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The Essential Packing Checklist for Flying With An Infant

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We think parents deserve a gold star for flying with a baby. Full hands, heavy bags and evil looks make this a supreme parenting challenge. We can't help you navigate perils like using the airplane bathroom while holding a baby (good luck), but we can help you remember all the important stuff with this packing checklist for flying with an infant.

Three Surprising Essentials for Flying with an Infant

You already know you'll need diapers and bottles. But did you know about these three surprising essentials for flying with a baby?

  • A baby passport. It may seem silly to have official documents for someone who can't even crawl, but a passport is required if you're flying with an infant (or cruising) overseas. Getting a passport for a baby is a little tricky. Both parents must be present, or you'll need a special parental consent form or court order.1 You can't be holding your baby in the passport photo, and your baby must have his or her eyes open — no easy feat for very young infants.2 Get more info on the forms you need for a baby passport here. The good news: your baby's passport is valid for five years.
  • An airplane bassinet/travel cot for long flights. Not even the most attached parent wants to hold his or her baby for 10 hours straight. For long international flights, you can request a free bassinet where your baby can sleep. A few caveats: There's usually only one bassinet per plane, Style Hi Club warns, so request it early. And only certain seats can accommodate the bassinet, so make sure you snag one.
  • A bribe bag for your fellow passengers. To avoid malevolent stares when they're flying with an infant, some savvy parents bring goody bags for the people seated near them. Two couples became Internet-famous for offering candy and earplugs with a cute note to their fellow passengers. Other parents criticize the practice, saying there's no need to apologize for a baby's behavior. But we say hey, it can't hurt to have these on hand, particularly for a long flight.

The Essential Packing Checklist for Flying with an Infant

What to pack in your carry-on when flying with baby

  • Diapers: In your carry-on, you'll need one for each hour of transit, plus extras, BabyCenter recommends. Don't risk getting stranded without diapers during a travel delay.
  • Diaper cream
  • Changing pad
  • Wipes for diaper changes and messes
  • Plastic bags for wet or dirty clothes and diapers
  • Burp cloths
  • Nursing cover
  • Blankets: Small ones for wrapping baby and a big one to place on the airport floor so baby can play
  • Two changes of clothes for your baby
  • Change of clothes for yourself
  • Pacifiers
  • Snacks, such as cereal, puffs, crackers, fruit
  • Breast milk or formula: Both of these are exempt from the TSA's 3-ounce limit.3 Or try individual, pre-measured formula packets to mix with bottled water.
  • Canned or jarred baby food: These items may be subject to additional TSA screening.4
  • Small cooler with ice packs
  • Bottles
  • Passport (if traveling overseas)
  • Travel insurance documents: Remember that the OneTrip Prime Plan from Allianz Global Assistance covers children aged 17 and under for free when they're traveling with a parent or grandparent.
  • Consent letter from other parent if you're traveling solo
  • First-aid kit
  • Infant medications, including antihistamine and acetaminophen, plus any prescriptions. Don't give your baby Benadryl or another antihistamine unless your pediatrician recommends it.5
  • Oral rehydration unfrozen freeze pops: an essential, says Have Baby Will Travel
  • Nasal aspirator and saline solution
  • Toys and books
  • DVD player or tablet with headphones, if baby will be entertained by these
  • Passenger goody bags

What to Pack in Checked Luggage when Flying with Baby

  • Car seat: Most airlines will let you gate-check this for free. You can also arrange to rent one at your destination. If you've bought a seat for your baby, carry the car seat on board.
  • Umbrella stroller: Same as above. Read the guidelines for gate-checking your car seat and stroller on Have Baby Will Travel, then double-check your airline's policy.
  • Backpack carrier
  • Baby monitor and batteries
  • Diapers: Calculate how many your baby uses per day, then pack a few extra.
  • Wipes
  • Rain and cold-weather gear (if applicable)
  • At least two outfits per day with socks, packed in individual bags
  • Shoes or booties
  • Pajamas and sleep sacks
  • Swimsuit and sunsuit
  • Water shoes
  • Swim diapers
  • Baby laundry detergent
  • Formula
  • Baby food
  • Baby fork, spoon and dishes
  • Spill-proof snack cups
  • Bottles or sippy cups
  • Breast pump, if you use one
  • Bibs
  • Dish soap and brush
  • Inflatable baby bathtub, if you're flying with an infant so young he/she needs one. Otherwise use the hotel sink.
  • Baby shampoo/wash
  • Baby toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Baby comb, brush and hair ties
  • Baby nail clippers
  • Baby thermometer
  • Sunscreen and sunhat
  • Baby sunglasses
  • Outlet plugs, doorknob covers, toilet locks and other safety devices for crawling babies or young toddlers
  • Nightlight

Print Our Checklist for Traveling on a Plane with Toddlers

Be sure to print our checklist and take it with you. Simply click the print link below and make sure to have your browser set to print background images so that you can see the checkboxes.
Print Checklist

Dec 05, 2016