As the spouse of an Airline Pilot I’ve grown to love checklists. He needs checklists to operate so I’ve learned how to provide him with them to get things done. Our checklist for baby travel below is what we have perfected over time and for me is the right balance of being prepared for worst case scenarios yet not overdoing it. Meaning, you won’t be awkwardly and uncomfortably sweating and schlepping through the airport yet you’ll be ready with enough supplies in case of long delays or a diaper blowout.
Always remember: once you’re in your destination no matter what country in the world there will be pharmacies and supermarkets just like home where you can buy almost any equivalent baby product you need.
We also know that every baby is different and the needs of every baby will vary depending on their age range as well. This list will combine items I needed when Ava was 3 months old and spitting up like a faucet to 6 months old and teething that I don’t need now at over a year old. Its also important to note this list below is the ideal packing checklist when traveling with a partner. I write another post about traveling alone with a baby where this has to be paired down to 2 total carry on’s rather than 4.
You will bring a total of 4 carry on bags and your Travel System with you on the plane. I am not going to delve into checked luggage as this list is meant to get you through the journey.
- Diaper Backpack (Carry on #1)
- Carry On Roller Bag (Carry on #2)
- We use one carry on bag for baby products and spare clothes while on the journey
- Stroller/Car Seat Travel System
- To be Gate Valeted and Checked at the Gate)
- Baby Carrier
- To be worn through security and can store underneath your BabyJogger Stroller or in your baby products carry on
- Dock-A-Tot in Travel Bag (Carry on #3)
- For your baby to sleep in on the plane or stretch out in to lounge while waiting in the terminal
- This is also for you to sit your baby down in while you’re in your hotel room or have your baby sleep in if you’re comfortable co-sleeping in the bed. This is what we do.
- Partner’s Carry on Roller Bag (Carry on #4)
- We share the second carry on bag for our regular packing needs (clothes, hair products, makeup, baby’s clothes)
What to Pack
This is the exact packing list we use. Keep in mind that not every item is needed for every trip, but it’s a good way to cover all your bases while not weighing yourself down with overstuffed bags. The key is also placement and easy accessibility when your hands are full with your baby while you’re confined to an economy seat in-flight.
1. One Unopened Pack of Diaper Wipes to pack in your carry on Roller Bag
2. Your Opened Pack of Diaper Wipes in Your Diaper Bag
3. One soft 26 pack of Pampers Swaddlers in your Carry on Roller Bag
You likely will not need to open this, especially if you’re traveling domestically, but you do not want to risk being caught stuck in an airport overnight and run out of diapers.
4. 8-10 Diapers for your Diaper Backpack
5. One Tube of A&D Original Diaper Cream in Your Diaper Bag
6. *If Formula Feeding: 4 Premix Infant Formula Bottles (8 oz) in Diaper Backpack with Nipples
TSA is supposed to let any baby food and formula through security no matter if they’re liquid or not. In fact, they even have let me take large bottles of water if I say it’s for my powder formula but please note we have run into rare scenarios where they confiscate the Pre-Mix.
7. *If Formula Feeding: One Small Tin of Infant Powder Formula in Carry on Roller Bag
If the worst case scenario from above TSA confiscates your premix this is your back up. This is also back up in case you go through all 4 bottles of Pre-Mix on the plane.
8. *If Pumping: Willow Breast Pump in Diaper Backpack
9. *If Formula Feeding or Pumping 4 Baby Bottles 2 in Diaper Backpack and 2 in Carry on Roller Bag
10. *If Breastfeeding: Milk Snob Multifunctional Breastfeeding and Car Seat Cover
11. Pacifier and Bottle Wipes – Put in Diaper Backpack
12. Small Liquid Travel Container – Fill with Dishsoap and put in Liquid Bag
*This is to wash your bottles with actual dish soap while in transit. We learned this the hard way in a gas station or airport bathroom with no proper soap to sanitarily wash our baby’s bottles.
13. 2 Changes of Baby Clothes – Pack in Carry On Roller Bag
14. 1 Change of Baby Clothes – Put in Diaper Backpack
15. 1 Change of Parent’s Clothes – Pack in Carry on Roller Bag
16. 2 Burp Cloths – Put in Diaper Backpack
17. 3 Burp Cloths – Pack in Carry on Roller Bag
18. 2 Extra Pair of Baby Socks – Put in Diaper Backpack
19. Halo Swaddle Sleepsack (Microfleece) – Pack in Carry on Roller Bag
20. 1 Muslin Baby Blanket – Put in Diaper Bag
21. Disposable Diaper Changers – Put in Bottom Compartment of your Stroller
This is of course depends on your germ tolerance. In the first 3 months of Ava’s life I was a bit on the paranoid side due to their underdeveloped immune systems and in the height of flu season. I always put this on top of the diaper changer in the airport and airplane bathrooms
22. 3 Ziploc Baggies to Dispose of Diapers if No Garbage Nearby – Put in Diaper Backpack
23. Pacifiers and Small Toys per your Baby’s Needs to put in Diaper Backpack
24. Babyganics Hand Sanitizer to put in Diaper Backpack
25. Babyganics Insect Repellent to put in Liquid Bag in Carry on Roller
26. Babyganics Sunscreen to put in Liquid Bag in Carry on Roller
27. Face and Hand Wipes for the Diaper Backpack
28. 2 Tommy Tippee Easy Roll Up Rubber Bibs for Carry on Roller Bag
29. 1 Baby Rectal Thermometer to put in Diaper Backpack
I feel peace of mind when I pack the thermometer so I know I’ll always be able to tell if she gets sick while we’re traveling and at what point we need to see a doctor or go to the pharmacy. I say rectal thermometer simply because of the accuracy.
30. Sophie Le Giraffe for Diaper Backpack
The best teething toy ever to grace this planet. If your baby is teething this is a must in general, and absolutely a must for the plane.
1. At Check In ask the Agent if there are any rows on the plane with a middle seat free. They are almost always willing to help those traveling with babies and small children. You can also ask for the bulkhead row. The downside is that you have to stow all carry-ons in the overhead bin for take off in landing but the huge positive side of this row is it’s a beautiful place to lay down your Dock-A-Tot, wrap your baby in their Halo Swaddle Sleepsack and let them snooze through the entire flight
If neither of those options are available don’t fret it. You’ll still be fine.
2. Buy large room temperature bottle of water after security
This will be used if you need to use your powder formula in your carry on roller bag. If I know I need to use the powder formula I pre fill my bottles with the water before boarding the plane. This means all I have to do is add the powder while I’m seated with baby on my lap.
If you’re on a long-haul international flight you will likely need this to wash baby bottles in the airplane lavatory
3. At the gate before boarding see the gate agent for your gate valet tags you’ll be attaching to the Car Seat and Stroller Travel System.
This will allow you to be prepared ahead of time and enjoy a more relaxed boarding process, especially for those airlines that don’t allow early boarding for families traveling with small children.
4. Prepare one bottle ahead of time.
Whether you’re pouring the premixed formula into a baby bottle or mixing powder and water, you’re going to want to have one prepared ahead of time for take off. The sucking motion prevents baby’s ears from popping and usually lulls them to sleep on take off.
5. One last diaper change
Board the plane as fresh as you can get your baby. Unless a long haul flight I try to avoid changing my baby’s diaper on the plane so will only do it if it’s a dirty diaper and I’ll leave the wet ones. I start her off dry and only change if I have to on domestic.
On the Airplane
1. Pull out your diaper wipes and a few diapers and stuff in the seat back pocket in front of you
2. Store the prepared baby bottle in the seat back pocket in front of you as well
3. Keep your baby in the carrier as long as possible especially if they’re little as they are likely to sleep through an entire domestic flight. They don’t always make you unstrap it but if they do you can still keep it buckled around your waist.
4. Feed your baby during take off to get them sucking which will prevent their ears from popping and them crying from the change in cabin pressure. If they aren’t hungry at the very least have them suck on a pacifier.
5. If you need to change your babies diaper in the airplane lavatory take 2 diapers with you and the diaper wipes you put in the seat back pocket. Leave the diaper bag it’s too big for the tiny airplane lav. You always need to mitigate the risk if baby goes mid diaper change and soils the only one you brought with you. The back-up is necessary.
6. I’ve had a diaper blow out happen in-flight on more than one occasion. If you get to the bathroom and realize your baby’s onesie is done for either put it in one of the Ziploc baggies you brought with you or just simply throw it out. If you have to take your baby back to their seat only wearing your diaper then you have to. You can put on the spare clothes you brought for baby when you get back to your seat.
At Your Final Destination
As I mentioned at the beginning of this page this is more about a checklist for the journey itself rather than the destination as I am not sure where you’re going! You’ll have the essentials with you. Baby friendly sunscreen, insect repellent, hand sanitizer and a thermometer is what I need to feel good about my baby’s health while I’m away.
Enjoy and please remember – you can find anything you need in any other country. This is part of the fun.