Carry-On Essentials when Flying with a Baby

I call it the arsenal bag. And it is a must-have for anyone flying with an infant. A well-prepared parent must be able to cover all bases when in the enclosed confines of an airplane cabin. Believe me, your fellow passengers will thank you. Having been on more than 50 flights with our daughter when she was an infant, I learned what is necessary and what wasn’t necessary to include in a carry-on bag for a baby. Here’s a look at our top carry-on essentials for a baby.

Carry-on essentials for a baby

Carry-on essentials for a baby

Extra diapers/wipes

Diapers take up a lot of space when traveling. So I usually recommend packing most of them in your checked luggage or buying them once you arrive at your destination. But always travel with more diapers and wipes in your carry-on bag than you think may be necessary for the duration of your flight. You definitely don’t want to run out if there is an unexpected layover or flight cancellation.

Formula/bottles (if not breastfeeding)

Same rule applies to formula or breastmilk as to diapers. Always travel with more than you expect to need. Feeding on take off and landing will also help your baby with the pressure changes that can cause their ears to hurt. Click here to find out what you need to know about going through security with liquid formula or expressed breastmilk.

Snacks, snacks, snacks

Puffs, Cheerios, wafers, whatever your baby likes to snack on – bring it. Our daughter constantly snacks on the plane. It distracts her and keeps her busy during the flight. I don’t typically let her have a lot of snack foods when we are home because they usually lack nutritional value, but when we are traveling, especially when on a plane – I’m not as strict.

Food pouches

Chances are if you are traveling with a baby over the age of 6 months old, at least once while in route to your destination, your child will need to eat a solid meal. Food pouches are much more convenient that jars of baby food, especially when traveling solo with your baby. My infant daughter could even hold the and suck the food out herself.


When flying with a baby, a new toy goes a long way. When our daughter was an infant, we made sure to bring a new, inexpensive toy that she had never seen or played with before on every trip. The newness of the toy can often keep babies occupied and entertained longer than an old toy. However, I also liked to bring a few of my baby’s favorite toys from home and a book or two. That way, if my daughter got bored with her new toy she would have several more options available.

Wet bag and change of clothes

Have you ever experienced a diaper blow out on a plane? We have. Fortunately, we had a wet bag but we didn’t have a change of clothes! I know, parent fail… Our baby spend the rest of the flight wearing nothing but a diaper. Don’t be like us. Your baby could throw up, spit up, poop, or spill something. An extra outfit is a necessity. And the wet bag will prevent the nasty clothes from touching everything else in your carry-on.

An extra shirt for you

Babies have a way of projecting their bodily fluids. So if any are released while in flight, there is a really good chance you and your baby will need to change.

Disinfectant wipes

Airports and planes are gross. You never quite realize that until you have a kid who wants to lick the window, chew on the laminated insert in the seat back pocket, or crawl around on the floor at the gate. I wipe down everything with disinfectant wipes when we get in the plane and I wipe my daughters hands routinely while traveling.

Medicine and Safety Kit

I always travel with Infant Motrin or Tylenol and Gas Relief Drops. I’ve actually never had to use them while we were traveling, but better to be safe than sorry. For a comprehensive list of items that should be in your traveling safety kit, check out this post from Trip Gourmets.

An iPad or tablet

Have a couple shows your baby likes downloaded and stored on a tablet (Baby Einstein, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, etc.). The older your child gets, the more beneficial this will become. As with the snacks, I am also less strict with screen time when we are traveling.

A comfort item from home

If your baby has a favorite blanket, stuffed animal or lovey, do not forget to bring it. This item will also help sleeping in an unfamiliar place feel a little more like home.

A receiving blanket

Carry on bag for baby - blanket for layovers

Whether the plane is cold or your baby wants to lay down or crawl in the airport floor, a blanket will come in handy. These lightweight swaddle blankets are larger and thinner than typical receiving blankets, and make great nursing covers, too.

Other carry-on essentials for a baby

Of course, don’t forget your typical diaper bag essentials.

Usually these carry-on essentials for a baby have helped me through almost any difficult or trying flight. The best advice is to be prepared for anything and try not to stress when things don’t go as planned.

What other carry-on essentials for a baby would add to this list? What is in your carry-on bag for baby? Let us know in the comments below.

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