As much as we love traveling, it can be stressful! And if you add anything else into the equation – or anyone, like a tiny human – it can make things a lot more complicated. But never fear, because your friends at Stasher are here! In this guide, we’re walking you through what to pack when traveling with a baby to ensure the trip is smooth for you and comfortable for your little one.
Baby travel essentials often come in single-use plastic or disposable packaging – like squeeze pouches of baby food or plastic containers of baby wipes. And though these products might be gentle on a baby, they aren’t gentle on our planet. At Stasher, it’s our most fervent hope that the littlest members of the Stasher Squad will be able to enjoy a clean and beautiful world when they grow up, and we want to do our part to keep single-use plastics out of our oceans, parks, beaches, and landfills.
So what’s a Stasher parent or caregiver to do? Step one: read this guide on how to pack a baby bag for vacation – the sustainable way.
What to pack in a carry-on diaper bag
Baby Foods & Snacks For Travel
At the top of the Stasher baby travel checklist is food. Making sure your baby is well-fed on the plane is important for their comfort and yours – and that of the other plane passengers if your baby gets a liiiiittle vocal when they’re hungry!
Airline restrictions usually limit the liquids you can pack in your carry-on, but the good news is that baby food, breast milk, and baby formula are often allowed in carry-on bags (and always allowed in checked bags). When going through the security checkpoint, be sure to remove any baby food for travel from your diaper travel bag so they can be screened separately.
- Formula milk and/or breast milk
- Sterilized baby bottles
- Thermos flask for boiled water once on the plane (to mix with formula powder and/or purees)
- Baby food (like these homemade baby food purees) in spill-proof containers like the Stasher 1-Cup Bowl
- Weaning snacks in a Pocket Bag or Snack Bag
- Wipeable bibs
Next on our list (but just as crucial!) is everything you need for diaper changing. Importantly, diaper rash cream is usually limited to 100ml for security, so we recommend filling a reusable travel-sized bottle at home with diaper rash cream and making sure that bottle gets into your clear bag of liquids for security. (Pro tip: ditch the single-use quart-sized plastic bag that most people store their liquids in at security and opt for a reusable clear Stasher Quart Bag instead.) We like to keep diaper-changing essentials like baby wipes and hand sanitizer close at hand by storing them in a Go Bag conveniently clipped to a diaper bag or other carry-on. That way, when duty calls, you’re ready for anything!
- Enough diapers to last the flight + emergency delay time
- Portable changing mat or travel changing mat
- Hand sanitizer
- Antibacterial wipes
- Baby wipes
- Diaper rash cream (under 100ml)
- 2+ changes of baby clothes
- Spare bags for dirty laundry (the Stand-Up Mega Bag works great for this!)
When traveling with a baby, ensuring their comfort is key. Think: packable muslin blankets that help you travel light (but can also keep your baby snug on a cold plane), a selection of their favorite toys and books to keep them occupied, and infant-formulated pain-reliever medication if you know your little one has ear pain on planes.
On our list:
- Muslin blankets
- Pacifiers and spares (if your baby uses them)
- Pain reliever medicine formulated for infants
- Baby carrier or baby sling
- Bassinet/carrier sleep cover
- Favorite toys/books
What to check in as hold baggage for your baby
Larger baby travel essentials will count as hold luggage (checked bags) rather than in your carry-on. This includes oversized items like strollers that don’t collapse, car seats, carriers, and more, and these items can often be checked for free.
If you have a travel stroller that folds down, you can usually bring this into the cabin with you – but it might be counted as part of your “baby baggage allowance,” which essentially refers to how many carry items you can bring on behalf of your baby. The baby baggage allowance policy usually hinges on whether or not your baby is flying as a “lap infant” (in other words, they don’t have a paid ticket or designated seat and will sit on your lap the whole flight) or if they have a paid seat. And it also depends on the airline, too — so when in doubt, check the airline restrictions online or call ahead.
Bigger items on our packing list include:
- Clothing. Be sure to consider whether or not you’ll be able to do laundry during travels — if not, be sure to pack enough clothes to last your baby for the whole trip.
- Stroller (if you don’t have a travel stroller that can fold down and be taken in the cabin)
- Diapers. Consider whether you can pack just enough diapers for travel and then buy more at your destination, or if you need to pack enough diapers to last the entire trip.
- Sunblock, large bottles of diaper rash cream, and other full-sized liquids that need to go in checked baggage.
Travel tips for parents
There are all sorts of variables that will affect your experience of traveling with a baby – everything from weather conditions on the flight path to your baby’s temperament. But we’ve collected the top travel tips for folks traveling with a baby to help make your trip as seamless as possible.
Book a window seat for more privacy if breastfeeding.
If you’re breastfeeding and are concerned about privacy, you may want to consider booking a window seat, because you can turn your back to the rest of the plane and have a small, semi-private space to nurse.
Pack a spare change of travel clothes for mom & dad.
As all parents and caretakers of babies know, accidents happen... a lot! While it’s important to pack your baby extra clothes and diapers for the plane, don’t forget to pack yourself an extra set too in case of a baby “blowout,” spit up situation, or any other accident that might befall you at 30,000 feet. We also like to pack personal wipes (or “shower sheets”) in a Go Bag so that you can quickly clean yourself up if need be.
Make sure to stretch your legs.
If you’re able to stretch your legs on the plane by taking a walk up and down the aisle, then do so! Incorporating a little bit of movement into the flight helps your circulation, and can also help calm your little one, too.
Invest in a travel stroller (so it can be taken as carry on).
If you don’t already have a collapsible travel stroller and have the means to invest in one, then do so! Most airlines allow you to bring a collapsible travel stroller in the cabin as a carry-on, which means you can immediately use it before and after exiting the plane rather than waiting at baggage claim.
Bring spare wipes & tissues.
Remember that whole “accidents happen” thing? Four words: extra wipes and tissues.
Check airline guidance before packing.
Many airlines have their own rules about carry-ons and checked baggage, so play it safe by checking the airline’s website or calling their customer service line before you start packing.
Pack a power pack for your phone.
Another helpful travel essential is a power pack or portable battery so you can charge your phone from anywhere. Outlets can sometimes be tricky to find in airports, so having a backup plan for keeping your devices charged can help alleviate the stress of travel and ensure your devices are ready for takeoff.
Traveling with a baby can feel overwhelming, but planning ahead is the best thing you can do to ensure your trip unfolds smoothly. So do a little research on airport restrictions and airline baggage rules, pack thoroughly, and know that your packing preparedness will pay off! Safe travels!