What to take when you are traveling with a baby or toddler. The carry-on luggage checklist.

There is a fine balance between over and under packing when it comes to carry on luggage.  On one hand it is important to cater for worst case scenarios.   Vomit, overflowing poo, delays, unexpected fevers and tantrums are just some of events I have encountered when travelling with my boys.  On the other hand, carry on luggage needs to be manageable.  This means light and maneuverable.  With some careful thought and planning both are possible

As a guide, limit it to one easy to carry bag.  Backpacks and wheeling bags are particularly useful.  In order not to over pack start with the essentials and then add the extras gradually, assessing how heavy the bag becomes as you add things.

What you take will be influenced by your child’s age, the duration of the flight, layovers and airline you are using.  The following checklist is meant as a guide to assist you in your packing.

  • Change mat (disposable or non-disposable)
  • Nappies
  • Wipes
  • Barrier cream
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Plastic bags which are useful for storing changes of clothes and nappies, as well as packing away soiled materials.
  • Bottles
  • Formula
  • Baby food, spoon and bib
  • Snacks.
  • Baby carrier or sling
  • Sippy cup and/or bottle
  • A supply of dummies.  Even if your baby does not usually take one they can be helpful in reducing in flight earache.
  • Cloth which can function as a cover up when breastfeeding or serve cleaning purposes if a mess occurs.
  • Change of clothes.  This will depend on how long your flight is.  It is better to be over-supplied than under-supplied.  At least 3 for a baby or non-toilet trained toddler.  At least 2 for a toilet trained child.  At least one for yourself if on a long haul flight.
  • A light weight blanket.  Planes can often be cool.  Budget airlines will not supply their own.
  • An inflatable pillow.  Most airlines will prioritize pillows to parents with lap children however budget airlines may have no pillows on board.
  • Toys.  A selection of age appropriate books, games and toys.  Combine new ones with at least one comforting old favorite.  Magnet toys, stickers and activity books are some suggestions for the flight.
  • Snacks for yourself – it is almost impossible to eat the in flight meal with a child on your lap.  Handling money to buy snacks onboard is not always easy either.
  • Extra breast pads if you are nursing.
  • Sanitary products.  Breastfeeding mums will often not have menstruated for months.  Your period can start at any time.  You don’t want it to be on a flight but pack some pads or tampons just in case.
  • A mini first aid kit including infant or children’s paracetamol, adult paracetamol or anti-inflammatories, band-Aids and any regular medication you or your child takes.
  • If you are on a long haul flight most economy ticket holders will be given some sort of toiletries.  Pack a toothbrush and deodorant for yourself in case of a plane diversion or prolonged layover.
  • Portable DVD player.  A few favourite DVDs and a portable player are worth considering if you have the room.
  • Children’s harness.  It is a parent’s worst nightmare to loose their child in a crowded airport.  Worn like a backpack, harnesses now come as stuffed animals.  Mum and dad just hold onto animal’s tail to keep hold of a wandering child.
© Copyright 2012 Danielle, All rights Reserved. Written For: Bubs on the Move

6 thoughts on “What to take when you are traveling with a baby or toddler. The carry-on luggage checklist.

  1. Hi, i like your list and i agree that spare clothes for all is definitly the way to go…and so you can layer up if its cold too! There are a few good items that make life simpler when travelling… there is a formula container that holds 3 or 4 pre-measured formula amounts so you dont have to carry a formula container or measure out amounts when making formula. A good reminder is that any coffee shop has boiling water so you should re-stock if there are layovers of hot water in your bottles. Also try the sucky baby food things sold nearly everywhere now rather than having to worry too much about jars of food, spoons and bowls. You can get a huge range of vegies, real meals and fruit in these very disposable containers they bubs and kids can just suck straight from. Also i bought some bottle top suck things for my kids a good few years ago and always carry one in my handbag. They just go on top of any normal drink bottle and stops it leaking but they can suck out of it. Alot easier to just use bottled water and they kids can drink from that mostly drink free.

    • Hi Tam, thank-you so much for your suggestions. Those baby food pouches make life out and about so much easier. They are a great option for day trips as well as travel. I wonder, do you know the brand of bottle top that you use? I haven’t come across these and they sound like a really good idea. I am going to publish a short piece on formula use when traveling so I will incorporate your idea for the formula container into that.


  2. Hi, i cant believe the increase in range between my 4 year old and 18mth old with the suck type pouches – it must have increased by about 400%!!!
    i just googled ‘sippy cup lid for water bottles’ and the following is what i have…although not sure if i bought it from there 🙂 http://www.liltopper.com/
    and the formula containers you can buy at bigw or kmart.
    I love reading your posts and seeing what youre up too, keep up the good info…tam

    • Thanks for the further feedback RE zippy cups. Also for the lovely compliment re the blog. Danielle

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