Ahh… flying! Some of us are hit with the wanderlust bug a lot. I have always been proud of my packing skills throughout all the airplane trips I’ve taken, no matter how far I traveled or what season it was. Oh how I remember the days when my carry-on would be full of things like earbuds and an iPod, plenty of magazines, a good book, some snacks, a bottle of water, and my laptop. Well, it’s a whole new world when baby joins the family on a flight since there are now different things to consider.
Everyone says babies are much easier to fly with the younger they are, and I do believe this! When I took my son on his first flight, he was five months old and it was a breeze for us! I imagine it’s even easier when they’re really young, like two months! Between six and twelve months, baby is still suitable to be considered a lap child (all the way up to two years). Although as they grow, they become more mobile than the swaddled sleepyheads they were before. Therefore, they are crawling and maybe even walking, and it starts to get a bit tricker to contain them on the plane during the flight.
These are my carry-on must-haves for babies (some of these are the same as infant essentials as it really doesn’t take anything different to feed or diaper an infant compared to a baby!).
1. A Baby Carrier
A baby carrier could (or couldn’t) be considered a carry-on depending on who you ask, but I’m going to put it here by default because it is super useful at an airport and on a plane. A carrier allows you to be hands free and it makes boarding, eating, mobility, and many things just easier than not having one! I luckily have two carriers I received from generous friends at my baby shower, but there are so many good ones out there. The ones I have are the Baby K’Tan and the Ergo Baby 360. Another popular one that I hear great reviews on is Lille Baby.
2. Feeding Items
I am a breastfeeding mom so can definitely say that a good nursing cover is a necessity if you feel you need one, especially when you’re sitting next to or in such close range to strangers. I have a couple because it was all trial and error for me, or should I say trial and style?! I found what worked best for me, especially when my baby got older and more of a squirmy wormy. When my baby was under 5 months, this style below by Bebe Au Lait would suffice.
Image via Bebe Au Lait
Now that he’s past six months, my favorite cover is one that offers full coverage around the front and back. The one I have is by Milk Snob. It’s my favorite one because my little guy is starting to move around more so it provides great coverage. The covers are multifunctional so they can also double as a canopy for the infant carseat. These seriously look like wraps and a couple of times I would be nursing at a restaurant and people didn’t know baby was underneath!
Image via Milk Snob
b. Bottle Feeding – Bottles and Formula/frozen or pumped milk
Make sure you bring bottles, and formula or the milk you pumped (if refrigerated then no more than 7 days old). You can always ask the flight attendant for a warm cup of water to warm the bottle of pumped milk. I also always carry my manual pump with me because you never know what will happen especially when flying long distances, and it’s better to be over-prepared when it comes to feeding baby and keeping yourself comfortable, too!
For moms using formula, you can pick up a bottle of water once you’re past the security gates. I am not a formula feeding mom, but I can guess that extra formula is very important. Again, anything can happen, and its important to do whats necessary to keep baby fed!
Nope, not for you but a Boppy type pillow for your baby for comfort during feedings. I didn’t need to bring one, but depends on your baby and what he or she is used to. If it’s going to allow your baby to be more comfortable while sitting in your lap during a feeding, then do it. But, if it is going to just be another thing to carry that is bulky, don’t bring it. You know your baby best!
Image via Boppy
Baby is just starting on solid foods around six to twelve months of age, and I’ve found that it is a great entertainment tactic for the plane. Ok, sometimes in other places, too! It really saves time when they are eating and fiddling with snacks. It’s more time when they’re quiet and less chance of them crying. Mum-mums are a must! I like them because they dissolve and are not messy. I also like Happy Baby Puffs and Yogurt Melts by Happy Baby.
Image via Happy Family Brands
Thankfully babies are starting to use less diapers by this age. I recommend keeping track of the number of diapers baby uses on a normal day and then depending on how long your flight is, double up that number for your carry-on. I think being stuck on a lay-over without diapers would be the worst possible situation ever. Ever.
4. Diaper Disposal
Diaper disposal is the same for babies as newborns. You can carry this which is compact. Another option is just to use the plastic bags from grocery shopping.
5. Ziplocks sandwich bags or plastic bags
I always carry a couple of sandwich style bags (actually, the large freezer size) or the plastic bags you can get from grocery shopping mentioned above. I think these are great for sticking unexpected things in there. On a flight, it could be an unexpected soiled onesie. You could have to change baby at any moment due to a spill or accident, and the bags are perfect and compact to keep with you. I haven’t had to use this on a flight, but I did have one in my diaper bag and it came to good use one day when my son’s sock fell off (you know how hard it is to keep those damn socks on baby) and it was pouring rain outside. So, it fell right into a puddle as we were on our way to his baby class. Having a plastic bag with me was easy to just stick it in there and deal with later. Now imagine being in a confined space on a plane. Bring it, just in case.
You always need wipes. It’s like the use of Windex in that movie “My Big Fat Greek Wedding.” If you haven’t seen it, just know that wipes will be your saving grace, especially now that baby is eating solid foods! They can be used for cleaning just about every body part, the fold down eating tray, or anything.
7. Change Pad
Everyone has their preferences, but I am a germ-a-phobe so I pack a change pad for baby. Especially when I have to think about the tiny bathroom on an airplane, I don’t want to put my baby on that changing table. A change pad can be pulled out quickly to use on a change table. I love the Skip Hop Pronto Signature Changing Station picture below (baby not included, ha ha!).
Image via SkipHop
8. Small (other) items for health
Hopefully this goes without saying, but don’t forget to pack baby nail clippers, the baby medicine of your choice, and a nose-bulb/snot sucker. The Nose Frida is my choice for unclogging baby’s stuffy nose he or she may encounter on the flight.
9. Extra clothes
I pack two extra outfits on my carry on for baby, (sometimes three depending on the length of the flight!) and a change of clothes for me for a flight that could only be two hours. I don’t know how I’ve lucked out so far, but I’ve heard a story of a friend had one of their twins throw up allover himself and his daddy during the flight! Poor baby and daddy! This is not something I’d like to experience, but if you’ve read all the way to this point then we will experience it someday because we have kids. Extra clothes don’t take up much space, and if you need it, it’s entirely worth it.
Toys should be compact, easy to pack, and most of all not noisy. You want to take into consideration there are other passengers on this plane with you. If your baby is being quiet, that’s great, but besides a screaming baby there’s nothing more annoying to a airline passenger than a musical, talking toy (on repeat!) they are not used to. Yes, as parents we hear it all the time and are probably able to drown it out (or sing along because we know all the words), but not for an airline passenger. Yes, they can get noise cancelling headphones, but I think it would be kind to consider others. But I get it, you have to do what you have to do. Also pack a new toy or two, so there’s tons of interest in it once you get on the plane.
A book is always a nice distraction and can calm baby down if he or she is upset. I like touch and feel books because my son is so into them and they keep him entertained for a while. The soft books are good and easy to pack on you carry on. A good example is the Sesame Street “All About Shapes with Elmo” Soft Book.
Image via BuyBuyBaby
Whether this is your 1st of many flights or you are on your 5th, flying can always be unpredictable, but it will be ok. Don’t be anxious! I think if people can see you are making some sort of effort to soothe your baby, that’s all that matters. How has your flight with baby been?
Good luck and safe travels, mama!