We’re sharing our top 12 baby travel essentials that make travel with a baby easier and more enjoyable. You won’t want to travel without these items.
What are some of our top must-haves for travel with a baby? Beyond the obvious basics like bottles, clothing, and diapers, what other baby travel essentials make life on the go not only do-able, but actually enjoyable?
What products make flights a breeze and which help with sleep? Which items are worth the money or luggage space, and what can you simply leave at home? Discover my favorite baby travel essentials that you probably never knew you needed!
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12 Must Have Baby Travel Essentials
A dedicated travel carseat is one of the most overlooked baby travel essentials. Everyday carseats can be heavy and big; a slimmer seat or one made for on the go makes carrying the seat on a plane or in a taxi more feasible. The Doona, for example, transitions from carseat to stroller without taking baby out (plus it wheels right down an airplane aisle!). The Cosco Scenera is another popular travel carseat that’s lightweight and convertible, but exceeds all safety standards. Mom Tip: if you’re flying and gate checking a carseat, don’t forget a carseat travel bag!
A travel or pocket stroller is life saving when it comes to traveling with a baby. Imagine if your stroller folded down small enough to stow in an airplane overhead bin and was light enough to carry on your shoulder when not in use. A pocket stroller like the GB Pockit or BabyZen Yoyo does just that to make travel, especially in major cities or when using public transportation, more convenient. Some pocket strollers are only designed for 6 months and up, or require additional pieces for infants.
One of my personal favorite baby travel essentials, I don’t go anywhere without a soft structured carrier (SSC). I am personally happiest with my babies strapped to me, hands free and ready to explore! Both of my boys loved being in their carriers, as well, and always napped great on the go in them. SSCs make boarding a plane or ship a breeze, too, and can take the place of a stroller. While popular carriers like the ErgoBaby 360 and the Lillebaby All Season are worth the investment, I also always recommend the Infantino Cuddle Up carrier as an inexpensive yet quality SSC.
Of course a safe sleep surface is essential, but you may not want to rent a crib (yuck!). The Lotus Travel Crib is popular, albeit expensive, since it folds down into a convenient backpack. Alternatively, a traditional pack and play is a bit larger, but more affordable. (We use the Graco pack and play, without other options. A similar product is linked). I also do NOT recommend sleep positioners, like the dock a tot, because they are not approved sleeping surfaces. Safety is the absolute most important of all our baby travel essentials.
A sound machine is one of those baby travel essentials that you’ll either definitely need, or definitely won’t, and you’ll know based on your own baby. My children NEED to sleep with white noise. Honestly, our entire house sleeps with white noise. A portable sound machine, like the Rohm, is small enough to fit in your carry-on, but guarantees a good night’s sleep. Plus, you won’t have to drain your phone battery with white noise apps.
Our pop up travel highchair (we use the Summer Infant Pop n Sit) is one of our favorite baby travel essentials for so many reasons. We love using it in a hotel room for quick meals, at restaurants that don’t have highchairs, for stationary activities, and for picknicking, camping, and road tripping. It’s completely washable and packs up super small to fit in some diaper bags and in carry-ons.
There are a few other baby feeding essentials you may benefit from, depending on your baby’s needs and feeding abilities, such as a silicone mat, utensils, or reusable pouches.
I’m a big fan of carryon on and backpack travel, so having a quality diaper backpack with good organization is of utmost importance. Look for something with plenty of pockets, space for wipes, bottles, essentials for mom, and extra room. We currently use the TWELVElittle Peek-a-Boo diaper backpack; it’s designed for travel (with a zip out pocket to fit the backpack over a stroller handle), looks sleek, and actually holds a lot.
Extra large swaddle blankets are lightweight but so versatile for travel. Use them as a blanket, swaddle, play mat, nursing cover, sunshade for a stroller, and so much more. They’re also super absorbent if baby spills anything, and dry quickly if you need to wash them. Confession – I still keep one rolled up in my diaper bag even though my youngest is two!
You don’t need to cloth diaper to reap the benefits of wet/dry bags. Convenient and reusable, wet/dry bags keep your wet stuff separate from the dry, in the same bag. They are great for dirty clothes, bathing suits, changing supplies, small baby items, and anything you might want to quickly pull from a diaper bag or suitcase.
Infant safe sunblock (for six months and over) is one of the most important baby travel essentials that you won’t want to be stuck without. Heading to the beach, you may not forget this, but it’s great to pack all year long. Snow, for example, can reflect the sun onto sensitive little faces.
We always carry infant dosages of medicines we need or might need, along with a syringe. As a food allergy mama, medical necessities are never overlooked, but I always hear from other travel moms who wish they’d thought to pack pain meds, benedryl, tummy drops, etc. You can purchase a curated kit or make your own! Plus, don’t forget a measuring/dispensing tool (like a syringe) that your baby will be able to use.
Did you think you’d find breast pump wipes on a list of baby travel essentials…even if you aren’t breastfeeding or pumping? Pump wipes sanitize on the go, without soap and water, but are safe for babies who put everything in their mouths. Clean anything from toys to restaurant highchairs to an airplane tray with a small, compact sleeve of wipes.
What I Don’t Bring: Non Essentials for Travel With a Baby
As a self proclaimed proud minimalist, I’m of course sharing everything you shouldn’t add to your list of baby travel essentials:
- A full sized stroller system – between a baby carrier and/or pocket stroller, there’s no need to bog down your luggage with a large stroller.
- Too many clothes and diapers – we always plan on doing laundry during a trip to have clean clothes, and we purchase diapers on location.
- Tub – it always surprises me how many round up posts recommend a portable or inflatable tub. Simply shower with your babe.
- Baby soaps, detergent, etc – many lists of baby travel essentials include these but they’re only necessary if you know for sure that your baby absolutely needs special soap/detergent.
- Toys – travel is about new experiences, not the same toys you have at home. Plus, nature is the best playground!
- Bassinet/stroller cover- your baby won’t sleep better on the plane or in the stroller with a collapsible mesh covering – he’s either going to sleep or he wont. Roll with the punches on this one.
What are your top baby travel essentials?
We all think and travel differently; you and your baby may have some additional travel essentials that we simply don’t need or use. Please feel free to share what works for you in the comments for our readers!