We know flying is incredibly stressful without a baby, but add one (or more!) to the mix and you could find yourself in way over your head. As parents we’ve all been there. And as parents, we want to help make sure your flight goes as smoothly as possible. So we have sourced some tried and true secrets from our Bébé Voyage members about all the things you should know when packing a carry-on for a baby!
1. Dress your baby comfortably
If it is a night flight, dress your little one in warm pajamas (pajamas with footsies are a member favorite). Also, dress your baby in layers so that you can easily adjust according to the temperature or if you’re changing climates.
2. Pack Your Travel Documents Somewhere Accessible
As you know from your pre-baby days, when traveling, you need to whip out your passport and boarding pass frequently. Maybe you weren’t so organized about where you put these away then (I’ve been known once or twice to be searching frantically through my bag for these blasted things), but you won’t have this luxury now.
Put these essentials in a really accessible place. Maybe that’s a front pocket of your carry-on. Some of our members have suggested small crossbody bags, coat pockets or fanny packs. Whatever works best for you, just make sure it’s easy to reach and that you remember where it is.
3. Ziplocks are your friend!
Store all food, liquids, and creams in ziplocks so that you can easily remove them from your bag when you go through security.
It’s also super helpful to throw in all the toys in a ziplock. The more things are compartmentalized, the easier it will be for you.
Here’s a little secret our Club Bébé Voyage members love and that will save you a lot of sweat and tears:
Pack your baby changing essentials in a removable small bag (e.g. a ziplock bag), so you can access it easily in case of an emergency and make a quick dash to the bathroom, without having to lug your huge diaper bag.
4. Heaps of spare diapers/nappies, wipes, cream
Duh, we know. But seriously guys, don’t poo-poo this one (pun intended!). Even the best of us can forget to bring extra diapers. This actually happened to me at LAX just a few months ago. Luckily, I found new diapers at the airport, but I’ve heard you might not be so lucky (especially in the US). And who’s to say they’ll have the exact size you’re looking for?
When packing a carry-on for a baby, pack more diapers than you think you’ll need (I always add twice as many). You never know what might happen when you travel. You could be stuck in delays, or worse, stuck in a transit city overnight.
With diapers, comes wipes, butt cream (make sure you have a travel size), and a changing pad.
5. An extra change of clothes for both baby and you!
Along with these “changing grab bags”, you need to be prepared in case of a mid-air explosion emergency. Pack at least one extra outfit for your little one. And since we all know how easily that explosion can spread…be safe and pack an extra outfit for yourself as well.
If you’re flying from one continent to the next and there’s a connection, bring two or even three changes of clothes for bébé.
You never know what might happen!
6. Lots of baby food and milk (pack in case of delay!)
Obviously you weren’t going to forget baby food (or your boob!), but we have a few extra tips for you.
Pack more than you think is necessary in your baby’s carry-on. If you know you need to pack for lunch and a snack, bring more than enough lunch and more than enough snack.
If your baby is bottle-feeding on formula, prepare at least one extra bottle (twice as many if you are connecting and changing continents). You can use a formula dispenser like this which already has the formula measured out and helpful to not bring as many bottles.
If your baby has moved on to solids, I personally like to buy ready-made food for travel. The baby food they sell in those squeezy pouches (if this exists in your part of the world) is incredibly useful for these trips, as you don’t need to worry about bringing a spoon (or you can use these tiny attachment spoons) and it does minimize the mess (to a certain extent).
7. Emergency items
Particularly if your trip is long, there are a few other items you should consider packing just in case…
- Baby tylenol/paracetamol/neurofen/etc in case of an unexpected fever or a teething fit. Just like breast milk and other baby food, you can take this through security.
- Thermometer (particularly on long distances)
- Snot sucker and/or nasal spray, in case your baby catches a cold or a cold is worsened on the plane.
8. Bottle/Sippy cup/Bottle for take-off and landing
Taking off and landing can hurt even our ears. These little babies are fragile, so make sure you have either a bottle, a sippy cup, or a pacifier/dummy (or a boob!) ready and easily accessible to your baby when taking off and landing. The sucking action will help calm any ear pain that could develop.
9. Pack sleeping gear
No matter the length of your flight – even if it’s just an hour – packing your baby’s “blanky” or favorite stuffed animal in the carry-on is essential. Even if it’s not during their typical nap time, these might come in handy when baby is acting up and passengers are looking less than impressed.
For an overnight or particularly long flight, you’ll want your baby’s sleep sack or swaddle blanket to recreate his sleep space best you can.
We also recommend packing a warm hat for those long overnight flights. Planes can get quite cold!
10. Entertainment for baby!
This one becomes more crucial as your baby grows older and needs more (and MORE distractions!) to keep him from have a fit on the plane.
Initially, when your baby is tiny (up to six months), toys are barely necessary. Perhaps there’s a soft book your baby has already taken to that is small and light that you can bring. It might save you during that penultimate dreaded hour of the flight.
As your baby grows (let’s say at around nine months), your baby will become increasingly fascinated with her surroundings. Little things you’d never imagined will hold her interest. Again, you might want to bring a couple essential small toys, you know your little one will love.
Once your baby passes the 12 month mark is when you’ll have to start thinking more strategically about packing toys in your baby’s carry-on. And yes, you’ll have to come up with a strategy, because babies between 12 and 24 months are probably at the toughest age to travel. If they are not asleep, chances are they will want to be busy discovering something new and fascinating. Guess what? It falls on you to become your baby’s personal entertainer.
- Find the right balance between new and familiar toys
You might have heard that introducing your baby to new toys to entertain them on the flight works like magic. It works, yes – and we will delve into this – but don’t neglect some of the old faves. If there’s a book that’s a constant hit with your baby, don’t hesitate to chuck it in your carry-on. If there’s some colorful little ball your baby just loves to hold, bring it!
- Invest a couple of dollars in some cheap toys you don’t mind losing
Go down to your local Target (or whatever cheap department type store is near you) and buy “cheap toys”. “Cheap toys” can really be any number of things. Think colorful post-its, memory cards, figurines, mini blocks, you get the idea.
- Surprise Toy!
Now depending on how much you want to cover your bases, or how long your flight is you might want to invest in a special surprise toy, which you unveil when things really get tricky.
11. What about Mommy or Daddy?
It’s a miracle. You don’t know how this happened, but your baby is actually sleeping! Hurray!! You can finally relax a bit. Well, if baby is passed out on your arm, it won’t be all that relaxing, but it still beats pulling every possible toy out of the diaper bag and fending off nasty looks from fellow passengers!
We suggest bringing some lightweight entertainment for you, so you can get at least some degree of leisure while traveling. Load your phone with podcasts, audiobooks, or new music you’ve been dying to listen to. You may also want to include a special playlist for your little one.
Hopefully, these secrets have given you a little more confidence in packing a carry-on for a baby! Good luck on your next flight and if by any means, you have another “secret” to share with us, please let us know in the comments below!
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