I’ve always had a crazy propensity towards travel, with an incredible amount of wanderlust deeply embedded in my soul! Before having babies I traveled as much as my life would allow. But, I was a student, so my time was restricted and my budget was small. When I graduated from optometry school I was finally free from the tuition and time constraints holding me back from traveling. Except, I graduated 6 months pregnant!
Everyone told me I wouldn’t be able to travel with a baby, that I’d basically have to wait until retirement to properly scratch my wanderlust itch. I’d like to thank those people! Those nay-sayers gave me the stubborn determination to prove them all WRONG!!
Can You Fly With A Baby?
Of course you can fly with a baby (without a huge amount of stress!!)
Our eldest, Calais, had flow on dozens of flights by the time she turned one, including a trek to Iceland and a couple trips to the US. By the time our second daughter, Kacela, was born (a short 19mo later), we just kept on rolling! She flew around most of Western Canada & a few US states, and hopped across the Pacific to Asia all before her first birthday. It was easy to start flying with them at a young ago, and then there was no excuse to stop!
Between 6 months and a year babies become mobile and admittedly a bit tricker to contain on the plane. The upside; they’re still small, fit nicely into a carrier, and you still get the benefit of nursing or bottle feeding for take-off and landing. You don’t need much to distract or occupy them, but you do need to be prepared with all the other necessities (feeding, diapering, etc), like these travel must-haves for babies!
7 Must Pack Items For Baby Travel
1. A Comfortable Baby Carrier
When my girls were babies, I wouldn’t dream of getting on an airplane without a baby carrier. In my opinion, a comfortable carrier is the key to your happiness. This is especially true if you are traveling alone with your baby. A carrier allows you to be hands free while on the plane and in the airport, making boarding, eating, reading, bathroom breaks, really everything, easier!
The only downside to a baby carrier is that you have to have the baby OUT of the carrier for take-off, landing and turbulence. This always seemed a bit crazy to me, so one time I asked “why?”!! I was told that if anything happened to me the flight attendants would need to be able to take my baby, which is almost impossible to do if the baby is in a carrier.
I guess I figured if anything happened to me I’d likely drop the baby if she wasn’t in the carrier and then it might not matter if the flight attendant was able to get to her or not. But that might just be me thinking a bit morbidly! I sometimes wonder who makes up some of these rules!!
I digress! My favourite carrier for airplane travel with baby is the Ergo Baby Carrier.
2. Destination appropriate Stroller
The stroller you bring should somewhat depend on your destination. This can be a small umbrella stroller if you’re going to Disneyland, or one with larger wheels if you’re going to cobblestone streets in Europe. If you’re in the market, you’re bound to find the perfect stroller on this extensive list. Regardless of what stroller you bring, you’ll have a few options for how to get it through the airport!
If you have a good carrier, and a short layover, there’s really no reason to have your stroller in the airport. My suggestion would be to just check it. If you have a long layover and baby will sleep in the stroller, then keep your stroller with you. Then, and only then is it worth gate-checking a stroller. When you gate-check you just leave the stroller at the door of the plane. Someone will put it away in the plane, and bring it back up to the gate when you land. It is a wonderful service if you need to use it!!
Gate-checking your stroller also has the added advantage of providing you somewhere to put all your stuff when you’re in the airport! It’s nice to be able to hang the diaper bag and put your coffee down while you wander aimlessly around the airport waiting for your next flight!
My favourite stroller for travel is the Baby Jogger City Mini. It ticks all the boxes of still being small but with sturdy enough wheels for most terrain. I love the way it folds up with only one-hand, making it incredibly convenient to gate-check! It’s narrow enough to fit almost anywhere, the umbrella provides great protection, it lays flat enough for baby to sleep and there’s tons of storage space below. It pretty much has it all!
3. Feeding Items
Baby is wiggly at this age, so a good nursing cover will be your best friend. For an older baby, a Convertible Nursing Cover is a must. It offers full coverage around the front and back, plus doubles as a scarf & car-seat cover that’s easy to wear and use as needed. It can also be used as a blanket for baby in a pinch. I love multi-purpose items! I always feel I get so much more out of them.
b. Bottle Feeding – Bottles and Formula
Make sure you bring bottles, formula and EXTRA formula.
I suggest bringing one pre-made bottle in a bottle warmer, like this cute one from Amazon. It’s nice to have one ready to go in a pinch, and you’re able to bring it through security until baby is 2yo.
For the rest of the day’s bottles, you should be okay to use warm water from the plane, but I’d suggest picking up a bottle of water once you’re through security so that you can cool it down to the right temperature. I don’t love plastic water bottles, so you could also just fill up a reusable water bottle from one of the filter water dispensers commonly found in airports these days too!
It’s super important to make sure you pack LOTS of formula! Pick up a formula dispenser (like this Kidsmile, BPA-free, twist-lock, stackable one!). Anything can happen, especially when flying long distances, and it’s better to be over-prepared when it comes to keeping baby fed! I ended up delayed for hours in an airport for a short flight and I ran out of formula. I had to search the airport for other mom’s asking anyone and everyone if I could have some of theirs. Luckily, mom’s are usually incredibly helpful so I found some and was able to feed my baby! It’s not a great situation to be in…just pack extra!!
Baby is just starting on solid foods at this point, and it is a great entertainment tactic for the plane. Little Dole squish’em packs are nutritious, easy to pack and easy to feed. Younger babies will need your help, where older babies can often feed themselves.
Another favourite is small puff snacks or cheerios packed in a Munchkin snack container. These little snack containers don’t spill very easily, and keep little fingers occupied for a bit of time on the plane as well. They’re the perfect snack-distraction! The other snack that’s a must is Mum-Mums, every baby likes these, and they can usually feed themselves as well (an added bonus)!
Thankfully babies are starting to use less diapers by this age, which is nice for packing light! I recommend keeping track of the number of diapers baby uses on a normal day and then doubling this for your carry-on.
Diaper disposal is the same for babies as infants; these cute little disposable diaper bag dispensers are wonderful for containing a used diaper. If you missed this in the infant post, a good trick is to take the “barf bags” from the airplane. These are lined on the inside so they tend not to leak (too badly), and are compact so you can tuck them just about anywhere.
Pack lots of wipes, especially now that baby is eating solid foods! They can be used for cleaning just about every body part, on anybody, if needed.
I am not really a germ-a-phobe, but the thought of changing my baby on a change table that has been used by other people, and likely doesn’t get cleaned frequently, grosses me out. I pack a Kushies Change pad everywhere I go. They are small and compact, wash and dry easily, and can be pulled out quickly to use on a change table, the floor in the airport, or the seat beside you.
6. Extra clothes
I learned this one the hard way…I always pack a spare set of stretchy pants and a t-shirt for the girls, but never do for myself. On a flight across Canada, connecting to our trans-atlantic flight, Calais threw up all over herself and me, twice! She left the plane in her sister’s spare clothes, and I left the plane wearing my friend’s t-shirt (thankfully we were traveling with friends!). This is not really something I’d like to repeat! I now will throw an extra shirt in the carry-on for myself. It doesn’t take up much space, and if you need it, it’s worth it!
7. Entertainment For The Plane
Bring a few toys
Toys should be compact, easy to pack and baby’s favourites. My toys of choice were a Nuby ring and Sophie. Every baby loves Sophie! These both can be chewed on for teething, and provide a small amount of distraction when needed. We have shared our Sophie with other babies on many flights.
Touch and Feel Book
A book is always a nice distraction and can calm baby down if she is upset. I like touch and feel books because they keep baby entertained for longer. My girls’ loved the “That’s not my monster” and other Usborne touchy-feely books.
Tips For Flying With A Baby
Now that you’ve got the right stuff for the plane, make sure you’re prepared for everything else. Check out these 6 tips for flying with a baby super helpful too!
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You can also check out my Tips on Flying with a Baby for some great advice for the plane!
What else is essential to pack onboard when flying with a baby?
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