Damon and I have always been backpackers… Minimalists, really, at least when it comes to luggage. We have packing down to an art and know how to fit everything we need into a carry-on bag. Twice, we’ve traveled across Europe with only backpacks. Until we had a baby, the only time we actually had to check luggage was when we were going skiing and had to bring our equipment. But then Avery came along. And packing as we knew it changed. Deciding what to pack for a baby is surprisingly stressful.

Parenthood and Passports - backpacking
Backpacking through the UK – Edinburgh, Scotland, 2014

It takes days of thoughtful planning, list making, and even shopping to pack for the tiniest human in our household. Gone are the days of throwing a few things in a bag and spontaneously heading off to a new city, state, or country. Nowadays, packing is a process… A long, complicated process.

What to pack for a baby

what to pack for a babyI’m writing this as I stare at an open suitcase, preparing to pack Avery’s things for another adventure… Our first family ski trip to Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Packing for a winter trip requires a bit more work, in general. Besides your daily clothes and toiletries you have to worry about boots, gloves, hats, and coats. All that extra stuff takes up a lot of room in a suitcase!

But regardless of the season, deciding what to pack for a baby to go anywhere can be tedious and overwhelming.

Diapers, wipes, rash cream, baby wash, lotion, more diapers, a sheet, a blanket, a lovey, even more diapers, baby food, formula, bottles, soap to wash the bottles, a kitchen sink to wash the bottles in… And that’s just for a trip to the grocery store! Just kidding… Kinda.

We’ll be in Colorado for a week and I’m currently trying to cram our entire house into my suitcase. I don’t know why I do this when it comes to Avery’s things, yet I’m a minimalist when it comes to my own. As a first-time mom, I just want to be prepared should anything happen.

I know what you’re probably thinking: it’s Colorado. It isn’t like we’re traveling to a third world country. Heck, we aren’t even leaving this country. I’m pretty sure they have stores in Colorado where I could buy all of these items. In fact, we will likely have to hit up one of those stores anyway. Do you know how many diapers a baby goes through in a week?! It’s ridiculous. How can someone so tiny poop so many times a day? But, I digress.

Baby’s Packing Checklist

In all actuality, here is a checklist of what to pack for a baby. Items like diapers can be purchased at your destination, but I recommend bringing at least enough for the amount of time you will be in transition to your destination plus three days. You never know what could happen. Layovers, cancellations, and Lord knows what else can always impact your trip. You want to be prepared. Some of these items should be carried in your carry-on bag, or arsenal bag as I call it.

This is likely only the tip of the iceberg, but I consider this checklist the bare minimum when it comes to deciding what to pack for a baby. Obviously winter trips require some extras, as do summer trips. If you’re heading to the beach, you may want to check out our beach basics for babies and toddlers, as well.

Packing: roll instead of fold

Parenthood and Passports - what to pack for a babyAt least our backpacking experience has made us extremely organized packers. I’ve learned if you roll your clothes instead of fold them you can fit more in your suitcase. Better yet, I like to roll entire outfits (pants, shirt, accessories, etc.) together so I don’t have to dig through and constantly refold clothes. This is especially helpful with baby clothes. Baby outfits are much smaller and compact. I also stuff all our socks or my curling iron inside my shoes before I pack them to save room. Packing cubes also help to keep everything extremely organized and help you fit more into your suitcase or bag.

After I finally get everything packed, it usually requires sitting on the suitcase just to close it. Sometimes, it requires both Damon and me sitting on the suitcase. I’ve come to accept this is our new way of packing… at least for now. Kids come with a lot of crap. And no amount of organization can condense all that crap to fit into a backpack.