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Prior to children, packing was a quick and easy process. I would throw a few clothes and the bare necessities in a carry-on and of I went. Nowadays, packing is a bit more stressful, because I’m not only packing for myself but for a baby, as well. And despite how small babies are, they require a lot of stuff! Thankfully, after a few rough trips without everything we needed for our little one, I learned from my mistakes. I have now practically perfected the art of packing for a baby, and most of the time I still manage to fit what my daughter and I both need into a carry-on bag only. When space is minimal, deciding what to pack for a baby can be difficult. Having a packing list for your baby will ensure you don’t forget anything important when you’re traveling.
What to pack for a baby when traveling: Carry on or checked luggage?
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. Packing is a process… A long, complicated process, now.
Depending on the season, I often get away with bringing just my small rolling luggage or my large backpack for both my daughter and me. In winter, packing requires a bit more work (and more stuff), especially if we are packing for a ski trip.Besides your daily clothes and toiletries , in winter you have to bring boots, gloves, hats, and coats. All that extra stuff takes up a lot of room in a suitcase! In those instances, we usually have to bring our large rolling duffel bag and check our luggage.
But regardless of the season, deciding what to pack for a baby to go anywhere can be tedious and overwhelming.
What to pack for a baby depends on destination and length of stay
When determining what to bring and what to leave, the main things to consider is how long you plan to be away from home and where you are going. If traveling abroad with your baby, keep in mind not every country has the same products or safety devices for children you’ll find at home. But if you are just traveling to another city a couple hours away, you’ll find all the same family-friendly conveniences you are accustomed to.
Still there are a few staples you will definitely pack anytime you travel anywhere with your baby. Diapers, wipes, rash cream, baby wash, lotion, more diapers, sanitizer, a blanket, a pacifer, 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! Kidding… Kinda.
As a first-time mom though, I want to be prepared should anything happen, so I have created this handy packing list for traveling with a baby to make life easier for me – and for you.
Packing list for baby – to make travel easier
I hope this checklist helps you prepare for your trip. If you need to save space, items like diapers can usually be purchased at your destination. However, 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, missed flights, 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 so you will have them with you on the plane, and not in your checked luggage.
- Baby Wipes
- Formula: if needed (Bottled water can be purchased at your destination. If traveling with liquid formula or expressed breastmilk, read this post first.)
- Bottles or Sippy Cups (Enough for one day. Wash each night.)
- Baby bottle cleaning tablets (or reusable bottles to fill with dish soap)
- Extra pacifiers (if your baby uses one)
- Two outfits per day (babies are messy)
- Wet bag (again, babies are messy)
- Socks and shoes
- Travel-size baby bath products (soap and lotion). You can use reusable bottles for this, as well.
- Diaper rash cream
- Medicine (Infant pain reliever, gas drops, congestion medicine).
- Infant nail clippers
- Nose Frida Nasal Aspirator (trust me, you want this! Air travel can cause babies to become extra congested. This works better than any aspirator I’ve used.)
- Boogie Wipes (You will want these, too!)
- Sanitizing wipes
- Sound machine. (It will help baby sleep better in a hotel.)
- Baby food packets, spoons, waterproof bibs (easier to wipe clean and reuse)
- Swaddle blankets and crib sheet (contact the hotel and make sure they provide a crib or pack n play)
- Comfort item from home
- Toys/books for entertainment while in transit (see full carry-on list)
- Your camera! Because you will look back and cherish every trip with your baby forever.
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 and what to leave behind. 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.
Travel gear to pack for a baby
Depending on where you are going you may want to consider bringing along travel gear. Things like a travel crib, portable high chair, collapsible stroller or baby carrier, and a car seat and travel bag are beneficial if you’ll be away for awhile or traveling to a destination where these things are not provided. And if you’re nursing, don’t forget your breast pump!
Packing tips to travel lighter with a baby
At least our years of backpacking prior to having a baby made us extremely organized packers. Here are a few tips I’ve learned over the years to save space and make packing for a baby easier.
Roll your clothes instead of fold them. Better yet, I like to roll entire baby outfits (pants, shirt and accessories) together. Baby outfits are much smaller and compact, and roll nicely.
- Stuff baby socks or other small items inside adult shoes to save room in luggage.
- Invest in packing cubes to keep everything organized and free up more space.
- Stay in an apartment with a washing machine instead of a hotel so you can bring fewer clothes.
- When possible, buy most of your diapers upon arrival at your destination.
Have you traveled with your little ones? If so, what would you add to this packing list for babies? Let us know in the comments below.
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