A Checklist Of What To Pack When Flying With A Baby Or Toddler

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Post author SJ

Written by our local expert SJ

Sarah-Jane has lived in Croatia for 10+ years. SJ, as she is known, has been traveling the Balkans & beyond since 2000. She now shares her passion for traveling with her husband & kids.

A Checklist Of What To Pack When Flying With A Baby Or Toddler

Traveling with a little one in tow changes the flying game completely—I know I’ve navigated the skies with my babies and toddlers more times than I can count over the past decade.

Packing for a flight requires a precise blend of essentials to ensure both you and your baby are comfortable and happy at 30,000 feet. I’ve learned that the key isn’t to pack everything but the kitchen sink but rather to focus on what really matters during those hours you’ll spend in the air.

From experience, diapers and wipes are a must, and having a few extra never hurts. No matter how short the flight, a change of clothes for your baby is a non-negotiable item on your checklist to tackle any surprise spills or messes.

Also, remember the cabin can get chilly, so packing an extra blanket can serve many purposes—it’s a cover for breastfeeding, a change mat, or just a snuggly layer for your baby.

And when it comes to keeping your little one fed and happy, pre-measured formula or breast milk can be carried in amounts larger than the usual liquid limits—something I learned after many flights.

For toddlers who’ve started on solids, a selection of their favorite finger food snacks can help stave off any in-flight hunger pangs with minimal fuss. All of these tips have been earned through trial and error and a whole lot of love and patience in the air.

But what else? Let me show you.

Getting Ready For Flying With A Baby Or Toddler

Talking Ben is just one of the many apps I’d recommend.

Before we dive into the nitty-gritty of packing, let me say that the secret to flying peacefully with your little munchkin lies in a few things:

  1. Having all the essential travel docs in order
  2. Owning luggage that makes your life easier, not harder.
  3. Pre-arranging the bassinet seat on the flight – AS SOON AS YOU BOOK!

Trust me, these will save your sanity at the airport and help it all go smoothly.

Travel Documentation

The first step is ensuring you’ve got all the essential travel documents for you and your baby. Here’s a quick checklist to make sure you don’t miss anything:

  • Passport and Visa. Please double-check that your little one has their own and it’s valid for your destination
  • Birth Certificate. Some airlines require this to verify your child’s age, especially if you’re flying with a lap infant
  • Letter of Consent. If you’re traveling alone with your child, it’s wise to have a notarized letter from your partner or spouse giving consent for travel
  • Health Insurance Info. Make sure you have a copy in case of any health issues while away from home

Choosing The Right Luggage When Traveling With A Toddler

Navigating airports with a baby or toddler is definitely a choose-your-own-adventure kind of deal. Aim for luggage that simplifies your life:

  • Carry-on luggage. Pick your cabin baggage that fits all your essentials but can easily slide under the seat in front of you for quick access – with an easy to carry handle
  • Diaper bag. It’s your mobile command center. Opt for one with plenty of compartments for organization
  • Rolling suitcase. If you’re bringing a larger suitcase, make sure it’s sturdy yet lightweight and has a good set of wheels to prevent any mid-airport meltdowns (yours, not just the kiddo’s).

Remember, the less you bring, the less you have to juggle. Please keep it simple and stick to the essentials to keep both you and your little travel companion happy.

What To Pack In The Carry-On

A baby in a high chair with a pacifier in his mouth, celebrating Happy Birthday.

When you’re sky-high with your little one, being prepared is everything. I’ve gathered my top tips to keep your carry-on bag a treasure trove of travel ease. Trust me, the right items in your bag can make all the difference.

Essentials For Feeding

Baby food and snacks

For babies, pack enough baby food for the flight duration and some extra in case of delays. I never forget to include a variety of snacks that my toddler loves. Here’s a quick checklist:

  • Pre-made baby formula or breast milk (check TSA guidelines for allowances)
  • Spill-proof sippy cup for water or juice
  • Snacks like cereal puffs in separate zippered plastic bags
  • Fruit puree pouches

Baby And Toddler Entertainment

A baby is playing with an iPad while on an airplane.

Keep them happy with these

My kid’s attention span was always shorter than a cartoon episode, so I packed him a mix of small, fuss-free toys and activities. Here’s my go-to list for entertainment in the air:

Diapering And Hygiene

Stay fresh and clean

Diaper changes at 30,000 feet? No sweat if you pack smart. I make sure my diapering arsenal is fully stocked. Check out the essentials:

  • A portable changing pad because those airplane tables are tiny and so gross
  • Diapers, at least one for each hour of travel
  • A pack of wipes, a must-have for cleaning faces and surfaces as well as bums
  • Diaper cream to avoid any unwanted rashes
  • Ziplock bags come in handy for smelly nappies and wipes. I found these were worth packing even if not needed very often as they don’t weigh much anyways

Always have a change of clothes handy because spills and accidents are just as likely in the clouds as on the ground. Now, with your carry-on packed with these essentials, you’re all set to take off with your little travel buddy!

Brands We Use And Trust

Checking In At The Airport

Roko laying on a bed with what to pack when flying with a baby shirt on.

When hitting the airport with your little ones, you’ve got to know the drill for checking in those bulky items like strollers and car seats without breaking a sweat. Trust me, you can master the art of juggling bags and babies and keeping all your gear safe and sound!

Strollers & Car Seats

Strollers. Most airlines will let you check strollers at the gate free of charge. It’s like a magic ticket to carry your kiddo all the way to the plane. Make sure to grab a gate check tag from the desk as soon as you’re at your gate.

  • Tip: Collapse your stroller before you reach the gate agent. It will save you time, and you’ll look like a pro!

Car Seats. If your little one has a seat on the plane, lugging the car seat can be a lifesaver for naps and just containing the wriggles. No seat for the tot? Check it for free with your luggage or at the gate.

  • Tip: Some car seats aren’t FAA-approved for flight; it’s a good idea to check your car seat’s label ahead of time.


It’s a tricky balancing act of packing enough but not too much. I go by the simple rule: if I can’t carry it, it doesn’t come. I pack only essentials—diapers, wipes, a change of clothes (for both of you), and snacks. Remember, heavy bags on top of managing a tot? Not so much fun.

  • Keep in Mind: Suitcases with four wheels are my savior. Glide that bad boy alongside you with one hand—tot in the other.

Baby Carrier Or Sling

On the subject of hands, a baby carrier or baby sling is worth its weight in gold. That little bundle of joy can snooze against you while you’ve got both hands free for handling tickets and IDs.

Dressing Your Child For The Flight

Roko laying on a bed with toys, a mirror, and what to pack when flying.

When I was getting my little one ready for a flight, comfort was key, and it’s all about layers! Trust me, planes can be unpredictable—either too hot or too chilly—so here’s my go-to outfit plan for toddlers on a plane:

  • Base Layer. Start with a simple, soft cotton t-shirt or a long-sleeve top if it’s cooler. I liked something fuss-free that did not irritate my toddler
  • Second Layer.  A cozy sweatshirt or cardigan is perfect. It’s easy to remove if they get too warm, and it doubles as a comforting snuggle buddy
  • Bottoms. Soft leggings or joggers are fantastic! They’re like pjs but totally pass for daytime wear. Plus, they give the kiddos plenty of wiggle room to move around
  • Socks. Never forget the socks—cozy ones! They’ll keep those tiny toes warm, especially if you slip your tot’s shoes off during the flight
  • Extras. I’m all about the backups. A spare outfit (or two) is a must, just in case of spills or accidents

Remember, the goal is to make sure our little adventurers are as comfy as possible while up in the air. I steer clear of anything with too many buttons, zippers, or snaps — who needs the hassle when you’re in a cramped space? Stretchy, breathable layers for the win!

Here’s a quick checklist to ensure you’ve got all bases covered:

Item Quantity
Soft Tees 1/base + 1 spare
Cozy Sweatshirt/Cardigan 1
Stretchy Bottoms 1/base + 1 spare
Warm Socks 1/base + 1 spare
Easy Slip-On Shoes 1 pair

At The Airport

Navigating the airport with a little one in tow can feel like running an obstacle course, but with the right know-how, it can be smooth sailing. I’ve gathered my top tips for getting through security and pre-boarding with minimal fuss.

Security Check Tips

When passing through TSA with a baby or toddler, preparation is key. First things first know that children under 12 can keep their shoes on—a small win, but we take those!

Make sure you have all liquids from diaper bags in a clear plastic bag for easy screening. Inform the TSA officer if you’re carrying breast milk or formula, as these are exempt from the usual liquid restrictions and can be screened separately.

  • Pack smart. Use a checklist to ensure you don’t forget essentials for the carry-on, including a change of clothes for both you and your child
  • Toys and snacks. Keep them accessible to grab if your little one gets fidgety quickly
  • Be ready to fold your stroller.  If it’s a larger model, know that it will need to be screened through the X-ray machine

Pre-Boarding Strategies

As flight attendants start calling for pre-boarding, it’s showtime. Everyone has their opinions on whether to board early or last, but I say take advantage of the extra time to get settled without the pressure of blocking the aisle.

  • Seat Setup. Use this quiet window to wipe down your area. Then, set up a “nest” for your toddler or install a car seat if you’ve brought one
  • Meet the crew. Introducing your little one to the flight attendants can create a friendly rapport. If you need assistance during the flight, they’ll be more likely to remember you
  • Restroom run. Make sure to have a potty break before boarding—diaper changes in airplane lavatories are no picnic, trust me

Carrying your baby or wearing them in a sling can keep your hands free for presenting boarding passes or handling ID. It can also be soothing for your child amidst the hustle and bustle of the airport.

Your carry-on is your lifeline—pack it with the essentials within arm’s reach, and always double-check for the favorite blankie or stuffed friend. A happy toddler usually means a happier flight for everyone.

On The Plane

Airplane Travel - Save Money | Croatia Travel Blog

When flying with little ones, it’s a whole different ballgame than solo travel. Let’s make sure those high-altitude hours are as tear-free as possible.

Dealing With Ear Pressure

I’ve found that ear pressure can really throw a wrench in our flight plans—babies and toddlers don’t understand why their ears might hurt.

My trick? Have something for them to suck on during takeoff and landing. For babies, this might be a bottle or pacifier, and for toddlers, a sippy cup or some gummy snacks can do wonders. It’s all about that swallowing action to keep those little Eustachian tubes clear.

Managing Sleep On The Plane

Getting a baby to sleep on an airplane is never a cakewalk, but it’s not impossible. I always try to book flights around nap times or bedtime, if possible.

What worked for me? A familiar blanket or stuffed animal to create a cozy environment is a game-changer. Plus, I gently rock them in my arms or use the flight’s gentle hum as a white noise lullaby. If you’re lucky enough to have a row to yourself or an empty seat next to you, laying a baby down on a flat surface can help; make sure to always have a hand on them for safety.

Flight attendants can be angels in disguise. Don’t hesitate to buzz for help—they can assist with warming a bottle or even give you a break by holding your little one if they’re not too busy. Keeping the tray table tidy and returning items promptly can maintain a good relationship with them during the flight’s duration.

Arriving At Your Destination

When you finally land with your little one, the real adventure starts! Remember to keep your travel essentials handy so they’re the first to come out of the bag.

First up, diapers and wipes. We can’t do without them—they’re as crucial here as they were up in the air.

Here’s what jumps out of my bag the moment we touch the ground:

  • Snacks. Because waiting at baggage claims can feel like an eternity for a tiny, rumbling tummy
  • A favorite toy or blanket. Nothing soothes a tired tot like a slice of home

As I navigate through a new airport, it’s about being one step ahead. I’ve learned to book a place that’s got baby-friendly amenities. Think traveling cots and maybe even a place to warm those late-night bottles.

Here’s the rundown:

Must-Haves Why? In My Bag?
Diapers/Wipes For swift change on the go Check!
Fresh Baby Clothes Post-flight messes are unpredictable Always
Snacks Keep hunger at bay A stash
Familiar Comforts To soothe and assure Wouldn’t forget


Tips For International Airplane Travel With Toddlers

Packing for a toddler is an art and a science. Start with a comprehensive packing list to ensure you have everything you need. Consider packing cubes to organize your toddler’s clothes, snacks, and toys – it’ll make your life easier when you need to find something quickly. Always pack extra outfits and essentials in your carry-on because spills and accidents happen.

A baby travel checklist can be a lifesaver, and don’t forget to include items that keep your toddler comfortable and entertained, like their favorite blanket or a new toy. Dress your toddler in comfortable layers that are easy to add or remove. Remember, traveling with toddlers means being prepared for anything, so a well-thought-out packing list for flying is crucial.

Stroll Through with Ease

I can’t emphasize enough how lifesaving a compact, lightweight stroller is. Navigate those busy terminals and have a secure spot for your toddler, so chasing through customs isn’t part of your itinerary.

Keep Calm & Carry On

Let’s face it: the right mindset can make or break a trip. I keep a calm, can-do attitude, and that sets the tone for the travel.

My little travel companions pick up on that energy, making for smoother sailing – or flying, in this case.

Handling Travel Delays and Emergencies

Travel delays are a pain, especially with a toddler in tow. Always have a backup plan for keeping your little one entertained and fed. Pack a portable collection of snacks, small toys, and activities that don’t require a lot of space.

Download kid-friendly apps or videos in advance. Don’t underestimate the power of a small new toy or book to keep your toddler engaged.

Always travel with a basic first aid kit and any medications your toddler may need. Consider travel insurance to cover unexpected delays or medical needs. 

Comments (3)

  1. OMG! Thanks a lot for sharing such an informative page about what to pack, I have learned a lot from you that I did not know before.

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