packing the diaper bag for a flight

My parents live pretty far away. We typically have to fly if we want to go visit. And visiting them is a must! The logistics of flying with a baby could take up about five different posts. The thing I’m focusing on today is how I pack my diaper bag when I’m flying with one or both of my boys. The challenge is that you need to pack enough necessities and “extras” to get through your long (or short) flight without packing so much that your bag is unmanageable.

My number one rule is to only bring enough stuff to fit into one diaper bag. I don’t even bring a purse for myself. I want my hands to be as free as possible when we’re flying. So I get everything in the diaper bag and put the boys in the stroller and/or a baby carrier. When you have to get into your seat as quickly as possible and wrestle a curious baby, it’s important to have only the necessities. But they need to be useful and just right.

What do I pack in the diaper bag when we fly? Diapers. Plenty of diapers. You just never know if you’ll get stuck in an airport and you just need as many as you can fit in your bag. Wipes. Plenty of wipes. For the same reasons. A change of clothes for your baby. Drool, spit up, and blow out diapers happen everywhere — even on airplanes. A pacifier! Hudson didn’t take a pacifier but I still brought one on flights in case he decided he was going to scream. Hayes takes a pacifier like a champ, so it does the trick for him. Ready-to-feed formula and bottles. I usually pack two bottles and just plan to rinse them out if I need more than two bottles on the plane or in airports. The ready-to-feed formula helps because you don’t have to mix anything and it’s just ready. Obviously! I try to bring one more than I think I need. After a terrible delayed flight situation in Atlanta last summer, we discovered that we should always have extra formula in case of a 6-hour delay! If you’re a nursing mother, you can completely skip this step.

with Hudson and Hayes on a flight that was delayed 6 hours. we ran out of formula!

Burp cloths are a big necessity, too. I like to bring two. Messes are inevitable and isn’t it true that we always have more messes when we’re not at home with all of our “clean up” tools? I always pack some kind of fever reducer to help with any potential discomfort in the ears. I like to pack as many small toys as I can fit in my bag. Small little light-up toys and teething rings. Just a handful of things to keep the baby interested. Books are a great way to keep the baby entertained for a little while. I always pack very small board books because I’m operating out of one bag. A portable DVD player or the iPad has also been a big lifesaver. The iPad takes up less space in the bag and it provides you with a variety of different movies if you have them stored on the iPad. If you bring a DVD player, just bring a couple of back up DVDs.

When our babies were really little and we were still swaddling them, we packed their usual swaddle blankets. As soon as we started taking off, we’d swaddle them, feed them, and then they were asleep. Hallelujah! What do I pack for myself? Nothing! I bring my wallet and make sure my ID is handy. If I’m lucky enough for Hayes or Hudson to fall asleep, I’ll be falling asleep, too. I can always read something on the iPad or on my phone if I can’t sleep. But trying to bring books or magazines when a child is sleeping on me just never works out. I pack the bag as lightly as I can while making sure that I have everything we could possibly need. What are your diaper bag necessities when you travel?

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Comments

  1. That was a great list! Flying with our boys is always a challenge even though it is worth it for them to visit new places and see new things. Last summer I went on a girls trip with my mom and flew with a sweater, water bottle and book only. I couldn’t believe how light my carry-on felt since I couldn’t remember the last time I flew without wipes, a dvd player, and all of the other things on your list. : )

  2. September says:

    I second you on the formula–once a two hour flight to Florida was delayed for *7* hours and I ended up having to give my poor baby a bottle of sugar water. Definitely a low point in my parenting career!

    For diapers I always did little diaper packets to make it easier to only bring what I needed into the ridiculously small bathrooms. I’d put three or four wipes into a sandwich size ziploc bag, then fold over a diaper and put it into a second bag with the wipes tucked inside. That way with a loaded bag it was easy to just grab a diaper packet and know I’d have what I needed.

  3. Virginia says:

    Love this post! And my favorite travel discovery – take Huggies Overnight diapers instead of the regular diapers! The Overnights are designed for longer use, which we found tremendously helpful for those trips where we couldn’t make it for a last second diaper change before hopping on a flight or the flight itself didn’t accommodate an easy diaper change. Much more peace of mind for mommy (and probably a happier trip for baby). My other favorite airplane trip – the little disposable “tummy sickness” bag is perfect for filling up with small toys and letting the baby “unpack” and explore . . . and also is perfect, of course, as a handy dandy trash bag. Safe travels! Still loving your blog EVERY day!

  4. Do you have any toddler-specific ideas for keeping a little guy in his seat? We’ll be flying in a couple of months with our (currently) 10-month-old tornado of energy, and I just don’t know how I’m going to do it!

  5. Cathy C. says:

    Thanks for the tips! I would love to see more posts on traveling with little ones. I’ll be flying with my then 7 month old daughter for the first time in June, and I’m already nervous!

  6. My rule is always 1 diaper per hour of planned travel. So if it will take me 7 hours from home to the travel destination, I pack 7 diapers. Even though you only change them ever 2 or 3 hours this helps plan for delays. Ohhhh, I have been in your situation with the formula too!!! I have learned to do the two bottles, plus ready to eat for planned travel time. Then 1 days worth of formula in the travel packets. I usually buy generic but this is time to splurge and get the brand name all ready packaged for no spills formula. I can usually get a stewdress to give me bottled water for the baby. For the over one set…. Sippy cups are great. Usually, if you ask nice they will give you juice, or water for the sippy if you are stuck on the tarmak. Finally, be super nice the airplane crew. They will be your life saver in times of delay. Also, take help, especially if you are alone. Other passengers want to help and usually the remember how hard travel with little ones is.

  7. A friend told me to dress my baby in clothing that I didn’t really care about and could be thrown away JUST IN CASE of a diaper incident, that way I didn’t have to carry poopy/wet clothes all over the place. Also, I brought disposable changing pads so I didn’t have to lug my changing pad out of the diaper bag each time.

  8. So timely! I’m flying tomorrow with one of my babies. I agree with everything you posted. The only thing I would add is I’m always sure to grab a bottle of water (post security line of course!) and a handful of napkins in case there is a mess we need to clean up. And then some snacks for them to munch on in the event they won’t fall asleep. There are some great travel puzzles that are magnetic and I’ll usually pack one of those and a small bag of big blocks so we can put things together and take them apart. But you are right, it leaves no room in the bag for you for anything but your wallet!!

  9. Great post, Erin! I’ve traveled with 2 kids several times by myself and it’s hard! However, it is worth it to see my sweet family. I agree, that less is best but still enough to make it through the flight. My secret is a dum-dum pop because it will keep Evie occupied for a good long time and sticker books. Henry just eats puffs or looks around. If you can clip a toy onto the baby it helps a lot too so that the stuff does not keep falling on the ground. YUCK and annoying to keep leaning over to pick it up!

  10. jcristg says:

    missing the point, but your hair looks good like that.

  11. Courtney says:

    Hi, i have a 2 yr old daughter and i am pregnant with my second daughter in august. i am wondering if you had any adivce on “what do ya need to buy the second time around”? (especially since they are the same gender). i am not letting any friends or family throw me a shower b/c i’ve always thought that was excessive to have showers when you already have all you really NEED :) but, do you remember certain things, items, etc. that you went out and bought for Hayes that you didn’t have for Hudson? or maybe needed something additional b/c Hudson was still using ?
    did you decorate a whole new nursery the 2nd time around, or just use what you used for Hudson?

    if you’re in need of an idea for a blog post, i’d love for this to be a topic :)

    love your blog!

  12. When we flew, someone told me to have either stuff to drink, snacks to eat or a paci for them to have on take off and landing. Eating/drinking/sucking helps with the pressure change and for us worked like a charm. My little girl had a double ear infection when we flew and this trick worked perfectly and she had no discomfort.

  13. step moMster says:

    oh my gosh, how cute is your hair?! i’m filing this info away…in the event that i’m blessed with more family :-)

  14. Flying with babies takes a lot of planning and packing! It’s amazing how much stuff you have to pack in addition to the normal, clothes, etc. This almost scares me! I might have to just drive once I have kids!!

  15. GREAT names for your kids!

  16. That is so cute! I love that picture :) My question is who took it. A passenger? One thing I learned is having things planned and packed is always a great idea!! Only flew a couple times with kids but such a great list. LOVE it! Most of all have different ideas for different situations. And have a positive attitude to roll with the punches because no matter how much you plan. doesn’t always work the way you think! :)

  17. Great advice and priceless picture – love it!

  18. Haha I had forgotten about your post where the flight was delayed! Love this picture though :) you handled the situation much better than I would have and could only imagine!!

  19. Diane says:

    Great post! I think the key is bringing both something their familiar with (lovie, toy, book) and something new to excite him. The iPad was our BFF on the flight and he loved getting (diluted) apple juice from the flight attendant – two things we don’t normally give our toddler at home! I just traveled with him without daddy and he was a dream companion. But I can’t imagine doing it with two – go you!!

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