right baby travel gear while including everything from a diaper bag, wet wipes, and a sippy cup, can be overwhelming to think about. Luckily, we’ve come up with an easy packing checklist that includes all the baby travel essentials you’ll need for your kid.
What to Pack In the Carry On Bag
This is a parent’s cheat sheet on the travel gear you’ll need in your carry on bag. It takes the guesswork out of what you may require on your trip and streamlines the process. Not everything is required for a trip. Just take enough plus a few extra clothes just in case, and you will be fine.
- Two days and night’s worth of diapers in case you are delayed
- Lots of wet wipes
- Changing pad
- Three bibs
- Three baby blankets – one as a burp cloth, one to cover while breastfeeding, and the third for warmth
- Two to three bottles if you are not breastfeeding. It may be more depending on the duration of your flight
- A change of clothes
- Change of clothes for parents in the event of a mess or spit up
- Dirty duds or ziplock bag to store soiled clothes
- Pacifiers if your child uses them
- Food which includes two small jars of baby food and snacks if they are on solids
- Granola or cereal bars for parents for an easy snack
- Activities to keep your child busy while travelling
- Infant ibuprofen or acetaminophen depending on the age in case they are needed
- Antibacterial wipes
- Cell phone
- Battery charger
- Cell phone charger
What to Pack in the Child’s Suitcase
- Diapers and diaper cream
- Wet wipes
- Baby wash and shampoo
- Baby lotion
- First Aid Kit comprised of things your child may need such as medications, antibiotic ointments, bandages, the pediatrician’s phone number and outlet covers to babyproof the hotel room
- Portable breast pump
- Breast storage bags or containers
- Breast milk cooler or regular cooler
- Ice pack to keep breast milk cool
- A few jars of baby food
- Bowl and utensils
- Bottle brush
- Bags for snacks
- Bottles or sippy cup
- Shoes, clothes, hats, socks, jacket and sweater – two outfits per day that you are away and two extras just in case
- Lightweight baby carrier or stroller. Make sure it packs as flat as possible for easier storage
- Car seat for the plane ride
- Portable feeding seat for older kids
- Monitor if baby is not in the same room
- Clothing for the weather
When travelling with your baby, there are several things to consider making the journey more of a positive experience.
- Leave the stroller behind. You can take it, if necessary. However, wearing the baby in a carrier saves room and will allow you to easily go through crowds as opposed to a stroller.
- Reserve a bassinet at the airport. It is one less thing to carry and will be a calm place for your baby to quietly sleep.
- Anticipate accidents. Babies should be dressed in fleece pajamas since planes are kept on the cooler side temperature wise. Pack extra clothes for both you and the baby in case of an accident such as spit up, vomit, food stains, and a diaper that overflows.
- Use earache prevention techniques. Have your child suck on a pacifier, bottle or breast feed during landing and take-off. This will remove the inner ear pressure allowing the trip to be more enjoyable.
- Be considerate to other travelers. Some babies babble loudly or are noisy. This is disruptive to other passengers. Find a creative way to engage your child throughout the trip.
If you are flying, reserve a spot for your baby. Some airlines provide discounted tickets. Bring the car seat and strap your child in for added safety. It is also easier on the parent to travel this way. The child will not be squirming on your lap, and you can tend to them easier.
Parents need to ensure their child restraint system is airplane compliant. Not all of them are.
Children have short attention spans and can get bored easily while you are boarding your flight and during the trip. The best solution is to have your partner go ahead with the bags while you and the baby walk the terminal. This will provide scenery for your child, and you can interact easily with them with minimal frustration.
Plus, children like to interact with others, and on a flight, they are usually surrounded with plenty of admirers to captivate their attention.
Bring some favorite toys to keep your child entertained. Also pack some snacks and drinks. This keeps everyone happy and hydrated during the trip. Bring extra drinks as planes tend to dehydrate people.
Ask for help when you need it. If you need a bottle heated up, airlines are pretty accommodating for families.
Make sure that all objects are tied to your baby. It is easy in a terminal to lose items of importance. Once they are gone, they are impossible to find. Some parents use pacifier clips to attach small toys to their little one.
You can keep your child entertained with products around you. An air sick bag can double as a puppet. A blanket can be used to play a game of peek a boo. Count anything. Be creative with your child.
If you are travelling by car, entertainment systems can keep your child happy. While you are driving, they can be kept entertained by baby or child DVDs or Blu-Rays. Some movies can be transferred and played through USB as well.
Movies provide visual stimulation for children and can give parents a nice break.
If your car doesn’t have a built-in system, there are portable entertainment units which strap to the back of a seat for entertainment purposes.
Messes will occur while driving. There is a potential for food to spill or for a child to get sick. Be sure that you have towels or wipes when needed. An extra bag can be used in case a wardrobe change needs to happen or for clothes that have vomit on them.
Make sure they are kept airtight as they may ferment in a heated car very easily.
Tips for Travelling With a Baby Under One Year
- Use a bassinet for long flights and an aisle seat at the front for shorter flights. Aisle seats are perfect if you need to comfort a crying baby or need to quickly change them. You won’t be stepping over people in your hurry to attend to your baby. It allows for a quick exit.
Bassinets often fasten to bulkheads on an international flight. Call in advance to book them and they will put the request on your ticket. Not all flights will offer this, but you can always check.
Often, they are given on a first come, first serve basis, and they can all be taken. That is why it is best to reserve them ahead of time.
- When babies are safe to travel depends on the airline. Some need the baby to be a minimum of two days old, while others require them to be two weeks old. Each airline has different policies, so it is best to check with them ahead of time.
Doctors recommend waiting until the infant’s immune system is developed more prior to flying. They usually ask that you wait until they are one month old, although many recommend, they are between the ages of three to six months.
The only alternative if your child is too young and you need to get somewhere is to travel by car.
- Overall, travel with as few baby items as possible. The lighter the load, the easier travel becomes. Carrying things that are non-essentials just weighs you down and can make you tired. It also makes maneuvering through crowds increasingly difficult.
Think about what you really need to take and pack accordingly. For young babies, they don’t require much other than food, changing and a quiet place to sleep. You will find that they may sleep through most of the trip because they may find the motion soothing.
- Parents should pack light as well. To do this, make sure you can pair multiple outfits with each other. This way should the baby spit up on a top, you can easily change it without having to change your entire wardrobe. Remove the what-ifs and pack for practicality.
- Use only the diapers that you will need for your trip. Diapers take up space in a bag, and you will only need enough for the trip, plus a few extra days just in case. Diapers are available everywhere, so you can make another purchase when you arrive. This cuts down on the space you need for travelling.
- Breastfeed if possible. Breastfeeding doesn’t require any extra equipment. Dress for breastfeeding to make it easier and carry a cloth to cover the baby. Portable breast pumps are also available that are so quiet and discrete, no one will know you are pumping. They also take up very little space.
- Rent a car with a car seat when you arrive. If you need to travel with a car seat, have one that clips into the stroller seat.
- Know when to call it a day. Sometimes, despite your best efforts, things are just not working out. The baby is fussy or loud, or just won’t still. Make plans that are flexible and have an easy exit just in case you need to return to your hotel room.
You can either fight the situation and everyone becomes miserable or replan then go with the flow.
- Use priority boarding, customs, and security. People with small children receive board priority on most major airlines. Parents can get settled and stow their stuff before there are throngs of people boarding simultaneously. This makes the flight seamless and less chaotic for the baby.
Sometimes, security agents will usher parents with babies to the front of the line when it comes to passing through security. You may be taken to a priority or family line. Sometimes these lines come equipped with areas especially designed to keep babies entertained.
Also, remember to let the custom’s officer know that you are carrying breast milk if you are. They will probably examine the bag or storage container by x-raying it. Also, breast pumps are classified as medical devices and not deemed a carry on.
- Request a crib to be available at your hotel or AirBnB. Often, they have a pack and play crib. If you need to, pack a lightweight, portable playard for your child to sleep in.
- Make sure your child has a passport as they need one, too.
- On some flights, babies can fly in their parent’s arms for free. However, on some international flights there is a small fee for the child. Pay for this ahead of time if you can as it will be more stressful to do so in an airport terminal when you are juggling luggage.
- Invest in travel insurance and know where the closest doctor or emergency room is. Accidents can happen, and it never hurts to be prepared.
- Do laundry on the road when you can. This prevents you from packing extra clothes.
These are all suggestions on how to pack when travelling with a baby. While you may think that you need to be prepared for every conceivable incident, if you plan smartly, you can get by on packing very few things.
Airlines and hotels make it easy for parents to stay with babies. Instead of packing a sleep area, most parents can request a crib for their baby.
Clothes can be packed lightly, and laundry can be done in the hotel. Many come equipped with laundry rooms that parents can use at any time. This way, you don’t have to pack weeks’ worth of clothing and can pack lightly. This will prevent the strain on your neck, shoulders, and lower back from lugging a heavy bag.
If you follow these simple rules and pack, accordingly, travelling with a baby will be an effortless and enjoyable experience for everyone. All it requires is flexibility and patience.