Traveling, whether by car, train, or air, can be stressful even under the best of circumstances. However, traveling with a baby instantly takes stress levels to a whole new level. If you thought packing for you was difficult, welcome to parenthood. It's a whole new ballgame. You might be surprised at exactly how much stuff a baby requires when traveling.
To help you with these challenges, we have come up with the ultimate baby travel bag checklist. You can refer to this list every time you have an upcoming trip and rest easy, knowing that you’ve packed everything you might want or need, without loading your bags down with anything unnecessary.
Most new moms start out packing everything they can possibly think of and wind up toting “stuff” they didn’t really need in the first place. By using our checklist, you can avoid packing the nonessentials and significantly improve your travel experience.
Top Must-Have Items for Traveling with Baby
With flights and train rides, you’ll want to pack some kind of carry-on bag to make sure you have your essentials readily available during your trip. Our collection of JuJuBe Diaper Bag Backpacks make for a great bag for baby stuff as a carry-on, especially if you get a large one with plenty of room for your items. Within your diaper bag backpack, you really just want to have your absolute essentials. Pack enough for at least 48 hours - just to be safe pending the worst case scenario of potential delays and layovers - and learn how to organize a backpack diaper bag to keep your things in order through the entirety of your trip.
For a road trip, all of your luggage will be loaded in the trunk and for the most part, readily available. However, it’s still a smart idea to pack a smaller bag with the core essentials so you can access those items easily without tearing apart your trunk and luggage first. With that said, all of the following items will serve for either scenario.
You don’t want to get stuck somewhere with zero diapers. You really can’t pack enough of them, just to be safe. Accidents happen and diaper changes can be frequent, so always better to pack more than you think you might need. At the bare minimum, figure a diaper for every two hours. If your baby is older, they might require fewer diaper changes, but if you’re traveling with an infant, you don’t want to chance it.
Plenty of Wipes
Wipes can be used for many things beyond just cleaning your baby’s bottom. Pack plenty! They are handy for mopping up spills and messes and can also do double duty as a way to keep your little one clean all over, especially if it’s hot.
You can even use baby wipes for yourself, if you need to quickly wash your hands or face in a pinch. Keep a small pack of antibacterial wipes in your bag too, to help prevent the spread of germs. You can use them to wipe down your changing pad and anything else that might need it.
Two Changes of Clothes
It’s recommended to pack a change of clothes or two for you as well as your baby. Clothes get soiled easily with infants and toddlers, so having a couple of spare sets for the both of you is never a bad idea.
If you breastfeed, you might not need bottles, but if you formula feed, make sure you pack two. As a rule, you should probably just pack two of everything important, since it can always come in handy to have spares of necessities.
A Changing Pad
Changing pads will come in handy both on the plane and during layovers. You can use them to cover the top of changing tables in the restroom or change your child right in your lap if need be. They also are handy while traveling by car, especially if you have to pull over in a remote area and change your baby on the seat or trunk.
Bibs and Burp Cloths
Bibs catch drool, spit-up, and food. It’s a great idea to pack a couple with you because they can save you from having to change your baby’s clothes. Burp cloths are for you, for the same reasons. That way if your baby spits up or makes a mess, it lands on the burp cloth instead of your shirt.
Include one or two receiving blankets in your diaper bag as well. These can double as an extra burp cloth or be used as a concealer if you breastfeed your baby and have to breastfeed somewhere in public. If you have a nursing cover already, you might not need a receiving blanket for this purpose, but it’s still a good idea to pack a couple since they’re very versatile.
A pacifier is one item that gets lost easily. Even when you have more than one, sometimes it seems like they always go missing. To make sure you’re covered while on the go, always pack at least two if your baby uses one- and don’t forget a pacifier case to keep it clean!
Food and Formula
If you don’t breastfeed, then you need to make sure you pack enough baby food and/or formula for at least two days. Babies eat a lot and often. If your baby is a little older and has graduated to solid foods, make sure you pack snacks, like veggie puffs, crackers, and dry cereal. If you breastfeed and are traveling with pre-pumped breast milk, make sure you pack it in a small, insulated cooler and use ice packs so that it stays cold until you're ready to use it.
Snacks for Mom
You may find yourself hit by hunger pains too if you’re traveling for a long period of time. It’s a good idea to pack snacks for you to keep up your energy, especially if you’re breastfeeding and your metabolic needs are higher. Foods with a healthy balance of fat and protein are ideal to keep you satiated.
You may need this only if you’re actively breastfeeding. The smaller, manual pumps can be ideal for traveling because they don’t take up much space and you won’t have to worry about plugging them in somewhere. Keep your milk supply cool and free from bacteria with one of our adorable breast pumping bags!
Toys and Teething Rings
If your baby is old enough to play with toys, make sure you pack a couple small, age-appropriate toys for the road to keep him or her entertained. If your baby is in the teething stage, pack a teether or two. There isn’t a need to pack large toys since those will take up space unnecessarily; instead just pack something that helps keep their attention when needed.
If your baby is on any medications, make sure those are in your travel bag and that they adhere to any travel rules if you’re flying. Over-the-counter medications that are smart to have on hand include:
- Infant ibuprofen
- Gas drops
- Diaper rash ointment
It’s always better to be over-prepared while traveling because you never know what might hit you or your little one unexpectedly, from stomach issues to a cold or other ailments.
Even if the weather is warm, make sure you pack a good blanket. The air conditioning on a plane or in the car can get chilly and you’ll want something to keep your baby snug and comfortable. Blankets can also do double duty as shade when necessary.
Front Carrier or Sling Carrier
Sometimes, pushing a stroller is not ideal when traveling, especially when trying to navigate busy airports or stations. You might want to pack a hands-free carrier so that you can move more freely.
Traveling Out of the Country
If you’re headed overseas, there are a few more items you should have readily available in your bag. You should always check your airline on specifics, but as a general rule you should have:
- Passports for both you and baby
- Travel insurance documents
- Custody documents and proof of identity
- Written consent if you’re a single parent traveling alone
These are all the non-negotiable items that should be on every baby travel checklist. If you’re ever in doubt when considering items to pack, always keep in mind that’s it’s better to be over-prepared than under-prepared.
Additional Items to Have for Traveling with Baby
Once you have your carry-on essentials together, you can focus on packing up the rest of your things, including the extras that will make life easier once you reach your destination. The beauty of being a parent is you get to decide what’s truly necessary for you and your baby when you’re traveling. Though it’s recommended to travel as light as possible, every parent will view “light” differently. The following is a shortlist of recommended items to pack along with the rest of your luggage.
A bottle brush is helpful to give your baby’s bottles a quick scrub even in a hotel room.
You don’t have to pack a baby monitor, but if you are going to be gone awhile and your baby will be sleeping in a different room than you, it might make you feel more at ease to bring a baby monitor along. Plus, you can use it to listen out for the baby during nap time too, even if you’re in another room socializing with family and friends.
Pack plenty of changes of clothes for the duration of your stay. Make sure they are weather appropriate and don’t forget the small things like socks, mittens, and comfortable shoes if your baby is starting to walk. You can also pack extras like a baby sun hat, a bathing suit, and baby flip-flops, if you’re traveling somewhere warm with swimming or beaches on the agenda.
This one may seem like a no brainer but always travel with an age-appropriate car seat. If you’re flying, check the airline guidelines to determine what’s allowed on board and what has to stay with your luggage.
Whether you’re flying or taking a road trip, when you arrive at your destination you will probably be grateful for a stroller. You can rent strollers at some travel destinations, but not always. It’s better to pack your own if it’s not too much trouble.
Playpen and Play Mat
A lightweight, collapsible playpen is great if your baby is mobile and on the move already. You can rest easy knowing he or she is contained and out of danger while playing in a new environment. A play mat is great for smaller babies that haven’t yet learned to crawl. You can lay it down on the floor just about anywhere and have a clean, sanitary space for them to nap or entertain themselves.
An inflatable one is ideal because you can deflate it while traveling, which makes it easier to pack. A portable tub is nice to have available in new environments so that bath time with your little one is comfortable for both of you.
If your baby is old enough to eat solid foods, some other items to consider are:
Child Plates and Utensils
If your child is eating solid foods and learning to feed themselves, it’s a good idea to pack your own plates and utensils they are currently learning to use. This helps keep things consistent and avoids the potential for injury by using utensils provided by a restaurant or hotel.
Portable High Chair
This is also a great option if your child is of an age where they are learning to feed themselves. You can set up a portable high chair anywhere, and rest easy knowing your child is safe and the chair is clean and sanitized by you personally.
Ultimately, you decide what you will take to your destination. You know best what you and your baby need from day to day, and how easily those items will travel. As a rule, aim to pack as light as possible while still meeting your baby’s needs. Our guides at JuJuBe, from this travel checklist to our new baby checklist and beyond, are here to help get you started on your journey!