What to Pack When Traveling with a Baby

As I’m writing this post, I’m in the midst of deciding what to pack when traveling with my baby for our trip to Florida this weekend. I’ve already flown with a her as a newborn 4 times, but each time still poses the tough question of what do I need to pack when traveling with a baby? Fortunately for my family, I’m an over thinker, a researcher, an avid mom-blog reader, and someone who tends to start mentally packing for trips like two weeks in advance. As a result of these love ’em or hate ’em tendencies, I wound up being pretty damn well prepared for my first flight with Gemma when she was 2.5 months old, and felt like an old pro by our second flight with her a few weeks later when she was 3 months old.

What makes packing for a trip with a baby tough each time, even after you’ve tried and tested different things, is that every trip is different! Mode of transportation, destination, length of stay, time of year, age of baby… all of these factor into what to pack, as well as other important details such as how long your travel day will be, how many legs you’ll be flying, how long of a layover, who else you’re traveling with, the list goes on.

So although this upcoming trip introduces new variables for what I’ll need to pack when traveling with a baby (hello, beach!), I do feel far more confident than I did for our first trip. To prove that, we’re leaving in 2 days and I haven’t packed a single item. #ivegotthis

Without further ado, let’s get into what I pack when traveling and flying with our baby. Please keep in mind this is a mom blog. Moms can be great and wonderful and supportive and helpful and understanding. But y’all know moms can also be cray. This is what I’ve learned works for us. There are always other ways, and ways that work better for others, so drink up this information and then think it over before deciding what makes sense for you.

Gear to Bring with You When Flying with a Baby

If you haven’t yet decided whether you’re going to check your carseat and stroller or gate check your carseat and stroller, I encourage you to first read my list of pros and cons of each approach. We decided to gate check our carseat and stroller every time we flew with Gemma as a newborn. For us, the pros outweighed the cons, and it was easy peasy, so this is assuming you plan to do the same.

That means come travel day, you’ll check your suitcase(s) and keep moving towards security with the following items:

  • Infant car seat.
  • Stroller.
  • Gate check bag. We purchased this simple gate check bag for car seats off of Amazon, but never wound up using it. However, I have friends who use it every time. It’s a cheap enough purchase and it folds up into the tiniest pouch that I highly recommend buying it and bringing it with you for your first trip. You can always decide at the very last minute while standing at the end of the jet bridge that you don’t want to use it… but at least you’ll have it for peace of mind.
  • Baby carrier. This contradicts the biggest pro of gate checking your car seat and stroller, no? You’re right. I did say the main reason I decided to gate check my carseat and stroller was so that I didn’t have to hold or wear Gemma the entire time… but especially for your first flight I stand by my usual perspective that I’d rather be over prepared… even if it means over packing. I borrowed a Solly wrap from a girlfriend and tied it before I went though security. I never once put Gemma in it, but the print was classic enough (gray and white striped) and matched my outfit that for the average joe in the airport it probably just looked like I was wearing an infinity scarf. It then doubled as an extra layer for me, and worked as a little something to drape over Gemma when she was in my lap, and if I really needed it to work overtime I could have used it to wipe up any drool or spit up. Oh wait, I probably did that… 100 times. The second time I flew I wore my Baby K’tan because it takes up less space, and looks even more like an infinity scarf than the Solly wrap. Once again I thought it might be nice to have if needed. But we didn’t need it. Next time, I’ll leave it behind but I think if I fly solo again, I’ll bring it just in case. Have I confused you enough yet? Okay good, keep reading.
  • Backpack style diaper bagI have an entire post dedicated to what to pack in a carry on when flying with a baby. At first I planned to include what to pack in your carry on diaper bag within this blog post, but when I think back to my first time flying with a baby, I realized planning out your carry on is probably your biggest stressor. I tried packing in not 1, not 2, not 3, but 4 different diaper bags before I felt ready to go. So yea, make sure to read what I pack in my carry on when flying with a baby in addition to this list that covers packing your checked luggage.
  • Cross body purse for mama. I go into detail about what goes in my purse when flying with a baby in the carry on post, but I’ll give you the summary here: make sure your bag is cross body, small, and has a full zipper or can close completely. My normal, day to day purse is a Louis Vuitton Neverfull GM. It’s big. It’s glorious. It fits my laptop nicely (when needed). And throw in a red Totesaavy insert and it doubles as a diaper bag. But it is not the bag I carry on when flying with a baby. It’s too big. If I put it in the underneath compartment of the stroller, there’d barely be room for anything else. If it’s on my shoulder, it’s annoying to have my baby on my other hip. If it’s under my seat on the airplane, there’s no way my baby’s diaper bag will also fit (which is far more important to have handy mid flight). That means… it’s going in the overhead compartment. But oh wait, it doesn’t zip. So if it tips over, things have a chance of spilling out. Go small. Go cross body. And pick a purse that has a full zipper or closes well so you can toss it above your seat on the plane and keep only your phone/headphones/maybe a granola bar in your backseat pocket.

What to Pack in Your Checked Luggage

Okay, now let’s back up. You’re not at the airport yet; you’re at home and your anticipating your upcoming trip and you realize holy heck I’ve never travelled with my baby how in the world am I going to bring #allofthethings on this trip with me? While yes, you will bring far more things than you ever brought on a trip pre-baby… the truth is, you won’t bring #allofthethings. You’ll bring a lot. But if done well, this is also a great exercise to realize your baby doesn’t need much!

What to Pack When Traveling with a Baby

I’ll also take a moment now to acknowledge that this list will absolutely vary and change based on the details surrounding your specific trip. Where are you going? How long will you be there? What amenities are near by?

For example, we’ve never flown to a remote destination. While I’ve always brought or planned ahead for everything I think I’ll need, I’ve also always known that I could run to a grocery store or baby store if I really needed to. We’ve always had access to laundry at our destination, which allows me to cut down on things like bibs and burp cloths and lets me rest assured that I don’t need triple the amount of outfits I think I need just in case. And a big thing for us: we’ve not yet flown anywhere that didn’t have a crib ready for Gemma when we arrive. Grandparents have had a crib, family has borrowed a pack n play, or we’ve taken advantage of baby rental companies so that we don’t need to travel with a pack n play. For this upcoming trip to Florida, we also rented a high chair so we have a place to park Gemma while we’re hanging around. Finally, each time we’ve flown with Gemma we’ve done our best to ship bulky items like formula and diapers to our destination ahead of time. This keeps the bulky items out of our suitcase and frees up space for other things. For diapers I always estimate 10 per day to be on the safe side, and feel comfortable with this amount since we’ll be in an area where we could very easily buy more if needed.

With that in mind, here’s my list of what I’ll be packing when flying with a baby this weekend. Gemma is now 6 months old, we’re traveling to Florida, and we’ll be gone for 5 days and 4 nights.

And remember, these are the items going into our family’s suitcase that we are checking. If you think I’ve missed something, perhaps it’s because I decided to carry it on the plane!

Diapers & bathing:

  • 6 overnight diapers (1 for each night + 2 extra)
  • 1 unopened package of wipes (in addition to the package in our diaper bag carry on)
  • A portable, on the go changing pad liner (these are my favorite)
  • Aquaphor
  • Desitin
  • Baby body wash and soap
  • Baby lotion
  • Tylenol and gripe water
  • Nail clippers
  • Nose frida and saline spray (we currently have a head cold!)

Bedtime:

  • Used sheet (I always bring the sheet that’s been on her crib for the previous day or two, assuming it’s clean, to help bring the smells of home to her new sleeping arrangements)
  • Sleepsack
  • Lovie + wubbanub
  • White noise machine
  • Monitor (we take this one when traveling and also pack this for on the go in the stroller or car)
  • Tip: If you are checking a packnplay, squeeze as many of these items as you can in the travel case. It’ll save room in your checked suitcase, and makes it an easy set up for “bed time” if everything sleep related is all in one place.

Feeding:

  • 1 bottle (this makes 2 total, because I bring 1 with me in our carry on. Would I like to travel with more bottles? Yes, but you don’t need to. Truthfully you could easily get away with 1.)
  • Travel bottle cleaning kit
  • Sufficient amount of bibs
  • 1 spoon
  • Pouches and jarred baby purees

Clothing:

  • 2 more pjs (We’ll have 5 total, because she’ll wear 1 while we fly, and I carry on 2 extra outfits for baby. Plus, we have access to a washer and dryer so I can do laundry mid trip if needed).
  • 5 total outfits. (We’re gone for 5 days, but 2 days are travel days (so she’ll stay in pjs). That leaves 3 “days” where she’ll need an outfit, so I pack 2 extras to have on hand because let’s face it, we rarely make it through a day in only one outfit.)
  • 1 bathing suit, sun shirt, and hat (We hope to take Gemma to the beach for the first time, but certainly won’t be at the beach all day every day, so 1 should be just fine for our trip.)

Toys:

  • 3-4 small toys/books

And there you have it. That’s what we’ve packed when traveling with a baby on each of our trips to date. If you’re preparing for a trip with your little one, make sure you also read what I pack in my carry on when flying with a baby, and how we decided what to do with our carseat and stroller when flying with a baby.

Finally, if you think I’ve left something out, or if you have your own tips and tricks for what to pack when flying with a baby, please share below in the comments!


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