Last Updated: January 15, 2022
Traveling with a baby is more doable than you might think. Especially in the early months it can be much easier in a lot of ways, than traveling with a toddler. Traveling with a baby that’s not on the move yet, not eating solids (even easier packing, if you’re breastfeeding!), and they always seem to have a nap coming up. And since babies fly free (excluding taxes and fees) until they’re two years old, now is the time to book up those trips! So here’s a checklist for traveling with a baby, what to bring, check, carry-on, and my overall baby travel packing list.
Our first international trip was to New Zealand when our baby was 5 months old. And then most of our trips were smaller flights out to Hawaii and Florida to visit family. So here’s what I’ve learned about packing for a baby. While having a baby travel checklist helps you not forget anything important, it can also help you realize what items you can do without to travel more minimally!
Note: I realize in the time of COVID, traveling is ultimately more complicated, but in the event you need to travel, this list should help.
Baby Travel Packing List
You can download my spreadsheet or just check out the full checklist below. Remember you’re going to have roughly the same needs as at home, just hopefully able to pack less and use things for multiple purposes! So jump ahead to the Baby Travel Packing List Spreadsheet or read more:
- Baby Sleep
- Baby Hygiene – Diapering, Bathing, & Health
- Feeding on the Go
- Travel Gear
- Play & Misc
- Travel crib – Check with where you’re staying. Many Airbnbs offer Pack’n Plays, which can save you some effort. If your sleep and sanity is gonna hinge on this sleep, just bring your own. In the first 6 months we brought our own travel crib, and then later a travel tent. We loved the 12 pound Guava Lotus Crib / Bassinet (also on our minimalist baby registry checklist!
- Crib sheets – Especially if you’re using a provided Pack n Play, bring a crib sheet from home. This helps with smells and feeling of sameness.
- Baby audio monitor – Great for being able to hear your baby, especially in a new to you space.
- White noise – We always use an old cell phone with a white noise app on it. Great for travel since it’s small. Dual purpose, add a few baby apps for flight distraction.
- Blackout room supplies – we travel with a little case of tacks and binder clips (in a few different sizes). This way you can make do with insufficient curtains by improvising with blankets, sheets or towels already in the room we’re staying.
- Night time pacifier – if your baby uses a pacifier.
Travel Hygiene – Diapering, Bathing, Health
- Bamboo waterproof changing pad liner: We use these liners on our changing mat at home. For travel, we would bring one for when we arrived, along with a fold-up travel changing mat for our diaper bag. (It was part of a zip-off changing pad from a SkipHop Changing clutch – the rest of which we found too bulky for travel).
- OXO Tot On-the-Go Wipes Dispenser w/Diaper Pouch – This wipes case has been one of our baby air travel diapering essentials from the start! It’s great for every day use and amazing for flights. It holds 4-5 diapers and a huge stack of wipes. We would even slide in a washable small toy when he was in that grabby stage. This helped to keep him from grabbing things in the airplane bathroom.
- Diaper cream (smallest size), hand sanitizer, travel tissue packs, antibacterial wipes, and a few rags (we like the IKEA cloths).
- Diapers – calculate how many you’ll need. For example 9 per day x 14 days = 126 diapers. If you’re traveling domestically you should be able to find the same diapers and buy there. But take enough that you have some wiggle room of when to go to the store. Ie. bring 26, buy 100 there etc. If you’re traveling internationally, do a little bit of recon, as yes you can buy diapers anywhere. Babies do afterall populate the globe, but it might not be the diapers you want or they might be expensive. They also might be way cheaper, like we found in Norway! For New Zealand, we packed all the diapers we needed and just added them into our car seat bag. And thankfully the bag got progressively lighter as the trip went on, lol.
- Wipe packs – same as diapers. Plan what you’ll need. We typically estimated one wipe pack per week. And since our baby was pretty sensitive, we brought Water Wipes with us. Then as he got older and we could use any wipes, we would buy on arrival.
- Swim diapers – bring a couple swim diapers. It really helps to not have to buy an entire pack of swim diapers while on your trip, which you then have to pack home.
- Wet bag
- Baby wash cloths
- baby shampoo/soap – IKEA makes a nice travel size toiletries containers.
- baby brush
- nail clippers
- travel laundry soap
- baby travel lotion
- wet bag
- baby Tylenol
- travel clothesline (optional but we liked our small backpacking one)
Feeding on the Go
While everyone has slightly different needs when it comes to feeding, consider what you do at home and then adapt for on the go. Our baby breastfed and refused bottles so this was pretty handy for travel as we didn’t have to pack much extra feeding stuff. And not handy in the aspect that mama was the only one who could feed the baby. Ha!
- Water bottle for breastfeeding mom – flying and travel is already dehydrating and we often forget to drink enough water. This is super important especially if you’re breastfeeding – from a supply issue. Get an easy travel water bottle and even ask your partner to remind you or set a reminder on your phone etc.
- muslin blanket – I just used a muslin blanket as a burp clothes, and it also worked as a nice privacy shield for breastfeeding baby mid-flight so they actually fall asleep.
- Boppy breastfeeding pillow – While it sounds a little silly to take on a flight. This was the biggest helper! Especially on an a long-haul flight, when baby is in your arms or feeding, this pillow helped take the pressure off your arms and back.
- Boob nursing pads – don’t forget your nursing pads! Definitely helpful to not need an extra outfit change mid-flight.
- fleece baby blanket – we also brought our small fleece baby blanket to put over baby on the flight when the chilly ac came on, and doubled as a stroller wrap after we arrived if it was chilly.
- any other baby feeding items – as they get older this might include baby food pouches, baby spoon, bib, teething snacks etc.
Plan for how often you will have the chance to do laundry. And the weather where you will be. We usually planned for 2 outfits per day (laundering every 5-7 days) and re-using non-dirty pants. So a week might look like this, depending on the season:
- Onesies 14 – 11 in suitcase, 3 in diaper bag: 8 longsleeve, 4 short sleeve
- Pants 10 – 7 in suitcase, 3 in diaper bag: 8 thin, 1 thick, 1 shorts
- Jammies – 2
- Sleep sack – 1 fleece
- Socks – 10 – 8 in suitcase, 2 in diaper bag
- Drool bib bandanas
- Baby swimsuit / rashguard
- Fleece hat and booties
- Baby jacket or sweater
- Baby sun hat
- Packing divider bags – We have the older version these IKEA ones
- Dirty clothes laundry bag – IKEA often has a great drawstring laundry bag.
The biggest tip I have for outfits and flying with a baby is to make 2 or 3 “outfit packs”. This is just a onesie, pants, and socks – stacked together and put in a large ziploc bag. Which you’ll then have 2 or 3 of these in your diaper bag. Mid-flight blow out? Grab an outfit pack and diapering kit and head to the bathroom. Then you have a ziploc bag to put the dirty stuff in. And it’s just so much easier than digging through all your diaper bag looking for a change of clothes for baby. Especially if you’re flying solo with a baby!
I’ve already covered all the best baby travel gear, which overlaps with this packing list. These items really depend on what you use, what you’ll need when you get there (eg. renting a car vs taking public transit), if you’re visiting family vs solo etc. Here are all the items we’ve needed depending on the trip.
- Car seat – the only time we didn’t need a carseat was when visiting family who had an extra, and then we had a friend drop us off at the airport (in our car). And again going to Scandinavia just before age 2 we went without a carseat, since we weren’t renting a car.
- Car seat bag – if you’re taking a car seat, definitely get a car seat bag to keep it in nice shape. You can also stuff in a few things like diapers if needed. (note: some airlines might hassle you about this. I’ve never had this issue).
- Stroller – a travel stroller is great, but in the first year, we actually flew all over with our BOB jogging stroller. Depending on the trip and how much your baby likes to be in your stroller in everyday life, it might be worth the hassle of flying with it. For us it was, since that meant we could guarantee that we would get on-the-go naps out of it! Which allowed us a lot more freedom while traveling as the baby could be napping “hands free!” in the stroller. By around one, he would nap in our travel stroller the same way.
- Babywearing carrier – if you babywear at home, you’ll want to bring your carrier. This was especially nice on the flight for baby to chill out and nap and be close in when he wasn’t on the boppy pillow. And also gave my partner the ability to carry him around and snuggle easier.
- Large suitcase – In the first year, we found taking one medium checked suitcase (25″ hardside roller) to be the easiest route. We packed all our stuff in one which was also easier for getting to and from the airport with all the other gear vs having more smaller luggage. As we approached two years old, and needed fewer baby items, it became easier to just take two carry-on bags again.
- Grown-up backpack – our other carry-on backpack was for stuff for us – snacks, book, electronics etc. Much easier to not be sorting through baby stuff.
- Diaper bag backpack – All the stuff for on the go diaper, feeding and baby entertainment. Plus outfit changes.
- Packable tote bag – We also brought one canvas or packable shopping tote to put the babycarrier, boppy pillow or anything else that needed containing after we got on the flight. Sometimes it seems like a clown car like where did all this stuff come from.
- Thicker blanket or play mat – we brought an Aiden and Anais Dream blanket so baby could have a place to roll around.
- Toy pouch – whatever baby is currently loving plus a surprise or two For example: spinning wheel toy, paci lovy, taggy blanket, rattle, teether, “mirror” from a baby book, mini indestructible book etc.
- Extra muslin blanket for laying down on dirty floors like at airport or on the go (so you don’t get your nicer blanket filthy.)
Baby Travel Packing List Spreadsheet
You can also download the spreadsheet here.
One of the things I found challenging when packing for our first big trip with baby was that I had a huge pile of stuff, plus a few reminder notes about things I also needed, but I quickly realized that I needed to know where I was packing things. Especially for a long haul flight, I couldn’t have half of our essentials in a checked bag. So I created this spreadsheet to track not only what to pack (by category), but where it would be packed (carry-on diaper bag vs checked luggage etc).
I’ve also added in a basic worksheet to list out your baby routine – what time your baby is generally doing things on a typical day at home (napping, feeding etc) and then how that would line up with your flight. Everyone will tell you “oh baby will sleep on the flight!” Maybe, maybe not! And probably not if baby doesn’t generally sleep at that time of day! But the good news is for young babies, the next nap or feeding is usually just around the next corner.
What I love about using a spreadsheet as my checklist for baby travel, is that by the time your second trip comes around, you have a useful list to jog your memory. And just like my family camping checklist, it makes packing way easier. Which ultimately, makes it easier to say “yes!” to travel.
I hope you enjoy your first trip with baby and have found this baby travel packing list helpful!