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What To Pack When Flying With A Baby Or Toddler
When I first came back from our biggest family vacation of all time, which was six weeks traveling from Europe to Asia, Australia, and back again, I realized that though it was a mammoth trip – we survived the long haul flights with our 2-year-old son much more comfortable than I had first expected. And if we can do it, so can you.
When we flew last time, my baby donkey was a placid nine-month-old who sat happily watching shapes bouncing on the iPad screen and jingled his rattle. We were also on business class flights thanks to the piles of points we accumulated from our jobs. Our saving grace was the onboard baby bassinette – so make sure to reserve one.
Now? Oh man, now he never stops talking, never stops moving, and is very, very stubborn. If he wants something, he won’t let up about it—standard child behavior.
Before departing, I had several panic attacks. I was not all confident about how my son would behave on the plane, how I would cope with the stares of annoyed passengers as he cried, and felt somewhat overwhelmed about what to pack in his carry-on bag.
How will you keep your little one comfortable during the flight? What kinds of things will you need in your carry-on bag? Don’t fret! It all begins with good planning, so you should try to plan in advance whenever possible and give yourself as much time as possible as this will help ensure you pack everything you need. What you pack will make a big difference in the comfort and quality of your trip with a younger child. Here are some tips on what to pack when flying with a baby or toddler.
Lightweight Diaper Bag
First things first, get a lightweight bag – you’ll need a decent amount of stuff, so a good bag that weighs next to nothing is critical.
A lightweight diaper bag or carry-on bag ensures that you don’t get weighed down by the bag itself. It definitely pays off to invest in a quality lightweight bag so you can maximize what you can carry on. You should also take advantage of your own carry-on bag to stash items so your child’s backpack is not too heavy, if possible. We also like using a bag with lots of separate pockets that make it easier to organize things, so you’re not sitting there digging through one giant bag looking for an item.
I love this backpack style (hello free hands), and it comes with a changing pad and loads of little pockets – which you will need.
Change of Clothes
When packing for a flight with your baby or toddler, it’s essential to be prepared for those unexpected messes. Your baby may have an accident on the plane, which will require fresh clothes. Besides packing a change of clothes, you’ll also want to bring plastic bags to put dirty clothes in.
With a baby, you might bring extra bibs, extra shirts, or something similar for changing out between feedings or if there is spit-up. With an older toddler, you can probably get away with just the one change of clothes, but it never hurts to squeeze in a second outfit if you have room, just in case.
Diapers, Bibs & Spoons
Although it’s essential to bring a change of clothes, you’ll also want to take measures to prevent accidents in the first place. For starters, make sure you pack plenty of diapers for the duration of your flight. Aim to pack at least one diaper for every hour of your trip.
You’ll also want to make sure that you pack wipes and baby powder (if you use it). To prevent messes with food or spit-ups, you’ll want to make sure that you pack a stack of disposable bibs & spoons for your flight.
If you have a toddler who is only recently potty trained, you might want to pack pull-ups because a long trip may be difficult for them – and the toilets are often busy when you need them. Stress from travel and having to use unfamiliar bathrooms can also increase the chance of accidents.
Food and Beverages
Is your baby formula-fed? If so, you’ll want to bring a bottle and formula. You may want to consider getting your baby used to room temperature formula and mix pre-made formula with bottled water just before boarding the plane.
If your child has been drinking from a sippy cup, I suggest asking the crew as soon as you board to fill them up as they’ll get swamped mid-flight.
Is your child already eating solids? If so, consider packing baby food that comes in squeezable packets (less than 100mls), which are much easier to carry on the plane than baby food jars. If your child has already moved on to eating whole foods, you’ll want to pack his favorite finger foods. Dried fruit, snack foods, and cereal can all be ideal options.
Snacks that worked a treat for us were
- Travel size packs of crisps
- Muesli /granola bars
- Fruit pouches
- Dried fruit. My son loved sultanas.
- Tiny chocolates wrapped in foil. These were especially helpful in distracting him when we were taking off and landing, and the iPad had to be turned off.
Avoid liquids that will be banned by the airline and check the airline rules and regulations just to be sure you comply.
Toys are a great way to keep your child distracted and happy on the plane – which in turn helps to avoid the glaring eyes of other passengers. There are several things to keep in mind when choosing which toys to pack. For starters, it’s ideal for packing only small toys – and several of them, since they will be lighter to carry on onto the plane and give you more choice to rotate through the flight.
Please avoid packing noisy toys, as they will become distracting or bothersome to other passengers.
So, what toys should you pack? You may want to consider bringing a toy that your child finds comforting, such as a favorite stuffed animal. Books are an ideal option. Your child will have fun flipping through the pages on her own, but she may also find it comforting for you to read to her.
If your child is old enough to use crayons, coloring and activity books can also make great entertainment. If possible, you will want to pack a few new toys or toys that your child hasn’t played with within a long time. This will help distract them more and make them feel like they are getting something new, and they won’t get bored as quickly.
Playdoh is a fabulous option for toddlers; here are some free printables to assist in keeping them immensely entertained.
Avoid the temptation to bring too many toys. Really, leave some of them at home. You will be okay. You’re going to regret it when you’re carrying around your child as well as a hefty, full carry-on or diaper bag full of toys. Choose carefully, choose wisely.
First Aid Kit Supplies
It’s essential to make sure that you bring any First Aid Kit supplies you suspect your child may need. You’ll want to pack some baby Tylenol in case your child develops a fever on the plane. Antihistamines may also come in handy. If your child requires an EpiPen, you also won’t want to leave that at home. Bring any emergency medicines, daily meds, and other supplies or items that your child will need while traveling, and keep emergency items in your carry-on when flying. It won’t help you if it’s in checked baggage.
These are just a few of the things you will want to be sure to add to your checklist when you’re trying to decide what to pack when flying with a baby or toddler. It may seem like a lot, but all of these items will help ensure that your flight goes more smoothly.
Of course, don’t forget to pack items you will need once you land, like infant or toddler travel cribs.
What else would you pack when flying with a baby?