Below are my baby travel essentials that will save your trip! Set yourself up success and make memories. You’ll never forget traveling with your little ones!
This post on essentials for traveling with a baby was written by family travel expert Marcie Cheung and contains affiliate links which means if you purchase something from one of my affiliate links, I may earn a small commission that goes back into maintaining this blog.
You will never regret traveling with your baby. It’s certainly not easy, but the memories will last a lifetime! The key is to be ready for anything with the right baby travel essentials!
Yes, babies tend to come with lots of equipment. And it seems like there’s always some new gadget or baby travel item to try. But the last thing you want is to lug around a bunch of stuff through an unfamiliar country.
So, what do you do? What are the musts for a baby packing list? Whether you’re a light packer or not, I’ve got your covered below with my 9-must-have baby travel essentials.
Family Travel is an Uncharted Adventure!
All the time, people ask me what it’s like traveling with babies and toddlers. They want to know if a specific moment come to mind.
I have so many stories to pull from at this point (both funny and scary!) that I never know which one I’ll share!
Our very first flight with a baby was a long-haul flight to Thailand when our son was 6 months old. I had steeled myself to console a screaming baby while all the passengers glared at me.
However, he slept the entire first leg of the trip. Then, he smiled and cooed at the people around us before again falling asleep for the next flight!
There was also a time that we were flying with our potty-trained toddler. Our flight had lots of turbulence and the fasten seat belt sign was on the whole time.
Of course, my toddler had to go potty, and we didn’t know how long until we could get out of our seats. So, I grabbed a spare pull-up from our diaper bag and had him wiggle out of his underwear and put on the pull-up so he could pee!
Then, he changed back into his underwear, and I put the dirty diaper away in my trash bag. Crisis averted!
Start with Essential Baby Travel Gear
I tell you these stories because you just never know what might happen when traveling with babies and toddlers. And you may find yourself getting pretty creative when you have to think on your feet!
My best advice to parents is to set yourself up for success by packing the right travel gear. So, enjoy my list of tried-and-true baby travel essentials.
1. Travel-Friendly Stroller
When traveling with a baby, a stroller can become your best friend! Through a stroller cover over the top and let them sleep. You have free hands (and a little extra storage space below.
But for most people, I don’t recommend taking your everyday stroller on your family travel adventures. These tend to be bulkier and less-travel-friendly. Instead, look for a compact, easy-to-fold option.
If you baby is more than 6 months old, this gets a lot easier. You can go with a classic umbrella-fold type, but I recommend the gb Pockit Air All Terrain.
It’s less than 11 pounds and holds up to 55 pounds. Plus, it folds down to 11.8 in by 13.8 in. So, it’s way below carry-on limits and easily fits in a backpack!
If your baby is less than 6-months old, you’ll need something with more neck support that reclines. You’ll need a travel-friendly stroller base that fits with your infant car seat.
The Baby Trend Snap-N-Go EX Universal Infant Car Seat Carrier is excellent. And while the list of compatible car seats is impressively long, always double check that it’ll fit with yours.
2. Portable Crib or Travel Bassinet
A key to baby travel is creating a familiar sleep environment. Plus, you want to have peace of mind when your baby sleeps or infant is sleeping.
Many places you stay will have complimentary pack n plays and cribs, which is a great option. But especially if your child is sensitive to their sleeping situation, a familiar travel crib can be comforting.
For infants younger than 6 months, I suggest checking out the Chicco LullaGo Anywhere Portable Bassinet. I love that it has 4 sturdy legs and mesh sides.
It only weighs 12 pounds and is easy to take apart and put back together. Plus, it comes with a storage bag that’s easy to travel with!
When your baby gets too big for a bassinet, the Guava Family Lotus Travel Crib is a quality travel crib. I love that it’s close to the ground and has a zipper side so it’s easy to get in and out with baby.
And again, your hotel room or vacation rental often include some baby travel gear like travel cribs and toys. I suggest contacting your concierge or property manager to see what other baby essentials they can hold for you.
We’ve also used baby rental companies when we’ve gone to Hawaii, and it was great! This is ideal if you need baby travel essentials like baby gates, bottle warmers, or other everyday items you might want to leave at home.
3. Your Choice of Baby Carrier
One of my favorite baby travel items is my baby carrier! The hustle and bustle of travel can be overwhelming for your little one. Keeping baby close can be very comforting to them.
Wearing a baby carrier is also super helpful when you’re navigating an airport and picking up luggage. And a baby carrier can make sightseeing easier, as well. You don’t have to worry about navigating a stroller along cobblestone streets or up steep hills.
When my son was a baby, there were many times that we would put him in the baby carrier to sleep. It was so sweet to look over and see both my husband and the baby sleeping peacefully!
And when it comes to baby carriers, you can take your pick. It’s all about what you and your baby prefer. Some feel safer using more structured carriers like the Ergobaby Omni 360 All-Position Baby Carrier.
We loved a wrap-style Baby K’tan carrier because it was comfortable to keep on in a plane seat. Plus, many infants prefer this style because it feels more natural with a snug fit.
I suggest working with your pediatrician to get fitted properly for a baby carrier, so you and baby feel comfortable using them.
4. Portable Highchair or Booster Seat
While many eateries will have booster seats and highchairs, you’ll feel more comfortable using your own feeding seat. This is the case especially when you have a younger infant.
Thankfully, you can find many easy-to-carry highchairs in a variety of styles. For new sitters, the Original Easy Seat by cozybaby will give you peace of mind.
It’s very easy to travel with, since you can simply fold it up and stick it in your diaper bag. It comes with its own travel container, and it can be easily secured to most chairs.
For children 6 months to 3 years, there’s also the hiccapop OmniBoost Travel Booster Seat. It can be used in a wide range of environments, and not just for eating.
This highchair alternative is easy to clean, collapses for travel, and includes a tray! Once again, it securely attaches to a variety of chairs.
5. Travel-Friendly Food Containers
One of the top baby travel essentials are items that make eating on the go less stressful! And my go-to when flying with babies and toddlers is bringing TONS of snacks.
These are a few of the snack items I always add to my baby travel checklist:
- fruit/veggie pouches
- freeze-dried yogurt bites
- cereal or puffed rice snacks
- teething biscuits
- freeze-dried fruit
- cheese sticks
- at least 2 bottles or sippy cups
Additionally, we’ll pick up milk and bottled water in the airport. Then we designate 1 sippy cup for milk and the other to be for water.
The problem with snacks when traveling is that they can be so messy! Thankfully, you can find helpful travel food gear for baby these days.
If baby’s gotta eat and you’re looking for a spill proof snack cup you can’t go wrong with Munchkin Snack Catchers. Just fill them up before you leave for easy traveling with a baby!
Also, don’t worry about air travel if you’re nursing! When flying, breast pump equipment and nursing gear are always accepted one the plane and don’t count as your carry on.
You can also prepack bottles with formula or breast milk for travel. You just need to let TSA know you’re carrying it with you. And you need to use a soft-sided cooler bag like this one.
6. Portable Sound Machine
If you haven’t learned the wonders of white noise to help babies sleep, you’re missing out! A white noise machine is one of the best ways to set the scene for quality baby sleep, which is perfect for travel.
The reason a lot of people use white noise machines is because the noise can be comforting for infants. It reminds them of the sounds of the womb and helps them sleep.
When you’re traveling with a baby and in an unfamiliar place, a sound machine can make strange noises less noticeable to your baby. They’re not meant to cover up all the noises but give your baby something else to focus on.
And if you’re in a different time zone, sound of white noise can tell baby that it’s time to sleep. So, if you use one at home, bring it with you when you travel.
You can find a wide variety of portable sound machines on the market, as well as white noise apps. I recommend the Homedics SoundSleep White Noise Sound Machine.
It has several different sound options, you can control the volume, and there’s a timer. At home you can use the wall adapter, and for travel, there’s an option to use batteries.
With infants, it’s important that whatever sound machine you use doesn’t reach past 50dB, or the sound level of a running fan. And always keep your white noise at least 7 feet away from where you baby is sleeping.
7. Sleep Sack/Lovie/Pacifier
When you’re thinking about travel, baby sleep essentials should be at the top of your list! Like white noise, think about whatever is a part of your child’s regular sleep routine.
We’ve left our sleep sack at home so many times and it’s just so much harder to get them down to sleep! Do yourself a favor and purchase a few extras and keep them handy for home and travel.
And both my kids were binky babies. I like to keep some handy inside our diaper bag, several more in my carry-on bag, and pack even more in our luggage! The last thing you want to do is run out.
Additionally, comfort items, or lovies, can very important for a child’s comfort when sleeping or awake. Especially in an unfamiliar place, a lovie can make any baby feel a little safer!
So, if your kids have some sort of comfort item, whether it’s a baby blanket or a favorite toy, don’t leave it at home! And pack an extra, if you can.
I’ve seen families attach a lovey to carry-on luggage for safe keeping. And write a name or contact info on the item in case it gets lost.
8. Extra Clothes for Everyone
When you’re packing your checked bag, think about how many days you’re going to be away. For every day of travel, I recommend packing 2 outfits for baby.
Yes, clothes make the list of baby travel essentials! If you know, you know. With little ones, there’s always the random spill, blowout, excess drool, and more.
If you don’t have access to laundry on your trip, additional changes of clothing are essential. And not just for your child. Whatever gets on your baby’s clothes will probably get on your clothes, too!
The best way to organize all those changes of clothing? A set of packing cubes like these ones work like a charm.
I love that this set comes with a shoe bag and laundry bag. Plus, they have mesh so you can see what’s inside when you need to grab something fast.
9. A Well-Pack Diaper Bag
The holy grail of baby travel items is probably a quality diaper bag with everything you’ll need for a plane or car ride. These days, you can find ones that are basically easy-to-care backpacks with waterproof lining and other bells and whistles!
Plus, most major airlines don’t count diaper bags as a carry on. But it’s always best to check with the airline you’re flying with.
Here’s a list of what I like to have in my diaper bag when I travel:
- baby wipes
- diaper rash cream
- disposable diaper sacks
- mini first aid kit
- a plastic bag for dirty clothes
- an extra set of baby clothes
- lightweight baby blanket
- baby toys (teething ring, soft book, etc.)
- snacks and 2 bottles (or sippy cups for older babies)
I also keep noise-canceling headphones in my diaper bag when we’re flying and an extra change of clothes for me in my carry on. You could keep anti-nausea aids, too.
With all this baby travel gear, you’ll want to stay organized. These small mesh laundry bags are perfect because they’re see-through, easy to grab, and washable.
FAQ on Baby Travel Essentials
Can I bring water for baby formula on a plane?
If you want to bring your own purified or distilled water on the plane for your baby, you can! According to TSA rules, if it’s more than 3.4oz (100 ml), you’ll just need to remove it from your carry-on luggage to be screened by itself.
Can I take car seat and stroller on plane?
You can either check your car seat and/or stroller for no extra charge with most major airlines. However, you may choose to check these baby travel essentials at your gate so you can use them until you board!
How many diapers should you bring on a flight?
A general rule is to pack 1 diaper for every hour of travel. I always double this (at least). I find that I change my baby more when traveling. Plus, it’s always good to prepared for the unexpected diaper emergency!
What do you need when traveling with a baby?
Bring at least 2 sets of clothes per day (for you and the baby). You’ll need more if you won’t have access to a washing machine. Consider a baby carrier or lightweight stroller for sightseeing. And even if you’re flying, a car seat is a good idea to bring for baby. Also think about how your baby is going to eat and consider bringing some kind of travel highchair for babies that sit up.
How long can a baby be in a car ride?
The AAP recommends taking breaks every 2 to 3 hours to move around and give baby a chance to get out of a car seat. If you’re traveling at night, they suggest stopping every 4 hours. These stops are important not only to stretch legs, but also because they give you a chance to change diapers, change clothes, or feed the baby.
Pack These 9 Essentials for Traveling with a Baby
When you pack these baby travel essentials, you’ll know you’re ready for whatever comes up. It’ll give you peace of mind so you can be present and enjoy this amazing opportunity to travel with your baby!
And trust me, you’ll have stories you’ll tell for the rest of time. I always think of a time when we took a cruise around the Mediterranean when our oldest was almost 2 years old.
We opted for a sit-down dinner every night and our server adored our son. When our toddler discovered he could dip his bread in olive oil (and that it was delicious) he insisted on getting it every night!
Our server thought this was adorable and would make a big show of getting him his own dish of olive oil and bread! Pretty soon other servers would come, and they’d make a big production.
It was the first time we really felt relaxed while traveling with kids.
Setting yourself up for success with an essential baby packing checklist will help you focus on these special moments!