I’ve traveled enough with the kids at this point to know exactly what needs to be included in your diaper bag when you travel with a baby or a toddler. There are some things that are essential – and others that I’ve packed in the past and never used. Check out my complete diaper bag checklist for plane trips, and then download the FREE printable checklist at the end!
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Complete checklist for packing a diaper bag for plane trips
Well, obviously. My rule of thumb is to bring one diaper per every hour of travel (door-to-door), and then throw in two or three more. So if I have to leave the house for the airport at 6am, and I anticipate being at the hotel at the other end at 2pm, I’d pack about 10-12 diapers. Honestly, if you have room in your diaper bag at the end, throw a couple more in. We’ve been delayed on flights before and I can’t imagine the stress of running out of diapers! You can probably never have enough!
Again, obviously. I bring one pack of baby wipes, and that’s usually enough. If it’s just a short flight, you can probably make do with just a pack of travel wipes instead of a full-sized pack.
I’m not a germaphobe by any means, but I think airplanes are generally pretty gross; there’s not a lot of time between flights for the cleaning crew to get in and clean, and I often find things can be a little sticky or have unknown smudges on them. I just do a quick wipe down of the window, the tray tables, and the arm rests, as those tend to be the things baby will most likely touch.
At least one change of clothes for baby
At least with my babies, the chances of them going more than a few hours without needing clean clothes was pretty much zero! I always pack at least one change of clothes, usually more like two or three, in individual gallon-sized Ziploc bags. This way I can grab them easily in the bag, and I can throw the dirty outfit in the bag to keep it away from the rest of the bags contents. Be sure to include some extra socks in case those get kicked off – you don’t want to put them back on once they’ve been on the plane floor!
A change of clothes for you
I found this out the hard way on our first trip! My baby decided to wait until we were speeding down the runway to have an explosive diaper that went all over me as well as him. We had to sit in our mess (thank goodness the lady next to us had kids and was totally understanding!) until the seat belt sign was turned off. Then I was able to get baby all clean and dry, but I had to sit in my pooped-on t-shirt for the rest of the flight. It wasn’t fun. Now I pack not only a spare shirt, but a spare pair of pants too – you never know where poop might land!
This is really more for me than baby, but I’m probably going to be touching more on the plane than baby is, and I want clean hands! This one one is my personal favorite because it’s a spray, so it’s very light, and dries quickly – and it smells so good!
This is one of those just-in-case items that doesn’t take up a lot of space, but it’s good to have anyway. You never know when diaper rash can occur, especially if you’re not able to change baby as often as you might like; I was once one a 4-hour flight where the seat belt sign was never turned off because of turbulence. Poor baby had to sit in a wet diaper for hours, and I was happy I had the diaper cream to slather on him once we landed. Be sure to find a travel-sized one (less than 3.4oz) because creams count as liquids by the TSA.
Airplanes can often be freezing cold, and even if you get an airplane blanket, I think they’re pretty gross. A blanket can also be useful as a cover-up if you’re nursing. While I have no problem nursing in public, sitting just inches away from a complete stranger on a plane while you try to nurse can be a little awkward!
If you’re breastfeeding, feeding on a plane is pretty simple. However if you’re bottle feeding, remember to bring plenty of formula to last you, and enough bottles. Most airlines will be able to give you hot water to warm a bottle. Liquid formula, as well as baby food, is allowed through the TSA checkpoint, no matter what the size, so don’t worry about finding small baby pouches or formula cartons. Remember to bring all the stuff that goes with feeding: bibs, sippy cups, snack containers, spoons, etc., and a small Ziploc bag to put dirty utensils in. This here is one my favorite inventions for making baby food on the go easy, clean, and hygienic.
Some of the items I include to keep little ones entertained:
-books; I bring the Little Golden books because they’re really thin and take up hardly any space. The stories are also usually really cute! I try to bring at least one new book, and one old favorite that we can read over and over again if we have to.
-a coloring book and crayons; this should keep an older baby or a toddler entertained for a while. Just be prepared that you might never see some of those crayons again – we’ve lost a lot of crayons on the airplane floor!
-toys. Make sure the toys are quiet and won’t disturb the people around you – light up toys rather than things that make a loud noise or play the same tune over and over! For toddlers, I’ve found cars work well.
I’ve never needed this, but I know the cabin pressure on a plane, especially on take off and landing, can play havoc with little ears. Take this just in case you need it, and remember to take the syringe to properly measure it out. This is something that will have to be less than 3.4oz to pass through TSA.
Pacifier and clip
If your baby takes a pacifier, be sure to pack a couple of them for the trip. I only took one on my eldest sons first flight, and half way through the flight it fell on the floor. There was no way that was going back in his mouth! I would also suggest picking up pacifier clips so if baby spits it out or drops it, it won’t fall on the floor or get lost. How freaking cute is this one with the plane on it?!
Essential not only for clean-ups, but I usually put one on the tray table so if I need to tip out a few Cheerios or small snacks, they’re not directly touching the table.
Instant access bag
This is the number one thing I have added to my diaper bag over the years and it is easily my most used item on every flight. Chances are that your diaper bag will have to go in the overhead compartment, or at least down by your feet, where it won’t be easily accessible for take-off, landing, and any time the seat belt sign is on. This means everything in the bag is inaccessible too. So I get a gallon-sized Ziploc bag and put a few things in that I might need to grab during those times. I usually put in a travel pack of wipes, a burp cloth and a bib, a small book to read while we have to stay seated, and maybe a toy. The bag then gets stuffed in the seat back pocket so I can reach it at any time if I need to, even if I can’t get up. I find myself reaching for this so much during the flight that there have been times I’ve never opened the actual diaper bag!
Want a copy of my checklist? Click HERE or click the image below to download the printable checklist for free!