What Should I Pack? – The Essential Guide.
I found that having to think about what to pack when flying with kids, whilst busy with the everyday challenges that parenting brings – made this usually enjoyable experience slightly more hectic. So here is some general information on what to pack, followed by some specific packing tips for carry-on and checked in baggage. I’ve also included a printable checklist for you too, with space for you to add any unique items for your family.
(Some items in the post may have affiliate links, which add no cost to you, but may earn me a few pennies to keep this site running.)
- Most major international airlines will have a very limited supply of baby milk, baby jars and nappies/diapers on board, but as you can never guarantee what is available, it is best to pack your own. ( N.B American airlines do not seem to provide any of the above). Remember to also allow for flight delays or unexpected stopovers…Babies will also drink more in-flight, just like adults as the cabin air is dehydrating.
- You are allowed to take baby milk and food on board, if it is for your babies use for the duration of the flight, and it CAN be over 100ml. Baby food and milk are exempt from the 100 ml liquid rules. This includes; sterilised water, breast/powdered/ cartoned milk of all kinds, and baby food of all consistencies and packaging. It is, however, advisable to have the sterilised water already in a baby bottle if possible.
- Boots the Chemist, at UK airports allow you to pre-order baby milk, so if you want to avoid testing at the airport, you can arrange to pick up once you’ve passed through security. See my post detailing how to do this and which airports you can do this from.
- It’s also worth asking the local airport Starbucks to warm milk for you and some even provide milk for free, (at each branches discretion).
- NB In January 2014 UK security procedure changed. Parents are no longer required to taste the baby milk at UK airport security, although the milk is likely to be subject to additional screening. Pack extra just in case it is opened and no longer sterile.
Download my free printable packing checklist!
Download my printable Packing Checklist
- Try and pack as light as possible for your hand baggage. Many major airlines allow you to bring a small bag for yourself AND a nappy/diaper bag for your baby, but others do not give infants their own allowance, meaning you must have everything in one bag. (Read here for the most family-friendly airlines and a quick reference guide to those that do allow carry on for infants.)
A great tip – have the essentials like a nappy, small packet of wipes etc in several individual bags such as a ziplock bag, and have in an easily accessible place. Once you have you used them, you can replace with your next ziplock bag of supplies. No more rummaging around.
- Bring food/drink and supplies for your journey and some extra for testing at airport and unforeseen delays. All the rest can go in your checked in baggage or be bought at your destination. See my post on various milk and baby food brands that can be found in different countries. Some large international airlines allow you to pre-order baby meals (BBML) which are usually jars of pureed food. Check the details on your airline’s website. They are either listed on the travelling with an infant section or under special meals requests – you cannot choose the actual content of the jar though.
- Zip-lock bags to fill with ice at the airport and the plane to keep food and milk cool.
- Small cool bag/insulated bag
- If you need to warm up food or milk on the flight, consider packing a small flask – you may need to empty any hot water before a flight, but you can always ask the crew to fill it up on-board. This way you can heat up baby food whenever you like. The Tommee Tippee bottle and food warmer flask is useful for this as it has a holder for you to decant the hot water into and pop a bottle or pouch in.If you are flying from the UK, consider ordering from Boots online in advance and collecting airside, once you have cleared security. This is not limited to baby products, so you can pick up your favourite make-up or suntan lotion too. Here’s how to do it.
- Pack a change of clothes for your baby, you and partner. This is an absolute must, especially on those long-haul flights to Oz! It’s also useful to dress you and your baby in layers, so you can remove or add depending on the cabin temperature.
- Something familiar for your baby, whether a favourite toy or blanket or both. I really like the This Works Baby Pillow Spray too.
- Some new toys. Please see my best baby and toddler toys post for some great ideas. But wrap these up in a few layers of different coloured paper. Perfect for tiny, inquisitive little hands, and helps keep boredom at bay.
- Calpol and Ibuprofen sachets. Perfect for travel and in handy 5ml sizes. Available from most supermarkets and chemists. Other essential medicines, larger than 100ml can be brought on board but need a doctor’s letter and prior approval from the airline. This does include inhalers.
- (In the USA -Tylenol and Motrin, but I don’t think they provide these in handy dosage size sachets yet. Please let me know if/when they do.)
- A baby carrier or sling. Perfect for walking around the airport, and even better for when you arrive at your destination and it’s a long walk to baggage reclaim. Here are some reviews of tried and tested carriers.
- Dummy/Pacifier – if your baby uses one this can help in relieving the pressure in their ears. If not, a feed from bottle or breast will have the same effect.
- Smartphone downloaded with their favourite TV show or music/nursery rhymes and apps. Most airlines have a TV channel specifically for children, but it won’t necessarily show age appropriate shows the entire duration of your flight. Here are some ideas for some age appropriate apps
- A baby sleeping bag. These are great as they help keep your baby used to the familiar and also more comfortable when in the bassinet, skycot, or even your lap.
- An extra wrap or thin blanket and a couple of safety pins. This is handy if you are at a bassinet seat and the overhead monitor is projecting too much light on your sleeping baby, or if your baby is sleeping and the cabin lights are turned on for a meal service. If the bassinet seat is unavailable, you can then make a ‘den’ by using the seat in front of you and your seat, to secure the blanket over the top of the seat, again giving you some respite from the bright cabin lights.
- There is also a new Australian product out called CoziGo (formerly Fly Babee) which is a bassinet cover and a stroller UV cover too. We found it very useful on holiday and at home too. perfect to shield from those cabin lights!
- A product out by Sky Baby UK is a sky mattress which enables a young baby to sleep comfortably on your lap. Especially handy if you don’t have a bassinet seat, or if you prefer baby to sleep on you. It has a loop underneath, which attaches to the infant lap belt, so keeps baby secured to you, and also means there is no need to disturb baby when the seat belt sign comes on for turbulence. The ‘wings’ fold over and keep baby secure and snug. It’s light, compact and brand new on to the market. Available from Amazon and directly from SkyBaby who will deliver worldwide. Check out my review of the product too.
- Antibacterial wipes. Handy for wiping those tray tables or even parts of the bassinet. Airports and airplanes see thousands of people…
- Charger- many airlines provide in
seat charger sockets-even in economy. These include Etihad, Emirates, British Airways (check on line with your airline as it does depend on aircraft type.)
Have I missed anything that has been essential for you in your hand luggage? Please do comment below.
I’ve found since the arrival of Miss A, my suitcase is no longer my own and taken up by all her and now her sister’s essentials. However, the arrival of baby means that you do have extra allowances which can be put in the aircraft hold. Check my airline list on ‘What are the best seats on a plane and info on baby bassinets’ to find out your individual airline requirement. These are the basics.
You can take usually take 2 extra items:-
1. A collapsible pram/stroller/buggy. Think about using a stroller travel bag to keep all parts of the pram together, and to sneak in a few extra items (ive put nappies in before!)
2. A car seat
(3. And on some airlines a collapsible cot as well. Qantas is one of these, if it is an international flight.)
The allowances do vary so much from airline to airline, so do check or tweet me @flyingwithbaby and I’ll be happy to help.
Baby items to pack in your suitcase. My packing checklist:-
Pack a few of your child’s items into your suitcase and vice versa- that way should a suitcase go missing, all of you have some basic necessities…
1) Short sleeved vests and long sleeved vests.
2) Sleep suits and baby sleeping bag.
4) Swimming costume
5) Swimming nappies ( Fab tip is you can wash and re-use the disposable ones e.g Huggies little swimmers, if there is no number 2- saves space in suitcase and money!)
6) Baby sunscreen
7) Mini baby toiletries/hairbrush/dummies if you use.
8) Extra Medicines ( Always have essential medicine with you in your hand luggage though.)
9) A few nappies/wipes etc for the first day or two.
10) SnoozeShade for your pram to help baby sleep and protect them from UV rays. I find this invaluable at home and abroad and they work much better than a blanket or muslin flung over the pram.
11) A couple of small toys/books.
12)Travel high chair ( depending on where you are travelling to) Totseat, Polar Gear or a fabric one are good depending on your suitcase space.
13) Sterilising tablets – so much lighter than even a travel steriliser.
14) Baby milk/food for a day or two of your stay, to save you hunting for it in the middle of the night or through a haze of jet-lag.
15) If an older toddler, then the Potette plus travel potty is very lightweight and convenient.
16) A stroller fan. Really handy for hot countries and light weight too. The foam ‘blades’ mean it is safe too.
17) Ice block coolers to freeze and keep items cool on holiday day trips.
Have I missed anything that has been essential for you? Please do comment below.
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