Your first flight with a baby is daunting and exciting. Preparing and packing carry-on essentials is one of the most important aspects for your baby’s first flight. This travel or flight bag will hold all of your child’s necessary items for the flights and/or travel along the way. I find that it’s best to keep this bag packed with the following essentials throughout your trip, so it is easy to hop on a bus, flight or car ride without having to think too much about what you might be missing.
Traveling with a baby before they are eating solids is much simpler. Bring enough food (milk, formula or baby food) for the duration of the flight with extra for unexpected delays. You never know when you will be delayed at airports. Outside of the US you cannot count on being able to buy formula easily, so this becomes even more important. Also, do not rely on milk or food to be provided for your baby even on international flights.
For the babies who have moved onto solids, loads of snacks are essential. The squeezable packets of baby food are travel lifesavers. Dry snacks and individual snack bags are also great. Our growing baby loved puffs, teething biscuits, crackers, and rice cakes. These all traveled easily and kept fresh.
In addition to foods, if your baby drinks water, milk or juice bring what you will need for the flight. Once our son moved on to cows milk we would take the Horizon single packets of milk because they did not need to be refrigerated to stay fresh. Remember that you can carry on as much food and liquids as required for your baby. However, be prepared for TSA to test the liquids or conduct a full body pat down just as an extra precaution.
Burp Cloths, swaddle blankets, wipes and a changing pad are absolutely essential for flights. You can use these for a multitude of purposes. We also recommend you bring a large ziplock bag or a wet bag in case of any vomiting or poo situations! If you are nursing, a nursing cover is useful in conservative areas of the world and to help block out distractions for your baby on busy flights. If your baby takes a pacifier, take several in case some get lost underneath seats.
Change of clothes
The above list suggested a wet bag in case of accidents, well, you will also need several changes of clothes for your baby. Luckily they pack small, so it’s easy to carry several on with you. Remember to also take clothes to keep the baby warm during cold flights. In this realm, we also always take short sleeves as well since we have been caught out multiple times on very warm flights. In addition to your baby, parents should take one change of clothes as well. For some reason, babies tend to have explosive poos on flights that can result in a messy situation for all involved and no one likes to sit in wet clothes for a long flight!
If you follow any specific routine for nap or bedtimes, take all of these supplies required for this. Our son was swaddled at a young age and then wore sleep sheets afterwards. These were his signal that it was time to sleep, so it was imperative that we had these supplies. Pajamas, books, loveys and special blankets are essential for babies to feel comfortable even on flights.
Pack a diaper for every 1-2 hours of the flight and then add in a few extra for unexpected delays. Toddlers like to visit the bathrooms often for something to do which can result in a lot of diaper changes! And don’t forget the bum bum cream. This comes in handy even for cold cheeks, chapped lips and dry skin during flights. Also as mentioned above, wipes and a changing pad are a must.
For babies under a year old, very few items are needed for entertainment. Babies are happy to explore all of the items on the airplane. The cup with your meal, the cutlery, the headphones, windows, etc. Add in a few rattles, baby books and you are good to go.
For children a bit older, but still not very mobile, a useful tactic is to wrap small toys either new or old ones and dole them out slowly over the flight. It gives the kids something to look forward to and something to do. Dollar store toys are great for this. For more ideas, see our post on electronic free travel activities for flights.
Have more questions? Read Preparing for your baby’s first flight for more information. And remember, the more you travel with your baby, the better traveler they will become. Our son flew on 22 flights his first year. He continues to love travel and flying, which we attribute to him being so used to it.
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